By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
Mention the name Buick Regal to your grandmother and you'll get an earful about the soft, cushy ride, marshmallow-like seats and the sweet-sounding 4-speaker AM/FM radio. Well, to paraphrase Oldsmobile's once famous tag line, the 2012 Buick Regal sedan is definitely not your grandmother's Regal. In fact, Buick has built a mid-size sport sedan so sleek, so alluring it has on numerous occasions inspired attempts among our test staff to steal the car away for an extra night or two. With its big 19-inch wheel and tires, 270-horsepower high-output 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, and 6-speed manual transmission, the top-of-the-line 2012 Buick Regal GS clearly means business. Or, if you're more about fuel economy than performance, you can get the same great looks and interior features on the "light electrification" Regal eAssist hybrid model. Sure, the 2012 Buick Regal sedan still has a lot of work to do in bringing over younger buyers looking at such competitors as the Volkswagen CC, Nissan Maxima, Hyundai Sonata and Acura TSX. But, if ever a Buick could win the battle for younger hearts and wallets, the 2012 Buick Regal sedan is the car to do it.
If you've grown tired of the generic-looking mid-size "one size fits all" crowd, and you think it might be time to give a domestic manufacturer another chance, the 2012 Buick Regal will definitely help convince you that just because a car has four doors doesn't mean it has to be boring.
While the 2012 Buick Regal's styling is dramatic, older Buick fans may not take to the European-inspired design. If you fancy the GS trim, you best like only black, gray, silver or white, because for some strange reason those are the only colors offered.
Two new variants join the 2012 Buick Regal sedan lineup. First is the Regal eAssist hybrid that uses a small electric motor attached to a lithium-ion battery pack to assist the 2.4-liter gasoline engine. The second addition is the stellar opposite of the hybrid, taking the form of a 270-horsepower sport sedan dubbed the Buick Regal GS (Grand Sport). Other changes of note include E85 capability on the 2.4-liter engine and the addition of Buick's IntelliLink Bluetooth-enabled infotainment system (late availability) to all Regal models.
Driving Impressions To get the best idea how good the 2012 Regal platform is, we tested a range of Buick Regal models starting with the most basic Regal with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder...engine. We found the 2.4-liter engine to be smooth and responsive, feeling very Honda-like in its refinement and power delivery. The steering is a bit vague, but not awful. When we moved to a 2.0-liter turbocharged model, we were impressed not only by the additional power, but also by the vastly better steering feel from the variable-assist power steering. Of course, this is a Buick so the company has added plenty of soundproofing to create a serene cabin. The ride is also less harsh than in some sport sedans we've driven, but the handling doesn't suffer from it. Jumping into the GS brought a whole different attitude from the Regal. The high-output 2.0-liter Ecotec engine makes 270 horsepower, which can be run through either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic with manual shift mode. The GS moves with some serious swiftness and yet there is hardly any discernable torque steer. The 2012 Buick Regal GS sedan gets a tauter suspension with standard Interactive Drive Control System that lets you tune the shock and steering feel to three levels of compliance. The 2012 Buick Regal GS sport sedan also has a lower ride height and sticky 19-inch all-season tires. Buick offers a 20-inch wheel/performance tire package, but we found this setup a bit harsh on rougher pavement. Although the 2012 Buick Regal isn't as spry as the Acura TSX or the Volkswagen CC, it is sportier than any Buick of recent memory and perfectly willing to have a little fun.
2.0-liter Turbocharged 4-Cylinder Engine
While the Volkswagen CC also offers a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, Buick's 2.0-liter powerplant offers more horsepower and torque.
Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS)
A first for Buick, this system is available with the turbocharged engine and allows you to choose from three different operating modes that modify the vehicle's suspension, stability settings, throttle response, shift pattern and steering sensitivity. What does that mean for you? Choose Standard when cruising around town, Tour for a softer ride when on the open highway, or Sport for more dynamic driving on a curvy section of asphalt.
If ever there was an area to prove the 2012 Buick Regal sedan's premium car credentials, it's inside the passenger compartment. All of the Regal's switchgear have a smooth, nicely weighted feel and while it is obvious some of the Regal's interior bits were borrowed from the larger Buick LaCrosse, Buick designers have tossed in enough unique parts to make the 2012 Regal look and feel a bit more European. The Euro influence can be seen in the BMW/Audi-like console-mounted joystick (it controls the available navigation and audio functions), console-mounted power lock switch and steering-wheel-mounted thumb wheel for scrolling through various functions. If the 2012 Regal sedan falls down in one area, it's rear-seat headroom. Due to the low-slung roof and raked rear window, anyone over 6-feet tall or just very long in the torso will likely find his head bumping against the headliner.Exterior
While Buick's signature waterfall grille and porthole louvers remain intact, the rest of the 2012 Buick Regal sedan is unlike anything we've seen from the Buick division in a long, long time. Based on GM's European Opel Insignia, the 2012 Regal has a heavy, solid look that borders on hyper-aggressive. The wheels are pushed to the car's outer corners while the body drops low to the ground, almost as if the Regal were preparing to hug the pavement. There is only the slightest gap between tire and wheel well, further enhancing the Regal's sporty attitude. A distinctive side scallop that begins on the front door and fades rearward is the Regal's most definitive styling detail, but smaller things, such as an integrated trunk-lid spoiler and integrated side-mirror turn signals reveal that a lot of thought went into the Regal's design.
Inside the 2012 Buick Regal you'll find leather upholstery (unlike the Volkswagen CC, which has leatherette as standard), an 8-way adjustable power driver's seat, foglights, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, Bluetooth and a 7-speaker audio system with USB port. Motivation is supplied by a 2.4-liter in-line 4-cylinder engine paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission (with tap-up/tap-down shifting), and power is put to pavement via 18-inch alloy wheels. The turbo model adds a 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and an available 6-speed manual transmission, while the GS trim adds a high-output 270-horsepower 2.0-liter engine, 19-inch wheels and a sport suspension. To help keep you safe, six airbags are standard on each 2012 Buick Regal, as are stability and traction controls, Brake Assist and the latest OnStar system with Automatic Crash Response.
The 2012 Buick Regal sedan's options are broken down into package groups. On normally aspirated Regals, there are two groups: Premium I and Premium II. The turbo cars feature a Premium III group, while the GS and Regal eAssist are considered their own models. Among the many available options spread throughout the groups are a 9-speaker harman/kardon sound system, a hard drive-based navigation system, rear parking assist, an 8-way power adjustable passenger's seat, power sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, E-Z Key passive push-button start, HID headlights and a 120-volt outlet. Those with safety on their minds can get rear-seat thorax side-impact airbags. Extras for the exterior are limited to 19-inch machined alloy wheels.
The 2012 Regal is the first Buick to be offered exclusively with only 4-cylinder engines. The standard 2.4-liter in-line four produces 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque, and delivers fuel economy in the range of 19 city/31 highway mpg. Those looking for more power can get a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which delivers 220 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque for a small penalty in fuel economy – 18 city/29 highway. The Regal GS gets a high-output version of the 2.0-liter turbo pumping out 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. All three engines can be mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with tap-up/tap-down shifting, although paddle shifters are available with the turbocharged engine. The turbo models can also be equipped at no charge with a 6-speed manual transmission.
2.4-liter in-line 4
182 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/31, 15/22 (E85), 25/36 (eAssist hybrid)
2.0-liter turbocharged in-line 4
220 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/32 (manual), 18/29 (automatic), 15/22 (E85, manual), 13/22 (E85, automatic)
2.0-liter high-output turbocharged in-line 4 (Regal GS)
270 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 2,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (manual), 18/20 (automatic)
By Mac on Monday, August 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Turbo is GREAT"
Cons: "Trans. BAD"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Trans. is a little rough below twenty miles per hour, up or down. Buick says that is normal I say that is NOT right. I had a 99 Regal it was much smoother, and milage was better."
5 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By SG on Thursday, July 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,700overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Price, Fun to Drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I traded in my BMW for the Buick Regal and I am totally blown away with this car. I like it so much better than the BMW. Plus it handles the curves in the road 10 times better than the BMW, not to mention the gas mileage is 10 times better as well. It has get up and go, when I step on the gas this car hauls butt, no drag at all. I highly recommend the Buick Regal."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By SrASherbert on Saturday, February 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "gas mileage, fun to drive on windy roads, space"
Cons: "the back up sensors randomly goes off sometimes"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've had this car now for a little over 2 years now and I got it with 7000 miles on it. I have had little problems with this car. I live in the frigid north in Minnesota and I have to have the heated seats. The only problem is that the diverside seat broke in 2013, after only having it for 1 year, but it was no hassle to get it fixed since it was under warranty. The turbo cuts my gas mileage way down for city to average about 17.5mpg. Straight highway is average about 28. I've seen it hit 34 when I'm on the hey for more that 15 min but am mostly a city driver. Plenty of room in the car for my 6'2" husband and my two 100 pound dogs. Good trip car. Driving from twin cities to Minot ND (500+ miles) in less than 2 tanks of gas. Really smooth ride and it has that giddy up to beat out that other car trying to cut you off. I don't like going slow and this car doesn't disappoint me at all. It's the ultimate sleeper car because the guy next to you will only see a Buick and think granny but when you pass him he'll realize his mistake!"
14 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Fran on Thursday, January 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive and great looking"
Cons: "my tall husband finds it a little cramped"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned this car for over two years and it has proven to be a very reliable car. Except for maintenance, it has not been in the shop. It is great looking and fun to drive."
8 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Joe on Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "european turbo acceleration and handling/feel"
Cons: "loud sunroof and clunky bluetooth"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I was a SAAB owner and was looking for a replacement after the SAABs downfall. The Buick Regal Turbo has the european scale, handling sensibility, gas mileage and turbo to get close to the SAAB without breaking $35K (although the latest versions may do that). Only issues I've had with the car are 1) a loud sunroof that two dealers still could not get right - I just close the solid panel to cut down noise if it is loud and 2) bluetooth and entertainment connectivity was very clunky at first - but now I've figured out how to work around the system. I normally lease and turn in, but I'm going to buy this car and give it to my college age daughter to use - a solid buy."
11 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By blue car on Friday, November 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "enjoyable ride, good mileage, looks great"
Cons: "bulky key"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I like driving this car it rides comfortably with enough power to move well at highway speeds. Gas mileage has been about 21 city and 30 highway. The edge of the roof liner was not finished properly, the dealer replaced all the parts it looks great now. The key for the push button start is bulky in my pocket and the "switchblade" manual key pops open in my pocket too often also the other buttons get pushed in my pocket. i have found my trunk open more than once. car looks great i realy like it"
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful