Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Buick Regal Makes a Triumphant Return

Buick, which has been on a hugely successful comeback trail for the past few years, continues its journey toward being one of the top nameplates on the market with the relaunch of the Regal midsize sedan for the 2011 model year.

Buick, after many years of neglect, had been relegated to the "old-folks car" brand until the launch of cool models such as the Enclave crossover SUV and the LaCrosse sedan.

Now, after a six-year absence, the Regal returns.

The last generation of Regal we saw was certainly nothing noteworthy. It had a dull design and offered nothing particularly fun in the way of driving dynamics.

So what about this new one?

Wow, things sure have changed in six years.

This Regal has sporty, innovative looks inside and out.

And while hip older folks might well appreciate this car, it is definitely not aimed at the nursing-home crowd.
It's made on the platform of the Opel Insignia, a popular General Motors model in Europe.
The base engine is a 2.4-liter, 182-horsepower four-cylinder, and for now, that's the only power plant. But stay tuned, because a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 220-horsepower four-cylinder is coming shortly.
Both are linked to a six-speed automatic transmission, but the turbo will also come with a six-speed manual tranny, should the buyer choose.

The prospect of the Regal with a turbo is certainly intriguing, but please believe that the currently available naturally aspirated engine is quite spirited.
But the turbo will add some other benefits. Buick says it will have an Interactive Drive Control System that will let the driver pick among three driving settings: Sport, for dynamism and sportiness; Tour, for long trips and Standard, which is for normal driving situations.

The  new Regal gets pretty good gas mileage too, at 20 mpg city, 30 highway.

But it's the exterior appearance of the Regal that will first grab you. Its design has been referred to as sleek, and that's accurate.
The Regal comes with 18-inch rims standard, but 19-inchers are optional, and you may appreciate the rear spoiler and signature taillights.

For convenience, the keyless entry, power driver seat, Bluetooth connectivity and USB port are standard. Amenities that are optional include the sunroof and hard-drive-based navigation system with digital music storage.

Buick says its Regal has safety features that are as good as any of its competitors. Such features include the dual stage front airbags, front seat side impact airbags and head curtain side airbags, all standard. An electronic stability system with traction control and antilock brakes are also included.

The Regal ranges in price from around $26,300 to around $28,800.

A Buick official who visited Atlanta said recently that the company got positive feedback from the Regal name, and that's why it decided to bring it back for this model.

That may be so, but this model is miles ahead of the former Regal, much to the benefit of midsize sedan shoppers.

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