Road Test: 2012 Buick Regal CXL Turbo & GS

We recently got the chance to test out two versions of the latest hot sport sedan from Buick. The Regal name has been revived in an effort to continue to try and bring the Buick brand into the sights of a younger buyer and steal some customers away from brands like Acura, Lexus and BMW. GM has decided to use it’s European branded Opel Insignia as a base for the Regal here in the states and they have merely changed the fascias slightly and put American power plants in place to market the car to the current luxury buyer. Click through for more and to see how the Regal fared when put to the test.


Buick Regal CXL Turbo

Price as Tested: $35,185

Competition:  Audi A4, Acura TSX, Lexus IS 250

The standard Regal CXL comes equipped with the 2.4l 4 cylinder churning out only a weak 182hp whereas this Turbo variation bumps that number up to 220hp.This power is smooth and helps the Regal move forward in traffic in a sensible fashion and shifting is quiet and quick with the 6 speed automatic transmission that comes standard. The ride is calm and the steering and driving experience is one that will not excite those looking for a spirited cruiser, nor give an extreme feel of relaxation for those looking for a soft ride similar to that of a Regal from the late 90’s(this is a good thing). The European feel of the car is apparent right away and the car does handle fairly well about most roads we tested despite its size and lack of power. The overall weight of the car is quite hefty at 3,600lbs and makes itself known when trying to really take the car to its limits.

The interior is a sea of black plastics and leather that gives the driver the impression they are sitting in a mildly-comfortable office chair instead of a mid $30k luxury sedan. The steering wheel and door trim are quality in feel and touch but several of the dash panels and center console are reminiscent of GM products costing much much less than the Regal. The seating capacity as well as the trunk storage is adequate and on the same level as many of the vehicles from the competition. The sound of the 4 cylinder turbo engine will often come through to the cabin under hard accelerating and gives a sound that is about as pleasing to the ear as a lawnmower outside your bedroom window.

Overall the Regal CXL Turbo is a car whose name and price tag sets the expectations much higher than this car can reach. In general the Turbo offers a decent ride, solid feel, and just okay performance for the buyer who is looking for much of nothing in terms of a luxury car. If Buick was reaching to hit the mark for the young luxury buyer, they may need to keep reaching because the Regal CXL turbo simply is not there yet.

Buick Regal GS

Price as Tested: $38,155

Competition: Lexus IS 350, Mercedes C300, Volvo S60

If the Buick CXL Turbo is the plain Vanilla Ice Cream of the Regal line, then the GS is the company’s attempt to cover it in chocolate syrup and hope to give something for the senses to react to. The car stands out with it’s large 20 inch chrome wheels that hide the large Brembo brakes and modifications to the front and rear to give the car an aggressive pressence. Many have criticized GM for not bringing over the V6 AWD version of their Opel Insignia OPC but the company reasoned that  the car would have been closer to $46k and pushed most Buick buyers away. I would tend to agree and I believe the car is priced closer to where the market will find someone to take this car for a spin. The Regal GS is available in only a 6 speed manual at launch and the transmission was smooth and the clutch was soft and sporty shifting was effortless.

The GS is one of the more interesting cars I have recently driven due to its seemingly quiet and completely dulcet fashion in which it urges itself forward. On a drive through California and Arizona the GS induced miles of grins as I would downshift to build up the boost and then throw the car into the left lane to pass slower traffic. The Regal isn’t fast in the brutal sense of a car such as the CTS-V or other purely insane cars, but  it simply excels as a cruiser about town or as a grand touring car. The interior was comfortable enough in the front and rear seats to call it a luxury sedan but many interiors in this class do a better job at comfort and sleek interior design than the ironically named, Regal, would suggest.

The handling of the car in “GS” or “Sport” modes was very European in feel, even for a Front Wheel Drive vehicle, and rarely did I have a reason to wish the car was AWD due to an abundance of torque steer or under steer. the Regal is on the right track to give owners over at Acura or Lexus a reason to look at the direction the company is headed. The design inside an out of the standard Regal may not be enough to give buyers the nudge into  domestic luxury brand but I believe the Regal GS looks sleek enough and has the right amount of fun factor to interest a few buyers who want something exciting to drive and can’t really afford to jump into cars with an AMG badge. I just wish they would have shipped a few of the cars over with the V6 and AWD in matte black with a Grand National badge slapped onto it.

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