SEE ALSO: Buick Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 21,695 Price As Tested $ 24,190 Engine Type OHV 12-valve 3.8 Liter V6 w/SFI* Engine Size 231 cid/3791 cc Horsepower 200 @ 5200 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 225 @ 4000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 109"/72.7"/196.2" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 3489 pounds Fuel Capacity 17.5 gallons Tires (F/R) P215/70R15 Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 19/30/24 0-60 MPH 9 seconds 1/4 mile (E.T.) 17 seconds @ 86.5 mph Top speed 105 mph * Sequential-port fuel injection
(The Buick Regal has been around for 25 years, always attached to solid and reliable family cars, says Bob Hagin. Son Matt says the Regal name is also found on the very fast supercharged GS model.)
MATT - Buick is kind of between a rock and a hard place, Dad. The hottest sellers are pickup trucks, minivans and sport/utility vehicles but Buick doesn't have any of them in its lineup. Buick is doing its best by attracting and keeping "mature" buyers who want to stick with traditional-sized American sedans. This is tough-sledding because several other General Motors companies are after the same buyers with pretty much same cars.
BOB - Buick has a good chance of getting some of those upper-end Baby Boomers into the Buick camp, Matt. Although our Regal LS test car is no ball of fire, the Regal GS sports a supercharger that comes close to being a pavement-pounder. In this form, the Regal puts out 240 horses. The more mundane LS that we're evaluating has been upgraded a bit this year and its horsepower has been bumped up to an even 200, which is more than enough to satisfy the market in which this full- sized sedan is aimed. It's not on the cutting edge of engine technology, however, but this 3.8 liter V6 has been around long enough that all the bugs have been worked out and there aren't going to be any first-year surprises for Regal buyers. Over the years, it keeps getting minor refinements and the current jump of five extra ponies is due to a change in the air induction system. The only transmission that's available on the Regal is the almost bullet-proof General Motors 4T65E four-speed automatic that utilizes an overdrive on the top gear.
MATT - Although the LS version of the Regal is supposed to be aimed at older folks like yourself, Dad, Buick apparently has decided that a supersoft "boulevard" ride isn't exactly what the public wants. We tried the same car last year and for '99, its suspension system has been tightened up and the steering ratio has been modified. The LS isn't a road racer or even a sports sedan, but its handling is more in keeping with modern tastes in driving. The sway bars front and rear are a bit bigger and suspension bushing throughout the car are a bit firmer for a better road "feel". This makes the ride noticeably different from the '98 version.
BOB - Although I'm not really a connoisseur of in-car stereos, this Regal came with the "Monsoon" audio system that's touted as putting out 220 watts of power. I'm told that's almost enough to blow the windows out of a small concert hall but I didn't have the nerve to turn it up to full volume. The Regal also has a pretty "trick" system of informing the driver through a dash-mounted warning if one of the tires is running low on pressure. Since routine servicing on cars and trucks is being extended by so many miles, a tire could go low and the driver wouldn't be aware of it until it was nearly flat.
MATT - I must be getting older myself, Dad. I really enjoyed the plush treatment that the interior upholstery received. I've even grown to appreciate the fact that the doors on this Buick swing especially wide to make getting in as easy as possible. The back seat has enough hip room for three adults but they'd have to be pretty good friends. There's a small pass-through from the trunk which makes it easier to pack a couple of sets of skis for a weekend in the snow.
BOB - Traction control is standard on all Regal models and so is an anti-lock braking system that also offers four-wheel disc brakes. And the Regal has the typical GM tilt steering wheel system that's been a Buick feature almost since they had wooden-spoke wheels. For such a big car, it gets pretty good mileage, although I think the driver would have to be a feather-foot to get that 30 miles-per-gallon that Buick says it's capable of on the highway.
MATT - As a brand, Buick is 95 years old this year, Dad, and it will probably be around for another 95 years or so.
BOB - And being the nosy type, I plan to be around to see what the car business will be like when I'm 160 years old.