New Car/Review

Buick

Buick Regal GS (2001)

SEE ALSO: Buick Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 27,285
     Price As Tested                                    $ 28,840
     Engine Type  Supercharged OHV 12-valve 3.8 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 231 cid/3791 cc
     Horsepower                                   240 @ 5200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               280 @ 3600 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  109.0"/72.7"/196.2"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3577 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  17.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          P225/60R16 all-season
     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                            18/27/22
     0-60 MPH                                        7.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          16.0 seconds @ 91.5 mph
     Top-speed                                           XXX mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(Buicks are considered vehicles for "mature" folks in their '60s, says Matt Hagin. "Those old folks better fasten their seat belts tightly if they push their new supercharged Regal GS hard," says his dad Bob)

BOB - It's been almost more than a decade since the turbocharged black-on-black Buick Regal Grand National coupe became a latter-day American Muscle Car. Since then, the brand has been relegated to the role of a comfortable cruiser for middle America in the traditional American big-car tradition. But into the mix of plebeian Buick four-door sedans, the company slipped in a Regal with a supercharger which made it almost as spritely as the original Grand National, albeit not nearly so striking. The Regal hot-rod has been in the lineup for a couple of years now but it still seems to be a "secret" sports sedan that's ignored by shoppers for fast cars that can carry five passengers.

MATT - Cars of that genre depend on trendy high-tech hardware, so it's understandable that upscale Gen X'ers haven't given the hot Regal GS a tumble. That old Grand National carried a 3.8-liter V6 that was a vintage design even then, and the same engine is in this new Regal. It's been updated and modernized over the years, but it's still pretty old-school. It displaces 231 cubic inches and both the block and the heads are cast iron. The valves are operated by a single cam in the block and pushrods operate only two valves per cylinders. This seems like pretty archaic stuff to the techno-shoppers who have become accustomed to all-aluminum engines that use belt-driven, twin-cam technology to operate as many as five valves per cylinder. Not only that, many use complex automatic variable valve timing to get lots of horsepower and a broad torque curve out of a small-displacement engine.

BOB - To play the devil's advocate, I should point out that modern engines like that may very well require pretty high-priced maintenance when it come time to do the major services. Although the latest 3.8-liter GM V6 is a long way from being the same hunk of iron it was when it first showed up in '75, its ancillary stuff like fuel and spark delivery and computerized engine management are as modern as anything on the market. And at 3500-pounds, it still gives dynamite performance and gets 27 MPG on the highway while doing it. I was somewhat disappointed that the sports suspension that was an option when the supercharged Regal first came out has been dropped. Now the standard LS model and the supercharged GS ride on the same strut-type suspension which is a little soft for the performance the car can deliver. But our GS did have larger-than-stock P225/60R special touring tires mounted on chromed aluminum wheels. Another plus for the car is that the brakes front and rear are discs. The only transmission available is a four-speed automatic and interestingly, the press kit points out that the unit on the more powerful GS model is listed as "heavy-duty." To keep it on the straight-and-narrow, it comes with traction control that automatically uses brake action and engine power reduction to reduce wheelspin.

MATT - The interior of this Regal GS is pretty standard American cruiser stuff. The seats up front are plush buckets and the rear is as soft as a living room sofa. A pass-through to trunk can be opened when the rear center armrest is lowered and there's a manually operated lever inside the trunk is case someone gets locked in back there. The car comes standard with GM's Onstar driver-assist system that can deliver the driver's e-mail, internet connection and all the other essentials of modern life. The system also has an engine-oil monitor and warns if the various fluid levels are getting low. The interior is leather-covered and while it's not glitzy, it's unobtrusive and comfortable. On the street, its a real sleeper and it takes a pretty hot car to beat it.

BOB - Maybe its time for Buick to break out of the four-door mold and come up with another hot Grand National-type Muscle Car coupe to pull in the younger image-conscious buyers. If they did, I'd want to be the first in line to try it out.

MATT - Dad, I don't think you're fast enough on your feet to out-sprint your five sons.

 

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