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2011 Buick Regal Review

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2011 Buick Regal

SEE ALSO: Buick Buyers Guide

2011 Buick Regal - European-flavored modern sports sedan

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

When I think of Buick, the land-yacht Electra 225 comes to mind and also the famed Riviera and Grand Sport models of years ago. I was looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the all-new Regal and putting my own German-car background to the test.

Buick last offered a Regal in 2004. This all-new Regal is based on the award-winning Opel Insignia—the 2009 European Car of the Year--and assembled in Russelsheim, Germany. As soon as I sat in the driver’s seat I picked up on the European design elements such as the central-positioned door lock control, the positioning and design of the control for the power mirrors as well as the steering column mounted stalks. I sensed a driver-oriented design that would deliver in performance.

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The Regal is a midsize car and competes with the likes of Acura TSX, Lincoln MKZ, Volvo S60, Audi A4 and Saab 9-3. It is equipped with a choice between two 4-cylinder engines. I drove the CXL, powered by the 182 HP 2.4L Ecotec four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic with EPA Fuel Economy estimates of 19 city and 30 highway. The CXL Turbo gets a 220HP 2.0L Ecotec four-cylinder with the same 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission—yes, a Buick with a stick-shift. EPA estimates are 18 city and 28 highway for the automatic and 19 city and 29 highway for the manual. The 18.5 gallon fuel tank should make for all-day 500 mile highway cruises.

I thought the 2.4L engine delivered adequate performance but my choice would be the Turbo engine. I much prefer the sound of a 6-cylinder or 8-cylinder engine and pretty much accept for what it is that of a 4-cylinder. In driving the Regal I wanted to hear something different but that’s not a criticism just a personal preference.

The Regal features MacPherson strut front suspension and four-link independent rear suspension. All-new Interactive Drive Control is available with the 2.0L turbo, offering driver-selectable suspension settings and automatic driver suspension setting adaptability. Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel anti-lock braking system, brake assist and electronic parking brake, StabiliTrak stability control system and full-function traction control are standard. Standard are 18-inch alloy wheels and 19-inch alloy wheels with the Interactive Drive Control.

Interactive Drive Control changes the personality of the Regal and allows the driver to choose between three different operating modes that change the suspension and stability settings, throttle response, shift pattern and steering sensitivity through the variable effort steering system. The three modes deliver three types of experiences: Standard – balanced and optimized for all driving situations; Tour – optimized for comfort and relaxed driving on long journeys; Sport – optimized for road holding and enthusiast driving.

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The Regal’s seats are firm and high-bolstered providing good comfort and lateral support. Standard are 12-way power, leather and heated driver seat, leather and heated passenger front seat, Bluetooth for phone, XM Satellite Radio and OnStar. Available are a navigation system, Harman Kardon sound system, internal flash drive (1GB), hard drive with 10GB for music and USB port. An available multi-function controller on the center console is for operation of the audio system, navigation system and Bluetooth or OnStar hands-free calling.

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The exterior is well proportioned. Fenders flare around the wheel openings and wrap the tires. The sculpted sides lead to an abbreviated rear deck for that sports sedan look. The trunk has slightly more than 14 cubic feet of volume and employs nicely finished concealed hinges. A cargo net helps contain small items and there is a split-fold rear seat for those occasional long items. (IMG_0860)

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Pricing starts at $26,995 for the CXL and $29,495 for the CXL Turbo. The CXL I drove had a total price of $31,780 with its optional equipment package that included power sunroof, navigation system, rear parking assist and premium 9-speakers among others.

The Regal surely is a global car. It’s assembled in Germany by an American company with an engine from the U.S. and a transmission from China. The parts content is 21% U.S. and Canadian and 40% German. And I would say this is very much the trend for the future.

This German-engineered sedan is a very worthy entry in the midsize car segment. Having been bred on the autobahn, its ride, handling and dynamic road manners are something everyone will appreciate. This is not the luxo-land yacht Buick of the past.

© Larry N