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Buick Regal GS Olympic Package (2001)

SEE ALSO: Buick Buyer's Guide

by John Heilig


MODEL:  Buick Regal GS Olympic Package 
ENGINE:  3.8-liter supercharged V6 
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 240 hp @ 5200 rpm/280 lb-ft @ 3600  rpm 
TRANSMISSION:  Four-speed automatic 
WHEELBASE: 109.0 in. 
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 196.2 x 72.7 x 56.6 in. 
STICKER PRICE:  $28,110 

It's a shame that I drove the Buick Regal GS Olympic Edition the week after I drove the LeSabre. While the Regal GS is powered by a supercharged version of Buick's popular 3.8-liter V6 engine, and delivers 240 horsepower in a car that weighs a tad over 3500 pounds, I still felt the LeSabre was more to my liking.

This is not to imply that I didn't like the Regal, because I did. It's just that I loved the LeSabre.

But, to be totally fair, if I had driven the Regal first, I probably would reverse that previous statement, so the differences between the two cars are more subtle and size-related.

Regal is classified as a mid-size sedan. It is a true mid-size, offering seating for five in good comfort. Rear-seat passengers, for example, don't have to sit scrunched up with their knees up to their chins, as they must do in some other "mid-size" sedans. This is still a Buick, don't forget, and Buicks have always been noted for their comfort and size.

Actually, the Regal's size is more to my liking. It is close to what my wife's car is like and I feel that 1988 model was a good size for her. That car has a bench front seat, though, and offers seating for six. I would like to see more cars with six-passenger seating, simply because I'm not one of those people who is smitten with center consoles, despite their practicality in offering places to store stuff.

The 3800 Series II supercharged V6 is a great engine. Delivering the previously quoted 240 horsepower, there's almost too much power for the car. There were a couple of times when I chirped the tires on hard acceleration when I didn't expect to. But constant readers will note that I rarely complain about too much power. It's always an advantage to have as much as you can get; it's in the application of that power where the driver can get in trouble.

Similarly, the four-speed automatic transmission is a nice unit. It delivers the power to the road smoothly, with close ratios between the gears. And with the overdrive fourth gear, fuel economy is good. With the standard 3800 Series II engine, economy is EPA-rated at 20 city, 29 highway; with the supercharger those numbers drop by 2 mpg. Again, a sensible application of the right foot can keep those numbers as high as possible.

The Regal GS Olympic Edition is a limited-production model that was created to commemorate Buick's support for athletes competing on he 2000 U.S. Olympic team. It offers special features and has a U.S. Olympic team logo with five interlocking rings on the tail lamps and floor mats. Buick has offered Olympic editions in the past, and this model is a continuance of that tradition. Among the special features are a power sunroof, Gran Touring suspension and eight-speaker Monsoon audio entertainment system with steering wheel-mounted controls. Available colors include Gold Metallic, Sterling Silver Metallic and Graphite Metallic.

Even though it's a mid-size, the Regal has a full-size trunk - 16.7 cubic feet. One feature I always like in a sedan is a large trunk that will allow my wife and me to take all the luggage and goodies we want when we're visiting the kids. In our family, that's the biggest trunk possible. For 2001, Buick has added a trunk entrapment handle to the inside of the trunk that can be used by anyone who's silly enough to get locked inside. I have always wanted to test these handles in some of the cars I've driven, but I'm too big to get in the trunk in the first place. Now if I could just get my wife in there . . .

As with all Buicks, the Regal GS Olympic Edition is a great package. Buick has been doing something right for a long time and wisely hasn't tried to change the formula. Buick has a solid customer base and is working hard not to erode it. The Regal GS can only serve to strengthen it.