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SEE ALSO:Buick Buyer's Guide

With the increase of international design, parts sourcing, and construction in the automotive industry there is a corresponding increase in homogeneity. Once it was easy to tell where and by whom a car was made. This can now be quite difficult. It can be hard to find an American car that feels like a traditional American car. Beating the imports in the U.S. and making cars that can be sold worldwide are laudable objectives, but there is still a market for a modern American sedan. By "modern American sedan" we mean a car that can hold five to six large people comfortably, has a sizeable, accessible trunk, is quiet, smooth-riding and comfortable as a commuter and on long trips, and has good power for the demands of daily driving in today's traffic conditions yet returns reasonable fuel economy. A car like this week's car, the Buick Regal Custom Sedan.

Priced right near the average for a new car, the Regal Custom gives the buyer just about everything people are looking for in an upscale family sedan at a price far below that of comparable imports. It retains a classically American feeling, yet has many modern features and allows buyers to experience a bit of traditional American luxury at an affordable price. The Buick Regal line has some significant enhancements to interior and exterior styling and safety appointments for 1995. A week behind the wheel left these impressions:

APPEARANCE: The 1995 Regal styling features the traditional American four-door sedan look. It has a new, wide "waterfall" grille flanked by broad headlights. The slightly rounded hood blends into its large cabin that displays a large amount of curved and tinted glass, as well as a low window sill. Its rear deck hides a spacious trunk. A narrow bright trim highlights the side windows and rub strips, as well as the monochrome paint finish.

COMFORT: The interior has been considerably redesigned for 1995. Two important areas are the climate control system and a new seating design. The climate control system now has separate controls for the driver and front passenger to assure a separate, pleasant temperature on each side of the cabin. Over a period of time Buick engineers had many people, including one of us, make an impression on a special chair. From this data they were able to design a seat that has comfort properties to best suit the majority of passengers and drivers. From where we sat, the new seat designs do what they were designed to do. Available leather seats enhance appearance and comfort. Analog gauges in the new instrument panel are very visible, and all switches and controls are logically positioned. Locks, windows and mirrors are power controlled. Remote locking and unlocking is also part of the package.

SAFETY: The latest Regal is fitted with dual airbags up front, and three-point seat belts all around. Brakes are four-wheel antilock discs. The chassis features a rigid body structure with front and rear crumple zones and side-guard door beams.

ROADABILITY: Our Regal Custom was optionally equipped with the Gran Touring suspension package which provides a smooth-handling fully independent suspension, along with variable assist power steering. Also included are alloy wheels and 16-inch Goodyear Eagle touring tires that provide excellent contact with the road. Anti-lock disc brakes are now standard. This combination ensures excellent road holding, safe maneuvering, and safe stopping. Head and leg room are very good, the ride is quiet, and all-around vision is excellent.

ROADABILITY: When fitted with Buick's 3800 V-6 with tuned port fuel injection the Regal Custom develops 170 horsepower and 225 pound feet of torque. Hydra-Matic's 4T60E transmission delivers smooth, quiet up- and down shifts at all times with plenty of power for merging or passing. Smoothness is enhanced by a balance shaft in the V-6 engine. This powertrain combination ensures safe, secure performance over a wide range of road, weather and altitude conditions.

CONCLUSIONS: In today's crowded automotive marketplace every manufacturer is striving for a specific identity for each model, and Buick is no exception. The mid-size Regal Custom sedan is designed and outfitted as a mature family car. With the comprehensive standard power and safety items it carries, the Regal will suit people of all ages who are looking for an affordably luxurious, truly American family car.


       Base Price             $ 18,660
       Price As Tested        $ 20,877
       Engine Type            V-6, ohv-pushrod, smpfi
       Engine Size            3.8 liter/231 cid 
       Horsepower             170@ 4800                     
       Torque (ft/lbs)        225 @ 3200 
       Wheelbase/Length       108"/194"
       Transmission           four-speed EC automatic w/overdrive
       Curb Weight            3350 lbs.
       Pounds per Horsepower  19.7
       Fuel Capacity          17 gal.
       Fuel Requirement       Unleaded regular (87 oct)              
       Tires                  Goodyear Eagle GA all-season 
                              P 225/60R 16  87S            
       Brakes                 vented disc/disc, ABS standard
       Drive Train            Front engine/front drive
       EPA Economy - miles per gallon   
         city/highway/observed       19/29/26.9
       0 to 60 mph                   9.1  sec 
       1/4 mi (E.T.)                 17.2  sec  
       Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)     .35