Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.0L I4
Power:
259 HP / 295 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
6.8 Seconds
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,982 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
14.2 CU-FT
MPG:
19 City / 27 HWY
Base Price:
$39,270
"This is just silly," I said as I laughed my way sideways around the icy track at Circuit ICAR, a racecourse, drag strip and kart track at the Montreal-Mirabel International Airport in Quebec. It wasn't the activity that had me cracking up, though. After all, winter driving experiences aren't uncommon in this business.

No, in this particular case, it was the car that had me chuckling. I wasn't in a mad hot hatch or a rally-derived rocket – I was in a Buick. The 2014 Regal GS, to be more precise. Somehow, despite its recent product renaissance (not to mention its distant – yet storied – history of performance models), I was having a hard time believing that this attractive, turbocharged, all-wheel-drive sedan sliding around the Great White North could possibly be wearing a Tri-Shield badge on its nose.

But it was, and slide about it did. While having access to a vehicle in this setting is fairly rare, what's rarer is the fact that I've had so much exposure to it. In Mr. Ewing's recent Volkswagen Golf R drive story, for instance, his ice capades were his first experience with the new model. In my case, though, I was lucky enough to first test the refreshed Regal GS for a week back in December before flying to Quebec to drive it on the snowy, icy, winding roads of Canada's most fiercely independent province and on the track at Mirabel.
2014 Buick Regal GS AWD2014 Buick Regal GS AWD2014 Buick Regal GS AWD

While we were sufficiently impressed with the Regal GS when it arrived in 2010, Buick has really done a number, freshening the car for 2014. The new fascia wears restyled HID headlights with integrated LED accents, while Buick's trademark waterfall grille remains relatively unchanged. I'm admittedly not crazy about the vertical vents fixed to the front of the car, and agree with another journalist who suggested it makes this Regal look like a saber-toothed tiger. Where the GS really looks good, though, is from the rear.

Where the GS really looks good is from the rear.

The back of the Regal is accented by a chrome strip that runs nearly the width of the car, and it cuts right into the lightly smoked taillights. Those lights themselves are wider than on the previous GS, with an element integrated into the trunk lid. Atop that lid sits a subtle spoiler, while the rear bumper is accented by trapezoidal exhaust housings.

The Regal's cabin is nothing to write home about relative to its segment. Material quality on the dash is adequate, with soft plastics on the upper dash. The lower dash and trim around the center stack is harder plastic, although it appears to fit nicely and isn't prone to creaking in cold weather, even when pushed. The leather on the seats is soft and smooth, although the hides used for the steering wheel don't feel quite so supple.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD2014 Buick Regal GS AWD2014 Buick Regal GS AWD2014 Buick Regal GS AWD

Gone is last year's horrible mess of buttons haphazardly festooned across the center stack.

The big news in the cabin doesn't have to do with materials – it's all about the way the redesigned interior is organized. Gone is last year's horrible mess of buttons haphazardly festooned across the center stack, and in their place sits a much cleaner, more attractive design. The crown jewel is an eight-inch touchscreen housing Buick's IntelliLink system with a few redundant buttons nestled below it. Under that is a clean, logically designed set of controls for the climate system, which is set off by a pair of capacitive-touch displays that manage the temperature of the dual-zone climate control and the heated seat functions, hiding them when not in use. The instrument cluster, meanwhile, is home to a 4.2-inch display that shows everything from trip, navigation and audio information to performance settings data, all of which are controlled via steering-wheel-mounted buttons. In general, it's just a much easier interior to live with and use.

What remains unchanged in the GS is the amount of space in the cabin. There's 96.8 cubic feet according to the EPA, and I can report that even someone as tall as I am – around six feet, one inch – will have no problems in either of the front seats. The back seat, meanwhile, remains rather cramped, particularly in terms of headroom. Trunk space remains unchanged as well, at 14.2 cubic feet.

Buick has outfitted the GS' driver's interfaces accordingly. Snug, supportive, leather bucket seats and a thick-rimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel do an admirable job of putting the driver in a sporting spirit – a concern of primary importance, especially when most of these sports sedans log anonymous miles stuck in traffic. Even if one's everyday drive isn't special, it's important that these sorts of cars make you feel like they could be.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD2014 Buick Regal GS AWD2014 Buick Regal GS AWD2014 Buick Regal GS AWD

Like all non-hybrid Regals for 2014, my GS arrived fitted with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, complete with 259 direct-injected horsepower available at 5,300 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque, which is spread from 2,500 to 4,000 rpm (the torque curve represents a 500-rev head start on non-GS models). There's more to it than that, though, because up to 260 lb-ft of twist is available between 1,700 and 5,500 rpm. With a loftier redline than the 2013 GS' 2.0T (7,000 rpms instead of 6,350) and much more usable power, the 11 hp sacrificed from 2013 to 2014 seems negligible. On all-wheel-drive models like this tester, the only transmission available is of the two-pedal variety, with six gears and a manual mode – front-drive GS buyers can select a six-speed manual.

On all-wheel-drive models like this tester, the only transmission available is of the two-pedal variety.

Like the previous GS, the 2014 model can be switched to either Sport or GS mode. The former firms up the continuous damping control, while the latter delivers an even firmer ride, quicker shifts from the six-speed automatic and adjusts the Haldex all-wheel-drive system to send 15 percent more torque rearward (than in normal or Sport), a nice complement to the setting's heavier steering and sharper throttle response. Thanks to an electronically controlled mechanical limited-slip differential, power can be shunted laterally from wheel to wheel, as well as fore and aft.

In practice, the AWD system is dynamite. Even in the inclement conditions that slushed over the roads of rural Quebec the day before my arrival, the GS felt surefooted and able as I traveled from the airport to the hotel, a distance of nearly 80 miles (although the circuitous route through the countryside meant I traveled quite a bit further). Unlike earlier Haldex systems, this one can shuffle up to 90 percent of available torque to the rear axle, momentarily imbuing the GS with rear-drive-like dynamics.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD

My pace through the countryside was good, thanks to the AWD and my car being fitted with non-standard 19-inch Pirelli Sottozero winter tires. With the GS set in its default mode, the handling tends toward understeer, but only when pushed hard. The GS features GM's Hi-Per Strut front suspension, which is designed to curb torque steer in high-power applications like this, and it does a fine job at discouraging such wriggly antics, aided nicely by a rear control-arm setup that stands in for the front-drive model's multilink architecture. Driven at a reasonable clip on the slushy roads, the Buick's overall sense of agility felt quite good, despite its nearly 4,000-pound curb weight. There's not a lot of undesirable motion in the suspension, whether fore, aft or laterally, and the degree of feedback transmitted through the seats as I circled the icy, one-mile road course setup at Circuit ICAR left me well informed of just how much grip the snow tires had. If there's one word to describe the GS' overall experience in winter weather on these tires, it's "predictable."

If there's one word to describe the GS' overall experience in winter weather on these tires, it's "predictable."

The ride, meanwhile, remains firm but compliant. The car feels planted when rocketing down highways and isn't overly disturbed by bumps. Before traveling to Montreal, the pothole-ridden roads of metro Detroit did prove a challenge in either Sport or GS mode, as the firmer ride amplified the roughness of the road surface. For those who value a comfy ride, I'd recommend leaving the suspension in its default setting on anything but smooth roads, or perhaps going with a non-GS Regal, which features a softer ride and similar power levels. I'd also recommend avoiding the GS' optional 20-inch wheels. The 19s don't look as stylish, but the improvement in ride quality provided by the smaller wheels and taller tire sidewalls shouldn't be discounted.

The GS, like many new cars, uses an electric power steering system. Despite this, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of feedback sent through the thick-rimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel, especially at the track. It's not telepathic, but for a car with a Buick badge on the nose, it's nicely chatty. The weighting is linear, building nicely, and it feels quite confident at speed. Swap over to GS mode and it starts to feel more like a traditional hydraulic setup, with heavier weighting that feels more natural and intuitive.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD2014 Buick Regal GS AWD2014 Buick Regal GS AWD

With nearly 300 pound-feet of torque spread across such a substantial portion of the rev range, it shouldn't be a shock that the amount of usable power in the Regal GS is impressive. Off the line, it's quoted as hitting 60 in 6.8 seconds, but it feels a bit quicker. Mid-range punch, particularly on the freeway, is more than adequate, while accelerating and exiting through corners is fun, if only because it shows how good the AWD and eLSD systems are.

Buick somehow decided not to fit paddle shifters to auto-equipped GS models.

Buick has tuned the throttle tip-in quite nicely, with a fair amount of room for modulation in normal or Sport mode, and a crisper, snappier response when in GS. Lag – long the scourge of high-output, turbocharged engines like this – is scarcely an issue thanks to the twin-scroll unit fitted to the GS' 2.0T. Power delivery, meanwhile, is linear and predictable due to the abundance of easily accessible torque.

If there's a foible with the GS, it's the six-speed automatic. Really, there's not much wrong with the transmission itself, but rather, the decisions Buick made that surround it. First and foremost, you can't have all-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, despite this car's European cousins, the Vauxhall Insignia VXR and Opel Insignia OPC, featuring the same all-wheel-drive system with a stick.

Secondly, even with the sporty 19 or 20-inch wheels, look-at-me body kit and turbocharged grunt, Buick somehow decided not to fit paddle shifters to auto-equipped GS models. Let me put it plainly – a car like the GS and a set of paddles go together like french fries and poutine. Not having them standard is an indefensible omission, especially when they cost so little to add. Compounding this for me – and this is merely personal preference – is that the manual mode on the shifter feels backwards, mandating that drivers push forward to upshift and pull back to downshift.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD2014 Buick Regal GS AWD

Product-planning complaints aside, the Hydra-Matic six-speed auto shifts quickly enough and will drop gears nicely based on throttle inputs. As I mentioned, GS mode sharpens up shifts, although it isn't a neck-snapping increase in immediacy by any means.

Its sporting character aside, the Regal GS is still a comfortable, quiet car.

A car that's agile and goes quickly is all well and good, but if a driver doesn't feel confident in his steed's brakes, things can quickly go from being fun to downright scary. Thanks to its Brembo stoppers, the Regal GS is anything but. Four-piston, aluminum calipers and 13.6-inch vented rotors are mounted in front, while out back, there's a single-piston caliper and 12.4-inch vented rotors. It all feels quite nice, with plenty of modulation and feedback through the brake pedal, without feeling overly grabby or soft. Much like the AWD system, there's a sense of confidence delivered by the GS' brakes.

Its sporting character aside, the Regal GS is still a comfortable, quiet car. Buick tuned the cabin well, managing to mask wind noise. Road noise remains a small problem, although the Regal is on par in its segment. Engine noise, meanwhile, is sporting when pushed hard and at high rpms, although it has a generic, four-cylinder sportiness to it. At lower engine speeds, it's mostly quiet and unobtrusive.

There is a price to be paid for the power, torque and AWD awesomeness in the Regal GS, and it comes at the pumps. The EPA ratings claim 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, which certainly seems attainable. In my experience, even driven briskly, 19 to 20 mpg was possible around metro Detroit.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD

Prices for the Regal GS start at $36,905, but if you'd like the Haldex AWD system, plan on shelling out at least $39,270, not counting a $925 destination charge. That figure is comparable to the $39,300 starting price of the 240-hp BMW 328i xDrive or the $39,400, 248-hp Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic, cars that Buick says this car is aimed at.

If you move beyond badge snobbery, the Buick does begin to make a case for itself.

Obviously, this General Motors product doesn't have anywhere near the same level of brand cachet as the Europeans (Cadillac would be closer), but if you move beyond badge snobbery, the Buick does begin to make a case for itself. Most notably, that's because the Regal doesn't bury its owner under the cost of optional add-ons like the Germans. The sole available extras are the aforementioned 20-inch wheels ($700), an average-sized moonroof ($1,000) and a pair of packages. The $890 Driver Confidence Package 1 adds blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alert and a suite of other safety items. For another $1,695, customers can get adaptive cruise control and automatic collision prevention with the Driver Confidence Package 2. Out the door, a loaded Regal GS AWD with destination is $44,480, which is a fair bit less than similarly equipped competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The Regal GS is a capable all-weather entertainer that has looks and performance at a price that won't break the bank. It might not be as pure of a driving instrument as a comparable 3 Series or as luxurious a vehicle as the C-Class, but it really is an automotive total package for anyone that's looking for a sports sedan just a bit outside the norm.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 110 Comments
      CarCrazy24
      • 9 Months Ago
      Nice car Buick, respect
      peteMT
      • 9 Months Ago
      I'm a Buick guy. I own two GS's. I wanted to like this car. Heck, I wanted to see one and test drive it! Nobody around here wants to stock a $40k+ Regal. "We can order you one!" I gave up and bought a '14 Charger SXT AWD for $28k and change. Yes, it's not loaded, and no, you're not MOAR CLEVAR for pointing that out. It has heated cloth and everything I wanted, and nothing I don't need like adaptive cruise control and a sunroof that hits my head and electronic nanny sensors. GM should take note and produce something similar for Buick.
        SYJ
        • 9 Months Ago
        @peteMT
        The base regal is $31k and base GS is $37k. You can get a regal for under $40k- especially when you factor in incentives and real world pricing. The Charger can be equipped to $40k+ if Im not mistaken.
      domingorobusto
      • 9 Months Ago
      When i was helping my mom look for a new car a while back, we test drove a 2013 GS AWD. I only had two complaints: 1, it's a pig. I understand why. The interior is disconcertingly quiet, and AWD isn't light. But still, this car is 4000 lbs. The Ecotec LNF is a GREAT engine, but it is overtasked with this cars ridiculous heft. Reason 2: They tried to strike a strange balance between handling and ride, and sort of missed both targets. It's a little too softly sprung to be truly sporty, with plenty of pitch change on launch and hard braking. At the same time, it's a little too stiffly sprung to be truly comfortable. If this car was 400 lbs lighter, it'd be a great car. And $5000 cheaper across the board would make it a lot more palatable. It's a really good car that just misses the mark by being a bit too expensive and a bit too heavy. And I am disappointed in them for cheaping out on the wheels. One of the greatest features of the GS has been those stunning wheels. These new ones aren't bad at all, they're just nowhere nearly as pretty as the ones they're replacing.
        SYJ
        • 9 Months Ago
        @domingorobusto
        the 19s and 20s are both still available on this car. They have not changed or cheapened anything.
          domingorobusto
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SYJ
          Right you are, didn't realize they were optional, thought all GS's came with the 20's and that they had cheaped out this year. One less complaint about the car then.
        Jason
        • 9 Months Ago
        @domingorobusto
        Your remarks make no sense. AWD wasn't an option in 2013. The "LNF" was never available in the Regal and the 2014 uses the new LGE "LTG" RPO engine, which has very little in common to the prior Ecotec 2.0L.
          SYJ
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Jason
          thank you, glad someone knows something about the car.
      Noah Daniels
      • 9 Months Ago
      Why a manual transmission only with the FWD version? People don't buy sticks because they're cheaper any more, they buy them because they're enthusiasts. I'd understand not offering a stick at all, but I don't understand only offering it on the low-end (FWD) model.
      felix.storm
      • 9 Months Ago
      Would sure like to see a Buick Regal GS and a Volvo S60 side by side comparison... so far, it's (to me): interior styling: S60 +, Regal - exterior styling: S60 +, Regal - ease of maintenance (based on recent history): Regal +, S60 -
      Jason
      • 9 Months Ago
      I own a '12 and it's really a fantastic car. The addition of AWD is really compelling, this chassis is really perfect for the additional performance potential of an aggressive AWD like they now offer. I really like the way they've updated the rear styling, achieving a more modern and upscale look (especially when the LED are lit, not just in photos), without a lot of tear-up (it appears all the steel parts and even the rear bumper cover are carryover for the GS). I like the 'fangs' on the GS much better than the base appearance, so I'm glad they didn't change the front. The interior changes are all improvements and they addressed the worst parts of the original design with everything they did. That said, the engine has less HP for '14, which I think is strange. But if it is more 'driveable' and has stronger mid-range driveability, it may just feel better. But if the real on-the-street pricing is as much as it seems, I would not personally buy another one. I found it a nice alternative to an A4, but at $40k I would surely buy a brand with better resale value, such as an Audi or MB. It's a tough spot for Buick to be in, they are doing all the right things, but convincing the entire market to change their perspective on Buick (further than has already happened) may prove a challenge. Us select buyers who already saw the value in the brand learn a hard lesson when trying to sell our Buicks... the resale value is really bad, which says that the rest of the market doesn't look at the cars and the brand like we do. Very tough situation for GM.
        SYJ
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Jason
        I dont think Audi is really known for stellar resale value and even if that was the case you could always lease a Buick- they have tons of competitive lease deals. Im sure MB models have better resale but I fail to see how you come out ahead paying $5k more for a comparable c class. Obviously $40k isnt the average sales price of a regal, i suspect only a small % of regals are sold with that price tag so I don't know why so many are describing the regal as "$40k car" which is akin to describing the 328 as a "$50k car". A well equipped Regal is about $35k which isnt much more than many well equipped standard family sedans. If the Malibu is $35k loaded Im not sure why the idea of a $40k GS is that shocking. The 2014 engine produces same performance (or slightly better) vs the 2013 car and nets an additional 3mpg- that's a win in my book.
          Jason
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SYJ
          @norm: impressive results but I am shocked if your Verano (MT?) gets that mileage. My '12 GS struggles to achieve 20 mpg combined and it's virtually impossible to sustain 27 mpg on level highway at reasonable speeds. Very disappointing FE in my case.
          montoym
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SYJ
          I really miss the days of the old AB site (circa 2007-2009ish) where our usernames had a rating attached to them. Every thumb up or thumb down you got was added up and you'd have a reputation score of sorts. So, someone who continually posts BS and so forth would have their bar be nearly full of red while useful commenters had green bars for all of their thumb-ups. Now it's all just based on a single post and isn't aggregated. Wish we could get that back.
          montoym
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SYJ
          Don't mind normc32, he manages to comment on just about every story about a 4cyl car regarding the mythical mileage of his Regal GS. He's never once offered up any sort of proof besides his own words and I suspect he never will since it's not true. I was wondering how long it would be before he pounced all over this story, he did not disappoint, plenty of comments and all full of the same BS.
          normc32
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SYJ
          The Ecotec 2.4l in my 2007 Sky sees 40+ mpg with an aftermarket turbo. My 2.0T Verano with 6-speed sees similar at highway cruise and have gotten 39 mpg on a tankful. The Ecotec is quite efficient.
          Jason
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SYJ
          The fuel economy of the older 2.0T Ecotec is really disappointing, no doubt the newer GM engine is an improvement there (used in the '14). You're right about the price situation but that is the problem GM has, which I mentioned before. As long as that wide gap in the MSRP and the market price exists, it will hold back the brand.
      car-a-holic
      • 9 Months Ago
      I think price is a click or two high, I also liked the previous instrument cluster more. Dash I nicer now tho....
      downwithlaser
      • 9 Months Ago
      Wait, so they give it a drive train that can better handle high amounts of power, yet they drop 11 horsepower? Why? Why do that?
        SYJ
        • 9 Months Ago
        @downwithlaser
        it drops in hp because of the routing of the intake on AWD models. One of the early reviews explained that.
          Jason
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SYJ
          I think the C&D remarks could be easily misread. I don't see where it was stated that the intake routing was compromised by the AWD, and I also don't see physically why that would be. I suspect it's simply a matter of GM optimizing the engine to have increased torque at low RPM. Also wouldn't be surprised if GM simply wanted the Cadillac versions to be able to market a higher HP figure. The comparison in power from the '13 to the '14 should not include the addition of the AWD as a factor, the two engines are completely different. They flow the opposite (the intake side is on the firewall side of the engine bay now, the exhaust and turbo on the new engine sit behind the front radiator). So perhaps this is where the discussion about the intake routing impact on the HP rating originated, but I don't think it's really the issue.
          normc32
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SYJ
          It is a new engine compared to the '13 which used LHU. New one is LFA and has the turbo on the front the engine. Check Trifecta Tune on a similar engine in the ATS AWD. They get like 100 hp/trq with an engine and trans tune.
          SYJ
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SYJ
          right, they only did one intake plumbing setup for both cars so the FWD version looses the same 11hp. But it delivers same acceleration with better mileage so the hp loss really means nothing. The regular regal turbo dropped a second from its 0-60 time while GS stays the same.
          montoym
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SYJ
          The FWD version has 259hp now as well. They had a non-GS turbo model that offered 220hp which they increased to 259hp and they brought the GS down from 270hp to 259hp. The GS models do offer the torque peak 500rpm earlier than the non-GS models but engine-wise, that's now the only difference. This link from C&D explains the same: http://www.caranddriver.com/news/2014-buick-regal-photos-and-info-news quote - "The current Regal Turbo and Regal GS use the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, but in two different states of tune: 220 horsepower and 260 lb-ft in the Turbo and 270/295 in the GS. No moreā€”the turbocharged four now will come in one strength, no matter which badge is on the booty of your Regal. Rated at 259 horsepower at 5300 rpm and 295 lb-ft at 3000 rpm, the new iteration bolsters Regal Turbos by 39 horses and 35 lb-ft, while the GS is neutered by 11 horsepower." -
      May
      • 9 Months Ago
      Regal GS isn't based on Insignia OPC, it's regular Insignia 2.0T with different front bumper.
        Jason
        • 9 Months Ago
        @May
        ... And the same brakes as an OPC, adaptive struts, same AWD as OPC, etc. If you want to be a smart-a$$ try being smart first.
      Quest
      • 9 Months Ago
      I'd really like to know what happened to one of my posts as it seems it was deleted. A reply to the thread fanboi who was replying to another poster indicating the Regal's 'fangs' were functional brake cooling ducts? They're a not, as fake as the ventiports on the hood. I see that post went away also... hmmm... what's up with that huh??
      Phil Klosterman
      • 5 Months Ago
      Nice job buick
      13rus
      • 9 Months Ago
      Oh the design is totally soo 2004!!! Awesome!!! And the power is soo 2002!!! Amazing how the AWD awesomeness is so very much out of date!!! Intriguing how the heft of the uglie handles so well!!! Please, Autoblog, if it is a piece of $hit, call it that, why bother upping the automaker's bravado? They (Buick) haven't made a decent car since 1965 and haven't made a solid performing car since 1987. What are we talking about here? IMHO, of course.
        SYJ
        • 9 Months Ago
        @13rus
        The A4 makes 211hp and the 328i makes 255hp and both have higher base prices than the regal. I believe the new C class has 241hp standard. So I suppose all of them have power that is so 2002 right?
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