2011 Regal New Car Test Drive
Buick revives the Regal name for 2011 in a mid-size sedan born and built in Germany. (As the lineup expands and the manufacturing plant is readied it will be built in North America.) Shorter than the LaCrosse, this latest Regal is an all-new car to Buick. It's based on the same structure as the Opel Insignia that won major awards in Europe last year.
The 2011 Buick Regal is initially offered only in mid-line CXL trim with leather upholstery. The new Regal is powered by a 182-hp four-cylinder with six-speed automatic, or a 220-hp turbocharged, direct-injected 2-liter with a six-speed manual transmission. The turbocharged engine delivers a huge boost in torque for more relaxed yet more powerful propulsion. Fully independent suspension has been tuned for ride comfort but this Buick won't shy away from the winding road alternative, and the steering and brakes are up to it.
Best thought of as a four-passenger car that could carry a child seat rear-center, the Regal's interior is mix of sporty and luxury much like an Acura TSX. The degree to which you favor the efficient sporty look or warmer luxury feel may well dictate which cabin color scheme you choose.
The Regal CXL comes nicely equipped and amenities, be they standard or optional, include Bluetooth, navigation with real-time traffic, and heated front seats. We did not see memory seats on the option list yet there should be enough to keep anyone comfortable and connected.
We found the Regal very quiet, with a very smooth ride, a welcome respite on miserable commutes and a good partner for cross-country drives. It may be the quietest car in its class. Mix in a solid thud to the doors, tactile clicks to the controls and a structure safe and secure, and the Regal is a well-rounded package.
The Regal competes with the Acura TSX, Audi A4, Mazda 6, Volkswagen Passat, Volvo S60, Lexus ES. Much of the direct competition has more power, less weight or both. The Audi and Acura are sportier, the Mazda and Volkswagen larger, and the Lexus ES driver could get a well-equipped Regal turbo for the requisite luxury in a better driving car.
The 2011 Buick Regal CXL comes with a 182-hp 2.4-liter engine, six-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Several trim levels are available.
The Regal CXL RL1 ($26,245) has leather upholstery, dual-temp climate control, heated front seats, power driver seat, power windows/locks/heated mirrors, tilt/telescope steering wheel with redundant controls, AM/FM/XM/CD/USB audio, Bluetooth, split-fold rear seat, trip computer, keyless entry, and OnStar w/turn-by-turn navigation (6 months service included at purchase, by subscription thereafter).
CXL RL2 ($27,245) adds a moonroof to RL1. RL3 ($27,090) adds to RL1 a comfort/convenience package consisting of rear park assist, 120-volt AC outlet, and power passenger seat. RL4 ($28,090) is an RL1 plus moonroof and the comfort/convenience package. RL5 ($29,035) is an RL3 plus moonroof, nine-speaker harman/kardon audio system, and rear side airbags. The RL6 ($31,030) is an RL5 plus navigation.
The turbocharged CXL ($28,745) comes with a 220-hp 2-liter engine, six-speed automatic or manual transmission (the latter year end), and larger brakes. Expect packaging similar to the regular CXL but with additional upgrades available, including Interactive Drive Control System (adjustable dampers) and 19-inch wheels ($1,250), and HID headlamps and LED daytime running lamps.
The Regal line will expand in 2012 with a less-expensive CX model, likely with cloth upholstery, and a high-performance GS model with different bodywork, front seats, power, suspension, tires, wheels and all-wheel drive.
Safety features include six airbags standard with rear-seat side-impact airbags optional. Electronic stability control is optional.
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