The 2014 Buick Regal: Buick’s Mid-Sized Sedan Gets Makeover
Let’s start with a question: what comes to mind when you think of Buick? Young drivers? Spritely performance? The latest in automotive technology at your fingertips? Buick is all of these things today, but some car buyers think it’s an ‘older buyers’ brand and that Buick’s vehicles are stodgy, with soft-sprung suspensions. Think again, if this is you!
While the Buick brand portfolio is now 110 years old, don’t let its age or an outdated and erroneous image fool you! This automaker has sold more than 43 million vehicles, has a deep motorsports history, and its Regal GS luxury sedan posted a recorded top speed of 162 mph at the 2012 Nevada Open Road Challenge. And, although Buick strives to imbue every model with the halo of its brand ethics-“beauty, quietness and comfort”-powertrain innovation is another Buick hallmark and the newest upgrades to the 2014 Regal and Regal GS are proof to this quartet of values.
The 2014 Buick Regal is more sporty, more technologically astute and more refined than the previous model. Updates include new exterior design elements, with signature wing-shape LED lighting; a revised interior with GM’s next-generation IntelliLink infotainment system; new advanced safety features; a more powerful and fuel efficient turbo engine; and a new all-wheel-drive system, with an electronic limited-slip differential to improve traction and handling. On sale later this year, the 2014 Buick Regal starts at $30,615 (including a $925 destination charge). A more fuel-efficient 2.4 liter four-cylinder version with a hybrid-like eAssist starts at $32,485 and gets 36 mpg on the highway. The Regal AWD starts at $32,790, while the more potent Regal GS is priced starting at $37,830.
The latest Regal, based on a global GM platform, is a IIHS Top Safety Pick and comes with a suite of safety features that includes new radar- and camera-based safety features – with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, and Collision Mitigation Braking – for surround protection. Adaptive Cruise Control is available; it adjusts vehicle speed according to traffic, and can bring the Regal to a complete stop in heavy traffic and initiate acceleration again, when it is safe to do so. In-vehicle connectivity is enhanced with more simple and intuitive controls, and natural speech recognition.
“The new 2014 Regal is more expressive, more connected and more technologically advanced,” said Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of Buick Marketing. “The new Regal gives those discerning buyers more of the technologically advanced features they want in a modern luxury sedan, all with the style and refinement they expect from Buick.”
Standard features on all trims include: six air bags, including side curtains (rear thorax airbags are optional on all models, but standard in GS trim); StabiliTrak electronic stability control with full-function traction control; four-wheel anti-lock brakes with Intelligent Brake Assist; OnStar (with six months of Directions and Connections service); fog lamps; cruise control; power windows with driver and front passenger express up/down; dual-zone automatic climate control; eight-inch color touch screen radio with Buick IntelliLink, AM/FM/Sirius XM (three months of service) stereo with CD player and auxiliary input jack, USB port and Bluetooth wireless connectivity for select phones; leather-appointed seating; heated driver and passenger front seats; twelve-way power driver’s seat; auto-dimming inside rearview mirror; ice blue ambient lighting, and an electric parking brake.
When you look at the newest models, you’ll notice first what Buick describes as “a more contemporary and premium presence.” Regal’s body sits a tad lower and is slightly wider; while the front waterfall grille feature and midsection of the midsizer remain the same, the front gets a new look and back end get a slight makeover, too. There are new headlamps in front that can be ordered as halogen projector beams or xenon high-intensity discharge; and there are Enclave-inspired LED wing-shaped taillamps in the rear, along with an elongated, horizontal chrome accent. The GS is distinguished with unique front and rear fascias, a different wing in the back, unique satin-metallic exhaust pipes, and different tire and wheel packages.
Slipping inside the Regal, you’ll find the updated version has added amenities, but it has also been refined and made more “simple” and uncluttered, with the center stack radio controls now set up with seven buttons instead of 17, for instance. The new steering wheel has push controls for safety and infotainment, and a new instrument panel has a new, larger eight-inch color touch screen that has been designed for easy operation, with intuitive controls and smartphone-influenced swipe recognition for easier navigation. Dual-zone climate controls also feature “capacitive-touch operation” and are framed in chrome. There is attractive ice-blue lighting and the new instrument cluster has a high-resolution, 4.2-inch color display that provides vehicle information, navigation, audio system functions, and phone features. GS versions get an eight-inch configurable color instrument display framed with chrome accents; it projects chronograph-style graphics in two modes: Touring and Sport. A pair of semicircle mechanical instruments house the tachometer and other vehicle functions, as a way to highlight the GS’s driver-oriented mission.
Under the hood is a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is standard on both Regal and Regal GS, with an enhanced torque curve that varies between the two models; it was named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines in 2012. Horsepower is rated at 259, while the 295 lb.-ft. of torque that is available in both models comes on earlier in the range with the GS version. This engine gets 18 percent more horsepower than the 2013 Regal Turbo and brings improved fuel economy, with the city mileage increasing 17 percent to an EPA-estimated 21 mpg (FWD and automatic transmission). The estimated highway mileage for FWD automatic models also increases to 30 mpg. With Regal GS automatic models, the EPA mileage estimates increase more than 10 percent in the city, to 21 mpg, and about 11 percent on the highway, to 30 mpg (FWD models). With Regal GS and the six-speed manual, the highway mileage estimate increases 15 percent, to 31 mpg.
A 2.4-liter engine with eAssist light electrification technology gets EPA-estimated ratings of 25 city/36 highway mpg; it comes as a front-driver only. Six-speed automatic transmissions are set up with both engines and a six-speed manual is available in the front-drive Regal GS only. Electric power steering is now on all versions.
Available is a Haldex all-wheel-drive system that aids in traction and and enhances the cornering capability of the Regal GS, especially when driven in the GS mode of the Interactive Drive Control System. A new H-arm rear suspension design is standard on all Regal AWD models. FWD models are set up with a four-link rear suspension.
We drove three versions of the new Regal, on a recent ride-and-drive event in Ohio and Kentucky, motoring over a wide selection of roads that ranged from freeways to narrow and winding country lanes. Although we drove both the front drive and the AWD, we did not encounter traction-compromised surfaces to test out the prowess of the AWD system that not only transfers up to 90 percent of traction from the front to the rear, but also also across the back end from wheel-to-wheel, when needed; we are familiar with this system and GM’s use of it and recommend it as a safety boost for owners that live in inclement regions of the country. We appreciated the base model that Buick describes as the “athlete” in the family. It has a luxury interior, is quiet and comfortable to motor in, with ample power, a competent suspension and good brakes.
As a performance enthusiast, it’s hard not to rave about the GS that Buick likens to the “all-star quarterback of the lineup.” It wears slightly different looks, with a front fascia that incorporates prominent, vertical air intake slots, rocker panel extensions and a rear spoiler extension. Different styling cues ride along inside as well, with more premium amenities. But, what really stands out are the driving differences that come as a result of Buick’s Interactive Drive Control system, which allows you to select different drive modes, including a track-oriented competitive setting. It is also distinguished by increased steering effort that give better feedback, more sophisticated suspension technologies that reduces body roll, and a four-wheel-disc brake system that features front Brembo four-piston front calipers and larger rotors. It also has a lowered ride height and 19-inch aluminum wheels to enunciate a sporty stance, 20-inchers with summer-rated performance tires are available. We also enjoyed the smooth-shifting six-speed manual, a rare offering in today’s car world!
The Regal can be ordered in four trim levels, including the GS: Regal (1SL), Premium I (1SN), Premium II (1SP) and GS (1SX). Buick IntelliLink is standard on all Regal audio systems, and uses Bluetooth wireless connectivity or USB to connect the driver’s smart phone to an eight-inch, high-resolution, full-color touch screen display radio. A new nine-speaker Bose sound system is available.
Three interior color and trim combinations are available for 2014 that all feature standard Soleil Keisel leather seating: light neutral seating with Cocoa accents and Rhythm wood décor; ebony with echelon warm décor; and exclusive to the GS is an ebony, with contrast stitching and Diamo Black décor, including a black headliner.