2011 Buick Regal Review | Toronto Sun

2011 Buick Regal Review

2011 Buick Regal

By Wade Ozeroff, Toronto Sun


Regal is arguably the best looking Buick available.


It fooled me for a minute when I headed outside, all booties and mittens and toque with my snowbrush clenched in my hands; and I walked right by the 2011 Buick Regal and thought “hey, my neighbor bought a really nice looking car”.


Now, I’ll grant you that I am easily confused; and there were a lot of cars piling up around my palatial hilltop mansion this week, so that’s my excuse for forgetting what I was driving (and only briefly! I got my bearings and adapted right away, friends, for I am razor sharp).


The point is, the Regal is arguably the best looking Buick available. Its basic design, inside and out, is the work of General Motors’ Opel brand, and the Regal could pass for a European sedan from any angle. The Opel version (Insignia) was an award winner overseas last year, and as a Buick was voted head its class by the Canadian automotive media and is a contender for AJAC’s Car of the Year award.


The big difference between my Autonet tester, which is a CXL trim optioned upward with GM’s “preferred equipment group 1SD” package (which gives it a sunroof, park assist and power passenger seat) is its heart; mine has the lesser of two available engines.


A 2.4 cylinder four-cylinder Ecotec powers my Regal with 182 horses and a potential 172 lb.-ft. of torque, which is not inconsiderable; but it’s noticeably slower to respond than the turbo powerplant also available for the car (a 2.0 litre that brings 220 hp and 258 lb.ft.)


The car feels light and skittish in heavy snow, though no more so than many of the other front-wheel drive cars passing through the driveway here at my palatial manse. The test model, equipped with very good Blizzak snow tires (big and wide tires, at 235/50R18), hasn’t bogged down yet.


That aside, the Regal is tracking well in the snowy conditions thus far, though it requires a lot of steering input. The feedback from the linkage is good, though biased toward the kind of light-touch driving Buick is famous for, and the car’s ride stays smooth on its independent four-wheel suspension. Four-wheel disc ABS is standard, of course, as are electronic stability and traction control.


The interior is a great combination of good-looking layout and nicely applied trim flourishes on top of a black-on-black color scheme. The leather feels good, as do the dash components and doors, and there is very good room overhead (at least in the front row).


My CXL’s gauge display is easy on the eyes and easy to read, and while the stereo controls are maybe a little arcane, they look good; with four control knobs and a set of flush-mounted buttons with aluminum-esque accents. The whole effect of the center stack’s plunge into a brightly accented console and shifter knob is one of the cabin’s best visual features.


Tell you what, though: I’m not fond of the driver’s seat, as I find the headrest is pushed too far forward to be comfortable, and the seat hard and lacking support, despite its lumbar adjustment.


Visibility from within is good, particularly forward, sightlines to the rear are hampered by small and oddly shaped rearview mirrors.


The Regal is priced to be shopped favorably against other entry-luxury brands, particularly domestic competitors, and you can vary the price quite a bit but basically the MSRP stays under thirty five thousand.


My test car, a CXL with automatic transmission (a six-speed with manumatic ability, that has been really smooth in the car thus far) rings in at $34,710 before freight and taxaroonies, with the aforementioned 2.4 litre engine and option package. Even the class-winning model in the Regal lineup, the CXL Turbo begins at $34,990

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