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Executive wheels: An American winner

Jeff Rundles //February 18, 2015//

Executive wheels: An American winner

Jeff Rundles //February 18, 2015//


For years, the rap on Buick has been that its age demographic adjusted down if a 70-year-old bought one.

Then a few years ago comes the word that the Chinese believe Buick is the height of auto luxury. That big Asian marketplace more or less kept the brand afloat while its GM cousins Oldsmobile, Saturn and Pontiac bit the dust. So Buick attacked its U.S. image by launching an advertising campaign that, basically, is “That’s Not a Buick” – meaning that a Buick will surprise people who thought that they were just for old people.

Well, it works. I loved this Regal GS AWD, and everyone who saw it and/or rode in it during my week-long test drive felt exactly the same way. I should add the caveat that I grew up in “Buick City,” Flint, Mich., and have always had something of a pro-Buick bias. But for years, I have just felt let down. No more.

Seriously, if I were in the market for a luxury sedan, and thinking of the BMW 3, the Mercedes C, Acura, Volvo S60, Audi 4, Toyota Avalon, Lincoln MKS, and Lexus ES, this Buick Regal would leap to the top of my list. For most, the 2015 Regal is equal or better on any measurement you’d like: performance, comfort, styling. For the rest, it is very close on those marks and far less money.

It was the quietest sedan I have been in for some time. It is the most comfortable sedan I have driven in years. It features a great back seat and a huge, four-golf-bag truck. It’s not a huge nor small car; it’s a Baby-Bear car: just right.

And it’s the best road car I have driven in many, many years. We had the opportunity during the test drive to take it up in the mountains, all over town, on the highway, on some back roads, on city streets and just about everywhere – and, we encountered some roads where the All Wheel Drive came in handy – and I can attest that the Regal handled like a dream, had plenty of room and carrying capacity and felt extremely safe.

One of the things that makes this car great is the engine. You can get a Regal with a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine, but this GS model featured a 2.0-liter four-banger with turbo putting out 270 hp. It felt like more. This car was quick and had awesome handling. I felt in control at all times; great cornering, wonderful maneuverability, nice balance. All this, and very fun to drive.

The 2015 Regal GS comes standard with sporty exterior and interior styling cues, a six-speed auto transmission, high performance brakes with Brembo front calipers, a high-performance strut front suspension, and 19” alloy wheels. All this looked cool, and gave the car a great ride.

There are a couple of other things to mention:

     The heater is powerful, but the temperature adjustment control, a weird slider thing, is awful.
    The outside mirrors could be a tad larger.
    The steering wheel height adjustment lever felt as though it would break.
    The front and rear defrosting is as fast as I have ever seen.

Almost everything else is what you’d expect in a luxury car – power everything, sunroof, all of the modern high-tech toys, keyless (and passive) entry, rear camera, heated seats, power outlets, Bose premium 9-speaker stereo system, hands-free Bluetooth calling, etc. Here, also standard, Buick has added its very cool OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot technology that means you can use the full potential of your smartphone all the time and sync all of you apps and toys, where applicable, to the car.

With the $3,235 option package they also added on safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, automatic collision preparation, following distance sensors, lane departure warning, and the coolest thing – that came in handy for me – rear cross traffic alert (wonderful in a crowded parking lot or driveway where parked cars block the view).

The base price was $39,610 for the GS AWD model, and with all the add-ons, the final sticker price was $43,976.

That’s not inexpensive, but it is far below some of the straight-up competition (BMW, Audi, Lexus). I didn’t flat-out love everything (e.g. the heat controls, the steering wheel adjustments, the outside mirrors). But overall, I wish I had one of these.