The 2015 Buick Regal represents a real departure from the model line from which it descends. For many years, the Buick Regal was one of the stodgy statesmen of the sedan world. It was a nameplate that stood for reliability, comfort and sturdiness, largely at the expense of excitement. After a long, successful run, the Regal was discontinued early in the 2000s. Fast-forward several years to 2010, when the Regal was unearthed, dusted off and brought back to life as an all-new car that's nothing like its ancestor. Rather, it was a svelte European-style sport sedan with an infusion of advanced electronics. The two versions resembled one another in name only.

The new Regal had some problems, however. First, it alienated the nameplate's previous fans -- older drivers who wanted a big, comfortable cruiser, not a Euro-tuned handler. For them, Buick offers the mild hybrid eAssist, which stands out for gas mileage and smoothness rather than performance and handling.

Another challenge was the car's reserved overall performance character, despite its handling prowess. To remedy this situation, Buick offers both the Regal Turbo and the even sportier GS model. These two use the same turbocharged engine but in two distinct states of tuning.

In the end, Buick hopes that the Regal can make deeper inroads into the highly competitive near-luxury sport-sedan segment.

What's New for 2015?

Like most GM models, the Regal adds an available 4G LTE hot spot and Siri Eyes Free connectivity for the 2015 model year. There are no other changes following a facelift last year.

What We Like

Dramatic exterior design; athletic tendencies; premium-level cabin; long list of standard amenities; quick off the line

What We Don't

Turbo lag; tight trunk; poor visibility; road noise with 20-inch wheels (Regal GS trim)

How Much?

$31,000-$40,800

Fuel Economy

The Regal offers two engines. Nearly all Regal models are equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (formerly only offered on the Regal GS) that makes 259 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. With the standard 6-speed automatic, it returns 21 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway; drivers who opt for all-wheel drive will get 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy. Finally, the GS's available 6-speed manual changes output to 20 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

Optional only on the Premium I trim level is a fuel-efficient eAssist powertrain aimed at shoppers who don't want the more powerful engine. Offering mild hybrid technology, the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder makes 182 hp and returns 25 mpg city/36 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Buick Regal offers four trim levels: a base-level Regal, the midlevel Premium I, an upscale Premium II and a high-performance Regal GS.

Drivers who choose the base-level Regal ($31,000) already get a lot of equipment standard. In addition to the turbocharged 4-cylinder, the Regal includes dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, dual power front seats, steering-wheel audio controls, a reversing camera, and typical features such as keyless entry and power accessories.

Step up to the midlevel Regal Premium I ($32,900), and you get keyless entry with a push-button starter, a remote starter, rear parking assist and a heated steering wheel. The sedan's eAssist hybrid engine is also available on the Premium I model.

Next up is the Regal Premium II ($35,000). It adds a Bose audio system, xenon headlights, and Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system with navigation and an 8-in color touchscreen.

Topping the lineup is the sporty Regal GS ($38,200). The GS adds front parking assist, a sport suspension, high-performance Brembo brakes, dual exhausts, and unique front and rear fascias.

Among the Regal's major options are all-wheel drive, its eAssist hybrid engine (only on the Premium I model), a 6-speed manual transmission (only on the GS), and safety features, such as lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system.

Safety

Occupant protection comes from six standard airbags -- front, side and curtain. Premium II trim Regal models and higher get two more side airbags for the rear-seat outboard passengers. The Regal is also equipped with an anti-lock braking system, stability control and OnStar emergency telematics. Options include a lane-departure warning system, a blind spot monitoring system, a forward-collision alert system and a rear cross-traffic alert system.

In testing by the government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Buick Regal earned a perfect overall 5-star crash-test rating. The rating included 4-star frontal and rollover ratings, along with a 5-star side-impact score.

Behind the Wheel

The hybrid-powered Regal eAssist quietly delivers smooth and refined power. It also does a good job at splitting the difference between ride and handling. Steering isn't as responsive as one would hope, but the car still displays a good bit of nimbleness.

Moving up to a more powerful turbocharged Regal model gives this chassis a chance to live up to its sporting credentials. The steering feels sharper, and the car has a more dynamic feel. This Regal's Euro-tuned suspension was designed to show off its athleticism on quick-cutting switchbacks and in high-speed maneuvers. Unfortunately, the turbocharged engine does suffer from a noticeable lag when launching from a standstill.

The Regal GS still delivers fully athletic agility thanks to its sport suspension, 20-in wheels and powerful brakes. Even hardcore enthusiasts will be impressed with its high-performance dose of power and track-caliber capabilities.

Granting flexibility to the Regal driving experience is the Interactive Drive Control System, which alters suspension damping, throttle response, shift points and steering speed based on three adjustable drive settings: Tour, Normal and Sport.

Other Cars to Consider

Acura TLX -- Acura's new TLX offers handsome -- if dull -- styling, powerful engines and all-wheel drive. It's an excellent Regal competitor with slightly better badge appeal.

Audi A4 -- The A4 doesn't have the same hybrid option as the Regal, but it otherwise boasts many similarities. It's more expensive, though, and offers a nicer interior with higher-quality materials.

Volvo S60 -- From a ride and handling standpoint, the S60 and the Regal Turbo are very similar. Both are sporty in nature but also deliver a comfortable cruising experience. The Volvo, however, feels more solid and offers a higher level of safety.

AutoTrader's Advice

We like the Regal Premium II because it combines the Buick's excellent turbocharged engine with a wide range of equipment, such as the Harman Kardon sound system, HID headlights, a navigation system and Buick's IntelliLink infotainment technology. Or opt for the Premium I and choose the eAssist powertrain for superb, 36 mpg hwy fuel economy and a smooth, comfortable ride.

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