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2016 Buick Regal: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader December 2015

The 2016 Buick Regal represents a real departure from the model line it descends from. 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 decade of the 2000s. But let's fast-forward several years to 2010, when the Regal was unearthed, dusted off and brought back to life as an all-new car. This one was nothing like its ancestor. It was a svelte European-style sport sedan with an infusion of advanced electronics. The two versions resembled one another in name only.

However, the new Regal had some problems. 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 the Regal can make deeper inroads into the highly competitive near-luxury sport sedan segment.

What's New for 2016?

The Regal offers an updated powertrain lineup for 2016, along with a revised IntelliLink infotainment system that's now compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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 (GS)

How Much?


Fuel Economy

The Regal offers two engines. The base-level Regal 1SV uses a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, mated to front-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Environmental Protection Agency rates this engine at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

Standard on all other Regal models is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which makes a muscular 259 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Offered with front- or all-wheel drive, the turbocharged engine only comes with a 6-speed automatic, unless you opt for the Regal GS, which also offers a 6-speed manual. Fuel economy tops out at 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive and the automatic, 20 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with the Regal GS (and the stick shift) and 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with optional all-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Buick Regal offers four trim levels, including the base-level 1SV, a midlevel model named Regal, an upscale Premium and the high-performance Regal GS.

The base-level Regal 1SV ($28,000) touts GM's OnStar system with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, leather upholstery, remote keyless entry, Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system (now with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technology), a power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a backup camera, automatic headlights, heated front seats, Siri Eyes Free and 18-in alloy wheels.

Next up is the Regal ($29,900), which adds the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and access to more options and features.

After that, there's the luxurious Premium ($32,500), which offers xenon headlights, a remote starter, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, a power passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system and a 9-speaker Bose audio system.

Topping the lineup is the high-performance GS ($35,000), which boasts 19-in wheels (and available 20-in wheels), Brembo front brakes, a sporty body kit, front parking sensors, a sport suspension, an enhanced gauge cluster and sport interior trim that includes heavily bolstered front seats and a sport steering wheel. The GS also offers a 6-speed manual transmission as optional equipment.

The Regal's major options include all-wheel drive and safety features such as lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system. The sedan also offers a power sunroof and (for non-GS models) larger wheels.


Occupant protection comes from six standard airbags (front, side and curtain). The Regal is also equipped with an anti-lock brake system, stability control and OnStar emergency telematics. Options include a lane-departure warning system, a blind spot monitoring system, a forward-collision alert system with automated braking 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. The Regal has not yet been fully crash-tested by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Behind the Wheel

Base-level Regal models are smooth and quiet, though acceleration isn't stellar. The base-level Regal 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 suffers from a noticeable lag when launching from zero.

But the Regal GS 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 GS 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

2016 Acura TLX -- Acura's new TLX offers handsome styling, powerful engines and all-wheel drive. It's an excellent Regal competitor with slightly better badge appeal.

2016 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.

2016 Volvo S60 -- From a ride and handling standpoint, the S60 and the Regal Turbo are comparable. 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.

Used Lexus ES -- The Lexus ES does a great job at offering a comfortable driving experience with a hint of performance, especially if you opt for the V6-powered ES 350. It comes at a price premium over the Regal, though, so you may want to consider used models.

Autotrader's Advice

We like the Regal Premium, as it combines the Buick's excellent turbocharged engine with a wide range of equipment such as HID headlights, a navigation system and Buick's IntelliLink infotainment technology. We also love that turbocharged engine.

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2016 Buick Regal: New Car Review - Autotrader