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2017 Buick Regal: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader January 2017

The 2017 Buick Regal is quite simply a different type of car. Its driving character is notably different from its fellow Buicks, and it also stands apart from other premium sedans in terms of its space, performance and interior ambiance. Sometimes, different can be a great thing, but in this case, the Regal's distinctiveness limits its appeal.

The main problem is that the Regal falls in between the mainstream and luxury-sedan segments. It's less spacious and more expensive than family sedans from Honda and Ford while not really bettering their upper trims' feature content and interior quality. At the same time, this midsize Buick can't match the premium feel, sharper driving dynamics and overall refinement of entry-level luxury sedans. We would also note that the plusher, quieter and admittedly more expensive LaCrosse is more in keeping with what customers probably expect from a Buick.

Now, having said all that, the Regal is still a handsome sedan that provides above-average handling and a long list of standard equipment. It's also due to be replaced next year, so if the idea of a more premium midsize sedan appeals to you, it may be worth waiting a few months.

What's New for 2017?

With a full redesign due next year, the current Buick Regal heads into 2017 without significant changes. You can no longer get a 6-speed manual with the Regal GS, but a minuscule number of buyers actually opted for it.

What We Like

Attractive exterior design; athletic driving experience; long list of standard features

What We Don't

Tight interior space; small trunk; disappointing interior quality for a premium model; unremarkable acceleration and fuel economy

How Much?

$27,000-$36,500

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 30 mpg on the highway. That's not very good for this type of engine, and its poor acceleration also makes it one of the slowest midsize sedans you can buy.

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. Acceleration is significantly improved, but it still falls short of other midsize sedans with upgrade engines. Offered with front- or all-wheel drive, the turbocharged engine only comes with a 6-speed automatic. Fuel economy is actually better than the base engine's, topping out at 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive lowers those estimates to 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Buick Regal offers five trim levels: base 1SV, Sport Touring, Regal Turbo, Premium II and GS.

The base-level Regal 1SV ($27,000) comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, a backup camera, automatic headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a power driver's seat, leather upholstery, GM's OnStar system, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot and Buick's IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Sport Touring ($28,600) adds unique styling flourishes and, like all other higher Regal trims, the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

The Regal Turbo ($31,500) doesn't have the Sport Touring's snazzier styling, but it does come standard with all-wheel drive, upgraded steering and suspension.

The Premium II trim ($31,600) comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is an option. It further adds bi-xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, keyless start, remote ignition, rear-side airbags, a power passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system (optional Sport Touring and Turbo) and a 9-speaker Bose sound system.

The Regal GS ($34,100) is also available with front- or all-wheel drive. It adds special styling, 19-in wheels, upgraded brakes, continuously variable suspension damping, two driver-selectable vehicle-dynamics settings, front parking sensors, upgraded gauges and sport seats.

The Driver Confidence I package adds to the Premium II and GS a variety of warning systems: a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic, lane-departure warning and forward collision alert. Driver Confidence II upgrades these systems with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

Safety

Occupant protection comes from standard front, front-side and full-length side-curtain airbags. Additionally, the Premium II and GS trims include rear-side airbags. The Regal is also equipped with an anti-lock brake system, stability control and OnStar emergency telematics. The top two trims can also be equipped with lane-departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and forward collision warning. The latter can be upgraded with automatic braking.

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 received the best-possible rating of Good in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's moderate-overlap front crash, side and roof-strength tests, but it has not been subjected to the newer, more vigorous small-overlap front crash test. Its forward-collision automatic braking system received a Superior rating.

Behind the Wheel

Base-level Regal models are smooth and quiet, though acceleration is poor for a midsize sedan -- especially one with premium aspirations. It does a good job at splitting the difference between ride and handling, though, displaying a good bit of nimbleness without completely ignoring the fact that people expect a Buick to ride nicely (though plush it is not).

Things improve with the Regal Turbo trim and above, which features improved steering and a more sophisticated suspension. As a result, the car has a more dynamic feel, although it certainly can't match the best rear- and all-wheel-drive luxury sedans. Its turbocharged engine also disappoints. Though certainly far stronger than the anemic base engine, acceleration is still unremarkable, and there is noticeable turbo lag.

And for those expecting the Regal GS to offer a significant performance upgrade, you'll probably be disappointed. Yes, its adaptive suspension yields improvements to ride and handling, but it doesn't come with the power upgrade you might expect.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Acura TLX -- Acura's TLX offers handsome styling, powerful engines and all-wheel drive. It's an excellent Regal competitor with slightly better badge appeal.

2017 Audi A4 -- The all-new Audi A4 essentially represents the same overall concept as the Regal but with far superior interior quality, driving dynamics, engines and overall refinement. It's more expensive, but you get what you pay for.

2017 Nissan Maxima -- The Maxima is another car that splits the difference between mainstream and luxury, and it arguably does a better job of it than the Regal. It's better to drive and has a nicer cabin, and its standard V6 engine blows the Buick's humble 4-cylinder away.

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

The Regal Turbo trim level is where you should start. Its upgraded suspension and steering are welcome, and its turbocharged engine is a must given the weakling base motor. Its elevated feature content is also quite appealing considering the price.

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New 2017 Buick Regal Sport Touring
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Buick Regal: New Car Review - Autotrader