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2018 Buick Regal GS Sportback: New Car Review

We’re not going to say that the 2018 Buick Regal GS is going to let you fly under the radar. It’s way too good-looking for that, and if you paint it Sport Red, well, there’s certainly no missing it. At the same time, though, no one will suspect even an eye-catching Buick to boast the kind of performance credentials listed on the GS resume: A 310-horsepower V6, a sophisticated torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system, an adaptive sport-tuned suspension and powerful Brembo brakes. It’s an impressive performance machine for a price that starts at around $40,000.

Like the regular Buick Regal Sportback upon which it’s based, the GS is all-new for 2018 and boasts a sleek hatchback body style that not only results in a handsomely distinctive silhouette, but provides cargo space and versatility that rivals some compact SUVs. Basically, the GS provides show, go and stow.

Really, if you’ve been admiring the recent wave of "4-door coupes," like the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, but can’t quite make your budget work, the Regal Sportback is honestly a pretty good substitute. Not only does it ape the look, but you’ll get stronger performance and more features for less money than the base models of those cars. Sure, its cabin quality is more akin to a mainstream brand and you don’t get the fancier badge, but on the whole, the GS is an intriguing choice.

What’s New for 2018?

The Regal GS has been completely redesigned for 2018, with its chief change being the adoption of a sleek hatchback body style.

What We Like

Versatile and attractive hatchback body style; powerful engine; standard all-wheel drive; superb seats; strong value given its performance

What We Don’t

Unremarkable interior quality for a "premium" car; disappointing steering

How Much?

$39,070

Fuel Economy

The 2018 Buick Regal GS comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 engine good for 310 horsepower and 282 lb-ft of torque. It has a 9-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. It returns 19 miles per gallon city, 27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Regal GS Sportback is the high-performance version of the Regal Sportback. There is also the Regal TourX wagon. Follow those links to read their separate reviews.

The Regal GS ($39,070) comes standard with all-wheel drive, an adaptive sport-tuned suspension, an electronic locking rear differential, Brembo sport brakes, sportier styling than the base Regal, 19-inch wheels, LED running lights, heated mirrors, a rearview camera, proximity entry and push-button start, remote ignition, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic warning, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front sport seats with adjustable bolsters and massage functionality, leather upholstery, a 40/20/40-split back seat, a sport steering wheel, an 8-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, OnStar emergency services, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, two USB ports and a 7-speaker sound system.

The Appearance package adds auto-leveling LED headlights and wireless smartphone charging. The Sights and Sounds package adds integrated navigation, an 8-speaker Bose sound system and HD radio. The Driver Confidence II package adds adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist. A sunroof is a standalone option.

Safety

The Regal GS comes standard with front and front-side airbags, front knee airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, a rear cross-traffic warning system and OnStar emergency communications (includes automatic crash notification, an emergency response button and stolen vehicle location services). Safety systems are available on all but the base trim. The Driver Confidence II package adds forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist.

The 2018 Regal has not yet been crash tested by a third party.

Behind the Wheel

Consider for a moment that an Audi A5 Sportback starts at about $3,000 more than the Regal GS, yet comes with less equipment and is down nearly 60 hp. That means you’re getting some serious performance value with the Regal GS, and that’s not even mentioning its adaptive suspension that constantly varies itself to match the road ahead (and provides regular and Sport settings), nor the Brembo brakes that have serious stopping power. You also get a smart torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system that proportions power side-to-side as well as front-to-back — that’s something Audi’s vaunted Quattro all-wheel drive doesn’t do in the A5. Then again, the GS’ steering could use a lot more feedback and therefore betrays the ultimate performance goal, but on the whole this Buick is an impressive effort in the face of some awfully tough competition.

Well, at least in the way it drives. Interior quality is no better than what you’d find in midsize family sedans like the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. It might even be worse. As much as Buick touts itself as a premium or even luxury brand, the Regal’s interior has a long way to go before it could be described as such. Then again, if you’re wondering why the Buick costs so much less than that Audi described above, this is a main reason why.

At least interior space is excellent, as the standard "Sportback" body style provides far more versatility than you’d get with a typical sedan. In fact, with 61 cu ft. of maximum space, it can carry as much or more than many compact SUVs.

Other Cars to Consider

Audi A5 Sportback — Yes, it costs more and can’t match the GS’ performance, but it’s also the real deal that the Regal is arguably copying. Interior quality, general refinement and high-end tech offerings are superior.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe — Here is another luxury "4-door coupe" with a hatchback. Like the Audi, it costs considerably more than the Regal, but is also, subjectively, the higher-quality automobile.

Ford Fusion V6 Sport — This top-dog Fusion should give the GS a run for its performance money, as it too offers an adaptive suspension, bigger brakes, 19-in wheels and a turbocharged V6 that cranks out a massive 325 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. It also costs several thousand less than the Regal.

Used Audi A4/S4 — The A5 Sportback is too new to realistically find a used one, but there should be A4/S4 sedans available that will offer the same attributes — albeit with less distinctive style and versatility.

Autotrader’s Advice

The Regal GS is a sleeper car to be sure, as you get an awful lot of performance, style and versatility for a pretty decent price. We’d suggest opting for at least the Driver Confidence II package, because although it raises the price even further, it should still come under that of the most basic A5 Sportback.

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