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2018 Buick Regal Sportback: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Buick Regal Sportback, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Buick Regal Sportback Review

With the unrelenting onslaught of crossovers, there’s one big question: Is the passenger car dead? Buick’s emphatic "no" is the new 2018 Buick Regal Sportback. And this is coming from a carmaker whose bulk of sales are from crossovers. In fact, of the just over 219,000 Buick U.S. sales in 2017, passenger cars accounted for only about 20 percent. But here’s the thing: the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback sort of bridges the gap between crossover and sedan. Yes, it looks like many of today’s 4-door sedans with a coupe-like roofline, but it loads and carries cargo like a crossover. The best of two worlds? We say yes.

There is nothing magical in the sportback design. It’s not even original with Buick. The all-new Kia Stinger and the 2018 Audi A5 Sportback are two other examples of this hatchback on steroids. In Regal’s case, the hatch is hinged far up into the roof. This, plus the liftgate’s width, creates a cavernous opening for loading in all shapes and sizes of cargo. With the split-folding second-row seat dropped, the Regal Sportback provides 61 cu ft. of cargo room. That’s only a few cu. ft. less than crossovers like the Acura MDX and Ford Escape.

When weighing its crossover-like cargo-carrying capability and its sedan-like fuel economy against most mid-size crossovers, it’s no contest. Sure, it gives up a little in cargo room, but its mileage advantage wins the day.

What’s New for 2018?

The Regal is completely redesigned for 2018. See the 2018 Buick Regal models for sale near you

What We Like

Sportback styling and functionality, highway fuel economy, available all-wheel drive, super-quiet interior, GS grade

What We Don’t

Most driver-assist/safety features only offered in two separate extra-cost packages, some plastic pieces in the cabin detract from Buick’s premium image, satellite radio capability only on upper grades

How Much?


Fuel Economy

Although the GS version packs a bigger punch, the vanilla Regal Sportback has plenty of go under the hood. A 250-horsepower 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder delivers output to the wheels via an all-new 9-speed automatic transmission in front-wheel drive models. Ponying up $1,050 for AWD in the top two trim levels replaces the 9-speed with an 8-speed automatic tranny. Government estimates put the mileage of FWD models at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. With AWD, those numbers drop to 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. A transparent start-stop feature helps bolster fuel economy.

The GS funnels the 310 hp from its 3.6-liter V6 through the 9-speed transmission. Its government-estimated mileage is 19 mpg city and 27 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

Sportback 1SV ($26,840) comes fairly well-stocked with Halogen headlamps with auto on/off, heated outboard mirrors, LED daytime running lights, 17-inch aluminum wheels, 60/40-split folding rear seat, full power accessories, remote keyless entry, push-button start, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, air conditioning, cruise control, rear-vision camera, OnStar telematics, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, 7-speaker audio system with 7-in touchscreen and USB port. There are no factory options.

Preferred ($29,520) adds to the 1SV’s content with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8-way power driver’s seat, 6-way manually adjusted front-passenger seat and auto-dimming rearview mirror. Stand-alone options include Bose premium 8-speaker audio system, Buick infotainment system with navigation and 8-in touchscreen, rear park assist, power moonroof and remote start. Option Packages include Driver Confidence Package I with LED headlamps, cornering lamps, auto-leveling headlamps, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change alert, blind spot monitoring, 18-in wheels, the Sights and Sounds Package with the Buick infotainment system containing navigation and an 8-in touchscreen, HD radio, 8-speaker Bose audio system and remote start.

Preferred II ($31,620) includes Preferred content and adds 18-in aluminum wheels, dual-zone automatic temperature control, a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat, remote start, satellite radio capability, speed-sensitive audio volume control, Buick infotainment system with 8-in touchscreen and heated steering wheel. Options include AWD, Bose 8-speaker audio system, Buick infotainment system with navigation, rear park assist and power moonroof. Option Packages include Driver Confidence Package I and Sights and Sounds Package.

Essence ($33,620) builds on the Preferred II grade with heated front seats and leather seating. Options include 8-speaker Bose audio system, wireless charging, a power moonroof and adaptive cruise control. Option Packages include Driver Confidence Package I; Driver Confidence Package II with adaptive cruise control, following distance indicator, forward-collision alert, forward automatic braking, lane-keep assist and front pedestrian braking; and the Sights and Sounds Package.

GS ($40,920) in addition to the V6, this package adds to the Essence trim 19-in aluminum wheels, AWD, sport mode suspension with three modes, Brembo brakes, performance heated/ventilated front bucket seats, audio speaker system with active noise cancellation, lane-change alert, blind spot monitoring, front/rear park assist and 2-driver memory package. Options include power moonroof, the Buick infotainment system with navigation, 8-speaker Bose audio and wireless charging and LED headlamps with auto leveling. Among the option packages are the Driver Confidence Package II, the Sights and Sounds Package and the Appearance Package with wireless charging, LED headlamps, cornering lamps and auto-leveling headlamps.


Neither the government nor IIHS has crash tested the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback. Ten airbags are standard, as is the active hood pedestrian safety system that actually pops up the hood along the hinges, providing a cushion for pedestrians struck in a crash. To add most of the driver-assist/safety technology other than the back-up camera requires an extra-cost option package or two. However, choosing those provides rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change alert, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, following distance indicator, forward-collision alert, forward automatic braking, lane-keep assist and front pedestrian braking.

Behind the Wheel

We have yet to drive the Regal GS, but we are very impressed with the regular 2019 Buick Regal Sportback. Buick prides itself on the quiet of its interiors, and this one is remarkably hushed. Other than some plastic bits that seem out of place in a premium ride, the interior is comfortable and logically arranged. Whether RWD or AWD, the 2L engine has plenty of gusto. Both transmissions well serve this turbocharged engine. Cornering with the stability and confidence of a European import, the Regal Sportback is as much a blast to drive as it is practical. We think the Regal GS will double down on the Sportback’s capability.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Acura TLX — Easy on the eyes and a more-than-competent cruiser, the Acura TLX offers lots of advanced technology and a strong V6.

2018 Lexus IS 300 — A terrific passenger experience. Quiet cabin, smooth performance and a well-appointed interior highlight this upscale sedan.

2018 Volvo S60 — With available AWD, the Volvo S60 is sporty to drive and comfortable to boot. For those looking for extra rear-seat legroom, Volvo offers a long-wheelbase version.

2018 Cadillac ATS — The availability of a manual transmission makes the ATS fairly unique in its segment. AWD is available. A surprisingly fuel-efficient V6 provides dynamic acceleration.

Autotrader’s Advice

While our enthusiast knee-jerk recommendation would be the Regal GS, we think the 2L turbo delivers all the punch most of us will ever need or use. With that in mind, we’d go with the Preferred grade and add on the Driver Confidence Package I. It delivers most of today’s popular driver-assist/safety technology, as well as the Regal Sportback’s core performance and quiet for less than $31,000, including delivery fee.

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  1. Really considered getting this but the restrictions of the front sensors, HUD, and big LCD cluster to the GS model were dealbreakers.

    Bring all that stuff to the Essence trim and I might reconsider.
    Also the interior plastics did not feel great, even compared to the Ford Fusion…
    Btw, the ATS and IS are compact entry-level cars with much tighter back seats. I wouldn’t directly compare them to the Regal. The Lincoln MKZ, Ford Fusion, and Lexus ES are better fits. 

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