The Buick Regal has made quite a transformation with the latest model bringing a new direction in sporty dynamics and design to the old moniker. Buick’s slogan for the Regal is ‘Exhilaration Comes Standard.’
We would contend that exhilaration comes with the Turbo and GS packages, but it’s a telling statement to Buick’s direction with the Regal. Let’s start with a bit of history:
- The Regal was introduced in 1973 as a two door personal luxury car.
- The second generation Regal had one of GM’s most celebrated models ever, the Buick Regal Grand National – a turbocharged sports-car still respected for its incredible horsepower and styling.
- The third generation and fourth generation, well, we’re going to skip those…not much to talk about during the dark days of GM.
- The fourth-gen model, on which this article is focused, was intended as a Saturn Aura before Saturn shut down
- The Regal was made continuously from 1973-2004 and then took a hiatus until 2011. The hibernation paid off!
- The first fourth-gen cars were made by Opel in Gemany! The car is still technically an import because now it’s made in Canada.
The current Regal runs on GM’s Epsilon II platform architecture which saw its first application in the Opel Insignia in 2008. Opel is GM’s German division and is part of the reason the new Regal has such a European flair. The Epsilon II platform can be seen in other mid and full size vehicles such as the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala, Chevy Malibu and the short lived Saab 9-5. The Buick Regal is a mid-size front wheel drive sedan available with a host of engines and a choice of automatic and manual transmission. That’s right folks – a manual transmission on a Buick!
The Regal has a pleasant rounded and sporty design. It’s a pretty unique look especially compared to it’s competition with aggressive grill opening in the front and a sweeping crease that flows down the front doors and continues to the rear wheel. It features a sloping rear window in the style of many gran-coupes currently being released by BMW. This won’t win awards for headroom, but the platform is large enough that adults will still fit comfortably in the backseat.
If you’re in the market for a Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord or Toyota Camry – you may want to take a look at the Buick as a stylish and sporty alternative.
The Ecotec II engines available in the Regal and some other GM cars some fine pieces of engineering. The standard 2.4L inline-four cylinder is the GM LAF. It’s a direct injected unit with an 11.4:1 compression ratio. This produces 182hp and 172lb-ft, about average for the standard engines in this class.
In 2013, Regal’s came standard with the LUK motor, commonly referred to as eAssist which is a mild-hybrid. This motor is internally identical to the LAF but uses a belted alternator starter (BAS) that uses stored electrical energy to help drive the internal combustion engine. This is an inexpensive and simple way to add hybrid power assist, start stop and regenerative braking – and it gets 36mpg highway – a 25% increase over the non eAssist motor. This is the second generation GM BAS system and it delivers 20hp and 79lb-ft over the engine for a total of 202hp and 251lb-ft.
But where it gets really interesting is the two turbocharged options, the 2011-2013 Regal Turbo and 2012-2013 Regal GS. Both trims use the LHU motor with the Turbo making 220hp and 258lb-ft while the hot-rodded Regal GS makes a stout 270hp and 295lb-ft. This motor also has E85 flex fuel capability which is a unique feature for US variant turbo Ecotec II motors. The GS makes peak torque at low 2400 rpm, great for passing on the highway and shooting out of the hole… if that’s your thing. The GS makes 135hp per liter which is Buick’s highest specific output ever.
The LHU features a lowered 9.2:1 compression ratio due to the twin scroll turbocharger. The motor features an intercooler and continuously variable valve timing. Impressively, this motor was the first in the industry to feature direct injection turbo with flex fuel capability.
2014 Buick Regal Updates
The 2014 models are slightly redesigned and there’s been an adjustment on engines. The Regal turbo and Regal GS now share an engine rated at 259hp and 295lb-ft. This engine is an Ecotec Gen III and is shared with the Cadillac ATS and CTS (although those cars have more power). That’s a nice bump for the Turbo model (39hp) but is an 11hp loss for the GS model. In this writers opinion, that makes a used Buick Regal GS for sale (year 2012 or 2013) the model to get!
Written by Dan Harman