2018 Buick Regal GS: More powerful, sportier architecture and upgraded cabin

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

What began as a quiet, upscale 1973 sedan, the Buick Regal ended its initial production run in 2004 and was relaunched to North America in 2011 (production and sales have been ongoing in China since 1999), and following a sporty mid-generation tweaking in 2014, Buick has gone all-new with Regal in 2018, with a sleek, sporty design increased horsepower, an upgraded cabin and advanced infotainment.

Heralded by Buick as “a sport sedan designed for everyday driving,” the five-passenger, four-door sedan has a front-engine, active twin-clutch all-wheel drive configuration and all-new, heated/cooled and massaging performance seats, while also adding a separate five-door sportback (hatch) design.

The Regal GS I tested was in the sedan line, and new for 2018 are a 3.6-liter V-6 engine; standard nine-speed automatic transmission and intelligent all-wheel drive with active twin clutch for improved vehicle control; five-link rear suspension; GS-specific, performance seats that are heated, cooled and massaging with adjustable seat and seat-back bolsters as well as thigh support; second-generation Continuous Damping Control capable of 500 adjustments per second; Interactive Drive Control with GS and Sport modes; unique sport front and rear fascias, side skirts and rear spoiler; standard 19-inch wheels; performance brakes with Brembo front calipers; sport-tuned exhaust system; sport flat-bottom steering wheel and metal pedals and an available head-up display.

Outside, Buick offers a sculptured Euro-sportiness with aggressive front and rear fascias, a rear decklid spoiler and GS badging front and rear. The 2018 Buick Regal GS has grown some and now measures 192.9 inches in length (a gain of 2.7 inches), 73.3 inches in width (up 0.2 inches), and 57.3 inches in height (a better road hugger now as it is 1.1 inches lower); on a 111.4-inch wheelbase, which is 3.6 inches longer. Curbweight is about 3796 lbs., a weight gain of 71 lbs.

Inside, the Regal features unique perforated GS-specific performance seats with integrated headrests and adjustable lumbar and thigh support bolsters. The seats are heated and ventilated and come standard with a massage function. The interior also features state-of-the-art infotainment, on-board WiFi and GS-specific pedals and sill plates.

The reconfigured cabin makes headroom a bit tight at 38.8 inches in front and 37.4 inches in row two, with the front as same as last year, and the rear 0.6 inches wider; legroom is an accommodating 42.1 inches in row one and 36.9 for the second row – the front remains the same and rear is 0.4 inches tighter; and shoulder room is 56.9 and 55.4 (0.2 inches wider up front and an inch wider in row two).

The 2018 Regal GS offers a cohesive and connected infotainment experience with an 8-inch diagonal touchscreen and 8-inch diagonal reconfigurable instrument cluster as standard equipment. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility both come standard. A full-color head-up display is available with an optional Driver Confidence II package that also includes several safety features including Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert and Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Automatic Braking.

Regal’s base engine is a cast aluminum 3.6-liter direct injection V- 6. Mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, the system is rated at 310hp and 282 lb-ft of torque. This represents a gain of 51 hp and a loss of 13 lb-ft over the 2.0-liter turbo I tested in last year’s Regal GS review. The 2.0 has been relegated to duty in the new Buick Regal Sportback model. The 3.6-liter system is EPA rated at 19mpg/city, 22mpg/highway and 27.0mpg overall, and my week of mixed-use tests yielded an average of 20.7mpg.

On the track, my GS accelerated sportily and I was more than a second-and-a-half faster than I was last year in the sprint with my 2.0-liter turbo. My zero-to-60mph time this year was 5.5 seconds during a 14.5-second-flat quarter-mile. On the highway, we had excellent passing power at speed, steering and balance were sportlike, and the suspension was Buicklike – stable and quiet … sporty, but traditionally Buick quiet.

The 2018 Buick Regal Sportback starts at $24,990, and runs through five trims, topping at nearly $40,000. The Regal GS Sedan bases at $39,070 with the 3.6-liter V-6 Engine with Stop/Start Technology, 19-inch Cast Aluminum with Technical Gray Gloss Finish, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Front and Rear Park Assist, High-Performance Heated, Ventilated Bucket Seats with Massage, Integrated Head Restraints and Power-Adjustable Bolsters, Brembo® Front Brakes, Rear Decklid Spoiler, Air Dams, Ground Effects and Pass-Through Exhaust.

In Sport Red, with Ebony leather-appointed seat trim, my Regal GS added the Driver Confidence II Package for $1690, with Adaptive Cruise Control, Following Distance Indicator, Head-Up Display, Forward Collision Alert and Forward Automatic Braking. The power moonroof added $1000; The Appearance Package for $485 added wireless charging, LED headlamps with automatic leveling, cornering lamps and more. The Sights and Sounds Package added $945 for an 8-inch diagonal, 8-speaker infotainment and audio system with navigation; Premium all-weather floor mats were $140 and destination and freight charges were $925, for a sticker-as-tested of $44,255, but cash allowances and other incentives are available from the dealer to lower the price.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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