2014 Buick Regal: Stately Midsize Sedan Makeover

By Sue Mead, October 12th, 2013

The automotive brand that was sometimes considered more of an "older buyers" portfolio is now 110 years old. Buick has sold more than 43 million vehicles and has a deep motorsports history.

Manufacturer photo: Buick's 2014 Regal is sportier and smarter with new, purposeful technologies to enhance safety and the driving experience, such as the  more refined turbo engine -- along with the introduction of all-wheel drive
Manufacturer photo: Buick's 2014 Regal is sportier and smarter with new, purposeful technologies to enhance safety and the driving experience, such as the more refined turbo engine -- along with the introduction of all-wheel drive

Buick's Regal today is sporty, technologically astute and very refined. When you look at the newest models, you'll notice first what Buick describes as "a more contemporary and premium presence." Regal's body sits a tad lower and is slightly wider; while the front waterfall grille feature and midsection of the midsize sedan remain the same, the front gets a new look and the back end gets a slight makeover, too.

The 2014 Regal starts at $30,615 (including a $925 destination charge). A more fuel efficient 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with eAssist starts at $32,485. The Regal AWD starts at $32,790, while the potent Regal GS is priced starting at $37,830.

Updates for 2014 include new exterior design elements, with signature wing-shape LED lighting; a revised interior with GM's next-generation IntelliLink infotainment system; new advanced safety features; a more powerful and fuel efficient turbo engine; and a new all-wheel-drive system, with an electronic limited-slip differential to improve traction and handling.

Slipping inside the Regal, we found the updated version has added amenities, but it has also been refined and made more simple and uncluttered, with the center stack radio controls now set up with seven buttons instead of 17, for instance.

Manufacturer photo: Buick's 2014 Regal is sportier and smarter with new, purposeful technologies to enhance safety and the driving experience, such as the  more refined turbo engine -- along with the introduction of all-wheel drive

The new steering wheel has push controls for safety and infotainment and a new instrument panel has a new, larger 8-inch color touchscreen designed for easy operation, with intuitive controls and smartphone-influenced swipe recognition for easier navigation.

Dual-zone climate controls also feature "capacitive-touch operation" and are framed in chrome. There is attractive ice-blue lighting and the new instrument cluster has a high-resolution, 4.2-inch color display that provides vehicle information, navigation, audio system functions, and phone features.

Under the hood is a new 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that is standard on both Regal and Regal GS, with an enhanced torque curve that varies between the two models; it was named one of Ward's 10 Best Engines in 2012. Horsepower is rated at 259, while the 295 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine gets 18 percent more horsepower than the 2013 Regal Turbo and brings improved fuel economy, with the city mileage increasing 17 percent to an EPA-estimated 21 mpg (FWD and automatic transmission).

A 2.4L engine with eAssist light electrification technology gets EPA-estimated ratings of 25/36 mpg; it comes as a front-driver only. Six-speed automatic transmissions are set up with both engines and a six-speed manual is available in the front-drive Regal GS only.

We drove three versions of the new Regal on a recent drive in Ohio and Kentucky, motoring over a wide selection of roads that ranged from freeways to narrow and winding country lanes.

Manufacturer photo: Buick's 2014 Regal is sportier and smarter with new, purposeful technologies to enhance safety and the driving experience, such as the  more refined turbo engine -- along with the introduction of all-wheel drive

We expect most people will appreciate the base model that Buick describes as the "athlete" in the family. It has a luxury interior, is quiet and comfortable to motor in, with ample power, a competent suspension and good brakes.

As a performance enthusiast, it's hard not to rave about the GS that Buick likens to the "all-star quarterback of the lineup." It wears slightly different looks, with a front fascia that incorporates prominent, vertical air intake slots, rocker panel extensions and a rear spoiler extension. Different styling cues ride along inside as well, with more premium amenities.

What really stands out on the Regal GS are the driving differences that come as a result of Buick's Interactive Drive Control system, allowing us to select different drive modes, including a track-oriented competitive setting. It's also distinguished by increased steering effort that gives better feedback, more sophisticated suspension technologies that reduce body roll, and a four-wheel-disc brake system that features front Brembo four-piston front calipers and larger rotors.

The GS trim also has a lowered ride height and 19-inch aluminum wheels to enunciate a sporty stance. We enjoyed the smooth-shifting six-speed manual, a rare offering in today's car world.

Although we drove both the front drive and the AWD, we did not encounter traction-compromised surfaces to test out the prowess of the AWD system that not only transfers up to 90 percent of traction from front-to-rear, but also across the back end from wheel-to-wheel, when needed. We are familiar with this system and GM's use of it and recommend it as a safety boost for owners who live in inclement regions of the country.

Specifications

Base price $30,615
Curb weight 3,671 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Epa mileage rating 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 18.0 gal.
Horsepower (net) 259 at 5300 rpm
Motor type 16-valve DOHC turbo 4-cylinder w/DI
Overall length 190.2 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 295 at 3000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD midsize sedan
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