- Classy, understated exterior.
- Sports car acceleration.
- Good ride quality.
- Loaded with interior equipment.
- Good automatic gearbox.
- Pensioner-mobile image.
- Build quality issues.
- Un-sporty handling.
- Priced similar to better built competitors.
- Overdue replacement is better.
Press Coverage :
The Buick Regal GS is probably the most under-appreciated car in GM's lineup of badge-engineered cars. It actually has little better build quality than its platform-mate, the Chevy Impala, and it shares the same supercharged engine as the late model Pontiac Grand Prix GTP, which is touted as a sports sedan. The Regal GS is the sports sedan of the boring Buick line, but it tries its best to hide this fact. The exterior is clean and elegant, and the engine only shows its true character when the "go" pedal is pressed.
The Regal looks a lot like its twin, the Buick Century, but has a chrome-less exterior and differs under the hood and, to a certain extent, in its chassis tuning and interior. The supercharged 3.8L engine has an obscene amount of torque. While its horsepower rating of 240 hp is the same the that of the much-touted Accord V6, the Regal GS has an amazing 280 lb-ft of torque, compared to the Accord's 212 lb-ft. Moreover, this peak torque comes up at 3600 rpm, compared to a skyhigh 5000 rpm for the Accord. This translates to excellent acceleration figures, using the standard automatic, and just about quicker than a stick-shift Accord V6.
The Regal's sporty character is somewhat diminished by the Hydra-Matic 4T65-E four-speed automatic gearbox which, although good, is not a substitute for a pure manual gearbox. Even a clutchless automanual is not offered. The fully independent suspension is tuned for both ride and handling - a tricky proposition, but not implemented with the same precision as a BMW. Compared to the base LS trim, the GS is equipped with a sportier Gran Touring suspension, 16 inch aluminum alloy wheels with more aggressive P225/60R16 all-season tires, traction control and GM's OnStar communications system.
Standard interior features include power windows, doors and mirrors, leather seats and steering wheel, tire pressure monitor, heated outside mirrors, power-adjustable driver's seat and split folding rear seats. Heated front seats and steering wheel-mounted audio controls are optional. The trunk holds a good 17 cubic feet of luggage.
In 2001, an Olympic edition Regal named after designer Joseph Abboud was offered. After that, a Joseph Abboud trim has been offered ever since. The $995 Abboud trim adds two-tone interior and exterior colors, and come with a sunroof and premium Monsoon stereo as standard. Unique accents on the grille and wheels, and sandy-colored lower body panels all round, distinguish the Abboud Regal from stock GS models.
Interior room is a major asset of the Regal. There's plenty of space up front, which you'd expect, and plenty of space in back, which you might not. Three adults can sit back there comfortably, without territorial squabbles or contortions, and they can do so for extended periods. Moreover, because the rear seats are slightly elevated, rear-seat occupants have a good forward view, to help them critique your driving. The center seating position isn't quite as comfortable as the outboard spots, and it lacks a three-point belt, but in general, the Regal shames its import competition for rear-seat roominess.
Because the Regal GS is so quiet, it requires some extra attention to the speedometer, as the supercharged V6 quickly tows the Regal beyond legal speed limits. Punch the throttle from a standstill and the GS will exhibit a bit of torque steer, a gentle tug on the steering wheel, but this trait becomes almost transparent after a little familiarization.
Even with its stiffer Gran Touring suspension package, the GS isn't quite as athletic as the Grand Prix GTP. On the other hand, the Regal's ride quality is distinctly smoother and more compliant. And it handles well. The Gran Touring suspension includes touring tires for better steering, handling and control. The front springs and front stabilizer are stiffer, while a rear stabilizer bar is added. Rear shock absorbers and front struts are tuned for higher dampening rates for more body control. The Gran Touring package also includes GM's MagnaSteer, the variable-assist power rack-and-pinion steering that provides easier steering at low speeds but increases effort at higher speeds for improved steering feel. As a result, the steering is accurate and exceptionally quick.
Likewise, braking performance is a definite cut above, with good control and pedal feel. The Gran Touring package comes with larger front brake rotors to quicken braking response.
The Regal GS is an excellent long-distance runner. Prodigious passing power, a smooth highway ride, excellent front seats, and plenty of creature comforts will make Interstate miles roll by effortlessly. However, this Buick is not designed for runs down a favorite twisty road. The heavy body rolls in turns, taxing the tires. The steering numbs sensation, and consequently quells communication between road and driver. One tester explained that the Regal "rolls and plows too much to be fun in the twisties." Another liked the Regal as a "highway and city car, but not so much on winding roads."
Marketers tout the Regal as speedy family transportation. As such, it should be user-friendly for running errands, and flexible enough to wear many different hats. We found that Buick has some work to do in this regard. For example, there is no remote trunk release inside the Regal. The doors are heavy enough that some of our more petite drivers complained about their heft. The front cupholders are awkward to use, and the rears are essentially useless thanks to the severe angle at which they rest when deployed. The center console cubby forward of the shifter is hidden by a flip-up door that is a real pain to open. Once open, the deep cubby is so dark inside that you can't see anything that might be stored in there. Root around with your hand awhile, and eventually you'll find what you're looking for. At least two test drivers complained about the shifter, calling it awkward to use. The rear seat was the most cramped of the cars we tested, and the dual-zone A/C controls are confusing to use without consulting the owner's manual.
We also logged complaints about exposed assist handle hinges, cheap interior trimmings, worthless wood accents, sloppy interior workmanship, and a huge digital clock display that is no doubt tuned so that AARP members can see it in strong summertime glare.
1993-1996 Buick Regal Gran Sport
3,791 cc / 205 hp / 230 lb-ft / 3448 lbs / 0-60 mph 7.6 sec.