Based on the European Opel Insignia midsize sedan, Buick has refined the details in making the 2012 Buick Regal a sporting midsize sedan for North America. Starting with an increased level of sound deadening, more luxury accoutrements, and a suspension setup exclusive to the Buick, the premium four-door has become a focal point for the direction of the brand: Sporty, sophisticated, and luxurious.
It also ditches the American style of larger engines for a family of fuel-efficient four-cylinder powerplants. The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder in the Regal CXL sends 182 horsepower to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Opting for the next-higher Buick Regal CXL Turbo gives buyers a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 220 horsepower. With that engine, a six-speed manual is available.
Then there are two new models for 2012: The Regal GS and the Regal eAssist. The 2012 Buick Regal GS is an all-out sports sedan with an adjustable suspension and 270 horsepower, routing power through a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Regal eAssist, however, is based on the non-turbo model, pairing the engine with a small electric motor to help deliver 36 highway miles per gallon.
Engines: 2.4-liter inline-4, 2.4-liter inline-4 with electric motor, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
Transmissions: Six-speed automatic, six-speed manual
Models: CXL, eAssist, CXL Turbo, GS
Moving production from Germany to Oshawa, Canada halfway through the 2011 model year, the2012 Buick Regal has continuously undergone mild tweaks to improve it for the North American market. Among them, the Buick Regal now features a revised center console for greater storage capacity and the base 2.4-liter engine can now run on E85 gasoline.
In addition to various other minor changes, the high-performance Buick Regal GS and fuel-miser Regal eAssist join the 2012 Buick Regal lineup. Sitting at opposite ends of the spectrum, the Regal GS will initially only come with a six-speed manual transmission for its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. The eAssist comes with a small 65-pound lithium-ion battery pack that can produce an extra 15 horsepower at peak performance. With aerodynamic enhancements and driveline settings that can turn off the engine while coasting, the Regal eAssist can post a 6 mpg improvement in the city and 4 mpg on the highway over the standard Regal.
Already a sleek and fluidic design, the 2012 Buick Regal adds some chrome brightwork and its signature waterfall grille to the midsize sedan when translating it from the Opel Insignia. Buick has reworked its porthole design from the fenders to the grille, cutting the number of holes from three per side to two to recognize the fact that it only comes with four-cylinder engines (back in the 1950s, four portholes per side were reserved for eight-cylinder models). Still, the sedan carries a very modern design language with sculpted lines and an aggressive rake to the rear window to give it a coupe-like appearance.
Standard on the 2012 Buick Regal are heated leather front seats, XM Satellite radio, a USB port, MP3 auxiliary jack, and phone and OnStar Bluetooth. Harmon/Kardon audio, internal flash drive and hard drive are options. New for the 2012 Regal is an in-dash navigation system with a seven-inch screen with what Buick calls IntelliLink, a system that allows for owners to pair their smartphones into the Regal’s interface. A remote starter and universal garage door opener are now optional on all but the Turbo and GS models, on which they come as standard.
Performance & Handling
The 2012 Buick Regal's base 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four is adequate for most buyers, while the 2.0-liter, 220-horsepower Regal Turbo starts whetting the appetite for those looking for a quicker entry-level premium midsize. Those looking for even more should opt for the Regal GS, which turns up performance beyond most alternatives in its class. The Regal's optional Interactive Drive Control System, a must for enthusiasts, lets the driver choose from Touring, Normal and Sport modes. In the GS, performance driving settings include Normal, Sport, and GS, an aggressive mode that should allow for drivers to get the most out of any road. It will surprise drivers just how drastic Buick engineers have made the settings through the different performance modes.
The 2012 Buick Regal comes standard with GM's StabiliTrak stability control and full-function traction control. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist, dual-stage front airbags, side-curtain airbags and a pedal-release system also are standard. Rear-seat thorax airbags are an extra-cost option.
EPA Fuel Economy
CXL: 19 mpg city/31 mpg highway
CXL Turbo: 20 mpg city/32 mpg highway (manual); 18 mpg city/29 mpg highway (automatic)
GS: 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway; automatic model not yet tested
eAssist: 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway
- Fuel economy
- Materials fit and finish
- No-cost manual option for CXL Turbo and GS
You Won't Like
- Compromised rear head space
- Only for five passengers in a pinch
Finally a world-beater from Buick
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