A blustery winter storm socked San Diego with showers — and snow to our higher elevations. And as luck would have it, Buick had just delivered a 2015 Regal GS with all-wheel drive, $44,000 as tested.
Seat heater, on. Heated steering wheel, on. I went for a drive.
With just a dusting in the hilly backcountry I didn’t challenge the AWD, but the 259-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder easily moves the nearly 4,000-pound midsize sedan. The six-speed autobox has grade logic that holds gears on downhills. That’s a sporty feature that seemed to work with me to sharpen the driving experience. Other upgrades included 13.6-inch vented front disc brakes with four-piston Brembo binders and 12.4-inch solid rear discs. There is a responsive modulation between accelerator, braking and steering. Three-season Goodyear Eagle RSA tires (245/40) on attractive 19-inch alloy wheels gave good grip in wet weather and adequate adhesion in dry cornering.
Buick considers the GS a sport sedan, but with AWD the performance was tempered and actually provided more balanced acceleration and vehicle control. Fuel economy on premium fuel (recommended, but not required) is 19 mpg city, 27 highway and 22 mpg combined. I was averaging 22.5, according to the onboard trip meter.
The Regal is nicely done. A car that seems honest in is presentation and packaging: attractive but generic styling, quality interior materials and solid action to the doors and whatever hands touch.
It is quiet riding with generous features, including power adjustable front seats — even the passenger seat. The electronic gauge array displays the posted speed limit, something I didn’t realize I’d appreciate, but with the random placement of speed signs today, it’s handy info.
The GS has a black interior with manly black fabric headliner with appealing plastics, textures and contemporary design elements. There is a large glove box, sliding visors with lighted mirrors, good door storage and a large trunk at 14.2 cubic feet. Other standard features include keyless entry and push-button ignition, rearview camera, electric parking brake, eight-way power adjustable front seats, metal-trimmed pedals, Bose nine-speaker audio system, navigation system and high-intensity discharge headlights with adaptive forward lighting, which steers the lights a few degrees with the car.
But because Regal is a “global” product, based on an Opel, there are some Euro-centric hard-points for which the U.S. team must create workarounds. One example is the ashtray and lighter/12-volt plug just ahead of the shifter at the base of the instrument panel console. It’s where I tried to stuff my phone, but it was inadequate. And there are two USB ports and an auxiliary digital port and other 12-volt plug placed deep in a cubby just beneath the folding front armrest. Big hands will struggle to plug in the cables.
I’ve grown comfortable with many electronic safety aids, or at least how they are considerately integrated in the GM vehicles. The test car included two “Driver Confidence Packages (Nos. 1 and 2, $1,040 and $1,195), which included adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation, forward collision alert, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and side blind-zone alert. The groupings made me feel well-informed and aware.
Also considerate on Buicks is the enhanced warranty coverage of 4-years/50,000-miles bumper to bumper versus 3-years/36,000-miles on Chevrolets. The coverage includes a free tire rotation and oil change at 2-years/24,000-miles and the engine and transmission are covered for 6-years/70,000-miles.
I strongly dislike the much-marketed word “premium,” such as premium ice cream, premium peanuts or a price premium — which I hate the most. But the Regal does have a premium presence, something better than Chevrolet or a mainstream family sedan..
Mark Maynard is online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage