I may have to come out of the closet and admit that I have feelings for… a Buick.
I just spent a week with the 2012 Buick Regal GS and liked it. Did you hear that, I said I liked a Buick!
It’s not that Buick has traditionally built bad cars, but they were cars that your grandfather drove. Sure there were high points like the 1970 GSX or the 1987 GNX, but for most of the last 40 years Buick didn’t build the kind of stuff you’d lust over.
While I’m not sure I’m ready to start lusting over the Regal GS, it’s definitely worth getting to know a little better.
Let’s start with performance. The GS has a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that pumps out 270 horsepower. While I’ve read some reviews that said it still isn’t enough (despite having 50hp more than the base model), I liked the way the power came in early. Sure, it’s not enough to make your eye’s start watering from the g-forces, but it makes you feel like you can accelerate your way out of trouble. The GS comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission which will make a lot of enthusiasts smile. I had the automatic and enjoyed it the whole way. Interestingly, that 270hp number is very close to the 276hp that the GNX produced 25 years ago (although the 2012 model has less torque). Mileage is rated at 19 city/27 highway which is pretty nice for the power.
On the handling front, the Buick GS delivers. While I didn’t have a chance to put it through the paces, the car just felt right. The Regal is built on a European Opel Insignia chassis so it’s designed for driving. A bonus are the big Brembo brakes up front which will give you street cred at the very least. The Regal’s wheelbase is 107.8 inches which is only 2/3rds of an inch longer than the Ford Mustang.
Moving inside, there was more to like. The interior had an upscale feel that was sufficiently sporty. Gone are the days of the overstuffed seats that did their best to hide what the car was saying. I really liked the steering wheel. It wasn’t perfectly round but reminded me of a racing wheel with nice places to grip. The only thing I didn’t like about it were the metal inserts on the bottom half. Living in Arizona, those things get really hot, really fast. The Intellilink system lets you hook up some models of smart phones so you can stream Pandora through the radio. Because it’s a mid-sized car, the back seat isn’t huge (although it’s bigger than the Mustang’s).
The GS has two buttons on the dash that let you switch between GS suspension and Sport suspension settings. I kept bouncing between them and, frankly, couldn’t tell the difference enough to care.
Outside, the Regal GS has a reasonably sporty look. It’s more rounded than angular with a slight rake making it look a little more aggressive.
Sticker price for my test car was around $35,000. It’s not cheap, but it was fairly loaded. The big question is how it will compare to other sport sedans in that price range. The general criticism I’ve read is that reviewers seem to think that the competition offers more for the money. Make sure you do your own comparisons to decide what works best for you.
Of course the biggest problem I have with this car sits in the middle of the grill. The Buick emblem sits there proudly. To buy one I’d have to admit to my friends and neighbors that I bought a Buick. But then, maybe it’s time for me to come of the closet and face the new reality. I may be a Buick kind of guy after all.