It was only a few years ago when people realized that the Buick Regal was actually a viable entry into the vaunted luxury sedan market. It could compare very well with its competition, including the gold-standard BMW 3-series. It offered a relaxed ride inside a quiet cabin, and its interior was more than adequately equipped. It also provided a heady driving experience with its accurate steering. It was better than you’d expect it to be upon first glance, especially since its look wasn’t especially exciting.
What Has Changed?
Now it’s been totally changed, starting with the addition of “Sportback” to its name. The changes are deep, and it includes even the body style. Now it’s not even a sedan anymore. It’s now a hatchback, and pretty soon there will be a wagon version as well.
Its design is quite modern, and in fact it combines design elements from both sedan and coupe styles. The new design of the Buick Regal Sportback is actually eye-catching. The grill has been updated and the headlights and taillights are now narrower. With the shorter rear decklid and the raked roof, it does look good.
The hatchback version predictably offers more cargo space than the older sedan. The cargo capacity has actually doubled behind the split-folding 2nd row seats. The extra space is also due to the wheelbase that’s wider by 3.6 inches. It’s longer now too by 2.7 inches. It also looks sportier because the height has been reduced by an inch.
The 2L turbo-four engine gives you 250 horses and in the FWD version you get 260 lb-ft of torque. That increases to 295 lb-ft in the AWD. Clearly you’ll have enough power for just about every conceivable driving condition. Its acceleration is impressive on the highways, and it even gives you this engine growl that’s not exactly a Buick trademark.
In the AWD cars, you get an 8-speed automatic transmission that shifts so smoothly you may not even notice the shifts at all. The 9-speed transmission is even smoother, and you’ll find this on the FWD versions. However, the AWD cars do offer better handling.
The vibe of the interior has also changed, but it’s not exactly an improvement. It’s true that this new version comes with Buick’s latest button-free infotainment system. But sit inside the Sportback and you may find it a bit lifeless now compared to the comfy atmosphere in the old Buick Regal. You have shiny aluminum trim and glossy accents that look like wood, but there’s too much hard plastic in the mix. The instrument cluster is also looking a bit dated too.
The base price is about $26,000 and that’s even $2,000 lower the price of the previous version. The standard features include cloth upholstery, a 7-inch touchscreen, OnStar, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. You also get an audio system with 7 speakers, along with keyless entry. There are also LED daytime running lights along with halogen composite headlights.
Get the Essence model, and it’s a bit better. You also get remote start along with dual-zone automatic climate control. The steering wheel and the front seats are heated. You also have tri-folding 40/20/40 rear seats along with a larger touchscreen at 8 inches. The Sportback Essence compares very well with the base Acura TLX, which doesn’t have the heated steering wheel and the tri-folding seats even though its price is higher than the Essence.
You do have lots of available options for the Sportback, though these “Driver Confidence” packages can drive the price to almost $37,700. These packages can give you welcome features like forward automatic braking and adaptive cruise control, along with lane departure warning and lane keep assist. Other optional features you may enjoy include wireless charging, along with a power adjustable driver seat with memory settings.
Finally, there’s also the GM Marketplace in the Sportback, which lets you order meals from places like TGI Fridays, Dunkin’ Donut, and Starbucks even while you’re driving. It only involves pushing buttons to choose from a list of preselected meal orders, so it’s safer than typing in complicated orders.
What Hasn’t Changed?
Despite the virtually total makeover, the feel of the Regal Sportback somehow remains the same. It comes with the same driving experience. You get a nice comfy ride, but you can feel even the small bumps on the road. It feels homey inside, though not quite luxurious.
Still, this exudes a feeling of confidence that you also felt in the old Buick Regal, and it remains a car that’s quite fun to drive. Steering doesn’t require much of an effort at all though you’re conscious of just how big the car is as you go along. It doesn’t quite offer a truly impressive sporty performance, but that’s because it prioritizes your comfort first. It’s not quite the same as other luxury sedans, but then it’s not really inferior—it’s just unique in its own way.
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