One of the most effective advertising taglines from GM’s now-defunct Oldsmobile division was a backhanded comment that these weren’t “your father’s” Oldsmobiles anymore.
Now Buick is forwarding the same message. And unlike most of the vehicles Olds was pushing before its demise, Buick’s new-generation models are more convincing attempts to lure younger buyers.
It started with the well-received introduction of Enclave and extended to last year’s LaCrosse midsize sedan. Just reaching Buick showrooms now is an even more chiseled and European-influenced companion to the LaCrosse — the 2011 Regal.
Whether you buy the proposition of any Buick as a full-fledged “sport” sedan, the all-new Regal sure looks the part: the body is tight around the wheels, the roof and hood are low and those enormous front and rear overhangs that used to define Buick from the land-yacht eras are banished.
The multi-bar grille could be judged as a little overboard, but it’s proportional to the no-nonsense impression emitted by the rest of the sheet metal. We’d call the 2011 Regal’s shape “aggressive” if that word weren’t so overworked. Instead, we say the new Regal could comfortably wear the badges of Acura or Volvo, both of which Buick execs name as the Regal’s targets.
This will be the first Buick in a long time without 6-cylinder power. Starting at $26,245, the 2011 Regal’s base engine is GM’s reasonably chesty 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with direct fuel injection. Late this year comes a Regal GS with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 220 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, figures that mimic anything a smallish V-6 can generate.
The 182 horses coming from the standard 4-cylinder make the 2011 Regal’s performance brisk enough for most drivers in most situations and the car’s chief engineer claims a respectable, though hardly hair-tugging, 0-to-60 mph acceleration of about 8.5 seconds.
GM engineers figure you don’t necessarily need the whoosh of a V-6 with this car that’s a half-foot shorter, a half-inch lower and in most other ways a shrink-wrapped smaller brother to the larger LaCrosse, which shares the Regal’s under-structure.
For now, the power moves to the front wheels through GM’s 6-speed automatic transmission that transmits with efficiency and just a few warbles in the power flow. When the turbo engine is available later, a 6-speed manual transmission will be available. Buick thinks the presence of a manual gearbox demonstrates the brand’s commitment to be taken seriously in the sport-sedan market; yet even the younger Baby Boomers Buick covets aren’t too keen on tussling with a clutch pedal anymore.
The suspension is independent, front and rear, and is calibrated to offer sharp responses without making the ride suffer. It’s a pretty effective tradeoff, seeming to take the nimble steering and tightly controlled body motions European drivers expect (Regal was developed in Germany) and balancing that with the more absorbing ride most Americans prefer.
We definitely like the inside of the new Regal, too. Most of the plastics look high quality, there’s a nice low-gloss finish to everything and the overall impression is of materials that are a cut above mainstream midsize sedans. Even the fake chrome around the gearshift lever is nicer than most fake chrome.
The 2011 Buick Regal is an intriguing new option in the crowded and competitive entry-luxury segment. Not really a true sport sedan (most in this segment aren’t) and not quite a genuine luxury car, the new Regal might be exactly where the “new” Buick needs to be to erase its old-guy stigma and start embedding the brand with a more updated image. — Bill Visnic, Motor Matters
Next New On Wheels: 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe
2011 BUICK REGAL CXL
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger FWD midsize sedan
BASE PRICE___________________ $26,245 (as tested: $27,840)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 16-valve I-4 w/DI
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 182 at 6700 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 172 at 4900 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed automatic
WHEELBASE____________________ 107.8 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 190.2 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 37.4 ft.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 18.5 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 19 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
2011 JAGUAR XJ: “The XJ exemplifies a love of form with its elegance and beauty of line — the emotional that goes beyond the functional. We are looking forward to modern trends, a design form to create our future,” said Giles Taylor, senior design manager for Jaguar. He compares the design of the new 2011 Jaguar XJ to a well-fitted suit: one that fits a woman’s body perfectly, like Chanel and Yves St. Laurent. “These were the founders and artists of their own companies. Just like Sir William Lyons (founder of Jaguar) these are people who understand form, line and elegance,” he said. (Source: FreeWheeling, Motor Matters)
CHRYSLER TOWN & COUNTRY: With more than 25 years of minivan development, 65 segment-firsts, 40 available safety features and unsurpassed 25-mpg highway mpg fuel economy, Chrysler Town & Country remains the best vehicle to transport people and things. Best-in-class aerodynamics and a minivan-first six-speed automatic transmission provide 2010 Chrysler Town & Country minivans with efficient dynamics. A 4.0-liter V-6 aluminum engine offers the minivan segment’s best combination of horsepower (251 hp) and torque (259 ft.-lb.). Starting price: $25,175 (Source: Chrysler Group, LLC)
ASK AUTO DOCTOR: I own a 2007 Dodge Magnum and want to rotate the tires. The owner’s manual says to move the front tires to the rear and criss-cross the rear to the front. The tire shop says criss-crossing the rear tires to the front can damage the steel belts in the tires. What do you recommend? Answer: On vehicles that have the same size tires the criss-cross recommendation is the way to go. I have never heard of damaged steel belts from tire rotation directional change. (Source: Ask the Auto Doctor, Motor Matters)
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010