Our 2018 Buick Regal GS came in Sport Red and as we discovered when we drove the Regal Sportback, it’s one very sexy looking car and yes we know it’s an Opel Insignia, but that doesn’t matter. In fact most people in our parking lot failed to recognize it as a Buick and were surprised when we told them. Since we are talking about the Insignia, the Opel badged performance model has to make do with a 256 hp 2.0 turbo, that’s what the Sportback and Tour X gets. What the Euros don’t get is the GS version Stateside which differs from its siblings by looking even sexier. Styling upgrades include an aggressive flared front fascia, a diffuser-enhanced rear fascia, pretty 19 inch, 10-spoke wheels wearing 245/40 Continental ProContact tires, a subtle rear spoiler, and of course GS badging inside and out.
Buick has opted for the 3.6 liter V6 used across many of the vehicles in the GM family; this one has 310 hp @ 6,800 rpm and 282 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm, a 60 hp and 26 lb-ft of torque bump over the cooking four. The bad news is although the last Regal GS offered the option of a six-speed manual transmission, this new one comes only with GM’s nine-speed automatic, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a manual would have been nice.
The GS comes with Buick’s intelligent AWD system using an active twin clutch that can precisely transfer torque between the rear wheels for more refined and efficient performance. Add to this Buick’s Interactive Drive Control, which gives you 3 different Drive modes, Standard (default), Sport and GS modes selected via buttons on the center console. The Interactive Drive Control utilizes Buick’s second-generation Continuous Damping Control (CDC), which is able to adjust suspension damping up to 500 times per second.
Since the Regal Sportback FWD we tested earlier in the year, had blasted from 0-60 in a scant 5.7 seconds we were expecting the AWD traction and greater power to gives us some impressive results. With our test gear activated, traction control and A/C off (despite temps in the mid 90’s) we were able to launch from standstill to sixty in 5.6 seconds, which is not as quick as expected and only shaves a tenth off the 2.0 T time. The weather was particularly hot so this could have been a factor. That said this is not really a drag race car.
As is usual with our testing, we head out to see how well the cars go round corners on the back roads of San Diego, to see if the GS has the chops for it. Driving around town, on pretty rough pot holed pavement it was better to leave the GS in Standard mode to soak them up. It is smooth and easy to drive, the steering is nice and light and you can waft along enjoying your caffeinated beverage, the transmission providing smooth up and downshifts. It’s quite peaceful, however, for more aggressive roads you need a more aggressive setting or the transmission, left to its own devices, will have a preference for the higher gears.
At this point you can start pressing buttons, select Sport and the transmission will hold onto gears slightly longer and quicken the shifts. Sport mode also increases weight of the steering and gives the rear axle more torque to the rear axle while firming up the dampers. Engage the GS mode and you get Buick’s version of sport plus. The steering boost weights up even more, and although the transmission shifts are no quicker it is more aggressive, holding on to lower gears to provide power when exiting a corner. Add to that the all-wheel drive system will bias even more of the engine’s torque to the rear axle and the ride firms up but never becomes crashy or intrusive.
The Regal GS is a fun car to drive quickly, the Brembos have tremendous stopping power and chassis responds well to inputs, push hard into a corner and under steer only appears if you’ve over cooked it. The all season tires have enough grip but here in Southern California, summer tires would be preferably. The only thing missing here is the V6 doesn’t feel or sound exciting, it really needs a performance exhaust like the Camaro RS, which makes a great noise. Of course this being a Buick you would only make that available if you pressed that GS button.
The Regal GS front chairs are a tad over the top but once you get seated are incredibly comfortable, adjustable in a multitude of ways and with a massage option. They are also heavily bolstered and heated and cooled, which in the current weather is a necessity. The infotainment system is fast and easy to use and paring a phone took no time at all. Fit and finish are generally good with some harder plastic creeping in below the knee, but it’s tastefully put together and well designed.
One of my favorite things about the Regal is the trunk which is huge and even bigger with the seats folded, offering 32 cu ft, 60.7 ft³ and best of all it’s a hatch so both trunk lid and glass open to provide a cavernous space for stuff. Technically it seats five but the middle seat is a hump with the folded cup holders as a back rest, however, with only 2 people back there, comfort is assured as is sufficient headroom, which can often be lacking in cars with sloping rear roof lines.
Our 2018 Buick Regal GS tester came with the:
(1) Sights and Sounds Package ($945) which includes Buick’s Infotainment System, HD Radio and Bose Premium Audi,
(2) Driver Confidence Package ($1,690) including Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Pedestrian Detection and a Heads Up Display
(3) Power MoonRoof
This brought the total including destination to $44,110.
This price puts the Buick in the firing line of some serious competition including the BMW 4 Series Sportback and the Audi A5 Sportback, however, they will undoubtedly cost more with the options the Buick has. The Buick is a great looking car, it’s fun to drive, and it’s a good deal if you are looking for a sporting 4 door that will make your neighbors do a double take when you tell them it’s a Buick.
I would really like to see a high performance version, maybe with the twin turbo six from the ATS-V, they could call it the Buick Grand National perhaps…………..
2018 Buick Regal GS Numbers
|VEHICLE TYPE:||Front-engine, all wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback|
|PRICE AS TESTED:||$44,110|
|ENGINE TYPE:||3.6 L DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|POWER:||310 hp @ 6,800 rpm|
|TORQUE:||282 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm|
|TRANSMISSIONS:||9-speed automatic with manual shifting mode|
|CARGO VOLUME:||32 cu ft, 60.7 ft³ with seats folded|
|CURB WEIGHT:||3,800 lb (mfr)|
|0-60 mph||5.6 seconds|
|TOP SPEED:||140 mph|
|OUR OBSERVED:||19.8 mpg|
|PROS:||Superb front seats, ride and handling, it’s a looker|
|CONS:||Missing paddle shifters, sportier exhaust note|