2014 Buick Regal Turbo AWD First Test
Becoming the Underdog, Again
While the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3 get all the buzz, another premium sedan in the same price range waits just outside the spotlight. With more power than the CLA250, A3, and Volkswagen CC, the reinvigorated 2014 Buick Regal gets 259 hp, even on the base model. But with the refreshed Regal crowded from above by the popular LaCrosse and from below by the better-selling Verano, what chance does it have to distinguish itself?
If your new-car search starts and ends in a Buick showroom, the Regal has no problem establishing a unique identity. While the 2014 Regal isn't meant to be a pure sports sedan, it's got moves the larger LaCrosse simply doesn't, and wears far more attractive sheetmetal than the Verano. Things gets more complicated once you consider non-GM options including the Acura TSX and Volkswagen CC, as well as the Audi A3 and A4 sedans.
On the track, the refreshed Regal makes a decent first impression thanks to a more powerful turbocharged engine that replaces the eAssist variant as the base model. With a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 engine producing 259 hp at 5300 rpm and 295 lb-ft from 3000-4000 rpm (GS has 295 lb-ft starting at 2500 rpm), the 2014 Regal Turbo with all-wheel drive accelerated from 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds. That's a noticeable improvement over a 220-hp, front-drive 2011 Regal's as-tested 7.5-second time, and just 0.2 seconds slower than the 2014 Regal GS with all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission. A six-speed automatic is standard on all 2014 Regals except the front-drive Regal GS, which offers a six-speed manual as an option.
On the road, while there is a bit of lag, you can really feel the turbo kick in. We experienced no discernible torque steer with the all-wheel-drive Regal, which can send up to 95 percent of torque to the rear wheels if necessary. Passing acceleration is a bit less dramatic, with the 2014 Regal Turbo AWD's 45-65 mph time of 3.7 seconds matching that of the 2013 Honda Accord four-cylinder sedan and 0.1 seconds behind the 2011 Regal Turbo and 2014 Regal GS AWD. A 2012 Audi A4 with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive wins in both categories, with an as-tested 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds and 45-65 mph in 3.2 seconds.
Read the 2014 Buick Regal GS AWD First Test HERE.
Read the 2014 Buick Regal GS AWD First Test HERE.
The Audi A4 in that configuration is also more efficient, with an EPA-rated 20/29 mpg city/highway for the 2014 model beating the 2014 Regal Turbo AWD's 19/27 mpg. Where the Audi falls behind, predictably, is price. A comparably equipped A4 is thousands of dollars more than the Regal. Our all-wheel-drive 2014 Regal included HID headlights, hands-free keyless entry, a nine-speaker sound system, navigation on an 8-inch touch-screen display, rear parking sensors with a rearview camera, a moonroof, and new-to-Regal safety technology including adaptive cruise control and an active front collision alert that can apply the brakes. With all that equipment and a $1000 chrome wheel upgrade, the Buick carried an as-tested price of $41,445 including the destination charge. Don't grab your pitchforks just yet: Drop the package with adaptive cruise control and Automatic Collision Preparation with Braking and you'll save $1695. Stick with the standard 18-inch alloys and you've pocketed another $1000, and although the all-wheel-drive Regal Turbo gets an upgraded suspension, considering a front-drive model will save about $2000.
Find your favorite road in the 2014 Buick Regal AWD and the car will keep up just fine. The six-speed automatic doesn't have lightning-quick reflexes, and we wish the car had the GS' sport mode, but the Regal still feels somewhat nimble. Though there are no paddle shifters, the gear selector does have a manual gate that works but could respond more quickly. The ride strikes a good balance between comfort and sportiness, and, for better or for worse, the car isn't as quiet as the Verano or LaCrosse. Someone looking for a luxury sedan that's somewhat sporty might not see that as so bad.
In our figure-eight course, the Regal Turbo AWD took 26.7 seconds at 0.67 g (average), slower than the more performance-oriented 2014 Regal GS AWD's 26.0 seconds at 0.72 g. The 2012 Audi A4 comes in at 25.9 seconds at 0.69 g, while the 220-hp, front-drive 2011 Regal Turbo finished the course in 26.8 seconds at 0.64 g. The 2014 Regal Turbo AWD came to a stop from 60 mph in 111 feet, compared to the 2014 Regal GS with Brembo brakes (105 feet), the 2011 Regal Turbo (113 feet), and the Mercedes-Benz CLA250 (112 feet).
The 2014 Buick Regal's interior feels just rich enough for an entry-level luxury sports sedan. If Buick has any money left over from this mid-cycle change, we'd suggest immediately investing in better-looking fake wood trim, although the dash is tastefully lined with silver trim in front of the passenger. Having the trim wrap around the top edge of the dash is a great touch that, as far as I can recall, is only used on Buicks and the Jaguar XJ. More patient drivers may feel differently, but I'm not a fan of the center stack's black pods, from which the temperature and three-stage heated seats are controlled. The design detail looks cool, but more than once I didn't hit the temperature button in exactly the right way, forcing me to look down from the road for a moment.
While an 8-inch display is included with the GS, the regular Regal gets a 4.2-inch color display that shows all kinds of information, but is off-center -- it's a little closer to the tachometer on the left than the speedometer on the right. Few drivers are likely to be bothered by it as I was, however, and Buick tells us its location was selected for optimal visibility. Midsize sedan owners will find less space in the Buick Regal than in Accords and Camrys, but the rear seat remains more spacious than that of the Verano. And the Regal has more EPA-rated passenger volume than the CC, CLA, and A4.
As for safety test results, the 2014 Regal is an IIHS Top Safety Pick and has an overall five-star rating (out of five stars) from the NHTSA. That's great, but the same could be said about the Honda Accord and Ford Fusion, the latter of which also offers all-wheel drive. We're not surprised, then, that the number-one reason Regal owners purchased their car was design. The 2014 Buick Regal is attractive and, unlike a handful of competitors, it has a usable back seat.
So the Regal makes sense in the Buick lineup. Against midsize sedans with upgraded engines as well as new entry-level premium sedans, though, the Regal has lots to prove. Newly available safety technology will help, as will the non-GS model's upgraded base engine. For luxury buyers who aren't too snobby to consider a nameplate like Buick, they'll find the 2014 Regal is a good, if not great, car in a price range full of interesting premium and non-premium options.
|2014 Buick Regal Turbo AWD|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$41,445|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.0L/259-hp/295-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3978 lb (58/42%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||190.2 x 73.1 x 58.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.7 sec @ 93.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||111 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.83 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.7 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||19/27 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||177/125 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.88 lb/mile|