1996 Buick Regal

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1996 Buick Regal
Available in 12 styles:  Regal Custom 2dr Coupe shown
Asking Price Range
$117–$5,281
Estimated MPG

20 city / 29 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

By 

chicagotribune.com
1996 is another one of those years devoted to improvement and refinement of the existing models rather than unveiling all-new products at Buick.

Doesn't it seem as if those years of improvement and refinement come more frequently at Buick than those years with all-new products?

Buick general manager Ed Mertz says improvement and refinement shouldn't be taken lightly. Besides, Mertz says, by improving and refining its model lineup, the Buick moniker has become so well known that 94 percent of the people in China are aware of it. On the other hand, he admits, Buick isn't sold in China, but if it were people would be able to ask for it by name.

Oh, well, not to digress.

We test drove the 1996 midsize Regal sedan with the focus under the hood. That's where the base 3.1-liter, 160-horsepower, V-6 engine now sports a low-friction valve train and revised engine-mount system to reduce noise and vibration.

And the more potent 3.8-liter, Series II, V-6 now boasts 205 h.p., up from 170 h.p. for 1995 with the 3.8 Series I.

We tested the Regal Gran Sport sedan in which the 3.8, 205-h.p. II is standard. The revisions and upgrades mean more low-end torque for quicker starts off the line, yet improved fuel efficiency with the mileage rating edging up to 19 miles per gallon city/29 m.p.g. highway from 19/28 in 1995.

That's 1 m.p.g. more on the highway plus better get up and go from 35 more h.p. Boosting power and increasing mileage is far more noble than boosting power and sacrificing 1 m.p.g. Kudos to Buick.

Buick says the engine, a smaller, lighter replacement for its predecessor, also emits fewer pollutants, which probably won't mean much to most motorists until they have to take a state emissions test or they become grandparents and are concerned about the air their grandchildren breathe.

That 3.8-liter, Series II V-6 will be shared with the LeSabre for 1996. The engine also will be offered as standard in the Park Avenue Ultra sedan or as optional in the Riviera coupe with one major change. It will add supercharging for a bigger power boost-to 240 h.p. in 1996 from from 225 h.p. in 1995 with the supercharged 3.8 I. That's V-8 power with V-6 fuel efficiency.

Too bad, you might say, that a supercharged 3.8 isn't offered in the Regal. Funny, that's the comment Buick engineers have made. Let's just say, no supercharged 3.8 in Regal for 1996, but one is in Regal's future. Looking to 1997, well, the engineers still are suggesting that a 205-h.p. V-6 in the Regal sure would make for a heck of a performance package.

Sorry, digressed again.

Funny, but the 205-h.p. punch also seems to benefit Regal when it comes to its road-holding suspension. Of course, you also have to credit the Gran Touring suspension, which softens rough spots and stiffens the cushy ones for the pleasant Regal road manners. Tip the cap to the p avement-hugging 16-inch tires as well. Nice package.

Some other nice features include a power door-lock system that is disabled if you leave the key in the ignition and open a door so you don't lock the keys inside and a new DEX-Cool engine coolant that provides five-year/100,000-mile protection and is colored brilliant orange versus the traditional green.

If you mix traditional green with the orange, your five-year/100,000-mile additive protection reverts to the regular recommended annual flush and fill.

With DEX-Cool motorists are going to have to be trained to look for orange fluid under the car as a sign of leakage. We hope Buick will inform buyers so they don't panic the first time the color of the driveway goes citrus.

Regal also offers life-of-the-car no-change transmission fluid, 100,000-mile platinum-tipped spark plugs and a stainless-steel exhaust, all aimed at reducing service and maintenance costs.

Safety equipment includes duala ir bags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes and adjustable lap/shoulder belts as standard. New standard equipment for 1996 includes dual temperature controls for driver/passenger, AM/FM stereo with cassette, solar-tinted windshield and 16-inch aluminum wheels. Remote keyless entry is a new option.

The test car also offers as standard power brakes and steering, tilt and leather-wrapped steering wheel, air conditioning, power antenna, cruise control, rear-window defogger, automatic power door locks (shift from park to drive and the doors lock; shift from drive to park and they unlock. There is a five-second delay so once you activate the power locks upon leaving the car, you can open the back door and remove coat or briefcase before the doors fully lock.), power outside mirrors, remote trunk release, power windows with driver-side express down, intermittent wipers and slide-out sunshades in the visors.

One feature neither Regal nor any 1996 Buick offers is daytime running lamps, though dealers have retrofit kits for about $50 plus installation.

The 1996 Buick Regal Gran Sport sedan starts at $21,800, and with options and freight, the test car sticker swelled to $24,722.

>> 1996 Buick Regal Gran Sport sedan
Wheelbase: 107.5 inches Length: 193.9 inches Engine: 3.8-liter, 205-h.p., V-6 Transmission: 4-speed automatic EPA mileage: 19 m.p.g. city/29 m.p.g. highway Base price: $21,800 Price as tested: $24,482. Add $677 for prestige package including remote keyless entry system, dual lighted vanity mirrors, AM/FM stereo with cassette/seek & scan/clock, steering-wheel mounted radio controls, power driver's seat, and trunk convenience net; $650 for 16-inch chrome wheels; $550 for light gray, vinyl bucket seats; $605 for power passenger side seat upgrade; $200 for compact disc player. Freight runs $540. Pluses: More powerful 3.8-liter, V-6 with 35-h.p. boost. New engine mount system. Quieter starter motor and added engine compartment insulation reduce engine noise into the cabin. ABS and dual air bags standard. Excellent fuel economy. Minuses: Awaiting a supercharged V-6 like the one offered in the Park Avenue Ultra and Riviera. >>


    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

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