We all know that when it comes to the say about buying cars, women rule the roost. If you think this only applies to married guys, guess again. When you're single, the car you drive says a lot about you as a person. And guys, always trying to figure out and impress the fair sex, listen to what they have to say. This is what a friend's sister said about the Buick Regal Grand Sport: "That is a real Harry Highpants kind of car." Ouch. Maybe it is, but this is the car that's supposed to attract a new younger buyer to Buick. I enjoyed this car, but the minute she said it, I checked my chest to see if it had disappeared yet. Nope, the chest is still there. So what makes this car seem so fuddy-duddy? Beats me. The styling is conservative to be sure, but so is most sedan design these days. The exterior is devoid of chrome, the tires wide, the wheels aluminum. It looks as mean as this car could look. Just make sure you order your Regal in GS, rather than chrome-laden LS trim. Ordering the GS also gets you a firmer suspension and GM's supercharged version of the 3800 V-6 engine. This powerplant sees duty in the two-sizes-larger Park Avenue, so the 240 horsepower that it produces makes this car move quickly. No, make that very quickly. The four-speed electronic automatic clicks off the shifts smoothly. GM thoughtfully equipped it with a performance mode, where downshifts occur even more quickly than they normally would. So you can leave your girlfriend's Honda in the dust, if you so desire. All that power uses fuel at a rate of 20 mpg in mixed driving. This engine requires premium fuel. The Regal shares its platform with the Century, Oldsmobile Intrigue and Pontiac Grand Prix. Only the Grand Prix is lighter. While the Olds feels more alive at highway speed, the Buick is a lot stronger off the line and in around-town situations. The Buick also has the softest ride of the three, but it's not overly soft. The steering has been revised, although it felt similar to last year's, having quite a bit of power boost. But it is fairly quick. Handling isn't quite as good as the power. Most maneuvers are handled with ease, although there is a bit of body lean. Trying to hustle this car like a BMW will only yield screaming tires and a screaming girlfriend. (Probably saying something about how much older you seem to be.) The four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock are good and the addition of traction control is a reassuring touch. Front heated seats are available as an option. Space up front is good, with large bucket seats that are comfy for long-distance cruising. The rear seat has about the space and accommodations you would expect. The leather-trimmed interior gave the car an appropriate air for a Buick. Road and tire noise seemed a little intrusive. The dash is nicely designed in the current Buick idiom, a sweeping curve that gracefully mimics the coke bottle beltline of the exterior. It f unctions well, with solid-feeling switch gear. The radio is typical GM, with good sound and easy to understand controls. The optional electronic climate control is the same one used in other Buicks. The difference here is the optional steering-wheel mounted controls have no adjustment for the climate control as it is in other Buicks. There are only switches for the audio system. But the center console is improved from last year. A storage bin door now has a handle grip, so that it no longer pinches fingers when opening it. The trunk has good space, all of it usable, as the trunk's hinges don't interfere with cargo space. So go ahead and laugh at Harry Highpants. But you won't be able to catch him. >> 1999 Buick Regal GS Engine: 3.8 OHV V6 Transmission: 4-speed automatic Tires: 225/60R16 Standard: Four-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes, traction control, tilt steering wheel, Gran Touring suspension, dual air-conditioning with air-filtration, fog lamps, AM/FM Cassette, remote heated side mirrors, rear seat pass-through, power door locks, power windows, auxiliary power outlet, intermittent wipers, electronic information center. Options: Heated seats, Luxury Package (Electronic dual zone climate control, electrochromatic rearview mirrors, steering-wheel-mounted radio controls, upgraded stereo) Base price: $24,395 As tested: $25,800 EPA rating: 18 mpg city, 27 mpg highway Test mileage: 20.7 mpg >>
|Larry Printz||The Morning Call and Mcall.com||September 19, 1999|
|Richard Truett||Orlando Sentinel||June 24, 1999|
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