1999 Buick Regal

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1999 Buick Regal
Available in 4 styles:  Regal 4dr Sedan LS shown
Asking Price Range
$518–$6,386
Estimated MPG

18–19 city / 27–30 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

By 

Orlando Sentinel
You could take a look at the Buick Regal GS and justifiably come to the conclusion that there really isn't anything special about it. There are no unique badges, no aggressive spoilers, not even a chrome-tipped exhaust pipe. It looks like the typical sedate Buick family sedan.

But it doesn't perform like one.

For some reason, Buick chooses not to play up the fact that the Regal GS is one of America's best performing midsize sedans. The supercharged engine delivers strong performance, and the four-wheel independent suspension system provides a sporty ride.

Buick has built some very fast cars in years past. Though the 1999 Regal GS lacks the visual punch of, say, a Grand National, its performance is likely to leave a smile on your face.

Performance, handling

There are not many midsize sedans -- foreign or domestic -- that sport an engine as powerful as the Regal's 240-horsepower, supercharged, 3.8-liter V-6.

The supercharger is an engine-driven pump that increases performance by shoving more fuel and air into the engine's cylinders. Few automakers have as much experience as Buick when it comes to designing supercharged engines.

It shows when you step on the gas pedal. The 3.8-liter V-6 flexes its muscles and sends the car from 0-to-60 mph in about 6.6 seconds -- which is pretty darned impressive for a heavy four-door family sedan priced in the mid 20s. You are not going to get that level of performance in a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord V-6, two cars that cost roughly the same price.

A four-speed automatic transmission is the only one available in the Regal GS, a front-wheel drive car. It has taken many years, but Buick engineers have finally created a drivetrain and suspension system that can handle the power without the driver feeling an interference through the steering wheel. At full acceleration, the car tracks straight.

Regal GS is outfitted with a four-wheel independent suspension system. Our test car came with the performance Gran Touring option, which offers better tires and wheels. The car has a semisoft ride, but it doesn't wallow around corners. It remains quiet when the surface of the road is bad. And bumps are muffled well.

Our white test car came with traction control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and power-assisted steering, all standard features on the GS.

Fit and finish

Buick is supposed to be just below Cadillac in terms of prestige among the GM brands. But the Regal's interior is a mixed bag.

On one hand, the analog gauges, with their big numbers and colorful dials, and the comfortable leather seats are deserving of Buick.

But the extensive use of heavy, dull-looking gray plastic on the door panels and center console give the interior more of a Chevrolet look. You get the feeling that Buick chintzed out on the interior by not spending the money to make the interior classy top to bottom.

The lights on the front door panels are nice, but the cheap plastic lenses look like something you buy at a flea market. The plastic trim panel around the shifter was loose.

But you'll hear no gripes from me about the level of equipment you get for the money. The Regal GS is loaded with all the usual power accessories, plus dual zone air conditioning, heated outside mirrors, automatic headlights and much more.

Buick has a department in charge of creating comfortable and supportive seats. All they do is build and test seats. Buick's Seat Team has done outstanding work with the Regal. The front bucket seats feel just right. They are not too firm or too soft. The rear seats also are very comfortable, and they can hold three adults easily.

Some cosmetic upgrades would do a lot to give the Regal GS a little character. Nowhere on the car does the word "supercharged" appear. The 240-horsepower V-6 is an engine to be proud of. Some special badges -- not cheap plastic ones -- on the fenders would be a n ice touc h. Ditto for a sporty exhaust tip.

There must be a way for Buick to design some interior panels that don't look so cheap. Some better looking door armrests and upgraded trim around the shifter would lend a little more class to the interior.

As it is, the Regal GS is a great car for someone who'd like a fast family sedan but who'd rather not stand out in a crowd. Our white test car looked like it belonged in a rental car fleet. And with its snappy 6.6-second zero-to-60 mph time, no one would suspect that such an innocent looking car could be so quick.

Indeed, several times during the weeklong test drive, I caught several drivers of sports cars napping and left them at stoplights with a clear view of the Regal's taillights.

1999 Buick Regal GS

Base price: $24,395. Safety: Dual front air bags, traction control, anti-lock brakes and side-impact protection. Price as tested: $25,800. EPA rating: 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway. Incentives: None.


    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

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