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By Jim Flammang
April 15, 2002
Vehicle Overview The basic design of the sporty Regal is similar to that of Buicks conservatively styled Century. Buick markets the midsize Regal sedan to younger buyers, while the Century tends to be favored by an older crowd. The Regal offers stronger engines, front bucket seats and a racier personality. The Regal comes in basic LS trim and performance-oriented GS guise, the latter of which packs a supercharged engine.
For 2002, a new Joseph Abboud special edition is offered in both LS and GS trims. This is the third model to come out of Buicks partnership with the renowned fashion designer. The Abboud models feature special club-style front bucket seats with Chestnut leather seating areas that are reminiscent of those in Buicks LaCrosse concept vehicle. LATCH child-seat tethers are new for 2002, but little else has changed.
Exterior The Regal displays a more aggressive appearance than the similar-sized Century and is led by a bolder grille and different rear styling. Both models share the same front-drive chassis and have 109-inch wheelbases. Measuring 196.2 inches long overall, the Regal is a little longer than the Century, but their widths and heights are identical at 72.7 inches and 56.6 inches, respectively. The LS sedan rides on 15-inch tires, while the GS carries wider rubber on 16-inch aluminum wheels. The LS also features a Gran Touring suspension for tauter handling.
Interior Front bucket seats are standard in both versions of the Regal, while the Century comes with a front bench. A split, folding rear seatback augments the trunk, which has a 16.7-cubic-foot capacity and allows carrying long items such as skis. Standard LS fare includes a cassette player, remote keyless entry, cruise control, fog lamps, a tire-inflation monitor, a tilt steering wheel, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Dual-zone ComfortTemp air conditioning has separate controls for the driver and front passenger.
In addition to bigger wheels and a supercharged engine, the GS edition adds leather-trimmed seats, a cassette/CD player and a Driver Information Center. GMs satellite-based OnStar communication system is standard in the GS and comes as a factory-installed option in the LS sedan.
The Joseph Abboud special edition features a premium audio system, sunroof and steering-wheel stereo controls. Late in the 2001 model year, Tortoise Burl woodgrain trim went on the Regals door switches and gearshift lever.
Under the Hood A 200-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine goes into the LS, while the GS benefits from a supercharged version that develops 240 hp. Thats enough to turn the Regal into a virtual four-door hot rod compared to most of its rivals that is capable of challenging some sports cars. Premium fuel is required for the supercharged engine. Both engines mate with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Safety Compared to some midsize sedans, the Regal offers a good selection of standard safety features, including all-disc antilock brakes, traction control and a theft-deterrent system. Models with leather upholstery include a seat-mounted side-impact airbag for the driver.
Driving Impressions Though the GS isnt quite as refined as some import-brand rivals, it is a potent road machine. Acceleration falls short of stunning, but overall performance stands well above the midsize norm. Even with the Gran Touring suspension, handling skills cannot match those of a sports car, but the Regal can hold its own through curvy, demanding roads.