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By Jim Flammang
May 20, 2003
Posted on 10/23/2002
Vehicle Overview Like the related Century, Buicks midsize front-wheel-drive (FWD) Regal wont get a redesign for another year or so. For the 2003 model year, antilock brakes and side-impact airbags will be part of an option package rather than offered as standard equipment.
Two new body colors are available. Additional interior trim padding has been installed in the Regal to enhance head-impact protection. Special Regal models with color and trim by fashion designer Joseph Abboud will still be marketed.
With its front bucket seats, the Regal is sportier in appearance than the conservatively styled Century, which is equipped with a front bench seat. Both models are built from the same basic design. The Regal offers stronger engines and a racier personality. The Regal comes in base LS trim and performance-oriented GS guise; the GS is equipped with a supercharged engine.
Exterior The Regal displays a more aggressive appearance than the comparably sized Century. The Regal has a bolder grille and different rear styling. Both models share the same FWD chassis and have 109-inch wheelbases. Measuring 196.2 inches long overall, the Regal is a little longer than the Century.
The LS sedan rides on 15-inch tires, and the GS carries wider rubber on 16-inch aluminum wheels. The GS also features a Gran Touring suspension for tauter handling. Abboud-styled sedans have lower bodyside cladding. A power moonroof is optional.
Interior Front bucket seats are standard in both versions of the Regal, whereas 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 tilt steering wheel, and power windows, door locks and mirrors. Dual-zone ComfortTemp air conditioning has separate controls for the driver and front passenger.
In addition to larger wheels and a supercharged engine, the GS edition adds leather-trimmed seats, a cassette and CD player, and a Driver Information Center. GMs OnStar communication system is a factory-installed option for both versions. Special club-style front bucket seats with Chestnut leather seating areas, which are reminiscent of those in Buicks LaCrosse concept vehicle, go into the Joseph Abboud special edition.
Under the Hood A 200-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine goes into the LS, and the GS benefits from a supercharged version that develops 240 hp. Compared to most of its rivals, thats enough to turn the Regal into a virtual four-door hot rod thats capable of challenging some sports cars. Premium fuel is required for the supercharged engine. Both engines mate with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Safety Antilock brakes are standard on the GS and an option on the LS. The GS models include a seat-mounted side-impact airbag for the driver and full-range traction control.
Driving Inpressions The GS isnt quite as refined as some import-brand rivals, but it is a potent road machine. Its acceleration falls short of stunning, but the Regals overall performance stands well above the midsize norm. Even with the Gran Touring suspension, its handling skills cant match those of a sports car, but the Regal can hold its own through curvy, demanding roads.