Competes with: Acura TLX A-Spec, Nissan Maxima, Audi A4, Lexus IS
Looks like: A sleek, Euro-style "sportback," and it's not just a styling trick; it actually is a hatchback
Drivetrain: 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 with nine-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Later this year
Buick continues to rethink its mid-size Regal by unveiling today a new Regal GS performance model, which trades the former turbo four-cylinder for smooth, more linear power from a version of the V-6 engine used in the Chevrolet Camaro and larger Buick LaCrosse. It gets a nice boost in power and performance features over the standard Regal, but it's more of an upscale Regal than a full-out sport trim.
The 2018 Regal — derived from the European Opel division GM is selling — has already changed from a conventional sedan to a sleek, sedan-like hatchback and sporty wagon, and the GS builds more attitude into the hatchback. It goes on sale later this year at a competitive $39,990 to start, including destination.
The new GS builds on the redesigned Regal with just enough attitude to look like the performance version, but not so much to scare the neighbors. It gets more aggressive aerodynamics in the bumpers and side sills. A version of the 2017 model's large front air inlets returns; you also get a tasteful rear spoiler and 19-inch wheels. Full-LED headlights are optional.
The 2018 Regal interior's design and materials already impressed us in April at its 2017 New York International Auto Show debut. The Regal GS gets its own front seats, which offer a dose of pampering with performance. The perforated seats have integrated head restraints and adjustable bolsters to hold you in, but they also have a standard massage feature along with heating and ventilation.
The GS also gets a flat-bottom steering wheel; a color head-up display is optional. An 8-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard, but a full suite of safety technology, including a forward collision system with automatic emergency braking, is an extra-cost option.
Under the Hood
The new 3.6-liter V-6 has the same 310-horsepower rating as the LaCrosse's V-6 (versus 335 hp in the Camaro). That's a healthy boost from the 259-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the 2017 Regal GS. The V-6 makes 282 pounds-feet of torque and features cylinder deactivation and a start-stop system to save gas, although Buick didn't give a mileage estimate.
The 2018 GS uses a nine-speed automatic transmission and has standard performance all-wheel drive with an active twin-clutch differential to distribute power. It also gets GM's excellent adaptive suspension, a sport-tuned exhaust system and Brembo front brakes.
"This is a sport sedan designed for everyday driving, but one that makes every drive special," said Duncan Aldred, vice president of GM's global Buick and GMC divisions, in a statement. "The new Regal GS is in the sweet spot of the market: more refined and luxurious than the mainstream, more value for the price with style and premium features on par with higher-end competitors, and with standard features like AWD with active twin clutch and a rear sportback design that will surprise customers with its usefulness."