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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

By Brian Wong

CARS.COM — We reviewed the previous-generation Buick Regal GS in 2016 and concluded that the GS didn’t do enough to distinguish itself as a performance vehicle when compared with other Regal trim levels. Would that be different with the new one? I hit the road outside of Atlanta to find out if the 2018 Buick Regal GS could live up to its Grand Sport name.

Related: 2018 Buick Regal Sportback First Drive: Aiming for the Bleachers, Hitting the Infield

What’s a Buick Regal GS?

Buick gave the Regal GS more aggressive styling with unique front and rear bumpers, 19-inch alloy wheels, side skirts and a rear lip spoiler. But the changes are far from just cosmetic. There are Brembo brakes up front, a continuous damping control suspension, sport exhaust and three driving modes (Normal, Sport and GS). Sport and GS Buick Regal modes change five elements of the car: shift feel and schedule of the nine-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive bias added to the trick twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system, increased steering effort and the amount of damping, which makes the Buick’s ride stiffer.

2018 Buick Regal GS

  • Powertrain: 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 and 282 pounds-feet of torque; nine-speed automatic transmission
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive with torque-vectoring twin-clutch rear axle
  • Fuel economy: 19/27/22 mpg city/highway/combined
  • Key features: Adaptive damping suspension, Brembo front brakes, head-up display, adaptive cruise control, sport exhaust, 19-in...

CARS.COM — We reviewed the previous-generation Buick Regal GS in 2016 and concluded that the GS didn’t do enough to distinguish itself as a performance vehicle when compared with other Regal trim levels. Would that be different with the new one? I hit the road outside of Atlanta to find out if the 2018 Buick Regal GS could live up to its Grand Sport name.

Related: 2018 Buick Regal Sportback First Drive: Aiming for the Bleachers, Hitting the Infield

What’s a Buick Regal GS?

Buick gave the Regal GS more aggressive styling with unique front and rear bumpers, 19-inch alloy wheels, side skirts and a rear lip spoiler. But the changes are far from just cosmetic. There are Brembo brakes up front, a continuous damping control suspension, sport exhaust and three driving modes (Normal, Sport and GS). Sport and GS Buick Regal modes change five elements of the car: shift feel and schedule of the nine-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive bias added to the trick twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system, increased steering effort and the amount of damping, which makes the Buick’s ride stiffer.

2018 Buick Regal GS

  • Powertrain: 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 and 282 pounds-feet of torque; nine-speed automatic transmission
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive with torque-vectoring twin-clutch rear axle
  • Fuel economy: 19/27/22 mpg city/highway/combined
  • Key features: Adaptive damping suspension, Brembo front brakes, head-up display, adaptive cruise control, sport exhaust, 19-inch wheels, Bose audio system
  • As-tested price: $43,510 (including destination charges)

How Does the Regal GS Drive?

The 3.6-liter V-6 in the GS makes more 60 more horsepower than the 250-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the standard Regal, but it weirdly makes less torque than that engine does in AWD Regal models (295 pounds-feet versus 282 pounds-feet with the V-6). The Buick Regal GS adds a nine-speed automatic with its AWD system, while the regular model only gets an eight-speed. The AWD system is the same one found in the Regal Sportback and Regal TourX. It’s an active twin-clutch system (similar to the one found under the Ford Focus RS) that can transfer 100 percent of the engine’s torque from front to rear and left to right rear wheels when conditions call for it.

Does the jump up in engine size pay off with performance dividends? Not really. I found the powertrain to be the weakest part of the Regal GS’ performance credibility. It seems hesitant to accelerate both off the line and while traveling at speed. This is like the experience that Cars.com reviewer Aaron Bragman noted in his First Drive of the Regal Sportback, saying, “Put your foot down in the AWD model, and the delay between pedal action and downshift is palpable, putting a damper on entertaining sportiness.”

The Regal GS doesn’t have steering-wheel-mounted transmission paddle shifters, which could really help deal with the engine’s responsiveness. It’s a weird thing to not put into a so-called performance-oriented vehicle. The standard Regal is also missing them, as Bragman noted in his review of the 2018 Buick Regal. Yes, you can use the gear shift to select gears, but it really isn’t the same thing. The V-6 doesn’t make maximum torque until 5,200 rpm, so it exacerbates the issue. Buick, I beg you: Paddles for the next car, please.

Once it does get moving, though, the Regal GS does have performance strengths. In Normal driving mode, the Buick’s ride is pliant and comfortable, but if you bump the car into Sport or GS mode, the suspension noticeably tightens up and the GS becomes surprisingly proficient in the corners for a 4,270-pound sedan. Both modes also add weight to the steering that gives the driver added confidence with increased resistance. I enjoyed throwing the Regal GS into corners, but when I would try to put power down to maintain momentum I would get a little frustrated again.

One performance feature I appreciated: The Buick’s Sport driving mode is customizable, so you can add steering weight to the car if you prefer while keeping the suspension in Normal mode, which is more comfortable on longer trips.

Other features the Buick Regal GS does very well are its unique front sport seats, which are excellent, and the auto start-stop system that’s nearly seamless — which is good, because you can’t turn it off. Those front seats are standard on the Regal GS, and come with heating/ventilation/massage features and powered side bolsters and thigh support. They’re seriously comfortable, and I wish they were standard on every car I drive.

How Much Does the Regal GS Cost?

The Regal GS starts at $39,990 with destination charge. Our test car added three available packages: the Sights and Sounds Package for $945, with navigation, HD radio and a Bose audio system; the Driver Confidence Package #2 for $1,690 that includes adaptive cruise control, automatic forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist and a head-up display; and the Appearance Package for $485, with wireless charging pad, LED headlights, cornering lamps and automatic high beams. Tack on another $395 for the smoked pearl metallic paint and you reach the $43,510 as-tested price.

Is the Regal GS Grand or Sport?

While the Buick Regal GS fulfills the Grand part of its name with a comfortable ride and those wonderful seats, the Sport part still feels unfulfilled to me. That powertrain holds the Regal GS back a bit. I think the 2018 Regal GS is an excellent touring car, and I’d be more than happy taking it on long trips to utilize its ride quality, quiet cabin and cargo room. Now, if Buick could reach over to the Cadillac side of GM to borrow one of those twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engines from the CT6 with maximum torque coming at 2,500 rpm for the Buick Regal, I’d travel back to Atlanta — or anywhere else — to take a peek.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

5.0
2 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(5.0)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(5.0)
Comfort
(5.0)
Reliability
(2.5)
Value For The Money
(5.0)
(5.0)

Excellent excellent car

by Kds from Akron ohio on January 30, 2019

Usually purchased bmws 3 and 5 series but given the regal gs at40k verses 70 k?! I decided to give it a try. Yes the bmw 440 is a higher performer but 30k difference , it’s not that much better. Plus ... Read full review

(5.0)

Great Car to have. Know for quailty

by Mskay74u from CLEVELAND. Ohio on October 25, 2018

This car meet all my merds. Have plenty of space. Comfortable and features simple enough to enjoy without read 10 manuels. And I like the drop down seats. Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2018 Buick Regal currently has 0 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2018 Buick Regal has not been tested.

Latest 2018 Regal Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Regal received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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