The Buick Regal Limited coupe is one of those mid-sized, medium-priced, middle-of-the-road type of cars that are somewhat hard to define. Not because of their complexities or innovations but rather because of the lack of such things. In other words, it is the type of car that you just drive and forget about. You know it is going to get you where you want to go and there is no real reason to ponder why.

The Regal, however, is a very popular car - always ranking up there in sales with the top 10 nameplates - and no doubt one of the main reasons is because it doesn't present any radical, or even mild, departures from what a lot of people consider to be a car. It has a familiar look introduced for the 1978 model year - and a familiar feel. In an age of front-wheel drive cars (even the big Buick Electra has gone this route) it has the conventional front engine/rear drive configuration. But is this something to complain about?

Before anyone gets the idea that all Regals are just nice easy-to-take cars, it should be noted that the Regal T Type is a performance car that can stand up to the best of them. The test car, as mentioned, was a Regal Limited, not the sports-oriented T Type.

The test car (supplied by Kelly Buick, State Road, Emmaus) ran smoothly and quietly, was easy to drive, provided a good amount of creature comforts and had adequate performance. Again, no real big surprises, no real big disappointments. It also is an attractive looking car with that clean, though somewhat long-in-the-tooth, General Motors styling. The strong vertical patterned grille helps give it a more expensive look - quite similar to Buick's top-of-the-line Riveria.

The Regal coupe has a wheelbase of 108.1 inches, overall length of 200.6 inches, width of 71.6 inches, height of 55.3 inches and curb weight of 3,148 pounds. When the Regal was introduced back in the early 1970s, it was one of the smaller Buicks. Times, of course, have changed and although the Regal is rated as an intermediate (EPA index volume of 114 cubic feet), it is now one of the bigger Buicks.

The interior of the test car was rather richly done up in brown leather and vinyl upholstery (the seating surfaces were leather), nice thick carpeting and tasteful application of veneer wood paneling. The test vehicle was not really a low-priced car, as you will see later. The individual front seats were comfortable. Back seat leg room wasn't all that bad (unless the front seats were extended all the way back) for a mid-sized coupe. The seat is fairly wide - shoulder room measures 56 inches - and could hold three passengers. The only problem here is that the middle passenger really won't be all that comfortable because of the high driveshaft tunnel. The trunk has 16.2 cubic feet capacity which is decent for a car its size.

The Regal has coil spring suspension fore and aft which has been tuned on the soft side for a smooth ride. A smooth ride has been a Buick trademark for years and a driving enthusiast certainly wouldn't be thrilled with the soft suspension but how many are going to buy a Regal Limited?

Another feature that I'm sure adds to the popularity of the Regal is the wide choice of engines. In all, there's four and they range from mild to wild. The test car was equipped with the standard (and mild) engine, a 231-cubic- inch (3.8 liter) V-6 with two-barrel carburetor rated at 110 horsepower at 3,800 rpm and 190 foot pounds of torque at 1,600 rpm. Obviously, putting the pedal to the metal isn't going to give anyone whiplash. And although performance isn't startling, it is adequate for all Lehigh Valley driving conditions. Fuel mileage was decent but not anything to get excited about. The test car averaged 14 miles per gallon for city driving and 21 miles per gallon over Lehigh Valley highways. The EPA estimates are 21 mpg city/31 highway which could be somewhat opt mistic.

Buick's V-6 engine has a rather interesting history. These days a lot of manufacturers are offering V-6 engines but Buick offered one back when very few people even heard of a V-6 engine. Not too long ago it was thought that a Vee engine with an odd number of cylinders on a bank would not work, or would have serious problems with balance. There were V-8s, V-12s and even V-16 engines used in cars. There was no such a thing as a successful V-10 or V-14. But Buick decided to power its compact Special model back in 1962 with a V-6. This engine was innovative and had an aluminum block. But it didn't make the other manufacturers jealous.

The idea was sound - a V-6 would take up half the room as an inline six and would be cheaper to produce than a V-8 - but technically this engine was lacking. Buick worked on it for awhile and sold the rights to it to Jeep, who further worked on it and used it in its vehicles for a number of years. Then Buick bought back the rights in the early 1970s, improved it further and has been using it in its cars ever since. The engine also is used by other G.M. divisions.

Buick did stick with the engine so it isn't surprising that the three other engines offered in the Regal are V-6s. The next optional engine is a 252-cubic-inch (4.1 liter) V-6 with four-barrel carburetor which was developed for the big Electra and also was used by Cadillac. It develops 125 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 205 foot pounds of torque at 2,000 rpm and would be a good choice for all around use. For those who want fuel mileage, there is a 263- cubic-inch (4.3 liter) V-6 diesel developed by Oldsmobile which produces 85 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and 165 foot pounds of torque at 1,600 rpm. The final engine we will discuss is a real sizzler and is only available in the Regal T Type. It is the same size as the standard engine - 231 cubic inches - but features a turbocharger and sequential-port fuel injection. Itis rated at 200 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 300 foot pounds of torque at 2,400. You can take it from there.

The three-speed automatic transmission is the standard transmission for the non-turbo and diesel engines, however, the 252 V-6 is also available with a four-speed automatic which is the standard transmission for the T Type.

Base price for the Regal Limited coupe is $10,125. Standard equipment includes power steering, power brakes, steel belted whitewall tires, deluxe wheel covers and some trim and convenience items. With a destination charge of $414 and options totaling $3,002, the test car had a list price of $13,541. Options included air conditioning, $730; electric door locks, $125; tinted glass, $125; power windows, $185; padded landau top, $245; rear window defogger, $140; coach lamps, $102; cruise control, $175; tilt steering, $110; wire wheel covers (locking), $190; electronic AM-FM stereo, $277 (this price includes a credit of $186 from the st andard AM-FM radio); power antenna, $60; six-way power drivers seat, $215, and leather upholstery, $295.