Buick Regal GS: Handsome, Strong, and Fast

I’m going to try to avoid mentioning grandparents in this post, because the days of Buicks coming with AARP cards are officially gone.

It’s taken a while to get to this point, though. In fact, the words “performance,” “sporty,” and “Buick,” were last used together 30 years ago when the Grand National GNX was intimidating Toyota drivers everywhere.

Today’s Buicks are evoking memories of the GNX and making folks forget about the automaker’s stodgy and drab past. Yes, the GM-owned automaker is now building some of the most attractive cars on the road—and providing the performance to go with it. Continue reading >>>

Buick Regal GS or LaCrosse: Sporty or Stodgy?

2012 Buick Regal GS

My father bought me a yellow 1954 Buick convertible that I drove to college. It was the most garish car on campus, by far, and embarrassed the hell out of me until I got kicked out of school and drove the thing ignominiously home.

That was the era of heavy, sluggish Buicks, three-on-the-tree transmissions and a lot of chrome inside and out. These were not just grandpa-grandma cars; they were for people who wanted to make a splash.

GM has gone just the opposite way, at last, with the 2012 Regal GS, a sports sedan for the world market based on Opel’s Insignia, with some interesting technical and performance features. As I’m sure you know, the company is reaching out to a younger market.

The GS is not only sharp-looking but, from what I read, competitive with most anything Audi, Volvo or Lexus can offer in its price range. Engine, drivetrain, suspension and handling appear to be well-matched and very competent.

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Ghost Cars of the Past About to Return

1982 Buick Grand National

Three automotive icons of the 1970s and 1980s could be well on their way back to modern society.

And why not? Plenty of companies have seen success with bringing retro designs and brands back to experience new life and make new sales. The Mustang, Camaro and Challenger trio remains the most obvious example. The reinvention of the Dodge Dart also proves the point. Going beyond cars, the Star Wars saga will reappear in U.S. theaters, and the band Queen will play a new show (though with a very questionable stand-in for the great Freddie Mercury).

Nissan, BMW and Buick hope there is room for at least three more pieces of automotive nostalgia.

Nissan will resurrect its Datsun brand, BMW has applied for a patent on the Triumph name and logo, while tuning house SLP, which owns the rights to the fabled “GNX” name, reportedly has plans to transform a Buick Regal GS into the car everyone still refers to as Lord Vader’s ride.

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A Hot Buick? Yes, the New Regal GS

2012 Buick Regal GS Black Edition

I’ve read a bunch of first-drive reviews of the 2012 Buick Regal GS (GM invited the car media to its Milford test track). Verdict: Nobody found any real flaws. And everyone loved the handling, braking and power, the car’s performance generally, even its appearance.

Now, many car reviewers are an easy sell, some for obvious reasons, but many of these guys are also serious, knowledgeable car enthusiasts. I always thought Marty Padgett of Motor Authority was one of the latter.

He went bananas for the Buick, with particular praise for the engine:

Here, the turbo massage raises output to 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and the torque number plays a big role in the GS’ happy urgency. It spins out 95 percent of its peak torque from 2300 to 4900 rpm, and the three low gears in the six-speed manual are staged tightly to keep the turbo on boil, and to keep the GS in that band, while the upper gears seek out fuel economy.

The formula works. Buick says the Regal GS manual will hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, about the times [sic] promised for a Hyundai Sonata turbo.

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