The addition of two new models has greatly improved the Buick Regal line for 2012, yet it still earns just a mid-pack Total Car Score in the midsize sedan segment.
GM tapped its European Opel brand as the basis for the all-new Regal last year, hoping some Euro sport sedan cache would rub off on the new cars. The reality fell short of expectations back then, but this year Regal comes closer with the addition of the high-performance GS model.
With 270 turbocharged horsepower on tap and an adjustable suspension, the GS is definitely aimed at the enthusiast. Critics applauded the effort but were disappointed that the car, again, didn’t live up to expectations, with slower-than-anticipated acceleration and handling not up to par with what Europe has to offer.
Those who want a Regal in a more fuel-frugal package can look forward to the eAssist Regal hybrid on sale later in the year (and covered separately).
In addition to the new models, changes for the 2012 Buick Regal include the addition of optional technology features and new exterior colors.
The 2012 Buick Regal lineup grows to four models: Joining the standard Regal and Regal Turbo are the Regal eAssist Regal Hybrid (covered separately) and the high-performance Regal GS.
All Regal engines are variations of the Ecotec inline-4, starting with a 2.4-liter version in base Regal models that produces 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. Regal Turbo models have a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine making 220 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, while GS models squeeze 270 hp and 295 lb-ft from the 2.0 turbo engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard in the GS and optional in the Turbo; all other Regal models are fitted with six-speed automatic transmissions.
For 2012, Buick Regal and Turbo models come in three trim levels: base, Premium 1 and Premium 2 for Regal or Premium 1, Premium 2 and Premium 3 for Regal Turbo. Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, heated leather front seats and Bluetooth. Premium 1 adds keyless entry and pushbutton start; Premium 2 includes HID headlamps and an upgraded sound system; and Premium 3 adds 19-inch wheels and Interactive Drive Control.
GS models have all the Premium equipment plus an Interactive Drive Control system specially tuned for that model.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2012 Regal start at 20 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined for 2.4-liter models with the manual transmission to 19/31/23 for 2.4 models with the automatic. The 2.0-liter Regal Turbo gets 18/29/22 while the GS version is rated at 19/27/22 (with either transmission).
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