2014 Buick Regal GS AWDPosted on August 13th, 2014
Premium sedan melds performance and style
By Nina Russin
Early afternoon on a Monday in mid-August, the temperature in Phoenix, Arizona is a balmy 108 degrees. I’m sitting behind the wheel of the 2014 Buick Regal GS in a traffic jam that extends at least five miles down the I-10 interstate. Somehow a semi truck has jumped the median that separates the I-10 and the exit ramp to the I-60: it is blocking the entire exit ramp and two lanes of the 10.
Drivers in surrounding cars are understandably irate. But I’m not, because life inside the GS is actually quite pleasant. I have the HD radio tuned to a jazz station that rivals legendary KLON Long Beach or the best satellite radio has to offer.
General Motors is known for air conditioners that blow ice cubes and this one is no exception, maintaining the interior at a comfortable 74 degrees. Using the blind spot monitoring system I am able to safely maneuver into the best strategic position for getting through this mess in a reasonable amount of time.
What all of this tells me is that Buick has successfully reinvented itself for the modern world without losing touch with its heritage. When I was a kid, Buicks were known as doctor’s cars because they were upscale and when the situation demanded, they went like spit. My father’s favorite car was his 1966 triple black LeSabre.
The LeSabre’s expansive black hood and even more expansive 340 cubic inch V-8 underneath was even more so. The sedan made my father feel like king of the road. He drove it like a New York cabbie and was blissfully happy doing so.
Although the midsized 2014 Buick LeSabre is considerably smaller than the full-sized sedans of the 1960s, it appeals to a similar audience, and for very much the same reasons. It offers luxury styling and features without a high luxury price tag, and adds some very appealing performance.
The turbocharged two-liter engine develops 259 horsepower: more than the considerably larger engine in my dad’s ’66. Because of the turbocharger, 295 foot-pounds of peak torque is available at very low engine speeds for excellent acceleration off the line and on highway entrance ramps.
Base price for the all-wheel drive test car is $39,270 excluding the $925 destination charge. Options include blind spot monitoring, forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, memory driver and front passenger seat settings, adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation and a power sunroof. Final MSRP is $43,780.
It’s all about components
The ever-expanding sea of midsize sedans makes it confusing for buyers to distinguish one from the other. These days, two factors that separate the wheat from the chaff are powertrain components and infotainment content.
All-wheel drive sedans are not all created equal. The Buick GS comes with Brembo front brakes. Brembo is the brand of choice among performance enthusiasts, known for resistance to fading under harsh driving conditions.
The engine and cylinder heads are aluminum to minimize curb weight and the fuel system is direct injection to improve throttle response as well as fuel economy. A forged steel crankshaft is durable enough to handle high engine speeds. Drivers can choose between a six-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection or a six-speed manual gearbox.
The Haldex all-wheel drive system can send up to 90 percent of engine power to the rear wheels. The front suspension is engineered to reduce torque steer (pushing) if the driver mistakenly takes a turn too fast.
On the infotainment side, the GS is loaded with content, including satellite radio, navigation with traffic and weather updates, OnStar, Buick Intellilink, a Bose audio system with satellite and HD radio and more. Remote keyless start enables the driver to cool down the interior ahead of time on hot summer days.
Test drive in Phoenix
My 100-mile test of the GS included several drives around the Phoenix, Scottsdale and Chandler, Arizona metro areas on both highways and surface streets. I spent some time in the type of dense traffic described at the beginning of this story. Over the weekend my husband and I loaded up the trunk with luggage for an overnight trip.
In each case, the Regal made the driving experience something worth remembering. The engine is peppy and fuel-efficient. The automatic transmission performs seamlessly, with no noticeable shift shock during normal driving conditions. Standard nineteen-inch wheels provide an ample footprint for enhancing high-speed maneuverability.
The suspension is responsive without being harsh. I was able to power through decreasing radius turns aggressively without worrying about the front wheels breaking loose.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. A standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the car when the driver shifts into reverse. I could adjust the driver’s seat for a clear forward view and had no problem monitoring traffic in the adjacent lanes on the highway.
The blind spot monitoring system illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles to either side pass through the driver’s blind spots. The Brembo brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
Steering feedback from the electric power steering system is good, with ample assist at slow speeds and a pleasantly heavy feel on the highway.
Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing noise intrusion to the interior so both rows of passengers can converse or enjoy the audio system.
The Regal’s upscale interior is loaded with convenience and connectivity features. A digital display on the gauge cluster enables the driver to keep track of driving range, instant and average fuel economy, real-time speed, average speed and tire pressures. I found the large center stack screen easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions, with bright, clear graphics. Twenty-fifteen models add a mobile hotspot.
OnStar automatically notifies police and emergency medical personnel if the vehicle is involved in a serious collision. An available directions and connections service connects the driver to an advisor who can download directions to a destination. It comes in handy if a driver gets lost en route: he doesn’t have to pull over to program the navigation system. OnStar can also remotely unlock the vehicle doors if the driver inadvertently leaves the keys inside.
The driver’s seats offer ample lower lumbar support, but felt a hard by the end of two hours of driving.
Second-row seats hold up to three passengers although two will be more comfortable on longer road trips. The spacious trunk has plenty of room for luggage. A cargo net prevents grocery bags from sliding around.
The Buick Regal GS comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, a rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring and OnStar automatic crash response.
Buick builds the Regal GS as its Oshawa, Ontario Canada assembly plant.
Like: A stylish, fun-to-drive midsize sedan that comes loaded with standard convenience and safety features.
Dislike: Hard driver’s seat
Model: Regal GS AWD
Base price: $39,270
As tested: $43,780
Horsepower: 259 Hp @ 5300 rpm
Torque: 295 lbs.-ft. @ 2500 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy*: 19/27 mpg city/highway
Comment: * The manufacturer recommends but does not require premium unleaded gasoline.2014, Luxury 2014, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Buick, performance, pricing, standard safety
One response to “2014 Buick Regal GS AWD”
The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.
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