The following is a 100% authentic, 100% real review. I was provided complementary access to a Buick Regal GS Turbo sedan for one week for the purpose of this review. Unfortunately, they didn’t let me keep it, though.
I’m a car guy, but what guy isn’t on some level, right?
After months of working on the folks over at Buick, I finally was able to talk them into letting me test drive their new Buick Regal GS. You may have seen this car around town much like I have. Chances are, you didn’t even know it was a Buick at first glance. I remember asking, “What kind of car is THAT?” and I’m typically pretty good at knowing what’s what.
Well, the Buick Regal GS fooled me.
First Impressions – 2012 Buick Regal GS
The design of all the vehicles in their 2012 lineup received an extensive (and much-needed) makeover. I see styling queues from Jaguar in their Regal, or at least that’s my impression. Certainly, comparing a new Buick to that of a Jaguar shouldn’t be an insult. The new 2012 Buicks LOOK awesome. But how do they drive and what about quality, right?
Buick Regal GS Key Competitors
- Acura TSX
- Volkswagen CC
Buick Regal GS Specifications (as Tested)
- Base Price: $29,720 (CXL-Turbo)
- Price as Tested: $36,420
- Engine: 2.0L HO Turbo ECOTEC (270hp, 295 lb-ft. torque)
- Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
- Fuel Economy: 19 city / 27 hwy (EPA Estimates)
- StabiliTrak Stability & Traction Control with Interactive Drive Control System
- Brembo Front Brakes
- Dual front, head curtain, side curtain, front side impact airbags, rear seat mounted (i.e.: a pillow fight)
- 20″ Polished Alloy wheels
- In-Dash GPS
- 5 year / 100,000 mile power train limited warranty (see dealer for details)
- 4 Year / 50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty (see dealer for details)
Final Assembly Point: Oshwa, Ontario, Canada
GM (Buick) provided me with a 2012 Buick Regal GS for one week for testing purposes. I’ve completed my week of testing and wanted to provide my thoughts on my first impression of the vehicle – how it drove, how it handled, how it felt and my overall experience. Granted, it’s impossible to truly get to know a vehicle in only a week, but I think you can get a good initial impression. This is not always possible simply test driving a vehicle at a dealer lot.
Buick Regal GS First Impression – Quality
Our very first impression of vehicle quality is when we first lay eyes on the vehicle. Looking at the new Regal GS, it LOOKS like a quality vehicle. Guys, I’m sure you can relate – we like to check out the lines of a new car we’re looking at. Are the lines tight? Does all of the body work fit together like it was designed to rather than an after-thought? Does it look like some craftsmanship was involved in making the vehicle? You can often tell if a vehicle is of a high quality just by looking at it.
Buick’s Regal GS gave this first impression of quality.
From an interior perspective, I was a little disappointed with the center console and dashboard of the Regal. It still reminded me of the “classic” GM layout and feel. The buttons feel somewhat cheap, especially considering the GS sticker price is nearing $40k. The instrument panel was somewhat difficult to read, partially due to the size of the dials but also the seat and steering wheel location. Maybe I simply needed to adjust my seat into a more appropriate position but I couldn’t quite get it right.
Also, it should be noted that a notification came on a few times during my test drive that the StabiliTrak system required servicing. It would go away after 5 – 10 minutes or so, but on a new vehicle (with only 8k miles) I was a bit disappointed to see such a notification. It bubbled up some quality concerns in the back of my mind despite my first impressions to the contrary. Is this a sign that GM still has some quality issues or just a simple glitch? Impossible to tell in only a one week test.
Buick Regal GS First Impression – Style
Ok, I’m going to lay it all out with this statement.
Buick has never made a more beautiful looking vehicle. Period.
In fact, very few car makers have ever made a better looking (four door) vehicle. The 2012 Regal GS looks awesome; it’s a head-turner and I mean that literally. People would see me driving it and would turn their heads and follow as I drove by. When was the last time you could say that about any American four door sedan? It’s been a while.
The interior of the Regal is stylish and comfortable as well. The font bucket seats seem to wrap around you and hold onto you while you’re sitting. It’s a very comfortable feel but also one of security as well. I was able to take the GS on a 2+ hour road trip and thought that it did well on the longer haul trips, too. Because of the adjustable suspension (with GS & Sport modes), you can tune the car to your driving conditions and need. I found the default setting to be firm but not stiff, even with the low-profile tires and 20″ wheels the vehicle came equipped with.
Buick Regal GS First Impression – Technology
I think GM is finally starting to catch on when it comes to vehicles and technology. Of course, there’s quite a bit of planning involved years in advance when it comes to tech and cars. I learned that thanks to the fine folks at the GM Tech Center in Warren, MI.
Included in the 2012 Regal GS are the standard compliment of technical features most (or all) of the GM line has – OnStar, ABS brakes, child safety locks, rear seat child LATCH anchors, etc). The engine itself, however, is a technical and engineering marvel in this vehicle. When you consider a 2.0 liter engine is pushing out 270 horsepower and nearly 300 (295) lb.-ft of torque, that’s quite an accomplishment itself. I was a little disappointed with the sub-30mpg mileage stat, but you may be able to squeeze 30mpg out of it after it’s broken in a few miles. A few of the other tech features I appreciated were:
- Bluetooth sync with voice control
- 8-way power driver’s seat
- 4-way lumbar control
- Dual-zone climate control (with a vent for the back seat in the center console too)
- Active stability + traction control (StabiliTrak)
- Passive entry with push-button start (no need to use the key anywhere as long as you have the key fob in your pocket, the doors open and the car starts).
- USB port on the stereo with XM service
- Front & rear (GS Turbo) parking assist (beeps at you as you get close to the curb, bushes, etc).
While the list of tech is nice, it’s not really what I would consider impressive for a vehicle in this category or price level. I was hoping for a bit more tech for the money but perhaps some improvements are coming in the following model years. I’m holding out hope. I also would have liked to have seen the tech features more prominently visible on the window sticker. Perhaps because there’s no ‘wow’ factor, they just intermingle tech with the other features?
Overall Thoughts on the 2012 Buick Regal GS
Quite simply? I would buy this car. I liked the vehicle a lot. I think Buick has made some great strides in its design and overall product quality, despite some StabiliTrak issues I experienced. I think the vehicle is wonderfully styled, an awesome machine to drive, has plenty of power, lots of control and many of the features you’d expect to find in a four door (sporty) sedan.