$5,164 - $6,092

2011 Buick Regal Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Buick Regal was new.


Performance: 9.0

Reviewers say that the 2011 Buick Regal delivers impressive performance. The Regal is almost identical to the Open Insignia, a model designed and built in Germany, and reviewers say that German heritage carries over on the Regal. Handling is balanced and composed. The base 2.4 liter engine is adequate for commuters, but reviewers say the 2.0 liter turbocharged engine should satisfy enthusiasts. While there are some complaints about steering feel in the base model, by and large, reviewers find a lot to recommend about the Regal's performance. However, many also counsel that true gear heads wait for the Regal GS, due out in 2011. According to reports, the GS should have standard all-wheel drive, an engine tuned for more power, and improved handling capabilities.

  • "Dipping into the throttle over and over again as our entourage raced back toward Wiesbaden as the sun set over vast fields of blooming rapeseed, I couldn't quite get over the fact that I was driving a Buick that was running in the fast-moving flow of BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes-Benzes, and yet I didn't feel the least bit deprived." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The ride is composed, the brakes are powerful, and it's a very competent all-around package." -- Car and Driver
  • "Away from the 'Ring, the Regal Turbo happily cruised at 120-130 mph on the autobahn, scattering slow-moving Volkswagens out of the fast lane like autumn leaves, their drivers doing a quick double-take as they spotted the Regal's unfamiliar badges." -- Motor Trend
  • "In urban settings the Regal drives like your average European front-driver sedan (think Audi A4 2.0T FWD, but with a conventional transmission)." -- Autoblog
  • "Plunging into the dark forests of tall green trees that crowd the track, the Regal's balance is so predictable that you occasionally forget it's front drive." -- Jalopnik

Acceleration and Power

At its launch, the Regal will only be available with a 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine that makes 182 horsepower. However, in late 2010, the turbo model will make its way to market. The 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. While most reviewers prefer the turbocharged engine to the 2.4 liter, they also say that for many drivers, the 2.4 liter offers enough power, and you should only opt for the turbo model if you really like having lots of power on hand.

The lack of a six-cylinder engine makes the Regal stand out among midsize sedans, but most reviewers say both four-cylinders are strong enough that the Regal doesn't need a six-cylinder option. Plus, keeping to four-cylinder power plants helps the Regal achieve good fuel economy.

The EPA hasn't rated the turbocharged engine on the Regal, but estimates that the 2.4 liter engine will get 19/30 miles per gallon city/highway. Despite the extra power in the turbocharged engine, reviewers expect it to get similar fuel economy. 

Both engines are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions, though a manual transmission is expected to be available toward the end of 2010. Overall, reviewers like the automatics.

  • "While the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter engine feels breathless when pushed, the turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec four delivers a solid surge of acceleration when you nail the gas." -- Motor Trend
  • "The base engine, a 2.4-liter four making 182 hp, is mated to a six-speed automatic. The gearbox gets a gold star, but the 2.4-liter gets only a passing grade. For your average driver making an average commute over average roads, it will be just fine, but it runs out of breath at higher speeds and doesn't sound great when you push it." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "We had no problem getting up to and sustaining 125 miles per hour in Regal's powered by the normally aspirated 2.4-liter engine. We saw an indicated 138 mph in the turbo model before we approached traffic and had to back off." -- Autoblog
  • "The turbo engine is quiet and refined, with progressive power delivery. It's not a startlingly fast car, but passing power is decent, and it feels competitive with the likes of an Audi A4 2.0T and the four-cylinder TSX. The six-speed automatic transmission is superb, with quick, well-damped shifts." -- Car and Driver
  • "The transmissions are pretty respectable too, the manual shifts crisply and the engagement point is smooth, gears are well placed to work with the slightly heady engine and spirited driving is downright fun. The six speed auto isn't anything to sneeze at either, passing is a remarkably swift endeavor, it kicks down and away you go, pulling like a mule all the way. " -- Jalopnik

Handling and Braking

Most reviewers report that a few minutes driving the Regal will erase any memories of the floaty, ponderous Buicks of the past. Most reviewers agree that the Regal is well-balanced, with good handling. For driving enthusiasts, reviewers recommend the turbo model, which is coming to dealerships in late 2010. The turbo model has a different steering setup from the base model -- which is a good thing because if there's one complaint, it's about the base model's dead steering. Also, with the turbo model you can get the optional Interactive Drive Control System, which allows the driver dial in throttle, shift and damper settings for the style of driving they prefer. Reviewers who tested the system tend to recommend it.

  • "I had a blast in the Buick and was amazed by the Regal's body control, brake pedal modulation, and overall composure, even if I had to cane the 2.4-liter without mercy to keep up with the pro leading the way." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "There is no question about it though, the Buick Regal handles like a champ. However, and unfortunately, it may have a bleeding cut under its right eye. It's the steering feel. While the system was accurate (we could hit any squirrel that we aimed at on the backcountry road), it was just too light and incommunicative." -- Autoblog
  • "If there's one thing we can fault in the Regal, it's the steering under hard acceleration, there is a tendency for the wheel to get light and darty, while it's not nightmarish vintage Saab-like torque steer, it's the one thing that could use improvement in the car. Did you catch that? One thing." -- Jalopnik
  • "Even in this base configuration, the steering and handling shine. . . . In sharp turns, the Regal snaps around bends like a true sport sedan, and it feels well-planted." -- Cars.com
  • "The Touring mode offers the plushest ride and relaxed responses, while Sport mode makes the car more aggressive and buttoned-down, though at no stage could it be called harsh. The IDCS also allows drivers to mix and match settings - sharp steering and relaxed throttle, for example." -- Motor Trend

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