$8,700 - $10,674

2012 Buick Regal Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Buick Regal was new.


Performance: 8.9

Reviewers say that the 2012 Buick Regal delivers impressive performance. The Regal is almost identical to the Opel Insignia, a model designed and built in Germany, and reviewers say that its European influence carries over. The base 2.4-liter engine is adequate for most drivers, and reviewers say the more-powerful Turbo and GS models should satisfy enthusiasts. While there are some complaints about steering feel in the base model, by and large, reviewers find a lot to like about the Regal's balanced handling.

  • "It's a Gran Sport. And that's a good thing for car guys and gals. They might choose the Regal because it is responsible, but they choose the GS because they like to drive." -- AutoWeek 
  • "While you won't mistake any Regal engine for a V6, the 4-cylinder motors are still quite smooth and refined. The GS has a sportier exhaust note, but it's still largely in keeping with Buick's mission of quiet performance." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Our long-termer's quick-yet-vague steering goads you into writing checks that the Regal's soft suspension and all-season tires can't cash." -- Edmunds 
  • "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 
  • "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

The base 2012 Buick Regal gets a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 182 horsepower, while the Regal eAssist pairs the same engine with a small electric motor to offer improved fuel economy. In both models, a six-speed automatic transmission transmits power to the front wheels. If you’re hunting for more power, Buick also offers the Regal Turbo and Regal GS. Both models feature a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It generates 220 horsepower in the Regal Turbo and 270 horsepower in the Regal GS. The Turbo is available with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, while the Regal GS is only available with a six-speed manual. The EPA reports that the base Regal with the 2.4-liter engine gets 19/31 mpg city/highway, while the Regal eAssist gets 25/36 mpg city/highway fuel economy. Turbo models get 20/32 mpg with the manual transmission and 18/29 mpg with the automatic. The more-powerful Regal GS gets 19/27 mpg city/highway.

While most reviewers prefer the additional performance that the Regal GS offers, they also say that for many drivers, the 2.4 liter offers enough power, and you should only opt for a Turbo or GS model if you really like having lots of power on hand. While some test drivers also comment that the lack of a six-cylinder engine makes the Regal lag behind other upscale midsize cars, most agree that the Regal’s engines offer competitive power. Plus, the Regal’s four-cylinder power plants help it achieve good fuel economy.

  • "It's fast. The power and torque come on quick and stay strong all the way to redline." -- AutoWeek (Regal GS) 
  • "All engines have somewhat leisurely throttle response from a stop. The base engine requires ample throttle input for adequate passing power. The turbocharged version has noticeably stronger mid-range performance without pronounced turbo lag." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The car launches hard -- harder than GM's conservative 6.7-second 0-60-mph and 15.2 second, 98-mph quarter-mile estimates would suggest." -- Motor Trend (Regal GS) 
  • "Aside from our overly critical issues with the shifter itself, the transmission is a joy to use. The clutch is nicely weighted with a linear action, though there's quite a bit of overall travel to the pedal." -- Autoblog (Regal GS) 
  • "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
  • "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. They say the Regal is well-balanced, with good handling. For driving enthusiasts, reviewers recommend the Regal GS, which features an adjustable suspension system with three modes that alter handling dynamics and steering feel. Reviewers who tested the GS say it’s more composed and fun to drive.

  • "The chassis is well-calibrated, and drivers can choose from normal, sport and GS modes, which adjust the suspension and steering levels." -- AutoWeek (Regal GS) 
  • "The weight of the steering is similarly not-too-hot, not-too-cold, with just enough heft to keep things interesting, but it transmits only soft whispers from the Pirellis. We like that we can feel something, but more communication wouldn't hurt." -- Car and Driver (Regal GS) 
  • "Regal's ride favors taut composure over cushy isolation, but it's never harsh. Some wheel patter is noticed over rough surfaces." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Charging into the first turn with this newfound speed, we notice another big difference. There's serious braking power and a much firmer pedal than what we're used to in the Regal." -- Edmunds (Regal GS) 
  • "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

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