The recent Buick TV ads—the one with the creepy neighbors with high-powered binoculars (!) looking at the new Enclave (yeah, like you want the Peeping Tom community to be admiring your new wheels); the clueless friend and the remarkably clueless parking valet each trying to find the Buick in question (would you trust your car to a valet who doesn’t have the sense to hit the fob before running back and forth like a proverbial headless chicken?)—miss the point about Buick.
Making the point that one’s car is likely to go unidentified is not a good thing. Most people would like friends, relations, perfect strangers, and anyone else to know that they are driving whatever car is theirs.
The whole notion of “That’s a Buick!?!” says primarily to people who remember the division as a purveyor of land barges and rolling Barcaloungers “Yes, we realize that they used to be such; now they are not that, they’re something else, but we’re not going to tell you what that is.”
They say to people who don’t remember the division, well, not a whole lot, except that the vehicles have a certain vehicular anonymity. Which they don’t. They’re better than that.
Like the Buick Regal GS. It is a good car. A handsome car. A car that has technology under the hood. A car that has technology on the dash. A car that has the performance befitting someone who drives to work on a daily basis and takes a long ride Up North on an occasional basis. A car with comfort. A car with style. A car where even the details—like a nicely finished trunk—count.
This is a car that Buick ought to be proud of.
This is a car that someone who wants to buy a premium car can be proud of.
This is a car with presence, not anonymity.
This is a car that, really ought to have a whole lot more traction in the market.
Yes, according to Autodata, the Buick Regal gained considerably in 2014. It finished the year at 22,560, up 20% from its performance in 2013.
However. . .
Among the cars the Regal is compared with is the Acura TLX. The TLX went on sale in August 2014. And by year’s end, 19,127 of them had been sold. So that’s about 85% of Regal sales in seven fewer months.
Another is the Audi A4. There were 28,764 sedans delivered in 2014, according to Autodata.
And then there’s the Lexus IS (250 and 350), of which 51,358 were moved in 2014.
Now, I am not necessarily comparing the Regal GS to any of those cars.
But I am saying that Regal sales are better but, again, Not Good.
Look at it this way: Many people say that the Chevrolet Volt is pretty much like an anchor rather than a lightning bolt. And in 2014 its sales were off 18.6%. Yet there were 18,805 sold, or 83% of the number of Regals, and industry observes tend to make a “pffutt” sound of dismissiveness when it comes to the Volt, so, again, there really should be more performance from the Regal in the market.
The vehicle as driven had a 295-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. What was really nice was the fact that it has all-wheel-drive, because we’re talking about a snowy Detroit winter in this case.
For those who have a default mode to check out Consumer Reports before buying a new vehicle, know that the Regal is now one of its Top Ten Picks for 2015, taking the “Sports sedan” category. They go so far as to write, “Close your eyes, and you’ll think you’re driving an Audi—a very good Audi at that.” (The Regal is based on an Opel platform, so there is that Germaness to it.)
However, one of the points about the Regal that really surprised many people of my acquaintance is that the midsized sedan is priced like an Audi.
This car has the GS trim package, which means that there are some sporty touches to the front and rear fascias; exclusive 19-in. alloy wheels; the Buick “Interactive Drive Control,” which allows making a drive mode selection; a front suspension setup (“HiPer Strut”) that helps minimize torque steer; and other features. It is an AWD car with a Haldex system. And there is the technology like the OnStar 4G LTE hotspot for those who just can’t stop Instagramming or whatever.
The MSRP for the model: $39,810.
Then the car in question had a couple of tech packages that provide things like adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, etc. One package is $1,195. The other is $1,040.
Then there is the power moonroof that adds $1,000 to the sticker.
And the paint—Black Diamond Tricoat—is $995.
Add a $925 fee for delivery, and you’re looking at a total of $44,965 for the Buick.
Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not confident that “Buick” currently has the resonance of “Audi,” Consumer Reports notwithstanding. This is one of those cases where it seems that the people who are making pricing decisions at GM need to understand that they’ve got to establish and earn their place among the Audis and Lexuses, it just can’t be decided that they’ve got the goods, so they’re going to price accordingly.
But if you can swallow a sticker just this side of $45,000 for a Buick (arguably an import, because it is produced at the GM plant in Oshawa, Ontario), then the Regal GS AWD won’t disappoint.
Engine: 2.0-liter, DOHC turbocharged I4
Material: Cast aluminum block and head
Horsepower: 259 @ 5,300 rpm
Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 3,000-4,000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Steering: Belt-driven electric power steering
Wheelbase: 107.8 in.
Length: 190.2 in.
Width: 73.1 in.
Height: 58.4 in.
Curb weight: 3,981 lb
EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 19/27/22 mpg