EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 23, 2013

Buick Regal adds appeal with all-wheel drive

Motor Mouth
Jeffrey Zygmont

---- — The 2014 Buick Regal brings a very timely gift to Merrimack Valley drivers. Just as our weather is approaching its worst, the new Regal arrives with an all-wheel-drive option. The feature adds sure-footed winter traction to such positive attributes as Regal’s svelte and elegantly shaped exterior, its quiet, settled and comfortable interior, its full supply of futuristic technology, and its self-assured driving performance.

Already at Bill DeLuca Chevrolet Buick GMC in Haverhill, 50 percent of the Regals sold include the all-wheel-drive option, according to Jim Fichera, general sales manager. The feature has been available at DeLuca since the refreshed and renewed, 2014 version of Regal arrived in October. All-wheel drive adds $2,175 to Regal’s price.

The four-door, mid-size sedan is an entry-luxury model that incorporates European engineering and design, giving it the jaunty, lively attributes of a high-level sport sedan. That character, and a price that starts in the low $30,000s, makes the Buick Regal a rival to such models as the Acura TSX, Lexus IS 250, Audi A4 and BMW 3-Series.

In Haverhill, the Regal extends the reach of Buick to drivers outside of Buick’s traditional base of mature and well-settled motorists who value quiet, easy-riding comfort, Fichera explained. Those tradition-minded motorists have the Buick LaCrosse, a luxury sedan with a list price that starts around $34,000. At the other end, the Buick Verano incorporates premium attributes in a smaller, more affordable auto that starts in the mid $20,000s. Between them, the Regal stands out as an exuberant expression of luxury.

“We have plenty of traditional Buick customers who are loyal and reliable,” Fichera said. “But it’s always good to expand the appeal of a product line. We see the Regal bringing in a younger customer.”

Bill DeLuca Chevrolet Buick GMC is part of the DeLuca family of Merrimack Valley dealerships, which also includes Bill DeLuca Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Haverhill and Woodworth Chevrolet Cadillac in Andover.

The Regal’s appeal will reach even farther this year, Fichera predicted, due to improvements Buick made in the restyled, 2014 model. Along with all-wheel drive, the new Regal also received an upgraded engine that delivers more power while also increasing fuel economy.

“The performance customer likes it more now because Buick increased the horsepower of the turbocharged engine. That, and the all-wheel drive, are the big two factors that we expect to lead to improved sales this year,” the manager said.

Buick introduced the contemporary Regal three years ago as a 2011 model. It was an Americanized offshoot of the Opel Insignia, a sport sedan sold in Europe by General Motors, the parent of the Buick brand. The Insignia had been named the 2009 European Car of the Year.

The 2014 Regal that just arrived updates that vehicle with equipment additions, engineering improvements and body modifications.

Changes on the outside are minor, consisting mostly of some reshaping of the nose and changes to the head and tail lights – including LED tail lights and optional front running lights that aim to dress the sedan more elegantly.

Inside, the 2014 Regal has new instruments, controls and displays, with a bigger, 8-inch color touch screen in the center for activating communications, entertainment and cabin comforts. Equipment upgrades include new audio systems and the next generation of GM’s “IntelliLink” information and entertainment controller that operates through the touch screen and allows spoken interaction with the vehicle.

The engine improvements that Jim Fichera finds particularly beneficial boost the power of the turbocharged four-cylinder inside Regal by 18 percent, to 259 horsepower, delivered smoothly and effortlessly. When combined with a new six-speed automatic transmission in this year’s Regal, the engine helps deliver a 17 percent improvement in fuel economy. A front-drive Regal with the turbocharged engine earns a fuel-use rating of 21 miles per gallon in city driving, and 30 mpg on the highway. With all-wheel drive, fuel economy dips to 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway.

Buick also offers a larger, but less powerful, four-cylinder engine in Regal. That engine incorporates a start-stop feature that GM calls “eAssist.” Available only on front-drive versions, the feature conserves gas by automatically shutting down the engine at stops, and restarting it when travel resumes. With the eAssist four-cylinder, Regal’s fuel-economy numbers move to 25 mpg city, 36 mpg highway.

The spirited and athletic attitude of Regal gets its fullest expression in the GS version. A sport-oriented variation, the Regal GS wears a more aggressive front end, with tall, vertical air inlets that flank the low bumper, and additional intake slots around the front corners near the wheel wells. The model rides lower than a standard Regal, with body extensions low on its sides to produce a hunkered-down appearance. The GS comes with larger, 19-inch alloy wheels, along with suspension turning and selectable steering modes that provides greater feedback to drivers who want to tighten their control of the automobile.

You can also purchase the Regal GS with a six-speed manual transmission, for added engagement while driving – available only in the front-drive configuration. The GS is the highest level Regal, with a list price about $7,000 above the starting-level version.

Even at its base level, the Regal includes generous amounts of equipment. Standard features include leather-trimmed upholstery, two-zone air conditioning, high-level audio systems, back-up camera, split, folding rear seat-backs (expanding the hauling capacity of a noticeably large trunk), integrated controls on a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated outside mirrors, and more.

It adds up to a lot for the money. The availability of all-wheel drive in the 2014 Buick Regal adds extra incentive to local drivers who want maximum winter traction.

“The all-wheel-drive Regal is bringing new people into the dealership,” Fichera said.

Jeffrey Zygmont is an author of fiction and non-fiction books, and a long-time auto writer. Contact him at www.jeffreyzygmont.com.

2014 Buick Regal Vehicle type: 4-door, 5-passenger, front- and all-wheel-drive mid-size sedan Price range: $30,615 to $40,195 (plus options) Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles basic warranty; 6 years/70,000 miles powertrain warranty; 2 years/24,000 free scheduled maintenance Base engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 Power: 259 horsepower at 5,300 rpm; 295 lb.-ft. torque at 3,000 rpm Transmission: 6-speed automatic Fuel economy: 21 mpg city; 30 mpg highway (with front drive) Wheelbase: 108 inches Length: 190 inches Width: 73 inches Height: 58 inches Weight: 3,600 pounds Fuel capacity: 15.8 gallons Turning circle: 38.1 feet