As the 2010s comes to a close, so does Buick’s passenger car offerings. By 2021, General Motor’s near-luxury division will no longer offer any mid-size “sedan” or wagon. Their entire lineup will consist of crossovers. In some ways the song remains the same. Another American brand decided to focus on higher volume vehicles. But the Regal had a slightly different story.
American automakers traditionally set up shop in Europe through their own brands or with some sort of subsidiary. Until recently, General Motors did both and got nowhere with either strategy. But they did have success adapting European platforms for American tastes, at least with some models. Opel was essentially GM’s pillar for passenger car platforms throughout the early 21st century. The Epsilon platform underpinned GM’s cars in America and elsewhere, and the company also adapted the architecture for their three-row crossovers. The Lambda platform, and its successor, the poorly named C1XX, all exist thanks to Opel. Those platforms no doubt helped GM rake in substantial revenue due to the now decade-long popularity of the Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia.
As for the Regal, the historic nameplate enjoyed new life as a rebadged version of the Insignia. Unfortunately, Americans never really warmed up to the first or second generation model. Peak sales crested at about 40k in 2011. The latest Regal sold in very small numbers, with just 14,000 finding homes in 2018.
Technically, Buick hasn’t offered a mid-size sedan in over three years. That’s because every second generation Regal offers some type of hatch or wagon variant, even the GS. That being said, the non-TourX Regals likely fool a lot of people into thinking they have a traditional trunk. Your mileage may vary.
The Regal lineup is decently streamlined. There’s the regular Sportback model, which starts just over $25,000 and basically competes with mainstream mid-size sedans like the Accord and Camry. It presents a valid alternative to the Malibu, which sits on the same E2XX platform. At that price it’s actually a pretty great value thanks to the standard 250 horsepower turbocharged four cylinder. The top end is where the Regal’s value proposition diminishes, although buyers can opt for a twin-clutch all-wheel drive system if they spring for the Essence or GS trim, which does add some uniqueness to the car.
The aforementioned GS model continues Buick’s tradition of offering a performance trim with unique equipment. Although it doesn’t come with an available six-speed manual like its predecessor, it does have all-wheel drive, and GM’s 310 horsepower 3.6 liter V6 is standard. That’s all hooked up to the corporate 9 speed automatic transmission. The automotive intelligentsia generally liked how the GS handled but ultimately felt its interior held the car back. As mentioned earlier, the top end of the Regal lineup bumps up against vehicles like the Acura TLX, Kia Stinger, and Volvo S60. That’s a tough crowd to play in, especially since Buick’s cars aren’t exactly coveted by younger car shoppers.
One cannot talk about the Regal lineup without mentioning the TourX. For starters, it probably wasn’t named after the proprietary screwdriver. Nevertheless, the rebadged Opel Insignia Tourer offers buyers the only American alternative to the Subaru Outback, at least until the Fusion wagon arrives several years from now. When the TourX debuted, Buick initially touted their wagon as a valid competitor to the likes of the Volvo V60 Cross Country and the Audi A4 Allroad. That might sound ridiculous, but as of January 2019, Buick’s wealthiest buyers were TourX shoppers. Perhaps they were on to something.
The all-wheel drive wagon sports the same 2.0 turbocharged four cylinder as the regular hatch. Output is a stout 250 horsepower and 295 Ib-ft of torque. No variant of the Regal was very popular. But the TourX garnered a lot of love from internet commenters and enthusiasts alike. And unlike other enthusiast favorites, a number of auto bloggers actually went out and bought one. Curbside Classic hosts two of them. Dan Fruchey, aka “PrincipalDan” and Ed Stembridge are proud TourX owners. Brad Brownell of Jalopnik also owns one.
The death of the Regal marks the official end for Buick’s car lineup. American buyers just want crossovers, and Buick lost its car mojo among non-enthusiasts some time ago. Chinese buyers won’t have to worry though, as they’ll still get the rebadged Opel for the time being. The rest of us can sit and hope that the FCA/PSA merger resurrects the Regal as a Chrysler.
COAL: 2014 Buick Regal GS – An Insignia In Disguise by Carlsberg66