As expected, many Jeep owners took exception to my recent review of the new Wrangler Rubicon. But I was perplexed when a man took to Facebook to suggest I buy a minivan because “it seems like that is what you are looking for, Joe.”
I suppose I did criticize the Wrangler for being noisy, uncomfortable and lacking in cargo room, and I suspect most minivans would be a bit better in those departments, but I am not after a minivan any more than I am looking to sit in a bathtub of scissors.
No, I’d much rather have the quiet, comfortable and spacious drive in the 2018 Regal GS, an encouraging blend of stylish looks, comfort and performance that is fairly priced with a bevy of standard features.
And it’s certainly a looker with a sportback design, decklid spoiler, 19-inch wheels and the Buick lineup’s new grille. Gone are the front inlets that made the ’17 model appear to be a vehicular vampire, replaced by triangular vents that look sharp under the updated headlights. The new look also features a wider, lower stance than previous models. The GS retains its dual exhaust, but they are not as pronounced on the new model and I believe that’s a good thing.
It is easy to appreciate the Regal’s exterior styling because, while it looks fantastic, it’s also subtle and not trying too hard.
It’s more of the same on the interior which is restrained but refined. That is, until you look at the sporty seats which are anything but reserved. The front seats appear as if they were designed with a combination of sci-fi movies and endurance racers in mind. That said, they offered back bolsters, thigh support and have heating, cooling and massaging capabilities. So while they looked like they were a product of NASA, they were much more comfortable than such. At least I imagine.
The ride is also silky smooth due in part to the Buick’s nine-speed transmission, which serves up smooth gear changes while traversing traffic. The driving position is comfortable and all the buttons are where you’d expect them to be.
Things are also good in the back. I was not want for legroom while sitting in the rear seats and, surprising enough given the sloping roofline, I had plenty of headroom as well.
With 31.5-cubic feet of storage space in the trunk, there is no reason to fret you may have overdone it on a Costco trip. But if you suddenly find yourself in possession of a pallet of pickles, the GS comes with automatic folding rear seats for added storage.
The Regal serves up style and comfort in spades, but those GS badges and an increase of 51 horsepower suggests it aims to have the comfort of Dr. Jekyll and the aggressiveness of Mr. Hyde.
Sport tuning comes in the form of a 3.6-liter V6 which now churns out 310 horsepower, an increase of 20 percent from the 2017 model. The Regal also features an all-wheel drive system, Buick’s Interactive Drive Control — which can dampen the suspension up to 500 times a second — an active twin clutch and Brembo brakes on the front.
The GS is certainly no slouch when taken for a bit of “spirited” driving, but those who want it to blow the doors off might come away disappointed.
While the V6 has grunt, it’s a bit let down by the transmission. There is a discernable pause between putting your foot down and the Regal throwing you’re head back into the seat, likely caused by the nine-speed transmission which, depending on the amount of revs, searches to find the right gear.
And unlike most sport-tuned automatics, the Regal GS does not come with paddle shifters. Instead, it relies on a tiptronic system. This helps to cut down on lag time when the pedal hits the floor, but considering the transmission has nine gears, there is a lot of shifting to be done, especially in the middle or the gear range.
While the transfer of power is a bit of a letdown, the Buick is well composed in the corners with almost imperceptible body roll.
The Regal comes with three driving modes, including standard, sport and GS. The two latter modes stiffen the suspension and allows for higher revs in automatic mode, but I struggled to find any other perceptible changes.
While this may be a discouragement for those hoping to blow the doors off the Regal’s rivals, the overall experience is anything but disappointing.
The GS makes up for any shortcomings in the performance sector with its insanely comfortable ride, dynamic gadgetry, spaciousness, practicality, all with a fair price point starting at $39,900.
And it’s certainly more fun than a van.