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2011 Buick Regal Preview

2011 Buick Regal Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2010
2011 Buick RegalCritical Knowledge:
  • All-new, entry-level, 4-door midsize sedan
  • Slots below redesigned 2010 Buick LaCrosse
  • Initially offered in premium CXL trim only, with other trim levels to come in 2012
  • Currently available in China, new Regal is based on European-market Opel Insignia
  • Offered exclusively with one of two 4-cylinder engines-standard, normally aspirated 2.4-liter or optional, turbocharged 2.0-liter (available in summer 2010)
  • 6-speed automatic transmission with driver shift control
  • Estimated 30 mpg on the highway with the 2.4-liter engine and 29 mpg highway with the 2.0-liter turbo engine
  • All-new Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS) available with the 2.0-liter turbo, offering driver-selectable suspension settings and automatic driver suspension setting adaptability (available in summer 2010)
  • Standard leather seats
  • Standard heated front seats
  • Standard 12-way power driver's seat
  • Standard XM satellite radio, Bluetooth and OnStar
  • MacPherson strut front suspension and 4-link independent rear suspension
  • Standard 18-inch wheels (19-inch wheels standard with IDCS)
  • Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, brake assist and electronic parking brake
  • Standard stability control and traction control
  • Available navigation system, Harmon Kardon sound system, internal flash drive (1GB), hard drive with 10GB for music and USB port
  • Standard dual-stage frontal air bags, side-curtain air bags and pedal-release system
  • Available rear-seat side air bags
  • On sale in the second quarter of 2010
Introduction
Even a casual observer would have to acknowledge that there's something going on at Buick. In the last two years, the GM brand has launched three all-new models, all with revolutionary (for Buick) new designs, beginning with the Enclave midsize crossover SUV for the 2008 model year. The new Enclave was so well-received, in fact, that consumers rated it the "most appealing midsize multi-activity vehicle," in the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.SM For 2010, a groundbreaking new LaCrosse sedan hit the market, borrowing design cues from the Enclave but at the same time debuting a clean, contemporary, and, dare we say it-sporty look. Now, Buick is looking to complete the new product trifecta with the introduction of an all-new, midsize sports sedan-the 2011 Buick Regal.

The new Regal is based on the Opel Insignia, Europe's "Car of the Year" in 2009, which bodes well for its dynamic performance. In addition to its general vehicle architecture, the Regal also shares many of the Insignia's Euro-flavored design cues, in addition to incorporating Buick's current design themes.

Already on sale in China and set to arrive in U.S. showrooms in the second quarter of 2010, the new Regal will initially be available in the U.S. exclusively in premium CXL trim (additional trim levels will join the lineup for 2012), offering standard leather seats, heated front seats, 12-way power driver's seat, 18-inch alloy wheels, XM satellite radio, OnStar communications, Bluetooth capability and more. Available exclusively with a 4-cylinder engine (normally aspirated or with an optional turbocharger beginning in the summer of 2010) and with a 6-speed automatic transmission, Buick hopes to get the attention of import intenders with the Regal's new design and European-influenced features.

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2011 Buick RegalDesign
Based on its three most recent product introductions-Enclave, LaCrosse and, in particular, the new Regal-Buick appears to have turned the page in terms of vehicle design, transforming most of its lineup in the process and, hopefully, forcing consumers to think differently about the brand.

Continuing Buick's recent trend of bringing contemporary, premium and sporty new models to market, the all-new 2011 Regal's design "blends the sweeping silhouette and proportions of a coupe in a progressive package," according to the company. No doubt, the Regal has a sporty profile, almost fastback-like in appearance, similar to other sport sedans-and even some sport coupes-from makers such as Acura, Nissan and Volkswagen. And although the new Regal's design has an unmistakably European pedigree, it still incorporates several of the Buick brand's traditional design elements, such as the waterfall grille and tastefully placed chrome trim.

The new Regal's sweeping exterior design motif carries over to the interior, where the side panels flow into the instrument panel. Instruments are lit with ice-blue LED lights. The center stack, which houses the climate and infotainment controls, was, according to Buick, designed to allow for a lower, driver-centric instrument panel profile. Sporty touches to the Regal's interior include a thick-rimmed, leather-wrapped steering wheel and firm, highly bolstered and leather-covered seats, which the automaker says were benchmarked against the top import competitors for comfort and support. A standard flow-through center console offers plenty of storage for passengers in the front and back.

Model Lineup
In its initial year, the all-new 2011 Buick Regal will only be available in top-of-the-line CXL trim, although the automaker plans to add additional trim levels-presumably CX and CXS-for the 2012 model year. The 2011 Buick Regal CXL comes standard with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. A turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is optional, beginning in the summer of 2010. Both engines come with a 6-speed automatic transmission with driver shift control. Standard features of note on the 2011 Buick Regal CXL include: leather seats; heated front seats; 12-way power driver's seat; Bluetooth capability; XM satellite radio; OnStar communications; traction control; and stability control. Notable optional features include: a navigation system; Harmon Kardon sound system; internal flash drive (1GB); hard drive with 10GB for music; and a USB port.


2011 Buick RegalHardware
Breaking from tradition, the all-new midsize 2011 Buick Regal will be offered exclusively with 4-cylinder engines-either in 2.4-liter normally aspirated (182 horsepower) or optional 2.0-liter turbocharged (220 horsepower) form-rather than a V-6, as has been the custom in Buick midsize sedans in recent years. Why the change? The obvious answer is fuel economy, though it probably has as much to do with aligning the Regal's powertrain offerings with that of its competition, not to mention the fact that GM has spent a significant amount of resources developing a family of small, environmentally responsible, fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engines. Also, the 2.4-liter unit is the same engine offered in the Buick LaCrosse. Distinct, uniquely calibrated 6-speed automatic transmissions are paired with each engine. Both offer driver shift control for those who like to manually change gears.

GM is quick to point out that the new Regal's chassis and structural systems were developed in Germany, resulting in handling and dynamics on par with the top premium European sport sedans. According to Buick, the Regal's body structure is one of the most rigid in the segment, resulting in more precise suspension tuning and a quieter ride. Suspension on the new Regal is of the independent MacPherson strut-type variety in front with a 4-link independent rear suspension. The new Regal comes with 4-wheel-disc brakes, optimized to the capability of the individual powertrains and tailored to the expected use by drivers, according to Buick. For example, models equipped with the 2.0-liter turbo engine feature larger brakes.

Electronic stability control (ESC), anti-lock brakes (ABS), and traction control are standard on the new Regal. Optional on models equipped with the 2.0-liter turbo powertrain is Buick's Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS, explained in detail below), which is effectively an adaptive, driver-selectable real-time suspension damping system.

While the EPA has yet to rate the new Regal for fuel economy, GM expects it to achieve 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with the 2.4-liter engine, and 18 mpg in the city/29 mpg on the highway with the optional, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine.

Safety
Safety items of note on the all-new 2011 Buick Regal include: 4-wheel-disc brakes with 4-channel anti-lock braking and brake assist; standard stability control and traction control; standard dual-stage frontal air bags; side-curtain air bags; pedal-release system; and available rear-seat side air bags.

The new Regal also comes standard with OnStar, GM's in-vehicle communications and safety telematics system. OnStar offers several safety-related technologies, including automatic crash response, automatic air bag deployment response, emergency services, and crisis alert, which connects drivers to a specially trained advisor who can help obtain food, water, medical assistance or help the driver to communicate with loved ones in the event of an emergency or other crisis.

2011 Buick RegalTechnology
Perhaps the one feature that most strongly supports GM's claim that the all-new 2011 Buick Regal is a "sport sedan" is the availability of a driver-selectable suspension control system, which the automaker calls IDCS (Interactive Drive Control System). Available on vehicles equipped with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, IDCS allows the driver to choose between three different operating modes that change the suspension settings, throttle response, shift pattern and steering sensitivity through the variable-effort steering system. Depending on which mode the driver selects, the vehicle will exhibit different driving characteristics. "Normal," the default mode, would be ideal for most driving, such as daily commuting and around-town driving. The "Tour" setting is optimal for long-distance cruising or rough road conditions. Selecting "Sport" mode optimizes the car for dynamic driving, tightening the suspension and steering response and speeding up the reaction of the automatic transmission.

In addition to being able to choose the desired suspension setup, the other major benefit of IDCS is that it automatically adapts the Regal's performance settings to individual driving styles. When a driver begins to drive more aggressively, it will tighten the suspension and increase steering effort and change to a more aggressive throttle response. When the system senses that the driver is doing relaxed cruising, it adjusts settings for rolling smoothness and comfort.

Buick points out that there is also a safety benefit to IDCS, such as when an obstacle must be avoided when the car is in Tour mode. If the system senses an emergency maneuver taking place, the suspension dampers are stiffened within milliseconds, delivering greater body control, the automaker says.

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