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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2019 Buick Regal GS

      ...Identity Crisis in Car Form...

    Expectation can be a very dangerous thing. You come into something thinking it will blow your mind and more often than not, it comes up short. That’s how I felt during the first few days into a loan of a 2019 Buick Regal GS. What was being presented didn’t match up with my experience. But over the week I had the vehicle, it began to grow on. That isn’t to say some issues need to be addressed.

    At first glance, you might think Buick decided to stick with a sedan shape. But the sloping rear hatch gives away its true identity as a Sportback. This helps give the impression that the Regal is sporty, helped further by short overhangs. By adding small touches such as large front air intakes, GS-specific 19-inch wheels. Brembo front brake calipers finished in Red, and a small lip spoiler, the GS transforms the Regal into looking like a red-blooded sports sedan. 

    The interior sadly doesn’t match up with what is being presented on the outside. While there was some effort to make the GS stand out with faux carbon-fiber trim, special sport seats, and GS badging, it doesn’t quite match with what is being presented outside. Not helping are some cheap plastics littered throughout the Regal GS’ interior. If this was a standard Regal, I may have given it a slight pass. But considering this GS carries a price of almost $43k, it becomes a big issue. The interior does redeem it somewhat with a logical and simple layout. No one had any complaints about whether the controls were confusing or hard to reach.

    Let’s talk about the front seats, The Regal GS comes fitted with racing-style front seat with aggressive side bolstering and faux holes towards the top where the belts for a harness would go into. This design seems more at home in a hardcore Corvette than a Buick. Before you start thinking that the seat design only allows a small group of people to fit, Buick has fitted adjustable bolstering to allow a wide set of body types to sit comfortably. With this and other power adjustments, I was able to find a position that suited me. Over a long drive, the seats were able to provide the right amount of support and comfort.

    The back seats don’t get the same “race car” treatment as the front, but they do offer ample head and legroom for most passengers. Cargo space is quite impressive with 31.5 cubic feet with the seats up and 60.7 when folded. The Kia Stinger I drove back in January pales in comparison with 23.3 and 40.9 cubic feet.

    The Regal GS features an eight-inch touchscreen with the new Buick Infotainment 3 system. As I mentioned in my Silverado/Sierra 1500 review, the new system is worlds better than Intellilink. The interface has been cleaned up with simpler graphics and fonts that are much easier to read. Also seeing noticeable improvements is the overall performance. The system is much faster when bringing up different functions or crunching a route on the optional navigation system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and OnStar 4G LTE round off the system. 

    With the effort Buick has put in, you might have the feeling that the Regal GS has something special under the hood. That isn’t the case. Under the hood of the GS is GM’s venerable 3.6L V6 with 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet. While the V6 packs 40 more horsepower than the 2.0L turbo-four from the last-generation model, it is also down 13 pound-feet. This absence becomes apparent when you decide to sprint away from a stoplight or exiting a corner as you need to work the engine to get that rush of power. A numb throttle response doesn’t help. If you resist from attack mode, the V6 reveals a quiet and refined nature. But again, you will need to work the engine when merging or making a pass.

    Before someone shouts “put a turbo on it”, Buick cannot do that as there isn’t enough space in the engine bay due to the design of the platform. We’ve known about this issue since 2016 when Holden was gearing up to launch the Commodore - its version of the OpelVauxhall Insignia.

    Quote

    “According to media reports, Holden pushed for the V6 and all-wheel drive combination for their requirements. There were rumors of the Commodore getting a twin-turbo V6 - possibly the twin-turbo 3.0L or 3.6L from Cadillac. But that isn't going to happen for a simple reason - it can't fit in the Insignia/Commodore's platform (E2XX).”  

    The nine-speed automatic transmission goes about its business with unobtrusive shifts when going about your daily errands, but offers up snappy shifts when you decide to get aggressive. A glaring omission on this sports sedan is the lack of paddle shifters. 

    Fuel economy for the 2019 Regal GS is 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined. I saw an average of 20 during the week. This can likely to be attributed to the test vehicle having under 1,000 miles on the odometer. 

    On paper, the Regal GS’ handling credentials seem top-notch with Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system and a GKN all-wheel drive system featuring a twin-clutch torque-vectoring rear differential. The latter allows a varying amount of power sent to each rear wheel to improve cornering. In the real world, the GS is more Grand Tourer than Gran Sport. While the sedan shows little body roll, its reflexes are slightly muted due to a nearly 3,800 pound curb weight. The steering provides a decent amount of weight when turning, but don’t expect a lot of road feel. What about that AWD system? For the most part, you really won’t notice working unless you decide to push the limits or practice your winter driving skills in a snowy and empty parking lot. 

    Thanks to the CDC system, the Regal GS’ ride is surprisingly smooth. With the vehicle in Tour, the suspension glides over bumps and imperfections. The ride begins to get choppy if you One area that I’m glad Buick is still focusing on is noise isolation. Road and wind noise is almost non-existent. 

    The 2019 Buick Regal GS is a case of expectations being put too high. Despite what the exterior and sports seats of the interior may hint at, this isn’t a sports sedan like a Kia Stinger GT or something from a German luxury brand. But my feelings began to change when I thought of the GS as being more of a grand tourer. It has the ingredients such as a refined powertrain, a suspension that can be altered to provide either a comfortable or sporty ride; and minimizing the amount of outside noise.

    There lies the overall problem with Regal GS as Buick doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a sport sedan or a luxury sedan with grand tourer tendencies? This confusion will likely cause many people to look at something else which is a big shame.

    How I Would Configure a 2019 Buick Regal GS.

    My particular configuration would be similar to the vehicle tested here with the Driver Confidence Package #2, Sights and Sounds, and Appearance packages. The only change would be adding the White Frost Tricoat color, which adds an additional $1,095 to the price. All together, it comes out to $44,210.

    Alternatives to the 2019 Buick Regal GS:

    • Kia Stinger: The big elephant in the room when talking about the Regal GS. For a similar amount of cash, you can step into the base GT model with its 365 horsepower twin-turbo V6 and rear-wheel drive setup (AWD adds $2,200). I came away very impressed with the styling, performance on tap from the V6, and handling prowess. Downsides include the interior design being a bit too minimalist and the ride being a bit rough.
    • Volkswagen Arteon: The other dark horse to the Regal GS. There is no doubt that the Arteon is quite handsome with flowing lines and sleek fastback shape. Having sat in one at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, I found it to be very roomy and upscale in terms of the interior materials. I hope to get some time behind the wheel in the near future to see how it measures up in handling.

    Disclaimer: Buick Provided the Regal GS, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2019
    Make: Buick
    Model: Regal
    Trim: GS
    Engine: 3.6L V6
    Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,800 
    Torque @ RPM: 282 @ 5,200
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
    Curb Weight: 3,796 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Rüsselsheim Germany
    Base Price: $39,070
    As Tested Price: $43,115 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Driver Confidence Package #2: $1,690.00
    Sights and Sounds Package: $945.00
    Appearance Package: $485.00

    Edited by William Maley



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    I would think a turbo 4 banger tweaked to maximum performance in balance with long life would be a better solution for a GS over a buttery smooth V6.

    I expect this auto to be gone by 2021.

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    After never having seen a new GS ever on road...far upstate NY the last week, I counted 3 of them.

    Nondescript, and not as interesting as the previous one in some details, but bigger and smoother. Good look on road, and total sleeper. Nothing looks different, at all. Add in white, gray, and silver as the 3 I saw...and nope.

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    Faster and smoother engine than an Arteon, not as nice of an interior.
    Slower than a Stinger GT, about equal on the interior.

    Still, a decent handler, but a total sleeper. 

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    Identity Crisis in Car Form...”

    i would say that tagline is quite apropos. 

    Now that the 2.7t is out, that might not be a bad mill to try to stuff in this thing. 

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    12 hours ago, Larry C. Brown said:

    Is any Buick being manufactured in America anymore?

    As you correctly point out, most Buicks are built overseas.

    Encore - S. Korea
    Envision - China
    Enclave - US
    Regal - Germany
     

    When they were still around:
    Lacrosse - US
    Cascada - Poland

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    11 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    As you correctly point out, most Buicks are built overseas.

    Encore - S. Korea
    Envision - China
    Enclave - US
    Regal - Germany
     

    When they were still around:
    Lacrosse - US
    Cascada - Poland

    and none of these carry the Buick nameplate anymore; just the tricolor logo.

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    2 hours ago, Larry C. Brown said:

    and none of these carry the Buick nameplate anymore; just the tricolor logo.

    I don't have as much an issue with that.  Benz and Audi don't put their name on the car, just the logo. 

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    I saw a new Regal at the grocery this morning...was about 75 feet away, w/ the lights on.  At first I thought it was a BMW 3/4 hatchback from that distance in the early morning gloom...gray, with a round badge and those taillights..

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    On 8/6/2019 at 12:54 PM, dfelt said:

    I would think a turbo 4 banger tweaked to maximum performance in balance with long life would be a better solution for a GS over a buttery smooth V6.

    I expect this auto to be gone by 2021.

    I saw one today.  A black sportback.  I realized I was looking at "a German Buick."  The sportback has some clean lines, so it's okay.  Even though it's a passenger car and a high line GM, it's really not for me.

    I'm agreeing with your second sentence.  I don't think it will stick around.  The only thing that makes it practicable for Buick and GM is that it is not assembled here.  Having it built in Germany is like a tentacle of their operations that they can prune.  Germany is not GM country.

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    On 9/29/2019 at 10:50 AM, Drew Dowdell said:

    I don't have as much an issue with that.  Benz and Audi don't put their name on the car, just the logo. 

    Every car you mentioned is manufactured in Europe (including the Regal). They do things differently than vehicles built in the US.

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    12 hours ago, Larry C. Brown said:

    Every car you mentioned is manufactured in Europe (including the Regal). They do things differently than vehicles built in the US.

    Chevy and Cadillac don't put their names on their cars either, just the badge.   

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    7 minutes ago, Robert Hall said:

    Chevy and Cadillac don't put their names on their cars either, just the badge.   

    You are correct. It only started in 2013. The change was intended to give a cleaner, less congested branding appearance and was communicated through a GM Marketing Administrative message. I haven't been on GM lot in a while.

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      There is a fair amount of space for those sitting upfront. Comfort is ok for short trips, but I found myself wanting more thigh support on longer trips. In the back, there is a large amount of headroom for most passengers. Legroom is a different story as tall people will find their knees pressed against the front seats. Cargo space is another area where the Kona is lacking. With the rear seats up, the Kona’s cargo area measures 19.2 cubic feet - about 0.1 cubic feet more than the Toyota C-HR. Fold them down and space increases to 45.8. This trails the likes of the Chevrolet Trax, Nissan Kicks, and Honda HR-V.
      The One To Still Be Beaten (Infotainment-wise)
      The Kona Ultimate comes equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen featuring Hyundai’s infotainment system. This system has consistently been one of my favorites as Hyundai nails the basics - simple interface, blazing-fast performance, and having features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. My only complaint is that the design is starting to look dated when compared to other automakers and their updated infotainment. 
      Turbo Power!
      Two powertrains are available in the Kona. SE, SEL, and SEL Plus use the 2.0L four-cylinder offering 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic. Limited and Ultimate come with the turbocharged 1.6L four producing 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet. This is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Front or all-wheel drive is available for either engine.
      Zippy is the word to describe the performance of the turbo engine. The Kona easily accelerates away from a stop and has no issue with passing a slower vehicle. The dual-clutch transmission seems to stumble when leaving a stop, but does get itself together at higher speeds. I also found the transmission is slow to react when your floor the throttle, taking a few milliseconds to downshift.
      EPA fuel economy figures for the 1.6T with AWD are 26 City/29 Highway/27 Combined. My average for the week landed around 26.7 mpg, mostly due to cold weather during the week I had the Kona.
      Woah, This Crossover Handles
      If you wanted a subcompact crossover that handled decently, your choices were either the Mazda CX-3 or Toyota C-HR. The Kona enters the ring as the third choice, and possibly the best. On the backroads, the Kona feels quite agile and has almost no body roll. If I was to nitpick, the steering doesn’t have as much feel as you’ll find in the CX-3. But it feels noticeably better than the C-HR. Ride quality is impressive with most bumps being isolated from passengers sitting inside. Not too much wind and road noise come inside.
      Possibly the Best Subcompact Crossover At the Moment
      Hyundai has a very compelling package in the Kona. There is an excellent performance from the turbocharged engine, impressive driving dynamics, easy to use infotainment system, and a long list of standard equipment. There are some drawbacks with the small cargo area and rear legroom topping the list. If you need the space, a Honda HR-V would be my first pick. The dual-clutch transmission still needs a bit more work to iron out the hesitation issues I experienced. 
      That first impression I had still stands and moves the Kona not only being the best in the class at the moment, but also onto a very rarefied list; a vehicle I would considering buying.
      How I Would Configure A Kona: The only reason I see buying the Ultimate is for the adaptive cruise control as most of the other safety equipment such as blind spot monitoring, parking sensors, and forward collision avoidance are available on other models. So if I wanted the Turbo engine, then I would step down to the Limited at $26,100. For those who think that is a tad expensive still should consider the SEL Plus as it comes very well equipped for $23,950. You do sacrifice the turbo engine for the 2.0L four-cylinder which is fine if your planning to drive mostly around town. Add an additional $1,400 for all-wheel drive.
      Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Kona, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Kona
      Trim: Ultimate
      Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC 16-Valve GDI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/29/27
      Curb Weight: 3,276 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea
      Base Price: $29,150
      As Tested Price: $ 30,380 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
    • By William Maley
      For the past decade, Acura has felt lost at sea. Not sure of what it wanted to be as a brand. This was shown by mixed messaging in their lineup as they weren’t sure to focus on luxury, technology, or sport. This muddled mess of identities would cause a fair amount of issues. But in the past couple of years, Acura started to get its act together thanks in part to new leadership. The first fruits of their efforts came last year in the form of the third-generation RDX. 
      It has been over two years since I last drove an Acura, so when the opportunity for an RDX A-Spec landed on my desk, I took it with both hands. It was time to see what Acura has been up to and if they’re taking a step in the right direction. 
      You Want Presence? You Got It!
      The RDX is the first production model to feature Acura’s newest design language and its no shrinking violet. The front end draws your attention with a large trapezoidal grille paired with a massive Acura emblem. Sitting on either side is Acura’s Jewel-Eye LED headlights that add a distinctive touch. My A-Spec tester takes it further with distinctive front and rear bumpers, 20-inch alloy wheels finished in black, and a special Apex Blue Pearl color that is only available on this trim. This crossover garnered a lot of looks during the week I had, something I hadn’t experience in quite some time.
      Cozy, Polarizing Interior
      The RDX’s interior captures the feeling of being in a sports car with a symmetrical dashboard design that cocoons the front passengers. A rotary drive-mode selector found in the center stack echos the design found in the NSX supercar. While it does emphasize the sporty nature of the vehicle, the position of the knob does make the climate controls a bit hard to reach. A-Spec models have some special touches such as red contrast stitching, a suede panel on the passenger side of the dashboard, and new trim for the instrument cluster that help it stand out. Material and build quality are quite close to some competitors from Germany.
      A set of sport seats with increased bolstering and power adjustments come standard on the A-Spec. I found them to be quite comfortable for any trip length and were able to hold me if I decided to be a bit enthusiastic. Back seat passengers will be plenty comfortable with an abundance of head and legroom. I would have like to see the back seat be able to slide forward and back to offer more comfort. Cargo space is towards the top of the class with 29.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 58.9 when folded. There’s also a little storage nook under the cargo floor to stash valuables.
      Intuitive Infotainment?
      Acura’s previous infotainment system drew a lot of ire from people. The dual-screen layout was confusing as some functions were split between the two screens such as changing the audio input. Not helping was the two different control methods for this setup; touchscreen for the bottom portion and a controller for the top screen. Thankfully, Acura has introduced a new infotainment system for the RDX. A large 10.2-inch screen sits on top of the dash and is controlled by a touchpad on the center console. Seeing the touchpad for the first time sent chills down my spine as I thought back to my frustrating experiences with Lexus’ Touchpad Controller. But Acura says this controller is much easier and logical to use than competitors. Okay, challenge accepted.
      Acura’s touchpad controller is slightly different from Lexus’ setup as it is mapped to the screen. So if you want to access the navigation, you tap that part of the pad that corresponds to the screen. This removes the dragging of the finger across the touchpad to get it to the selection you want. This seems quite logical on paper, but I found to be somewhat frustrating. It took me a few days to mind-meld with the system as I was still used to dragging my finger across the touchpad to select various functions. This made simple tasks such as changing presets or moving around in Apple CarPlay very tough.
      There is also a smaller touchpad that controls a small section of the screen. This allows you to scroll through three menus - audio, navigation, and clock. This would prove to be the most frustrating aspect of this system as it didn’t always recognize whenever I scroll down on the touchpad to move to another screen.
      Thankfully, Acura has left a number of physical controls for the audio and climate systems. I’m glad that some luxury automakers aren’t falling into the trap.
      Powertrain Goes Back To Its Roots
      The RDX has always found itself with a different powertrain throughout its various generations. The first version used a turbo-four engine, while the second-generation moved to a V6. For the third-generation, Acura went back to the RDX’s roots and settled on another turbo-four engine. The 2.0L engine punches out 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a 10-speed automatic and either front or my tester’s Super-Handling all-wheel drive system.
      The turbo-four is quite a potent engine with little turbo lag when leaving a stop and a seemingly endless amount of power for any situation. The ten-speed automatic is very smooth and quick when upshifting. But it does stumble somewhat when you need a quick shot of speed. 
      I did notice that the 2.0L turbo isn’t a quiet engine when traveling on the expressway, going above 2,000 rpm when traveling at 70 mph. This may explain the slightly disappointing 21.7 mpg average I got during the week. EPA fuel economy figures for the A-Spec SH-AWD are 21 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. The standard RDX models see a small bump in their EPA fuel economy figures.
      Capable Driver
      Acura is no stranger to building a crossover that is good to drive, the larger MDX crossover is a prime example. But the RDX A-Spec takes that a step further. This version gets a slightly stiffer suspension setup which negates a fair amount of body roll on a winding road. The steering firms up nicely when pushed through corners. When going through the daily grind, the RDX A-Spec will let in a few more bumps and road imperfections due to its suspension tuning. Road and wind noise are kept to very minimal levels.
      Welcome Back Acura
      The 2020 RDX shows that Acura is starting to figure out what it wants to be; a brand that offers something playful in the class. The RDX certainly has the qualities with a bold exterior, punchy turbo-four, and a surprising chassis that offers sporty handling and a mostly-comfortable ride. The slightly-confounding infotainment system and poor fuel economy figures do sour it a bit. But the RDX is a very compelling alternative to many compact luxury crossovers.
      It does give me hope that Acura is figuring out who it wants to be and excited to see what comes down the road such as the new TLX.
      How I Would Configure An RDX: For me, I would basically take the exact RDX tester seen here. That will set me back $47,195 after adding destination and $400.00 paint option. Everyone else should look at the Technology package that will get you most of the safety equipment that is part of Acurawatch, along with a 12-speaker ELS audio system, navigation, and parking sensors. It will not break the bank at $41,000 for FWD or $43,000 for AWD.
      Disclaimer: Acura Provided the RDX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Acura
      Model: RDX
      Trim: A-Spec
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve VTEC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 272 @ 6,500
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 1,600 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,015 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: East Liberty, Ohio
      Base Price: $45,800
      As Tested Price: $47,195 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Exterior Color - $400.00

      View full article
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