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2018 Buick Regal Sportback Essence

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Driven: 2018 Buick Regal Sportback Essence 2.0t

(the original review is in this post.  Revised reviews are further down, in this post, and in  this other post)

HIGHS:

-Nice understated shape conceals a cleverly integrated hatchback design

-'Decent' propulsion from 2.0t engine

-Nicely shaped upper dash with touchsreen oriented slightly to driver.  Interesting at least from a design standpoint.

-Sporting driving position and good room in both rows, mostly, plus the biggest benefit being improved leg room over previous model

-Really nice cargo space, with seats up, or seats down, the cargo area of this vehicle and the flexibility of it in a car like this IMO is a major draw

-View outside of this vehicle is improved over its platform mate (Malibu, my daily driver) due to the rear door glass being longer and taller.  View out the front and rear is essentially the same.

-AWD availability is a nice plus, thanks Buick.

LOWS:

-I can't recall any of the GM vehicles I have driven with this ubiquitous 2.0t engine, where i have actually been wowed or impressed by it.  It has decent thrust, but honestly you gotta spool it up a bit, the tranny doesn't respond instantly, it's not a five star smooth tranny, and it's kind of rough and noisy overall as a powertrain (AT LEAST FOR IT'S PRICE / CLASS).  I was hoping the 2.0 would make the car match the near luxury description but I don't think it's overall a smooth enough powertrain to meet that claim.  It's neither smooth, nor sporting or exciting.  And this is with front wheel drive.  I will reserve final judgment until i get in the GS with the v6, which is the engine I think most people will really end up liking in this car.

-Heavier than it's Malibu platform mate.  No doubt acceptable due to the larger engine, but the benefit of the extra weight doesn't manifest itself in any real tangible way anywhere in the ride and drive of the car.

-Not really any quieter inside than my Malibu.  Strange, because this Buick is supposed to have quiet tuning, and goo in the tires to help make it quieter.  The ride isn't really any more plush, either.

-Steering is sort of dead and mushy.  That's not GERMANIC now, is it.

-NEED TO BE ABLE TO TURN OFF THE AUTOSTOP WHEN YOU WANT TO.

-Not really much nicer inside than in my Malibu.  The lower dash is the same 'less expensive' plastic you see in cheap Chevy's.  The door panels are a little nicer, but not that much more.  Many switches and buttons are the same.  The console is nicer (I don't like the shifter centered in the console now actually, it's quite a reach) I guess...except for cupholders in front of the climate controls.  The upper dash material is an upgrade over the Malibu, but it's not a PREMIUM dash material either.

-I can't really tell for sure if the seats are better.  My Malibu seats are poor.  The Regal seats seemed to hug me more, but they still felt thin and insubstantial.  The leather quality was slightly better, but still nothing to write home about. 

-Rear head room suffers a bit with the hatch design.  I don't mind the tradeoff personally, but the Malibu retains a bit more headroom, and the Regal TourX really has much more....so get the wagon if rear head room matters.

-Sunroof was nice to have considering how bunkerlike the Malibu can feel....but again the hatch design limits the size of the sunroof here compared to the Malibu's BAMR.  I can live with the compromise here myself, and again, the wagon will satisfy your urge for BAMR if you need it.  I would encourage GM to develop a way to integrate a larger moonroof with the hatch design.  I think it could be done, but would require time and money on a redesign effort.

-Options / packages on this car are, simply put, stupid.  But that merits its own post.  At least in this car, the heated steering wheel and leather heated seats were both included.  You can actually get this car with heated steering wheel but without heated seats.  How f-cked up is that?  In 2019, Fusion, Toyota, and others will have things like blind spot and cross path detection as standard equipment.  And those are not 'premium' makes.

-I'll let others decide if they think the styling is too tepid.  I don't mind the understated styling but do admit that the color selections that are available on this car leave me wanting.  I like the red on the GS, and the smoked pearl metallic is nice.  And Buick seems to think they should charge extra for paint colors when they don't make the ride and drive anything special.

-pricing.  I think the average nature of this car would be easily forgiven if the pricing were in line with being an average car; not priced for a premium marque.  Like the LaCrosse and Envision, it is best to wait out the model year if you are buying and wait for the inevitable 7,000-10,000 or more in discounts...which might bring the pricing in line with what the vehicle really is.  You can't say this vehicle is appealing at the prices it is at now.  

SUMMARY:

This probably seems like a negative review, but you should consider it more of underwhelmed and let down.  This car as I drove it just doesn't have any kind of endearing personality to speak of!  At the end of the day, it took Buick two extra years to bring to the US it's own Malibu clone, which doesn't have much more to show for it.... apart from the clever hatch and base 2.0 engine upgrade over the 1.5.  I actually am very curious now to be among the first to try the 2019 Malibu 1.5t + CVT combo.  But that's an aside for another discussion.  The 2.0 that general motors puts in so many vehicles has never impressed me, and that's due more to it's character than anything.  I had hopes this would be the ONE CAR that it would feel sporting in; one that would make the car feel at least a little, like a SPORTS SEDAN.  Nope.  I will wait with baited breath to someday find a v6 GS to test, as i think it will be the only Regal worth anything.  At least worth anything more than just being another option in the midsize, genericar class.  And I hope Buick is working on a twin turbo six option as well for the GS (GSX?).  I tend to think this car won't move the needle in marketplace excitement until it has a tire shredder under the hood to brag about...The v6 will promise smoother revs and deeper lungs at least......... Still, as a replacement in the bottom end of the Buick lineup for the Verano, I am ok with this.  Just please, sex it up!

 

 

 

 

Edited by regfootball
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Probably the only reason to get Buick over Malibu or other car in the segment is to get TourX, not the Sportback

2018-Buick-Regal-TourX-front-three-quart

 

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We were really underwhelmed by the new regal. I have autotrader searches out for Certified '17 GSes instead.  Typically finding them for ~$24k with 15k on the odometer.

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3 hours ago, ykX said:

Probably the only reason to get Buick over Malibu or other car in the segment is to get TourX, not the Sportback

2018-Buick-Regal-TourX-front-three-quart

 

I do admit. The hatchback is versatile as well. Wish we could get a GS wagon. 

1 hour ago, Drew Dowdell said:

We were really underwhelmed by the new regal. I have autotrader searches out for Certified '17 GSes instead.  Typically finding them for ~$24k with 15k on the odometer.

I've got to get out and try a new LaCrosse as well. V6...

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The newest Lacrosse is everything it is supposed to be.  Albert likes those also, but they are holding their value better than the '17 Regal.  I want to stick around the $25k mark for a used vehicle.  The '17 GS can be had with adaptive cruise control and Android Auto and Buick Certified for $25k, so it's really high on the list for me with those killer apps. 

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Really thorough write-up, Reg.  I won't go out of my way to drive one.  I sat in one and didn't like the rear visibility, but I'm picky about that and I'm of average height.  I like to sit high and see a lot of glass around me, with thinner pillars.  That will be the day.

You seem to like the new thematic Buick dash.  It's simple and convenient, but it also seems to be a retro throwback to the late 60s, with a heavy ridge across the top of the cowl.  I'm not so sure.  I like dashboards that have 3 defined zones, so to speak, or more sculpting if not 3 defined zones.

I don't know how the steering would compare to the outgoing Regal.  I found the last one to be nimble with enough road manners and isolation, but I believe you.  I'm guessing these are all electric P.S. units, with hydraulics now gone.

I will agree that I am warming up to the new LaCrosse.  I have not warmed up to its MSRP.  They can sticker at 2x the one that I bought! I don't like a console where its surface is way above the seating surfaces like the LaCrosse, and even this new Regal, have.

I will say that, even if the final experience isn't very Germanic, the car (2018 Regal) definitely looks "more" Germanic as it's approaching you if you're going in the other direction.

 

Edited by trinacriabob

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Over the last few weeks I keep warming up to the 2017+ LaCrosse with more and more of them hitting the used market.

Some are as low as 22-23k.  Ones in colors you want plus options you want are tough to find but the main takeaway with the LaCrosse is v6 availability and slightly larger size.  It really IMO set up Buick nicely to market the LaCrosse even with sedan sales dwindling, as the Regal is hatch only and is not Buick's entry car.  (No longer Verano).  The LaCrosse is the only sedan now, and the Impala is becoming familiar and fading.  XTS getting put out to pasture.  Ford ditching sedans too.  So perhaps LaCrosse sales may possibly increase if they appeal to v6 buyers who don't want Impalas and if the prices drop some.

The raised console is a problem.  It does put the shifter joystick in a good spot but the dash itself could stand to be a bit nicer and the raised console area has some cheapness and such, apart from being too tall.  Older buyers still sometimes want bench seats which this car will never have...but buyers like that don't want the intrusiveness of the console they way it is now.  Even the new Regal's console is intrusive too.

A 2-3 year old LaCrosse in the right color, with the huge moonroof, and maybe AWD for super cheap may be a nice future ride.  The styling change affected me but now the new body is growing on me some.  

Buick doesn't really care if the Regal sells too huge.  They would probably prefer the LaCrosse to sell well and just import a set but manageable number of Regals each year since the import them from Germany and now Opel is out of the mix.  The Regal is there just to round out the lineup.  Not be a huge piece of it.  Enclave is Buick's $$$$ car these days.  The LaCrosse is for the guy who just got his spouse the Enclave but he wants a Buick too.

 

Edited by regfootball
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Remember that GM now has to pay PSA to build Regals.... so they probably don't care how many they sell. 

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^^^^  right.

I'd be surprised if Buick actually wants to sell any more than 25-30k a year of the sportback and tourX combined.

The TourX is incidental, and the base Sportback takes over for the Verano as the entry car, so they don't have to bring over the Astra / Verano.

I think if Buick really set their minds to it, and configured the choices right, the Sportback could sell very well as crossover alternatives, but they would have to drop MSRP's which GM doesn't like doing.

Every time i see a tourX and the shitty looking wheel cladding, I get wound up because a GS wagon would be awesome and it would really be a nice niche; I think they could sell a few, since they just want to be niche anyways.

I'd like to see Regal add a twin turbo 6 to really put the car on the map but i suppose that will never happen.

Imagine a 350-400hp GS wagon or sportback.

Edited by regfootball

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1 hour ago, regfootball said:

Imagine a 350-400hp GS wagon or sportback.

I would take a 350 - 400 HP CUV GS Buick over the Wagon or Sportback.

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On 5/15/2018 at 6:21 PM, dfelt said:

I would take a 350 - 400 HP CUV GS Buick over the Wagon or Sportback.

Something Xt5 sized in the Buick lineup with said engine....would be cool.

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Always puzzles me how GM NA can't ever seem to make use of the Opel stuff and now Opel is gone.  

Maybe GM should have brought the previous Insignia wagon over......

 

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Edited by regfootball
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Very cool.  The photos show both the new (ridged cowl) and old (Regal like) dashboard for the Insignia.  That brick-maroon interior is pretty nifty.  Since Volvo seemingly does well with their wagons stateside, the same could be true of a rebranded Insignia wagon.

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I have a second test drive of the new Regal which turned out to be more favorable, and so I'll come back and make note of that yet today if i am able.  It really was a case where the person accompanying me and the route and situation in general allowed for a better test drive and so will be making some modified impressions in a few areas.

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Second / Revised review

Driven: 2018 Buick Regal Sportback Preferred II 2.0t

(the original review is in the first post of this thread.  This post is a second / revised review)

HIGHS:

prior review

-Nice understated shape conceals a cleverly integrated hatchback design

-'Decent' propulsion from 2.0t engine

-Nicely shaped upper dash with touchsreen oriented slightly to driver.  Interesting at least from a design standpoint.

-Sporting driving position and good room in both rows, mostly, plus the biggest benefit being improved leg room over previous model

-Really nice cargo space, with seats up, or seats down, the cargo area of this vehicle and the flexibility of it in a car like this IMO is a major draw

-View outside of this vehicle is improved over its platform mate (Malibu, my daily driver) due to the rear door glass being longer and taller.  View out the front and rear is essentially the same.

-AWD availability is a nice plus, thanks Buick.

added

-shifter was more aggressive, seemed to downshift better.  Driver may have been more throttle aggressive as well.

-Preferred II cloth was ok by me.  It has a nicer pattern and more stitching compared to regular Preferred trim.  This maybe should be the standard cloth.  I would still want a more elaborate leatherette / cloth mix or leather still anyways.

-Heated Steering wheel! on Preferred II trim.

-Back lumbar support was exceptionally comfortable and noticeable.  Seat felt way better than my Malibu and for some reason better than the last Regal drive.

-loved the dash angled to the driver.

 

LOWS:

previous

-I can't recall any of the GM vehicles I have driven with this ubiquitous 2.0t engine, where i have actually been wowed or impressed by it.  It has decent thrust, but honestly you gotta spool it up a bit, the tranny doesn't respond instantly, it's not a five star smooth tranny, and it's kind of rough and noisy overall as a powertrain (AT LEAST FOR IT'S PRICE / CLASS).  I was hoping the 2.0 would make the car match the near luxury description but I don't think it's overall a smooth enough powertrain to meet that claim.  It's neither smooth, nor sporting or exciting.  And this is with front wheel drive.  I will reserve final judgment until i get in the GS with the v6, which is the engine I think most people will really end up liking in this car.

added

For whatever reason, the powertrain felt better this time.  The 2.0t still doesn't feel like a very elastic motor to me.  It does not seem to like to rev to me.  Ever.  On like 10+ vehicles I have driven with the 2.0t .  I guess that part of it is not a deal breaker however.

-Heavier than it's Malibu platform mate.  No doubt acceptable due to the larger engine, but the benefit of the extra weight doesn't manifest itself in any real tangible way anywhere in the ride and drive of the car.

-Not really any quieter inside than my Malibu.  Strange, because this Buick is supposed to have quiet tuning, and goo in the tires to help make it quieter.  The ride isn't really any more plush, either.

added

For whatever reason, the car felt reasonably quiet inside.

-Steering is sort of dead and mushy.  That's not GERMANIC now, is it.

-NEED TO BE ABLE TO TURN OFF THE AUTOSTOP WHEN YOU WANT TO.

-Not really much nicer inside than in my Malibu.  The lower dash is the same 'less expensive' plastic you see in cheap Chevy's.  The door panels are a little nicer, but not that much more.  Many switches and buttons are the same.  The console is nicer (I don't like the shifter centered in the console now actually, it's quite a reach) I guess...except for cupholders in front of the climate controls.  The upper dash material is an upgrade over the Malibu, but it's not a PREMIUM dash material either.

-I can't really tell for sure if the seats are better.  My Malibu seats are poor.  The Regal seats seemed to hug me more, but they still felt thin and insubstantial.  The leather quality was slightly better, but still nothing to write home about. 

Added

as mentioned above, the cloth in the Preferred II was ok, still would want leather, but for cloth wasn't bad.  Seats and back support felt far better this time around.

-Rear head room suffers a bit with the hatch design.  I don't mind the tradeoff personally, but the Malibu retains a bit more headroom, and the Regal TourX really has much more....so get the wagon if rear head room matters.

-Sunroof was nice to have considering how bunkerlike the Malibu can feel....but again the hatch design limits the size of the sunroof here compared to the Malibu's BAMR.  I can live with the compromise here myself, and again, the wagon will satisfy your urge for BAMR if you need it.  I would encourage GM to develop a way to integrate a larger moonroof with the hatch design.  I think it could be done, but would require time and money on a redesign effort.

Added

This time the car had a normal moonroof.  While not quite a awesome as a larger moonroof, it did lighten up the cabin inside some.  I tend to think the rear vision camera surround view rear view mirror would be beneficial on this car because of the really small rear window.

-Options / packages on this car are, simply put, stupid.  But that merits its own post.  At least in this car, the heated steering wheel and leather heated seats were both included.  You can actually get this car with heated steering wheel but without heated seats.  How f-cked up is that?  In 2019, Fusion, Toyota, and others will have things like blind spot and cross path detection as standard equipment.  And those are not 'premium' makes.

Added

-The very nice person accompanying me on the test drive and I spent a lot of time mocking how stupid it was for Buick to offer this car from the factory trimmed out with a heated steering wheel but without factory heated seats.  This sheer utter complete stupidity of this to sell vehicles in snow / cold states alone is cause for product planners to get canned.   I don't give a shit if the car is built in Germany and that creates logistics issues.  Honestly, Buick pull your head out of your behind.

-I'll let others decide if they think the styling is too tepid.  I don't mind the understated styling but do admit that the color selections that are available on this car leave me wanting.  I like the red on the GS, and the smoked pearl metallic is nice.  And Buick seems to think they should charge extra for paint colors when they don't make the ride and drive anything special.

-pricing.  I think the average nature of this car would be easily forgiven if the pricing were in line with being an average car; not priced for a premium marque.  Like the LaCrosse and Envision, it is best to wait out the model year if you are buying and wait for the inevitable 7,000-10,000 or more in discounts...which might bring the pricing in line with what the vehicle really is.  You can't say this vehicle is appealing at the prices it is at now.  

Added

The rear hatch while masterfully done, is pretty large and is on the border of really benefitting from a power hatch setup with your remote.  It is large, heavy and clunky to close / slam shut.

SUMMARY:

This probably seems like a negative review, but you should consider it more of underwhelmed and let down.  This car as I drove it just doesn't have any kind of endearing personality to speak of!  At the end of the day, it took Buick two extra years to bring to the US it's own Malibu clone, which doesn't have much more to show for it.... apart from the clever hatch and base 2.0 engine upgrade over the 1.5.  I actually am very curious now to be among the first to try the 2019 Malibu 1.5t + CVT combo.  But that's an aside for another discussion.  The 2.0 that general motors puts in so many vehicles has never impressed me, and that's due more to it's character than anything.  I had hopes this would be the ONE CAR that it would feel sporting in; one that would make the car feel at least a little, like a SPORTS SEDAN.  Nope.  I will wait with baited breath to someday find a v6 GS to test, as i think it will be the only Regal worth anything.  At least worth anything more than just being another option in the midsize, genericar class.  And I hope Buick is working on a twin turbo six option as well for the GS (GSX?).  I tend to think this car won't move the needle in marketplace excitement until it has a tire shredder under the hood to brag about...The v6 will promise smoother revs and deeper lungs at least......... Still, as a replacement in the bottom end of the Buick lineup for the Verano, I am ok with this.  Just please, sex it up!

Added

The car seemed nicer this time around.  Still not sporty but pleasing.  Ok for a Preferred trim I figure.  Buick needs to change the available colors and allow a GS body trim package for a front wheel drive Regal.  All the muted and dark dreary colors Buick offers now needs to be balanced out.  I would like to see a GS style body trim package available for a Regal wagon that is not a TourX as well.  Hopefully this car may be available with a newer turbo four some day but due to the Opel break off, probably not.  After driving this and the LaCrosse back to back I must say for a daily driver I would prefer this but either car is ok.

Edited by regfootball

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I took a Sportback 2.0 Preferred FWD out for another spin..  I think by now I am thinking more clearly on what this car is about.

The engine and tranny performed better and feels decently fast but it did not feel 'sporting'.  For the base model that's ok, sure...i guess i get it.  I can't wait to see if the new 2.0 in the Cadillac feels more lively.

The ride and steering and handling are numb, particularly on the base tire and wheel package.  They are not bad, because it's decently quiet and the ride is 'good'.  The car feels less agile and less sporting than my regular platform mate Malibu.  There is no sense of "game on" with the chassis on this car.  The suspension almost can feel a bit floaty at times and the steering is easy to turn but kinda mushy.  I don't think this is a different observation than the buff books have been saying.

The interior criticisms in the press are about right.  It's ok but does have cheapness relative to its higher pricing.  IMO it would only take a little bit more with the interior to make it near lux like it should be.  

All the above said, I still like the packaging.  The room and space, the seating position, the nice integration of the hatchback.  I love the package.  With the hatch though, a power hatch will be needed.  In fact, sales guy seemed to think they may be adding that in a year ......  They better, it's a near lux brand and the hatch is very wieldly.

This one had a moonroof, and it helps brighten the interior.  On the sportback it is so small of roof panel but it is better than nothing.

This Preferred I  didn't have heated seats or steering wheel.  It is beyond idiotic that the Preferred II with cloth seats has standard heated steering wheel, but it doesn't have heated seats.

I like the car and it is low key and comfortable, but there is a missed opportunity here.  This would be fantastic to offer a sport handling package on the more base level cars and it would really I think draw in the younger buyers it was intended to.  The car sort of telegraphs an attitude, compared to the other Buick vehicles like the LaCrosse and Envision.  It would help this model stand out and get some young buyers to the brand.  I would go one further and suggest whatever new 2.0 is going in the Cadillacs be put in this (although since the Opel sale I suppose that wouldn't happen).  I'd even be interested in seeing a v6 / FWD combo in a lesser trim.  The GS v6 should be a twin turbo six.  I have some thoughts coming up soon on how much I think Buick's option packaging for the Regal sucks.

Overall I can't really bash the car, and I like it, I may get one down the road.  But I think there is plenty of ways to make it better, the best place to fix it quick is ride and handling option package.  I still want to try a GS someday too.

 

 

Edited by regfootball

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Have yet to see a Sportback on the road, after seeing the very underwhelming reviews quickly forgot about one I did see perhaps.

Mayhem the model run will be short..

 

 

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19 minutes ago, frogger said:

Have yet to see a Sportback on the road, after seeing the very underwhelming reviews quickly forgot about one I did see perhaps.

Mayhem the model run will be short..

 

 

sales guy said the dealer had not sold one Regal (hatch or wagon) yet.  After these last 4 months or whatever.  He said because there is no incentives on them.  No programs, for leasing or finance.  The incentives drive the traffic and buyers.  GM maybe doesn't even want these to sell after the Opel sale since they are built overseas.  No advertising support either.  The Buick GMC dealers first priority is selling pickups, and then after that its the larger SUV's.  He said the Buick Encore is the hottest seller at the dealership.  People love em and the big incentives and cheap leases move em out the door.  He also agreed with me that they should make a vesion of the TourX without the cladding.

Edited by regfootball

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The very nice person accompanying me on the test drive and I spent a lot of time mocking how stupid it was for Buick to offer this car from the factory trimmed out with a heated steering wheel but without factory heated seats.  This sheer utter complete stupidity of this to sell vehicles in snow / cold states alone is cause for product planners to get canned.

Anyone who seriously wants to review products needs to get this ingrained in their approach.

Just because a particular feature (or in this case; a particular pairing of features) isn't done the exact way the reviewer prefers it, this is NO WAY justifies advocating people lose their jobs over it. A product review needs to take into consideration generalities and averages of the consumer at large, and over-the-top hyperbole causes MANY readers to 'shut down' on the review because right there it unhinges itself from reason.

I, for one, can take or leave heated seats. My wife's car has them, I've used them countless times, they're kinda nice (she says she won't have another car without them). I don't want a heated steering wheel in any case, so while I might consider checking the heated seat option box (if offered separately), I'd only be happy to skip the heated wheel.  Yet I'd never advocate unemployment (hyperbole) if they were paired together, and that's just me talking to myself.

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I have yet to see a Regal on the roads here. See plenty of Enclaves a few Envisions.

 

okay now that the Envision is tariffed the Tourx might get a boost.

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I haven't seen a Sportback on the road yet, but back in mid-May saw a brown TourX at a gas station...only new Regal I've seen out and about in NE Ohio.. I find the TourX quite striking in person. 

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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fun to play with Opel's configurator.  I wish the AGR seats without the stupid track back was available here.....

 

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or custom colors

 

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Edited by regfootball
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      Los Angeles - Buick introduced the Buick Encore GX to the U.S. at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Encore GX is Buick's 4th entry into the crossover segment and sits slightly above the Encore in size and price.  The Encore GX will come with a host of standard safety features such as: 
      Forward Collision Alert Automatic Emergency Braking Front Pedestrian Braking Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning Following Distance Indicator IntelliBeam headlamps with automatically-adjusting high/low beams Available safety features depending on trim level will include: 
      Rear Park Assist Rear Cross Traffic Alert Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert Rear Camera Mirror, provides a wide, less obstructed rear view while parking and driving Hands-Free Power Liftgate with logo projection, one of only two vehicles within the compact SUV segment to offer this feature Adaptive Cruise Control – Camera (camera-based) Head-Up Display Automatic Parking Assist with Braking High Definition Surround Vision camera system The Encore will be powered either by a 1.2-liter Turbocharged or an up level 1.3-liter turbocharged engine.  In front wheel drive versions, both engines will send power to the wheels via a continuously variable transmission. All-wheel drive models get the 1.3-liter engine and a 9-speed automatic. AWD will also be driver selectable allowing for better traction or better fuel economy depending on driving conditions.  The top engine will produce an estimated 155-horspower and 174 lb.-ft of torque with a GM estimated 31 mpg highway rating. 

      The Buick Encore GX goes on sale early 2020

      View full article
    • By Drew Dowdell
      Los Angeles - Buick introduced the Buick Encore GX to the U.S. at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Encore GX is Buick's 4th entry into the crossover segment and sits slightly above the Encore in size and price.  The Encore GX will come with a host of standard safety features such as: 
      Forward Collision Alert Automatic Emergency Braking Front Pedestrian Braking Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning Following Distance Indicator IntelliBeam headlamps with automatically-adjusting high/low beams Available safety features depending on trim level will include: 
      Rear Park Assist Rear Cross Traffic Alert Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert Rear Camera Mirror, provides a wide, less obstructed rear view while parking and driving Hands-Free Power Liftgate with logo projection, one of only two vehicles within the compact SUV segment to offer this feature Adaptive Cruise Control – Camera (camera-based) Head-Up Display Automatic Parking Assist with Braking High Definition Surround Vision camera system The Encore will be powered either by a 1.2-liter Turbocharged or an up level 1.3-liter turbocharged engine.  In front wheel drive versions, both engines will send power to the wheels via a continuously variable transmission. All-wheel drive models get the 1.3-liter engine and a 9-speed automatic. AWD will also be driver selectable allowing for better traction or better fuel economy depending on driving conditions.  The top engine will produce an estimated 155-horspower and 174 lb.-ft of torque with a GM estimated 31 mpg highway rating. 

      The Buick Encore GX goes on sale early 2020
    • By Drew Dowdell
      2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature
      Mazda is on a mission lately to make their products feel more premium. They have been tuning their vehicles to be quieter and more refined in order to give them an air that they are above their class. This second generation of the Mazda CX-5 debuted for the 2017 model year with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder producing 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft of torque.  For 2019, Mazda added the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine from the CX-9. On regular gas, the engine produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque, but if you fill it up with 93 octane, the horsepower figure bumps up to 250.  Available only on the Grand Touring and Signature trims, the 2.5-T makes the CX-5 the compact crossover with the most available torque.  Mazda sent a CX-5 Signature for me to try for a week to see what I thought.
      There’s no replacement for displacement… maybe
      The biggest CX-5 news for 2019 is the engine options. There is the 2.5-T mentioned above and a 2.2-liter turbo diesel. Both are exciting entries into a relatively conservative segment.  The 2.5-T is the second-largest displacement engine available in the segment, behind the 3.2 liter V6 in the Jeep Cherokee.  This 4-cylinder puts out quite a bit more torque than the bigger V6, though the Jeep produces more horsepower (271 @ 6,500 rpm). Even among 4-cylinders, this is the largest displacement you can get, but none of those others offering 2.5 liters also offers a turbocharger. This engine is rated by the EPA to get 22 city / 27 highway.  I got about 24 mpg in mostly city driving. Zero to 60 is a claimed 6.2 seconds.
      Under normal driving, the engine is quiet and composed, with torque coming on quickly when called for. When the pedal is mashed at speed, the CX-5 leaps forward with minimal turbo lag and gives off a strong growl from under the hood. The only time you can really feel any lag in the turbo is if you are starting from a dead stop. Overall, you never feel without power at the tip of your toes and the sounds, and lack of sounds, from the engine room is quiet and refined.
      One area the CX-5 falls behind on is in the transmission department. Although the transmission offers smooth shift and is willing to downshift when called upon, a 6-speed automatic almost feels anachronistic in a time when all of its direct competition is sporting 8 or 9 speeds. I never thought there would come a day when 6-forward gears aren’t enough, but here we are. Adding 2 or 3 more gears to the CX-5 would further liven up the already sporty crossover and help keep the turbocharged engine firmly in the good places of its torque band.
      Ride: Al dente – Firm but tender
      If there is a brand that Mazda is looking to emulate here by being premium without the premium badge, it would likely be BMW.  The ride is firm, but not so harsh as to spill your latte. Steering is on the heavy side with precise control and great on-center feel.  Body roll is minimal. Pushing the CX-5 into corners is fun and the standard G-Vectoring Control Plus makes sure you stay planted where you intended to be.  The i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive mostly runs in front-wheel-drive mode until microscopic amounts of wheel slip are detected and then some torque is instantly transferred to the rear wheels.  Mazda programs the AWD system to always have at least a little bit of torque going to the rear in order for the transfer of torque to happen faster. 
      It’s what’s inside that matter most
      Inside the CX-5, the premium story continues. There is a distinct lack of cheap plastic even in places where they could probably get away with it. The dash and door panels are made of soft-touch material and there is a tasteful amount of chrome trim. Though the seats look black in pictures, they are actually a very dark brown that Mazda calls Caturra Brown Nappa leather. This leather is a feature of the Signature trim level and they are both heated and ventilated.  Rear passengers get heated outboard seats as well, controlled from inside the fold-down center armrest. Also, a feature of the Signature trim is the real wood dash inlay and ambient cabin lighting. The seats in the CX-5 are very comfortable with just the right combination of support and cushion. They would be most welcome companions on a long road trip. The rear seats are fairly flat and do not offer a lot of legroom.  There is no adjustment fore and aft.  Wind and tire noise has been kept to a minimum.
      There are 4 USB ports, two in the up front armrest and two in the rear armrest. Only one of them allows a connection to the infotainment system.  Oddly, the USB ports don’t seem to put out much juice as my phones were very slow to charge from them.
      The infotainment system is another area similar to BMW.  The unit is controlled by a large dial in the center console or touch screen controls. I found the touch aspect to be laggy and a long reach, so I found myself using the dial. Using the dial to navigate is simple enough, but the menus and layout of the screen could probably use a re-think.  Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both here, for some reason only Apple CarPlay can be activated by touch. Operating either system is frustrating with the dial however, this is especially true for Android Auto which I found frustrating to use without touch screen functionality. At least, unlike BMW, Mazda doesn’t charge you an extra subscription fee to use them. Sound from the Bose speakers was clear, but not especially great.
      There was a time when people mostly bought crossovers for the utility of hauling lots of bulky stuff home from the store, however, these days are different. Now, crossovers are a fashion statement.  Still, the CX-5 has 59.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded and 30.9 cubic feet with the seats up.  That is at the high end of mid-pack in the segment with the Honda CR-V being the leader, while the Toyota RAV-4, Chevy Equinox, and Ford Escape all have less. 
      Do you need a safe space? This may be it.
      The Mazda CX-5 Signature comes with a whole host of safety equipment and the center of it all is the heads-up display that keeps the driver informed.  Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane-Keep Assist, and Radar Cruise Control, all have status lights in the heads-up display.  I found the blind spot monitoring system to be especially helpful when I was backing out onto a busy street with limited visibility.  Radar Cruise control is one of my favorite systems of all and I feel it should be standard equipment on all cars. The CX-5 can even read speed limit and stop signs as you approach, changing and updating the local regulations in the heads up display.
      The Signature also comes with active headlights that turn when you turn to help see around corners. They helped me spot a deer on the side of the road I normally would not have seen.
      The Verdict
      The CX-5 Signature is the top of the CX-5 line, so naturally, the price is reflected in that. With an MSRP of $36,890 before any options, the CX-5 may seem pricey, but it comes with everything you could possibly want.  However, when you compare it to other small crossovers with similar equipment it actually ends up comparing favorably to others in its class. I priced out Jeep Cherokee Overland with the 2.0T and technology group and the MSRP is $41,685. A GMC Terrain Denali with all the same option boxes checked? $41,430.  A Honda CR-V can’t even be equipped like the CX-5 because there is no up-level engine option, yet it still rings up to $38,147.
      Overall, Mazda has produced a handsome, sporty, fun to drive crossover with enough utility to remain competitive. They’ve loaded it with safety equipment and kept the price in check. It is definitely worth a look.
       

      View full article
    • By Drew Dowdell
      2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature
      Mazda is on a mission lately to make their products feel more premium. They have been tuning their vehicles to be quieter and more refined in order to give them an air that they are above their class. This second generation of the Mazda CX-5 debuted for the 2017 model year with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder producing 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft of torque.  For 2019, Mazda added the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine from the CX-9. On regular gas, the engine produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque, but if you fill it up with 93 octane, the horsepower figure bumps up to 250.  Available only on the Grand Touring and Signature trims, the 2.5-T makes the CX-5 the compact crossover with the most available torque.  Mazda sent a CX-5 Signature for me to try for a week to see what I thought.
      There’s no replacement for displacement… maybe
      The biggest CX-5 news for 2019 is the engine options. There is the 2.5-T mentioned above and a 2.2-liter turbo diesel. Both are exciting entries into a relatively conservative segment.  The 2.5-T is the second-largest displacement engine available in the segment, behind the 3.2 liter V6 in the Jeep Cherokee.  This 4-cylinder puts out quite a bit more torque than the bigger V6, though the Jeep produces more horsepower (271 @ 6,500 rpm). Even among 4-cylinders, this is the largest displacement you can get, but none of those others offering 2.5 liters also offers a turbocharger. This engine is rated by the EPA to get 22 city / 27 highway.  I got about 24 mpg in mostly city driving. Zero to 60 is a claimed 6.2 seconds.
      Under normal driving, the engine is quiet and composed, with torque coming on quickly when called for. When the pedal is mashed at speed, the CX-5 leaps forward with minimal turbo lag and gives off a strong growl from under the hood. The only time you can really feel any lag in the turbo is if you are starting from a dead stop. Overall, you never feel without power at the tip of your toes and the sounds, and lack of sounds, from the engine room is quiet and refined.
      One area the CX-5 falls behind on is in the transmission department. Although the transmission offers smooth shift and is willing to downshift when called upon, a 6-speed automatic almost feels anachronistic in a time when all of its direct competition is sporting 8 or 9 speeds. I never thought there would come a day when 6-forward gears aren’t enough, but here we are. Adding 2 or 3 more gears to the CX-5 would further liven up the already sporty crossover and help keep the turbocharged engine firmly in the good places of its torque band.
      Ride: Al dente – Firm but tender
      If there is a brand that Mazda is looking to emulate here by being premium without the premium badge, it would likely be BMW.  The ride is firm, but not so harsh as to spill your latte. Steering is on the heavy side with precise control and great on-center feel.  Body roll is minimal. Pushing the CX-5 into corners is fun and the standard G-Vectoring Control Plus makes sure you stay planted where you intended to be.  The i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive mostly runs in front-wheel-drive mode until microscopic amounts of wheel slip are detected and then some torque is instantly transferred to the rear wheels.  Mazda programs the AWD system to always have at least a little bit of torque going to the rear in order for the transfer of torque to happen faster. 
      It’s what’s inside that matter most
      Inside the CX-5, the premium story continues. There is a distinct lack of cheap plastic even in places where they could probably get away with it. The dash and door panels are made of soft-touch material and there is a tasteful amount of chrome trim. Though the seats look black in pictures, they are actually a very dark brown that Mazda calls Caturra Brown Nappa leather. This leather is a feature of the Signature trim level and they are both heated and ventilated.  Rear passengers get heated outboard seats as well, controlled from inside the fold-down center armrest. Also, a feature of the Signature trim is the real wood dash inlay and ambient cabin lighting. The seats in the CX-5 are very comfortable with just the right combination of support and cushion. They would be most welcome companions on a long road trip. The rear seats are fairly flat and do not offer a lot of legroom.  There is no adjustment fore and aft.  Wind and tire noise has been kept to a minimum.
      There are 4 USB ports, two in the up front armrest and two in the rear armrest. Only one of them allows a connection to the infotainment system.  Oddly, the USB ports don’t seem to put out much juice as my phones were very slow to charge from them.
      The infotainment system is another area similar to BMW.  The unit is controlled by a large dial in the center console or touch screen controls. I found the touch aspect to be laggy and a long reach, so I found myself using the dial. Using the dial to navigate is simple enough, but the menus and layout of the screen could probably use a re-think.  Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both here, for some reason only Apple CarPlay can be activated by touch. Operating either system is frustrating with the dial however, this is especially true for Android Auto which I found frustrating to use without touch screen functionality. At least, unlike BMW, Mazda doesn’t charge you an extra subscription fee to use them. Sound from the Bose speakers was clear, but not especially great.
      There was a time when people mostly bought crossovers for the utility of hauling lots of bulky stuff home from the store, however, these days are different. Now, crossovers are a fashion statement.  Still, the CX-5 has 59.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded and 30.9 cubic feet with the seats up.  That is at the high end of mid-pack in the segment with the Honda CR-V being the leader, while the Toyota RAV-4, Chevy Equinox, and Ford Escape all have less. 
      Do you need a safe space? This may be it.
      The Mazda CX-5 Signature comes with a whole host of safety equipment and the center of it all is the heads-up display that keeps the driver informed.  Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane-Keep Assist, and Radar Cruise Control, all have status lights in the heads-up display.  I found the blind spot monitoring system to be especially helpful when I was backing out onto a busy street with limited visibility.  Radar Cruise control is one of my favorite systems of all and I feel it should be standard equipment on all cars. The CX-5 can even read speed limit and stop signs as you approach, changing and updating the local regulations in the heads up display.
      The Signature also comes with active headlights that turn when you turn to help see around corners. They helped me spot a deer on the side of the road I normally would not have seen.
      The Verdict
      The CX-5 Signature is the top of the CX-5 line, so naturally, the price is reflected in that. With an MSRP of $36,890 before any options, the CX-5 may seem pricey, but it comes with everything you could possibly want.  However, when you compare it to other small crossovers with similar equipment it actually ends up comparing favorably to others in its class. I priced out Jeep Cherokee Overland with the 2.0T and technology group and the MSRP is $41,685. A GMC Terrain Denali with all the same option boxes checked? $41,430.  A Honda CR-V can’t even be equipped like the CX-5 because there is no up-level engine option, yet it still rings up to $38,147.
      Overall, Mazda has produced a handsome, sporty, fun to drive crossover with enough utility to remain competitive. They’ve loaded it with safety equipment and kept the price in check. It is definitely worth a look.
       
    • By Drew Dowdell
      In this week for a review is a 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature with the turbocharged 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine.  This engine is shared with the Mazda CX-9 and Mazda 6 Turbo and produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque on regular gasoline, but bumps up to 250 horsepower on 93 octane. All-wheel drive is standard.
      This is the most loaded of the CX-5 trims with only the paint ($300) and rear bumper guard ($125) as additional charges.  That brings the MSRP to $38,360 after destination charges. 
      What do you want to know about this Mazda while I have it for a week?  Let me know in the comments below. 



      View full article
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