2014 Buick Regal road test: Comfortable, capable and luxurious

2014 all-wheel-drive Buick Regal

2014 all-wheel-drive Buick Regal

You say you would like a sporty new mid-size sedan that speaks with a German accent but your wallet screams “Nein!” every time you check the prices of the three premier brands from across the Atlantic.

Well, then, how about a Buick? No, I’m not kidding.  I am referring specifically to the  all-wheel-drive 2014 Buick Regal. This car is a close relative to the Opel Insignia, a car engineered primarily by General Motors German division.

It has a firm ride, accurate steering, strong brakes, reasonably responsive handling and a new, more powerful, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

Buick Regal instrument panel

Buick Regal instrument panel

And the test Regal is not even the sportiest Buick available. There is an even sportier and more expensive version, the Regal GS, which I have not yet experienced. To learn about that model, click here and read John Matras’ review.

But let’s be honest right at the outset. While the Regal is a world apart from traditional Buicks that tilted more toward soporific than sporty, it is certainly not in the same league as the Audi A4, BMW 3 series or Mercedes-Benz C300.

Still, the Regal is competent, predictable and comfortable on the roads where most of us drive, roads that are often crowded, roads that are often pockmarked from the ravages of weather and heavy trucks, and roads that are often filled with dawdling drivers who feel they have as much right to the passing lane as anyone else.

And, on those occasions when the traffic is light and the two-lane macadam is smooth and twisty, the Buick Regal can add some fun to the driving experience.

Importantly, equipped with most of the amenities that one could expect in a luxury car. The Regal is priced many thousands of dollars below the expensive German choices.

Buick Regal luggage space

Buick Regal luggage space

So, let’s take a closer look at the 2014 all-wheel-drive Buick Regal equipped with the Premium I and Premium II groups of safety features.

Buick raises the fun factor in the 2014 Regal with the upgraded two-liter engine. It produces 259 horsepower and a maximum 295 pound-feet of torque. That’s an increase of 39 horsepower and 35 pound-feet over the 2013 model.

According to Edmunds.com, the engine, teamed with the six-speed automatic transmission, can propel the all-wheel-drive Regal from a stop to 60 miles an hour in a respectable 7.3 seconds.

The Buick’s driving dynamics are supplied by an independent suspension — MacPherson-strut type in the front and a four-link independent setup at the rear — electric variable-assist power steering and four-wheel antilock disc brakes.

The Haldex all-wheel-drive system, new to the Regal for the 2014 model year, can channel more than 90 percent of the torque from the front wheels to the rear wheels to improve traction in slippery conditions.