If you’ve read my review of the 2011 Buick Regal CXL, you’ll note that there were two things I was not terribly happy with. The first was mainly the user interface for the infotainment system. The second was the powertrain. I really harped on that point, as Buick is marketing the Regal as a sport injected vehicle.
So when I was handed the keys to a 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo, the main question going through my head was simple: did a turbo really fix my qualms with the powertrain? Is the Buick Regal CXL Turbo the sport injected Buick that we are being promised in the new marketing? After a week with the car, I have found my answer.
Unless you know what to look for you wont be able to tell the base Regal apart from the Regal Turbo. As they say, the devil is in the details. The only visual difference that is standard would be the dual chrome exhaust tips peaking out from under the rear bumper and the rear parking assist sensors.
A base Regal Turbo is $3,000 more than a base non-turbo model. Other than the engine upgrade, you also receive a 12-way power passenger seat with lumbar support, rear parking assist, and a 120V outlet.
If you start adding packages (as my tester was pretty much fully loaded), you can also get 19-inch machine faced alloy wheels that look terrific on the car, as well as projector headlights that also feature LED daytime running lights. This pretty much ends the visual differences between the base Regal and the Regal Turbo.
By the way, as I mentioned in my Regal CXL review, those projector headlights with LED daytime running lights should be standard on all Buick Regals. Turbo or non-turbo, doesn’t matter. They drastically change the look for a more upscale appearance. I will note that for 2012 these headlights will be optional on all Regals, not just the Turbo model. Still doesn’t matter, they should be standard equipment. We should also note that projector headlights will supposedly be standard on all Buick Veranos when they start production. That car will cost less than the Regal.
Aside from the headlight situation, I said the Regal CXL was a sharp looking car. I think the 19-inch machine faced wheels, optional headlights, and dual exhaust really ups the ante and finishes off the car. I still love the integrated trunk lid spoiler. The car looks European without a question.
The interior of the Regal Turbo doesn’t really get any differentiation from the base Regal, and that isn’t a necessarily a bad thing. With soft touch materials in all the right places, this interior wouldn’t be out of place in a European marque.
I still think that the center stack is somewhat of a mess with all the buttons. While I mentioned the interface and what a cluster that is in my other review, Buick has announced that the 2012 models will be receiving a completely new interface. I have seen the new interface (it was in beta) and it looks like a significant upgrade. This will hopefully solve many of the infotainment issues in this car.
The interior is a huge win. I’m a big fan of the overall design and materials. With the new infotainment interface coming for the 2012 model year, this car really does deliver on the sport luxury promise that Buick is pushing.
The Regal Turbo is currently powered by a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with direct injection. This engine is good for 220-horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque, sent to the front wheels. While my tester had the six-speed automatic with self-shifting capabilities, you can get a six-speed manual transmission as a no cost option. I was actually impressed that the transmission did not feel lazy. It downshifted quickly and seemed smooth overall.
Peak torque is reached at 2,000 rpms, which means that in around town driving the car feels strong off the line. While this car won’t win a drag race, it can hold its own. I also found the engine and overall driving experience to be much smoother in the Turbo model than the base Regal. I did want to mention that you can clearly hear the turbo spool up. While this did not bother me, some consumers may be turned off by this, though some probably won’t even notice.
The Regal Turbo model I was in featured what Buick calls Interactive Drive Control. This can change the suspension, steering, and throttle response with a touch of a button. When you start the car it is in normal mode, and you can change into touring and sport. Touring softens the suspension for highway driving. Sport mode is where it’s at! In the vehicle options you can choose how extensive each setting’s changes are. I had it change throttle response, suspension, and steering. It definitely makes a noticeable difference.
Rated at 18/28, you wont take a huge hit on fuel efficiency when opting for the Turbo model. This a mere 1 mpg difference in the city and 2 mpg difference on the highway when compared to the base powertrain. I saw an average of 20.4 in mixed suburban driving and 25.8 on a highway trip cruising north of 70 mph. I was slightly disappointed with the highway number, though it wasn’t exactly warm here in Minnesota.
So the main question was did a turbo engine really fix my problems with the Buick Regal? The short answer is yes. The car finally lives up to its sport-injected marketing. Though as I mentioned before, this still isn’t a race car. It no longer feels underpowered though, and that’s all I was asking for.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors