2011 Buick Regal CXL

The thing about the 2011 Buick Regal CXL: If you’re of a certain age, forget that it’s a Buick.

The thing about the 2011 Buick Regal CXL: If you’re of a certain age, forget that it’s a Buick.

I recently had a discussion with a Ford insider. I mentioned that I was driving the Buick Regal. The response: “I think they’re going to have a tougher time than we’re going to have with Lincoln.”

The point of that comment was that there are certain brands—Buick and Lincoln among them—that have a certain resonance, particularly with those, in the case of both of them, aged 40 to 60. Which is to say that if you’re within that 20-year span you probably think about vehicles from those two in a less-than appealing way. The idea of “That’s what my dad drove” comes to mind. (And, in point of fact, the last two cars that my dad owned were Buicks.)

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The Regal is a good car. A really good car. And if there is an issue, it is in the mind of the 40- to 60-year-old beholder. Those younger might not have a problem with it being a Buick because it may not really mean anything to them. Those older might have a problem with it because it isn’t what a Buick used to be, which was often not much more than something that you wallowed in, and for them, that was a good thing. That’s not what you do in this car.

Anyone who is looking for a stylish European sedan—as the Regal is based on the Opel Insignia and it is actually built in the Opel plant in Russelsheim, Germany—but doesn’t have a traditional European sedan budget can find it with the Regal. That is, the CXL has a base price of $26,245 (throw in $750 for destination). For the other European sedans you’d be in the used market for that price.

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The vehicle’s exterior design is a whole lot more taut than not just other vehicles that wear the Buick tri-shield badge, but others as well. There is truly an athleticism about the styling. It should be noted, however, that because it is a European car it is somewhat smaller than the general run of U.S.-engendered midsize sedans that make their way on the U.S. highways and byways. And once you get inside the Regal, it is consequently more snug than wide open and capacious, but in a good way (unless you happen to be in the back seat, which isn’t all that roomy, which is sort of surprising given that Germans, generally, aren’t particularly tiny people, either). The seats are supportive, not old-school Serta, and while Detroit is in the midst of its first winter deep-freeze as I drive the Regal, the heated front seats are functional and welcome.

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While the vehicle may have an athletic look, the 2.4-liter four mated to a six-speed automatic (an automatic, I must say I was surprised to discover, was sourced from China) is not exactly up to the task, at least when that task in merging onto a freeway. More than once I had my right foot planted as though I was going to break through to China and found the car laboring and lagging as the needle on the tach made its way way to the right—and this all to try to get up to speed on M-14. Around town it is fine, but I suspect that the turbocharged I4 is probably better suited to the car than the normally aspirated one is.

But the bottom line is that this is a good car. While Buick cites the Acura TSX as its key competitor, I’m thinking that it is more along the lines of the Mercury Milan—well, I guess now it would have to be the Lincoln MKZ.

Selected specs

Engine: 2.4 liter I4

Material: Aluminum block and head

Horsepower: 182 @ 6,700 rpm

Torque: 172 @ 4,900 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 107.8 in.

Length: 190.2 in.

Width: 73.1 in.

Height: 58.4 in.

EPA fuel economy: 19 city/30 hwy MPG