Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 Regal GS test drive review. Not your grandfather's Buick. BUICK WEEK

For anyone who has their doubts, I am here to tell you that Buick has made a complete departure from their geriatric image with the 2013 Regal GS.  Don’t let that waterfall grille and stylized version of David Dunbar Buick’s family crest fool you.  If you are expecting any remnants of the deceased Park Avenue, LeSabre, or Lucerne, forget it.

To illustrate that point, I took a new Regal GS to a place where the old Buick reigns supreme: Branson, Missouri.  It has been a running joke around here that you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some kind of big, old Buick in the country music capital of the Ozarks.  Apparently, the Andy Williams Theatre draws them in like moths to a bright light.

I have noticed that the Buick Enclave crossover seems to have taken the place of the traditional Buick sedan among the Branson regulars.  Clearly, most people are not trading their Lucernes in on Regal GSs.  This car is a little out of place down there.

Of course, it’s out of place in Branson for all the same reasons that it’s fun to drive anywhere else.  “The Strip” is nothing but a long line of bumper-to-bumper traffic, steep hills, and stop lights.  Those are not ideal conditions for a six-speed manual transmission, a sport-tuned suspension, or a turbocharged 270-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.  Plus, as a moderately-sized midsized sedan, it can get a little cramped when you load up the whole family to take a mini-vacay.

Get the Regal GS out of the china closet, and the qualities that were too intense suddenly become its attributes.  I drove a Verano Turbo earlier this week.  It also had a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine.  It also had a six-speed manual.  It even had the same Crystal Red paintjob.  And despite these obvious similarities, these cars couldn’t feel more different.

The Regal GS is a real sports sedan.  It sits on a set of gorgeous 20” aluminum wheels.  It has huge Brembo brakes up front.  And it has a stump-pulling 295-lb/ft. of torque.  This is a high-strung little Tazmanian Devil.  It doesn’t want to cruise down the highway or scoot through traffic.  It wants to be driven hard.  You want to drive it hard.  Because driving this car hard is fun.

As is the case with most General Motors vehicles these days, the Regal GS will not leave you wonting for technology.  That seven-inch screen in the center of the dash features Buick’s IntelliLink system, which keeps you up-to-date with things like XM Radio, Pandora Internet Radio, and Stitcher Smart Radio.  You can punch-up everything from traffic and weather reports to movie times.  Inexplicably, the only thing missing on this car was a backup camera.

Before the Saturn Division was closed down, the brand was undergoing changes that would make it a world-class competitor.  The Astra hot hatch and Sky roadster were chief among them.  Another Opel-derived sedan was to be a rebadged Insignia.  Obviously, that never happened.  But the Insignia still came to the U.S. in 2011.  It came in the form of, you guessed it, the Buick Regal.  So if you’re wondering why this car matches up better with the Acura TSX than it does to the Toyota Avalon, this might give you some perspective.

The Regal GS that I tested had an MSRP of $38,785.  That’s competitive with similar cars in this segment, some of them not as nice.  But if you’re worried about paying that because the old Buick stigma is going to follow you around with this car, rest easy.  I’ve never had more positive comments from total strangers about any new car I’ve ever driven.  People who get cars get this car.

The slideshow below contains pictures of the new Regal GS, mostly taken during our trip to Branson.  Of course, you can also see a better version of this slideshow by clicking this link.


  1. That car is bad ass.

  2. That is pretty sweet. Love the pics taken around Branson too.