I purchased this GM product in August 2006, needing a reliable workhorse capable of occasionally carrying six passengers. The automobile had 250,000 km on the clock. I purchased it from my elderly uncle who had acquired it new, and therefore I knew the history of the car. Other than routine items such as brakes and tires, the only repair to that point had been a new alternator, and a new rear bumper which I shall write more of later.
Powertrain: This automobile has the Buick V6 Fireball 3800 engine, which has been included in the list of the Ten Best Powerplants of the 20th century. The powertrain on this car is legendary. Over 25 million of these engines have been produced, and for good reason. Not only is it an excellent performer in every way, but it also starts extremely well in any weather conditions, even in the -25C , common in Manitoba during the wintertime.
Fuel Economy: To test fuel consumption, I made three 500 km trips within my home province of Manitoba, an admittedly large flat piece of real estate with straight highways and little traffic. Each trip averaged an incredible 42 to 45 miles per gallon - that is on the Canadian Imperial gallon which is 20.1% larger than the US gallon. Converting to US figures, that's between 35 and 38 MPG.
Performance: This automobile rides like a dream on the highway, and is super responsive. Although rated at only 170 hp (increased to 205 in subsequent years), it is plenty adequate. The four speed automatic transmission drops the engine down to about 1400 rpm at 80 km an hour, settling the engine into a pleasing low rumble as speeds increase from there, very quiet.
Comfort: In a city environment, the Regal is quite nimble, not too large so as to make driving and parking difficult. For a car of its size, it affords generous legroom and a large trunk as well. The seats are comfortable and the climate control system works exceedingly well.
Downside: The most noticeable deficiency is in the instrumentation layout. While generously equipped with all the gauges you would want, they are strung out along a narrow slot running much of the length of the dashboard, and even appear to be tilted downward away from the driver's line of view. The most important gauges are much too small, and the speedometer and tachometer do not really allow an accurate analysis of their readings - the fat, stubby needles covering far too much of the small dial faces. The glove box is just that - a box you can barely fit a pair of gloves into. The automatic locking of the doors which happens every time the transmission is put into gear is annoying, since they are not unlocked when the transmission is taken back out of gear. This means that every time you want to get out of the car, you must release the locks manually.
GM Engineering: Regarding the comment about the rear bumper above ... in Manitoba when automobiles are transferred from one owner to another they must be safety certified. When this was done, it was noted that the structural bumper in behind the plastic cover had detached from the supports and was effectively useless. Upon examination, the structural bumper is a box channel with weight-saving holes punched into it, which make excellent receptors for gravel thrown up by the wheels. The gravel sits in the bumper for years, mixed with rain water, and after a period of time the bumper turns into an unprotecting clump of rust. This is a sad commentary on General Motors engineering, although the engineering they did on the powertrain more than makes up for it.
Summary: Overall this is a very fine automobile. Since it is styled quite blandly, often considered a car for older gentlemen, it is relatively unattractive to most buyers, and therefore used models sell very cheaply. For someone with a practical mind, a used Buick Regal in good shape is an excellent buy, and will serve for hundreds of thousands of kilometers, if my experience is any indication.