Understated luxury, elegance and power
Inside rearview mirror autodimming function inoperable.
Exterior temperature sensor inoperable (reads weird temperatures).
Rattle near one of the rear speakers when the bass is high.
This car is great for me, I’m 22 and busy trying to further my career, so I don’t need a car that’s going to bury me in expenses, but still want something that’s luxurious and fast. The Regal GS is perfect for that. It has most of the luxuries of a comparable Cadillac, aside from all the complicated electronics, such as the suspension and stability systems, etc etc.
I really like the 1998-04 Seville STS, but I didn’t want to get back into something that was that complicated and expensive (I had a W140 series Mercedes S Class before the Regal), but the Regal GS is like the STS’s little cousin… just like the STS, it’s the sportiest & fastest sedan they offered (well, before Cadillac came out with the CTS), it also has buckets, console and floor shifter, but obviously, it’s not as well equipped as the Seville (heated seats are optional v. standard, and it doesn’t offer active suspension systems, etc etc), but yeah, they’re close in size and power.
Exterior Design: 8.5/10
Its design isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s not going to steer anyone away because it’s too polarizing. It was pretty aggressive for Buick in 1997, but not as aggressive as the Grand Prix GTP. To sum it up, the best terminology would be “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” In the base LS form, the Regal can look pretty plain, but with the GS package, you get the two tone paint (on most models), body colored grille, more aggressive wheels and less chrome trim, it looks a bit more aggressive.
Interior Design: 8/10.
With a lack of faux wood trim, the Regal’s interior isn’t exactly “Buick Traditional”, but it’s clean and to the point. The dashboard has a nice clean sweep to it, and offers all the necessary instrumentation (tach, speedo, fuel and temp), the gauges are huge and extremely easily readable and offer calming, easy to read teal backlighting at night. There is loads of storage in the center armrest and center console. It’s very deep and very large, yet there isn’t much for organization in them, so it can get cluttered fast and become hard to find smaller objects.
My only real complaint against the interior is that it’s only offered in grey and black (aside from the Abboud designer edition, which is offered in either tan or tan/brown), but it offers leather as standard in the GS (cloth in LS). The materials are all pretty decent, but not the best GM had at the time, but that all went in the Cadillacs. Anyways, it’s much better feeling and looking than the ’97 Lumina my dad had (a car that also shared the W-Body platform)
It’s very deep, plush and comfortable, covered in soft leather and supportive for long distances. The front seats offer 6-way power adjustments, but lack power recline or any sort of lumbar, and have optional heat (mine does not). There is more than enough legroom for front passengers, and adequate legroom for rear passengers. Each outboard passenger has their own cupholder, and they’re all solid and deep, and will hold most sizes of beverage.
The 3800 is one of the sweetest V6’s ever made. Extremely reliable, powerful (low end torque is it’s forte), smooth, easily modifiable, and very good on gas. When you add a supercharger to it, it get’s much better. It goes from quick to downright fast… 0-60 in 6.6 and a 14.8 second ¼ mile, and that’s just stock… you can EASILY modify this engine and for cheap too! Mine pulls about 18.5 mpg in city, with mainly short trips and I tend to get aggressive with it too from time to time. If I can “stay out of the boost”, I’ll get 28mpg on the highway. If I get in it, I’ll pull about 24.5-25 MPG.
It’s basically the sweetest engine, most well balanced engine I’ve ever owned. I’m amazed that an old school (it was first used in 1975) OHV V-6 can be this smooth and easily revvable. The only thing that could be any better about this engine is the engine note… it’s rather dull and uninspiring., but other than that, it’s perfect for most every practical, day to day use… reliability, performance, economy, simplicity, ease of ownership, practicality, etc etc. It’s not the most exotic nor fascinating, but it’s perfect for me.
Like most GM transmissions, shifts are very good.. soft and hardly detectable when you’re being light with it, but firm and fast when you’re being aggressive. The early GS’s have a performance shift button that holds gears longer and shifts faster when driven aggressively, otherwise it acts normal when you’re being nice to it. My only worry with the 4T65-E is that it’s overworked with the Supercharged 3800… I’ve heard a lot of horror stories, especially when you’re doing burnouts, but I bought a warranty with the car that covers the transmission if need be. So that eases my mind.
Surprisingly sharp for a Buick… very sporty and precise. It communicates well with the road, yet doesn’t tire you on a long road trip. The wheel is nicely sized and good for one or two handing it, depending on your mood. The wheel’s rim is nicely sized and comfortable for your hands, whether you’re on a short or long trip.
Handling/Ride : 8/10
It’s very controlled and quite sporty (although not as much as it’s competitors, the GTP or the Maxima), yet it’s still quite compliant, smooth and comfortable. It’s enjoyable every day and never tiring. A great mixture of Buick ride and Pontiac handling.
All cars have some problems, this is not exempt. My inside rear view auto-dimming mirror is inoperable, as is the exterior temperature sensor (it reads weird temperatures… always too cold) and there’s a rattle near one of the rear speakers when the bass is high, but that’s it so far. Not bad for 9 years and 60k miles. These cars seem to be pretty durable though, based on other reviews I’ve read.
I’m really glad I bought this car. It’s fun to drive, luxurious and reasonably elegant without being off-putting, ostentatious or over the top. I don’t feel like I have to baby this car and be overly protective with it at all times. I’m not paranoid about owning it… I just drive it and enjoy it. It’s a nice, if not perfect, mixture of luxury and performance for blue-collared Midwest America. It’s easy to own and live with and very easy on the pocketbook. My first car was a ’95 Roadmaster Limited, and I’m happy to be back in a Buick.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 20th July, 2009