2012 Buick Regal Walk Around

The Buick Regal is a world car designed for use in varied international markets and shares all its body panels with German-sister-division's award-winning Opel Insignia. It's characteristic of contemporary sedans with a sloping roofline that's visually extended by the edge of the rear lamp housings and a brief trunk lid with a subtle built-in lip spoiler.

Shiny bits on the sides are limited to the window surround trim and a front fender-mounted turn indicator. There are no rub rails or chrome strips along the side, and a simple character line sweeps down and aft behind the front wheel and carries through the rear door. The lower edge is void of trim but it does get the textured paint protection to minimize stone chips. All the wheels have plenty of spokes yet nothing cross-laced your car wash will abhor.

Regal gets the majority of its Buick-ness at the ends, both slathered with abundant chrome trim. The lengthy nose carries a prominent waterfall grille framed by lamp clusters. On the turbo, the daytime running lights are right-angle segments that look like arrows pointing out and up toward the rear-view mirrors.

A large chrome spear is anchored with big Buick crest on the trunk, and the sweep of the lamps mirrors that of Regal's big-brother LaCrosse.

Regal makes a clean profile. It is six inches shorter than the LaCrosse and is longer than all but one of the cars Buick mentions as potential competitors.

Interior

The Regal cabin is a welcoming place where leather comes standard. The Regal feels comparable to other cars in this entry-luxury class. It's comfortable and quiet. Its character changes based on color.

An ebony cabin is mostly black, with light stitching is the seats and trim, a light headliner, some trim matte-finish silver and other chrome, with dash, door and console sweeps done in piano-black trim. With light-cabin trim, the upper and lower doors, lower side pillars and the dashboard are chocolate, the mid-doors, seats and carpeting a light tan or cream color, and the trim sweeps are woodgrain. While the latter is the warmer of the two and gives a more luxurious impression, others will find it busy and prefer the sportier, more monochromatic look of the ebony interior.

The seats are comfortable with good support for long trips. Bolsters are low for comfort and ease of getting in and out. Regal GS comes with special sport seats. Some drivers find the headrests farther forward than they preferred, a common complaint as safety regulations continue to tighten.

Rear seats are quite comfortable for occupants to around 5 feet, 10 inches. The back seat is best limited to two passengers, and we found no center headrest. That sloping roofline, even with a section carved out of the headliner, limits rear headroom, a problem the Volkswagen Passat and Mazda 6 don't have. Rear legroom and toe space in the Regal is good, better than most in this class, the Passat and Mazda 6 being the exceptions. We'll call the center fold-down section an elbow rest because it's wide and short, and note rear passengers do have AC vents and reading lights.

A contemporary control layout places the tip computer/message center between watch-dial-like speedometer and tachometer, and below numbered fuel and coolant gauges; like everything else these are illuminated in icy blue.

The navigation system is easy to use and has a nice display. We found the 7-inch screen easier to read than the Ford systems though it isn't as large as those in the latest Chrysler models. The screen is top center for good line-of-sight use and is as intuitive as any other GM system. The system can be operated by touching the screen directly or by using a more easily accessible multifunction controller on the center console behind the shifter. Surprisingly, no rearview camera is available.

Myriad white-on-black buttons cluster on the center panel for audio, car, and navigation details with left/right temperature climate control below. Behind the ashtray a large piece of chrome frames the shifter and it, like the chrome lips on the gauges and rotary dash controls, readily catches sun glare. The matte-finish sweep around the shifter floats above the console, suggesting it will easily catch and trap detritus or cords for small electronics. Cubby storage is adequate. Some storage is available under the asymmetric center armrest, and the oddly contoured door pockets hold quite a bit. A pair of useful cupholders resides on the center console.

The steering wheel is the most sporting ever found in a Buick and the redundant controls handy on the road. Given the sporty implications we were surprised to not find shift buttons on it, but the shift lever does have a manual gate. The instruments and navigation system are easy to see day and night. Outside visibility is quite good by modern safety-car standards.

The trunk is quite useful, with moderate lift-to-load and lift-to-unload dimensions, flat side walls, securing points and 14.2 cubic feet of volume because it's fairly long. Press the release on the remote and the trunk lid pops open, helpful when carrying an armload. The split rear seats fold down and there's a lockable pass-through though it's a long reach through the trunk to lock it.

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