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Test Drive: The 2018 Buick Regal GS is Ready for Twisty Roads

As an automotive writer, I’m fortunate to be able to drive dozens of cars, trucks, crossovers, and SUVs over the past several years. Most of them end up being largely what I expect them to be. A 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is as much fun as its stats suggest it’ll be. A Jeep Wrangler is an absolute beast off-road. A 7 Series truly feels as if it’s the pinnacle of BMW luxury.

Every now and then, I come across a car that surprises me. Two years ago, I drove the 2016 Buick Regal GS. I found it to be an eye-catching sedan with addictive turbocharged power, composure at high speeds, and responsive steering.

Buick completely overhauled the Regal for the 2018 model year. Whereas the outgoing model was a sedan only, the newest Regal is available as either a four-door with a rear hatch, which Buick calls the Regal Sportback, or a wagon, aka the Regal TourX. The 2018 Regal GS has the Sportback’s body style, but greater performance potential.

Given how much I enjoyed the 2016 Regal GS, I suspected I would like the 2018 model. I was shocked to discover just how much I did.

2018 Buick Regal GS

2018 Buick Regal GS Exterior

My Sport Red test vehicle was a compliment magnet. The color certainly attracted attention, but the Regal GS’s striking lines maintained it. The Regal GS looked sleek and streamlined, as if it were not so much a car, but a projectile to be fired down roads and through curves.

Up front, the tri-shield emblem sat in the middle of a black mesh grille, flanked by two metallic winglets. Those pointed toward the chiseled cases for the automatically leveling LED headlights, which were part of the optional Appearance Package. Brushed satin air scoops added even more brightwork.

A fast roofline, blacked-out B-pillars, tasteful contouring, and unique lower rocker panels gave the Regal GS a racy, dynamic profile. Saw blade-like 19-inch wheels made the Regal GS look as if it were ready to carve up the road.

A thin spoiler stretched across the end of the rear hatch. The beautiful LED taillights and their mesmerizing L-shaped light pipes made me realize that jewelry doesn’t have to be made out of precious metal. Clearly, it can also be made out of light. Below those, two large ports let out the sound of the sport-tuned exhaust.

2018 Buick Regal GS

2018 Buick Regal GS Interior

The Regal GS’s well-appointed cabin gave me plenty to enjoy and, like the car itself, surprised me in a major way.

Carbon fiber-like trim, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and sport pedals made it clear that I was in the most performance-focused modern Buick. A standard Wi-Fi hotspot kept me connected wherever I went. Contrast stitching and metallic accents added brightness to the all-black interior. The Apple CarPlay interface made checking text messages on and playing Youtube audio through my iPhone quick and simple. Thanks to the Sights and Sound Package, I had satellite and HD radio, an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, and an eight-speaker Bose audio system.

Second-row legroom and headroom was more than enough to keep all 5’10” of me comfortable. Folding the rear seats down increased the cargo volume from 31.5 to 60.7 cubic feet, giving me the ability to take a fully assembled office chair home from a furniture store.

As great all of those features were, they were overshadowed by the Regal GS’s fantastic front seats. The GS-specific sport buckets not only looked cool, but were packed with useful functions. Like the steering wheel, they were heated. They were also ventilated. Even better, they had adjustable side and thigh bolsters for an even better fit. On top of all that, they had a massage function. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you the Regal GS’s front seats were some of the best I’ve tested.

2018 Buick Regal GS

2018 Buick Regal GS Performance

In going from the last Regal GS to the current model, Buick decided to switch from a turbocharged, low-displacement engine to a naturally aspirated engine with more cylinders and cubic inches. The direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 generates 310 horsepower and 282 lb-ft of torque.

Engineers coupled that big six with a nine-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. The new gearbox and the V6’s cylinder deactivation and electronic stop/start features help the Regal GS get 19 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined.**

The Interactive Drive Control system allowed me to change the Regal GS’s performance with the push of a button behind the shifter. Sport sharpened its reflexes and GS unlocked the Regal’s full potential.

I made sure to activate GS mode whenever I was on a winding, twisty road. I missed the rush of the last Regal GS’s turbo, but the ’18 model’s large V6 had a satisfying amount of grunt and no lag. The electric power-assisted steering took on a noticeable amount of weight that made shuffling the wheel left and right more engaging. During my backroad blasts, the Continuous Damping Control adjusted the suspension dampers up to 500 times per second. That kept the Regal GS composed and gave me more time to think about and set up for the next curve in the pavement. The exhaust let out more of the V6’s growl, although the faster I went, the more I wished it was even louder.

When I had to scrub off speed in a hurry, the Brembo performance brakes were capable and communicative. The clear feedback from the left pedal enabled me to smoothly and precisely mete out stopping power.

2018 Buick Regal GS

2018 Buick Regal GS Safety

Standard safety equipment on the Regal GS includes an array of airbags, automatic headlights, a rear camera, and a tire pressure monitoring system. According to Buick, its all-wheel drive system with active twin clutch “responds before a slip occurs to help improve driver control and keep the vehicle on its intended course.”

My press loaner was equipped with the Driver Confidence Package II, which gave me additional peace of mind in the form of a Head-Up Display, Forward Collision Alert, Forward Automatic Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Following Distance Indicator, and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning.

2018 Buick Regal GS

2018 Buick Regal GS Overall

The base price of the attractive, comfortable, and engaging 2018 Buick Regal GS is $39,070.* My loaded media special had an as-tested price of $44,115. Test drive the all-new GS at an AutoNation Buick dealership. It may surprise you.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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