For most of the past decade, Buick has been desperately trying to convince buyers that it’s a legitimate alternative to the luxury power players. The 2019 Buick Regal is its latest evidence. The Regal slots between mainstream models and European luxury sedans, offering practicality and decent value for the right buyer.
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2019 Buick Regal Overview
What's New for 2019
The big addition for 2019 is a new range-topping Avenir trim, which is also new on the Lacrosse and Enclave. Otherwise, the Regal sees a few (mostly aesthetic) upgrades: new rim and interior options, plus an ionizing air cleaner.
Choosing Your Buick Regal
Most Regal models house a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, good for 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available on select trims. Mileage with this engine checks in at an EPA-estimated 22 miles per gallon city, 32 mpg highway, and 26 combined. Opting for all-wheel drive drops those numbers to 21/29/24 mpg (city/highway/combined).
Front-wheel drive models get a nine-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive means switching to an eight-speed automatic, with the exception of the sporty GS trim, which has standard all-wheel drive but retains the nine-speed transmission.
The GS also gets an upgraded 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 310 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque. It’s the most performance-oriented model in the lineup, although, at 19/27/22 mpg, fuel economy does take a hit.
The Regal Sportback’s eponymous feature cleverly disguises an impressive 31.5 cubic feet of standard cargo space. That number rises to 60.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. That’s not quite as spacious as the wagon-bodied Regal TourX (covered separately), but it’s closer than you might imagine.
The remaining features are divided across the Regal's six trims, which range from spartan to stately:
To make the most of the value-luxury proposition of the 2019 Buick Regal, it’s worth upgrading to the Essence trim. It gets leather seats and most of the available luxury features, along with opening up the safety options we wish were included on lower trims.
2019 Buick Regal Review
The 2019 Buick Regal isn’t quite ready to call itself a luxury sedan, but it wants to distinguish itself from the mainstream standbys. It settles for a middle ground between the two. Although it doesn't always live up to the billing, the Regal wins us over with sharp dynamics and surprising practicality.
It would be nice if the lower trims of the Regal could offer genuine value. Sadly, the features are so restricted that they’re hard to recommend. The base trim is only available in white or silver, and even the next trim up only adds a single power-adjustable seat. Active safety tech isn’t even available until the uppermost trims.
Instead, to get the most of the Regal’s package, it’s worth stepping all the way up to the Essence trim. At this level, the car comes with leather upholstery and a heated front row, along with useful upgrades like a larger infotainment screen, remote start, and a digital driver information display.
The Essence trim is also the first to open up the best safety tech, which comes in the form of the Driver Confidence II package. It’s worth adding along with the general upgrades in the Driver Confidence I Package, but these bring features that more brands are including as standard. In another frustrating move, Buick charges $395 extra for any exterior color other than white.
Still, even with both Driver Confidence packages and an exterior with a little personality, the Regal Essence checks in under $36,000. That’s hefty compared to a mainstream model like the Honda Accord, but compared to the luxury imports that the Regal has in its sights, it’s solid value.
Ours looks like this:
- Model: 2019 Buick Regal Sportback Essence
- Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
- Output: 250 hp / 260 lb-ft
- Transmission:Nine-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
- Fuel Economy:22 City / 32 Hwy
- Options: Metallic Paint ($395), Driver Confidence Package I ($1,580, power lumbar adjustment, seat memory settings, heated and powered side mirrors, wireless charging, cornering and auto-leveling LED headlights, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, lane change alert), Driver Confidence Package II ($1,090, adaptive cruise control, following distance indicator, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, pedestrian detection)
- Base Price:$32,695 (including the $925 destination charge)
- Best Value Price:$35,760
The Buick Regal isn’t quite thrilling, but it’s confident and well behaved. Power is handled by a capable but refined turbo four-cylinder engine, which is complemented by a willing transmission. The ride is responsive and enjoyable, if not sporty. For that, buyers can step up to the GS trim, which swaps in a 310-horsepower V6 along with an adaptive suspension and all-wheel drive (which is available as an option on lower trims). Overall, the lineup has the right balance of verve and composure, with respectable fuel efficiency to boot.
With a healthy curb weight and base front-wheel drive, the Regal can’t match the dynamic experience of true sport sedans. The GS trim is a kick, but even it feels a little heavy (and it doesn’t even come with paddle shifters). The all-wheel-drive system is front-biased, which is fine for traction but less fun for sporty driving. It’s all very capable, just not too exciting.
Styling is a strong suit for the Regal, hiding cargo space that’s even more impressive. Despite its hatchback DNA, the Regal looks similar to most mid-size sedans, given away only by the slow and graceful descent of the roofline. Up front is a grille outlined in chrome, which matches the window accents to lengthen the Regal’s profile.
Inside, the Regal is spacious and practical. Rear seats fold down for a full 60.7 cubic feet of cargo space – enough to make some crossovers nervous. The higher roofline also benefits rear passengers, who get to enjoy extra head room. The cabin is comfortable and quiet, with an intuitive layout and plenty of customization in the features list.
Despite all the room behind the seats, cabin storage options are mediocre. The interior itself feels a little too cheap, with hard plastics and uneven design. Crash test ratings haven’t been released yet, but most safety tech isn’t standard on the Regal. Fancier tech like automatic emergency braking isn’t available until the highest trims, which is a restriction that feels outdated. The rest of the feature list holds a few similar frustrations – lower trims especially tend to skimp on what’s included.
The Best and Worst Things
An American sedan with European road manners and double the usual cargo space – what’s not to like? A few things, but mostly Buick’s insistence on making buyers fork over bundles of cash for better finish and tech.
Right For? Wrong For?
The Regal is a strong choice for practically-minded drivers looking for an accessible entry point to the world of luxury. It doesn’t pretend that it’s a BMW, but it’s composed and stylish enough to make you forget why that’s a problem. The cargo space is hard to argue with.
On the flipside, the Regal will disappoint those looking for a true upmarket option. The interior in particular feels too much like a Chevrolet, and Buick’s option structure doesn’t do them many favors.
The Bottom Line
The 2019 Buick Regal makes a few missteps, but it still makes a compelling argument for itself. It offers utility that crossover buyers can respect, styling that punches above its price, and on-road manners that should please most drivers. If Buick could iron out their interior (and add a few more standard features), they’d have a real winner.