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.

Best Value

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

Performance

Buick Regal

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.

Style

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?

Buick Regal

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.