2014 Buick Regal GS

2014 Buick Regal GS Review

Making a good car better but not great.

By: Tim Healey

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: February 21st, 2014

The Buick Regal GS should be a great car. It's handsome (inside and out), has proper sports-sedan equipment (Brembo brakes! A turbo!), and it has European roots. Yet, as good as it is, it's not quite in the "great" category, although a refresh for 2014 helps move it in the right direction.

Revamped exterior (including LED lighting) and interior looks and a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder make up most of the changes for 2014, along with the newly available all-wheel-drive system. We set upon snow-covered Canadian roads to see how well that new AWD system works, before heading to a racetrack to see if the AWD could stand up to some hoonage.

We learned a few things in the process: Tim Horton's coffee is still the best, Canadian ice-fishing huts are surprisingly warm, and it is possible to drift a mid-size sports sedan meant for buyers who work in middle management. You learn something new every day.

  • On the Road

    Bumping the four-banger's power up to 259 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque provided tangible benefits, such as more responsiveness off the line or in freeway passing. There is a tad bit of throttle/turbo lag, but the power is strong and smooth once it kicks in.

    Wintry roads kept us from doing much with the Regal's handling, but based on what we did experience on country roads and during a snow-driving skills session, we found the steering to be a tad firmer than we remember, if still on the light side. It's generally accurate, and there is a hint of the Regal's Euro roots in how it feels.

    During the skills session, the AWD worked as designed, although one could take the Regal past its limits with enough effort (and with safety nannies switched off). In real-world driving, the AWD system does what it's supposed to do.

    Same goes for the ride - it strikes that balance of being sporty without being firm while simultaneously being comfy without being soft. It's an easy interstate car that can handle a corner at speed - we applaud its balance. Those who want sportier responses from the suspension can engage Sport mode or GS mode.

    One note to "save the manuals" types - if you want all-wheel-drive, you have to sacrifice the six-speed stick available in FWD GSs.

  • Exterior

    The tweaks (new grille, new front fascia, LED headlamps and tail lamps, new lower rear fascia, lowered ride height, new decklid and decklid spoiler, wraparound tail lamps, trapezoidal exhaust tips) are subtle and will probably go unnoticed by most. Which is good, since the Regal GS was already a good-looking car.

    We like the aggressively rounded shape, which we've always found pleasing to the eye. It's not drop-dead gorgeous or unusual enough to really turn heads, but that doesn't mean it hurts the eyes.

    It looks like the old car, but that's no sin in this case - modernizing an already attractive vehicle is a pretty solid direction for Buick.

  • Interior

    The more noticeable changes live here. There are updated steering wheel controls, a customizable gauge cluster with a digital speedometer, and some haptic-touch elements in the climate controls. Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system is also updated, with the nav screen looking a little more like Cadillac's CUE. Unlike CUE, however, IntelliLink still retains real knobs and buttons for most major controls, which makes it better than CUE in our book.

    Rear-seat space is tight for adults, but the buckets up front gave us plenty of room to stretch our legs, while also never bothering our backs. Long rides are far from taxing.

  • Final Thoughts

    Buick has built a really strong car here. That's good. What's bad is that the Audi A4, Acura TSX, and Volvo S60 are in the competitive set, and the Regal GS isn't head and shoulders better than any of them. Adding the extra power and the available all-wheel-drive give the car more appeal, as does the updated interior, but we can't think of compelling reasons to put the Regal ahead of the competition.

    Of course, we can't think of any reasons to put the Regal GS in the back of the pack, either. It's a very, very good car. It's just not quite special enough to be the biggest blip on the radar.

  • Specs, Features, & Prices

    Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic (standard with FWD, AWD), six-speed manual (optional with FWD)

    Drive Wheels: Front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive (tested)

    Fuel Economy: 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway w/AWD

    Base Price: $39,695 (includes $925 destination fee)

    Available Features: USB port, navigation, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, infotainment system, Bluetooth, fog lamps, satellite radio

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