Buick continues to shoot for younger image with 2019 Regal GS

By Paul Borden

(February 24, 2019) In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that before giving my thoughts on the 2019 Regal GS I recently experienced I should have it on record that at one time I wondered why GM was ditching the Oldsmobile, which it seemed to be getting right again, and not the stodgier Buick.

That was in the early 2000s. A few years later I wondered the same thing when the company ended production of the Pontiac, which, much like Oldsmobile, seemed to be getting back on its game.

I still had memories of how much fun the Pontiac LeMans my father had  bought back in the early 1960s had been to drive. Buick, in my mind (and frankly many others) was for old people.

That ignores the economic reasons behind the decisions, of course, and probably is further evidenced why I am an auto writer and not auto executive.

A letter from a GM executive responding to a letter to the editor of Automotive News in 2009 explained the decision:

"Pontiac had been unprofitable for several years. A team, many of whom were passionate about the brand, tried in vain to save Pontiac and make it profitable — but none of the scenarios proved viable.

"We kept Buick in the General Motors family because it is highly profitable and will grow with new models for the next few years, giving Buick an offering in several sedan and crossover segments."

It could be argued that decisions by GM that sapped the quality of both Oldsmobile and Pontiac over a good many years put the two vehicles in their precarious position in the first place, but that is a subject for another debate.

Today’s topic targets the Buick Regal GS sedan and what it has to offer. Or should I write Regal GS sedan from Buick since you won’t find the “Buick” named on any logos on the car itself, just the tri-shield in the front and “Regal GS” on the rear fascia.

GM has removed “Buick” from the logos, and this has led speculation that GM may be looking to having Buick join Pontiac and Oldsmobile in automotive heaven — or hell, depending on your viewpoint. But as long as sales in China continue to boom that isn’t likely to happen. More than 80 percent of the company’s global sales are in China, including models not sold in the U.S.

But I digress. Let’s get back to the Regal GS.

The Regal name dates back to 1973, though there was a production hiatus from 2004-2011. When it was brought back, it was seen as offering another way to help Buick shed its reputation of being an old person’s car.

Even today the company’s advertising campaign still follows that the
me. If you haven’t gotten the idea that the company wants you to quit thinking of Buick as something only for your grandfather you must be fast-forwarding through a lot of car commercials.

The Regal GS may not have a major role in this reclamation project, but it does play a part as what is labeled a “sports sedan,” which is a genre that more often than not appeals to a younger audience.

It comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine rated at 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet of torque and mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. US News & World Rep
ort ranks it No. 27 in a list of the fastest new cars for less than $50,000 (base price for the 2019 Regal is $39,070) with a zero-to-60 mph time of 5.4 seconds.

GS models (the Regal also is offered as a TourX wagon or Sportback hatchback) offer the capability of selecting driving modes to enhance performance.

Sport mode stiffens the suspension, makes shifts more aggressive, and sends more torque to the rear wheels, and GS mode makes further adjustments for the sportiest performance.

The Regal GS comes with all-wheel drive and such features as lane-change warning and blind-spot alert, front and rear park assist, keyless start, dual zone climate control, heated front seats, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 4G LET wi-fi hotspot capability, and lumbar support for both the driver and front passenger as standard.

Throwing extras like a Sights and Sounds package that includes navigation, a premium audio system, forward collision alert, lane-keeping assist, forward pedestrian braking, LED headlamps, and a head-up display can run the total to just over $44,000.

What I liked about the 2019 Buick Regal GS: The performance offers more than I expected, and the exterior has a nice look. The so-called Driver Confidence Package is well worth the $1,690 it adds to the base MSRP with such features as adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert and forward automatic braking, front pedestrian warning, lane-keeping assist and alert, and a head-up display.

What I didn’t like about the 2019 Buick Regal GS: Fuel economy is a bit below average for its class, and while there is generous cargo space, rear-seat legroom is barely adequate (36.9 inches). More attention to the detail on the interior, such as wood trim replacing the plastic touches, would help raise its stature.

Would I buy the 2019 Buick Regal GS? Not sure. While there are many features I like about the Regal GS, there are a lot of other choices in the midsize class that can overwhelm it. The Regal TourX wagon especially has more going for it when it comes to separating itself from the pack. It also is available as a hatchback, but I’m not particularly fond of hatchbacks.