"What year is that?" The young man and his girlfriend are standing next to their older VW Jetta, and the his eyes are lit up as he inquires into the Buick's bonafides. "It's gorgeous." And he isn't wrong; this White Frost Tricoat Regal GS is gorgeous.
The Regal GS drives well, like a GM. And I mean that in the best way. Its steering is light when it needs to be light, firm when it needs to be firm. It doesn't lean in corners, hangs on for quite a while in hairpins and has excellent all-around feel. You can tell this Buick is a front-driver at heart, even though the GS has all-wheel drive. It doesn't understeer, but its rear definitely doesn't get playful, either. If you want your drive a little more relaxed, make sure the "GS" and "Sport" buttons are off. Sport stiffens the steering and suspension. GS ramps it up another 20%. Although neither of the firmer settings are disturbingly firm.
The GS accelerates admirably, especially in the mountains and their high altitude. Its 3.6 V6 puts out 310 horsepower, 60 more than the standard Regal 2.0 turbo. A strange omission in a sport sedan like this: paddle shifters. The nine-speed automatic offers manual shifting the old-fashioned way; you pull the shifter to the left to place it in manual mode and then push up for up-shifts, down for down-shifts. Car and Driver tested the GS and it ran 0 to 60 MPH in only 5.4 seconds and went through the quarter mile in 13.9 at 101 MPH. That is less than half a second quicker than the 4-cylinder turbo Regal, but that just means the lesser Regal is very quick. The Regal beats the Acura TLX V6 and the Honda Accord 2.0 turbo, but is a little slower than the Fusion Sport with its turbocharged V6. A similarly priced Kia Stinger GT is significantly faster.
Speaking of the Stinger, the Regal GS shares one significant feature with the Kia: both are hatchbacks. The Buick Regal sedan went away with the 2017 model, replaced by the hatchback and a station wagon variant. GM really is betting against sedans. Where this change pays big dividends is the trunk. The larger LaCrosse features a 15 cubic foot trunk, the Regal GS has a gargantuan 31.5 cubic feet of cargo volume. Fold the rear seats and that jumps to an SUV-worthy 60.7 cubic feet.
Buick Sportback's Hatch is not Evident Unless You Look for It
Up front, the driver and front passenger of the GS will be very lucky, indeed. The 2019 Buick Regal GS comes standard with heated, ventilated and massaging front seats. You heard right" standard seats that warm you up, cool you off or even give you a massage. Want a cooling breeze on your backside? The BMW 3 Series, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A3 Sedan, Mercedes CLA, Subaru Legacy, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry can't help you. However, if you want a massage, too, then the Acura TLX, Audi A4, Audi A5 Sportback, Genesis G70, Honda Accord, Kia Stinger, Toyota Avalon and a slew of others are off your list, too.
The brakes on the GS are larger than everyday Regals: 13.6 inches in the front and 12.4 in the rear. Stopping distances as measured by Car and Driver are 164 feet from 70 MPH. Good enough to beat the Fusion Sport and even a foot shorter than the BMW 330i. A sweet magnetic fluid adjustable suspension differentiates the GS from other Regals and it helps the ride. All-season tires keep it from excelling in the handling department. 26.6 seconds in a Motor Trend figure-eight handling test is better than the TLX SH-AWD V6, Accord Touring and Taurus SHO, but not as good as an Accord Sport or Malibu Premier.
Some will complain that the Regal GS isn't fast enough, or especially hard in its cornering. It isn't a car that gets you in trouble with the police (unless its quiet, smooth character fool you into not noticing that you're going a good bit over the speed limit). But this is a Buick.
This competent mid-sized car won't bite you. If you're looking for a mean, surly driving companion, this isn't it. This isn't that friend that got you into a brawl with a slab of a man at the end of the bar that night. The GS doesn't tell you you didn't take that last corner fast enough. Or too fast. The GS is more of a yes-man. But then, after a long day at work, with contentious co-workers, demanding bosses and harsh florescent lighting, who couldn't use a yes-man for a while on the ride home?