With the 2018 Regal Sportback, Buick is taking a bold approach to occupy a distinctive “white space” in the market.
If you’re standing in a Buick dealership one day and you read the material on their new models, you’ll spot a bit of a trend. Words like “bold”, “expressive”, and “active” pepper their brochures. Whether it comes to styling or performance, Buick wants you to know just what direction its going in. So it goes on with this car: the 2018 Regal Sportback. With this all-new model, the brand is looking to set itself apart from the rest of the pack as something different. Something unique. A car that moves outside traditional vehicle segments.
So just how well does the Regal Sportback fit that premise? Is it really a car that occupies a “white space” among its competitors? TFLcar’s Roman Mica tests this new model in Austin, Texas to find out. Check out the video above for more!
The 2018 Buick Regal Sportback is based on the European Opel Insignia. As such, it offers a distinctive, stylish presence. Its sportback design – combining the worlds of hatchback and sedan – place it in a somewhat unique segment among mid-size cars. It most directly competes with the Audi A5 Sportback, but Buick also touts it against the Acura TLX, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, and to a lesser extent, the Honda Accord.
Each Regal is available in four trim levels. There’s Regal (base), Preferred, Preferred II, and Essence.
Power in the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback comes by way of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. In both FWD and AWD guise, it makes 250 horsepower. However, peak power is reached a tiny bit earlier in the FWD version. The front-wheel drive version makes 260 lb-ft of torque, while you get 295 in the all-wheel drive Sportback. Transmissions on offer include a nine-speed automatic in the front-wheel drive Regal Sportback. If you opt for all-wheel drive, you get an eight-speed instead.
The engine is smooth and reasonably punchy. Under hard acceleration, the traction control did intervene in the front-wheel drive version. The all-wheel drive system, naturally, can handle the power more efficiently. Fortunately, torque steer didn’t seem to be an issue in the front-wheel drive Sportback.
Comfort and Convenience
The Sportback’s design offers a stylish, sleek silhouette, but how does that affect interior space? Buick set up a test against a car it claims is a competitor – the Acura TLX. Can the Acura fit a bicycle and an inflatable unicorn in the back? Of course it can’t. You’d expect that, since it’s a traditional sedan. Ah, but that’s where the utility of a sportback shines! The bike and unicorn fit much better inside the Buick, thanks to its hatchback-like qualities. There’s 31.5 cubic feet of cargo space in back with the seats up, and a whopping 60.7 cubic feet when they’re folded.
As with comparable Audis, however, you notice an Achilles heel with the exterior design when you sit in the back. At 37.4 inches of rear headroom, it’s a bit tight if you’re a taller person. The Regal Sportback can seat up to five passengers, but it’s going to be tight with anything more than four adults.
The 2018 Buick Regal Sportback is laden with comfort and safety features. Among them, you get Buick’s first active hood pedestrian safety system. There’s also Front Pedestrian Braking and Lane Keep Assist. Buick’s QuietTuning adds foam insulation in the tires to reduce road noise, and during our test, it works reasonably well.
Every Regal Sportback comes with an OnStar 4G LTE hotspot and five years’ OnStar coverage. You also get a 7 or 8-inch infotainment system with Apple Carplay/Android Auto support. For phones that support it, you can also get wireless charging.
If you opt for it, the Driver Confidence I package also adds more safety assist features like Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Park Assist. You also get Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision alert and Forward Automatic Braking.
Starting at $24,990, the Buick Regal Sportback offers attractive styling, practicality and value against its competition. However, as you head up the price bracket, the value gap closes, while omitting some key features. For instance, the $36,270 FWD Regal Sportback Essence does not have paddle shifters or a sunroof.
In a time when people are migrating to crossovers, the sedan and hatchback are falling out of favor. So will Buick’s bold move work? Time will tell, especially as the performance-oriented GS and TourX wagon hit dealer showrooms.
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SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Buick Regal Sportback (FWD Essence model tested)
|On Sale Date:||Now (GS and TourX coming soon)|
|Price as Tested:||$36,270|
|Engine:||2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-4|
|Horsepower:||FWD: 250 hp @ 5,400 RPM
AWD: 250 hp @ 5,500 RPM
|Torque:||FWD: 260 lb-ft@ 2,000-5,200 RPM
AWD: 295 lb-ft @ 3,000-4,000 RPM
|Transmission:||FWD: 9-speed automatic
AWD: 8-speed automatic
|Suspension:||Front: MacPherson strut
|Brakes:||Power-assisted four-wheel discs|
|Tires:||Continental ProContact tx P245/45 R18|
|Fuel economy (EPA):||FWD: 22 City/32 Highway/26 Combined MPG
AWD: 21 City/29 Highway/24 Combined MPG
|Cargo Volume:||31.5 cubic feet (seats up)
60.7 cubic feet (seats folded)
|Turning Circle:||39 feet (17″ wheels)
41 feet (18″ wheels)
|Curb Weight:||3,417 pounds|