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Updated Buick Regal and Volvo S60 challenge the class leaders

These new sports sedans prove surprising—in a good way

Published: July 2014

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BMW, Mercedes, and . . . Buick? Among upscale sporty sedans, the BMW 328i and Mercedes-Benz C250 have topped our Ratings. Now the recently freshened Buick Regal and Volvo S60 are giving their sportier and more prestigious German competition a ser­ious challenge—for less money.

If you still think of Buick as a brand only for octogenarians with a taste for whitewall tires and vinyl roof treatments, the Regal will change your mind in one test drive. It’s a thoroughly developed and satisfying midsized sports sedan that’s more reminiscent of an Audi A4 than a softly sprung luxo-barge. That European feel is no coincidence, because the Regal is based on a German design from General Motors’ Opel division.

For 2014 the Regal got a 259-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that boosts performance and fuel economy. Other changes include improved controls, an upgraded infotainment system, and more standard features. Overall, that helped the Regal tie the C250 for second place in our class Ratings while costing several thousand dollars less.

The S60 has benefited from a new-for-2015 powertrain, called Drive-E, that features an eight-speed automatic transmission and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s a sign of things to come; over the next few years, Volvo’s familiar five- and six-cylinder engines will be replaced by Drive-E designs. And if the one in our tested S60 T5 is any indication, those engines won’t be missed.

The new powertrain transforms the S60 into a much more enjoyable and compelling car. Very comfortable seats highlight a well-finished interior. And a safety highlight is an automatic braking system that can help avoid low-speed crashes. But the ride is overly firm, and the S60 lacks the handling of a true sports sedan.

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