Buyers may miss that the stylish new 2018 Buick Regal Sportback is a hatchback, not a sedan, at first glance. (It is also available as a wagon, called the TourX.) Under that exterior, drivers will find a competent and versatile car. The new car is roomier than the previous generation Regal, and it boasts a nicer interior. However, Buick dialed back on the sporty handling that made the previous car fun to drive.
The Regal’s handling is responsive and capable, but while the old version chewed up twisty roads, the new model is happier on straightaways. Excitement is not part of the equation.
The Regal’s ride is comfortable thanks to a suspension that soaks up road imperfections. This is an impressively quiet car, with well-muted wind, road, and engine noises.
The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides immediate response when the driver calls for more power, whether around town or on the open road. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts responsively, but not always smoothly. Our all-wheel-drive Regal returned 23 mpg overall using premium fuel, which is not stellar for an AWD car in this class.
Passengers will find a modern, uncluttered interior upon entering the cabin. The panels and trim are all put together well, but the interior design lacks the ambience that buyers would expect for the nearly $40,000 price tag of our car. The standard-issue GM switches, buttons, and knobs throughout the Regal don’t say "upscale."
The controls, including the touch-screen infotainment system, are easy to use. The infotainment system works intuitively and features handy steering-wheel shortcuts.
We found the seats provide excellent support, even for the long haul. There are plenty of adjustments to let the driver and front-seat passenger fine-tune their ideal seating position.
The rear seat is roomy, and provides generous legroom. However, tall passengers will likely scrape their head against the sloping headliner.
The hatchback offers a truly easy-to-access cargo area. A sturdy cargo cover can be removed in order to accommodate bulky items.
We had to add two option packages to our Regal in order to get a full complement of advanced safety features and driver assists, including forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic warning.
Ultimately the Regal is a pleasant, competent car that doesn’t flaunt its talents. Comfort and performance notwithstanding, for some shoppers, the Regal may come across as an uplevel Chevrolet Malibu, rather than a luxury car.