2017 Buick Regal Driving Impressions

The base Regal with the 2.4-liter engine is the one you’ll find in rental car fleets. Its power is adequate, but it gets overwhelmed when asked to go much farther than the grocery store.

The easy-revving 2.0 turbo is another story. Composed and quick, it’s almost a twin to the engine in the Cadillac ATS, with its 259 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, 90 percent of which comes at a super-low 1700 rpm. Its growl is sweet, if muted.

The ride in the Regal Turbo has the muted damping of a good German sedan, with handling that’s responsive enough, while tempered with a fair amount of lean. Its electric power steering isn’t too heavy, while the ratio isn’t too quick. The 6-speed automatic shifts as well as the suspension rides.

The all-wheel drive uses a different rear suspension along with the limited-slip differential at the rear wheels. The AWD system can send 90 percent of the torque to the rear wheels, for stability on bouncy pavement, as well as all-weather traction.

But it’s the Regal GS that excites us. If only every GM car had ride this absorbent, and handling this precise, not to mention the big brakes. The suspension is lower, with heavier front struts and 19-inch wheels with all-season tires; 20-inch summer tires are available, for maximum grip. The cornering might not match a BMW or Cadillac sports sedan, but neither does the GS deliver the heavy steering and extreme-quick throttle response of some sports sedans.

The three-mode Interactive Drive Control changes the responsiveness of its adaptive dampers, throttle, transmission and steering. Touring mode is soft enough for around-town driving, while still offering sharper handling than the Turbo. Sport mode makes the GS firmer, but it’s not unreasonable.

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