2016 Buick Regal GS AWD - More Confident Than Dad's 4-Door Buick - Quick Review

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(Contributing Editor: Tomasz Paluch, Roadblazing.com)

Your father was very fortunate if he was driving a 1967 Buick Skylark Grand Sport coupe back in the day. With its big block 400 ci. OHV V-8, 4-barrel carburetor and 10.25:1 compression, making 340 gross hp and 440 lb-ft torque, "[His] Father Never Told [Him] There'd Be Buicks Like [That]." 

"Drive...He Said" admits the 2016 Regal GS AWD  is no muscle car. But with the recent addition of all-wheel drive, Regal GS is "Definitely Not Your Father's 4-Door Buick."

WHAT: 2016 Buick Regal GS  (Epsilon II) : Sporty mid-size executive sedan based on GM's Opel Germany's Insignia OPC and Vauxhall UK's Insignia VXR. Regal GS was originally released in 2011 as front-drive only; Cosmetic refresh came with the 2014 Buick Regal model (Turbo Premium reviewed here) ; as did GS de-tuning and  all-wheel drive option.

WHAT (A) DIFFERENT LOOK: smooth Coke-bottle fuselage;   Narrow nose; wide, short smoked waterfall grille; deep lower fascia featuring vertical matte metallic air ducts "Fangs" ;  High arching fenders with "Buick Bling" [non-functional] hood louvers;  Sharply raked roofline; Tapering rear quarters with wrap-around LED taillamps; Lower rear valance diffuser; Duck-bill integrated trunk-lid spoiler.

WHY: Lustworthy 20" mirror-polished honeycomb wheels. Affordable German engineered and designed executive sedan, now with all-wheel drive, occasionally benign, otherwise a lively driver.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since summer 2015

WHERE: Buick new car dealers

WHERE MADE: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

HOW STRONG: 2.0L DOHC twin-scroll turbocharged gas I-4 gets 11 hp cut to 259; Haldex Gen. IV all-wheel drive shuttles up to 90% of the 295 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels with torque vectoring; Robust 6-speed transaxle is capable of  smooth 3 gear downshifts and momentarily strikes redline before any fuel cutoff; Makes but a house cat's mellow purr at WOT.

HOW LIMBER: Hi-Per Strut with separate steering knuckle = shorter spindle length, > steering axis radius, < tugging force on lower ball joint. H-rear lower control arm nets 5-links for +1 camber control = truer cornering;

  Interactive Drive Control GS Mode  electronically quickens damping, without compromising too much compliance;  Already fast steering rack livens up in GS and Sport modes, transmitting feel from meaty Pirelli P-Zero summer rubber;   4-Piston fixed Brembo front calipers and 1-Piston sliding rears clamp down on vented rotors all around with linear and predictable bite; Supremely stable at Triple Digit Speeds;

HOW FAR: Enthusiastic use during poor fuel atomizing cold weather = 21 combined miles per gallon.

HOW BIG : Advertised for 5 occupants but effectively a 2+2;

HOW LITTLE: Sloping roof gouges enough headroom that we sustained bleeding head wound in quest for cockpit photographs; Low seat cushions make view forward and over wide B-pillars challenging; Wing mirrors remain toy-like , but at least now Blind Spot Warning is available.

HOW USEFUL: Wide trunk pass through, upon folding split 2nd Row seatbacks;  1x USB ports 1x 12V power outlet; +1  110V power outlet aft of front center console;  sparse Pre-Smart Phablet Phone center console storage; Door panel grab handles too far forward.

HOW SAFE√ 10 airbags including rear outboard torso; Driver assist technology: Blind spot, Lane departure, Rear cross traffic Warning, Rear camera w/ audible fore + aft Park Assist alert √ Forward vehicle time interval: apparently popular in Europe; 

HOW FRIENDLY: +1 Hip bolstering in front bucket seats is worth price premium over Regal Turbo Premium model, though snug for wider or girth; Contrast stitching on all dark surfaces Rippled leather seating inserts for improved long-distance support; √  Such a thick, heated leather-wrapped D-shaped steering wheel is joy to hold; Euro-large primary control rotary dials, thumb toggles & stalks have been spotted in less pricey GM models;  Impressively isolated cabin save for some tire slap; Drive Control switches are discouragingly remote from driver; Glovebox door damped for abrupt drop; Why bother which such unnoticed carbon fiber accents?; Rear parcel shelf underside unfinished;

  Climate control temperature and seat heating switches are resistive soft touch type making them trying to adjust.

8"-inch TFT polychromic gauge cluster information screen with chronograph style Sport Theme displaying Accelerative forces, Lap Times & drivetrain data; Flanking ELD dual analog gauges are too unadorned.

Matte-finish 8"-inch touch, pinch & release LCD media display occasionally laggy;

HOW "APP" -LICABLE: Buick Intellilink = exemplary infotainment interface: Apple Car Play already here; Android Auto arrives in 2017; Handsfree communications; SMS text messaging; Voice commanded GPS SD Navigation; free apps: Pandora,  search; subscription fee based OnStar telematics and live concierge services and 4G hot spot via AT&T; 11-spearker Bose Centerpoint audio is thunderous if not crystalline.

HOW MUCH: $40,650 = 2016 Buick Regal GS AWD w/ Driver Confidence I That's a $5900 price drop < 2015 [GM has announced 20% discount incentives as of this writing].

WHAT'S MISSING: > Headroom & rear legroom; +1 cabin trim; an Estate (Wagon) variant; Bring back the 6-speed manual.

ANY COMPETITION: Nissan Maxima +1 cabin detail; but no AWD; Acura TLX: +1 craftmanship, nearly anonymous but including some autonomous driving tech; Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E : pedestrian avoiding, w/ +1 front seat but -1 for cluttered center stack and slowww 3G connectivity; Volkswagen CC: +1 fit and finish,   < Row 2 headroom, AWD only on thirstier VR6.

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