Buick Regal (1997)
We have to start out this review by repeating a phrase we used for anotherBuick last year: "Surprisingly, not bad!"
We quite liked this car. This is the new Regal with the Gran Sportpackage. The package gives you a supercharged 3.8-liter six-cylinderengine, which is more power than any reasonable person needs. Much moreimportantly, it gives you handling improvements (i.e., a "sportsuspension"). The sport suspension is an absolute necessity on this car.While on other cars a sport suspension might make the ride uncomfortablystiff, here it simply makes it "not nauseating."
With the GS package, the car handles quite well. It does not have theclassic Buick squishiness most older Buick buyers crave. And, when youcombine the decent handling with a very plush, very comfortable, very wellappointed interior, you get a very nice car. It's a good size--about thesame as a Camry--and it gives the impression of being very luxurious.
Interestingly, we had the Regal Gran Sport at the same time we had afour-cylinder Toyota Camry. And, even more interestingly, their stickerprices were almost identical. Both were around $24,000. So, we askedourselves: "Selves, if you had $24,000 to spend on either the Camry or theRegal GS, which would you buy?" The answer is the Camry, of course--butnot by much!
If the question were, "Which one would you LEASE?" we might very well gofor the Buick. The truth is, the Buick seemed like a much more expensive,much more luxurious car. The Toyota, by comparison, appeared Spartan andeconomical. But we know the Toyota is one of the most reliable cars on theplanet, so we know it's going to give us trouble-free service for manyyears. Unfortunately, we don't know that about the Buick. And, based onour past experience, we would have to expect that would not be the case.
It's too bad, because it's an awfully nice car to drive. But it doesindicate that there's hope. We could absolutely see why somebody would buythis car. And we wouldn't blame them one bit (although, as we say, we'drecommend leasing it for three years and letting someone else worry aboutit, mechanically, after that). It's a very luxurious, decent-handling,good-looking car. If it proves reliable over the years, it will even looklike a deal at $24k.
By the way, if you do buy one, be sure to come back and fill out our CarTalk survey so we'll know, over time, if Buick reliability has improved.