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- Highs Sleek styling, perky turbo four, plenty of cargo space.
- Lows Cheap interior materials, lack of driving engagement, not as sporty as it looks.
- Verdict The 2018 Buick Regal Sportback boasts attractive styling, a strong turbocharged engine, and loads of cargo space, but it's somewhat let down by uninspired handling and poor interior materials.
The 2018 Buick Regal Sportback is a car that defies expectations. It looks like a stylish sedan, but it’s actually a hatchback with an SUV-rivaling amount of cargo space. It wears the all-American Buick badge, yet it’s based on the European-market Opel Insignia. Not all the surprises are good, however. The V-6–powered Regal GS is not as sporty as its looks suggest, for instance, but we review that model separately. But this value-packed Buick nonetheless occupies an interesting middle ground between mainstream family sedans and European luxury hatchbacks. Its price and interior appointments are more like the former, but its looks and performance imitate the latter.
What's New for 2018?
Not only did the Buick Regal lineup get a wholesale makeover this year, it also benefited from an attitudinal shift, as the old sedan body style was ditched in favor of a new, sleek hatchback layout—hence the Sportback name (there’s also a new TourX wagon version and a performance-oriented GS, both reviewed separately).
- Base: $25,915
- Preferred: $28,595
- Preferred II: $30,695
- Essence: $32,695
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Regal Sportback is quick and responsive and all models come standard with the 250-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, with front-wheel drive and a smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive models are equipped with an eight-speed automatic, which is considerably more sluggish and reluctant to downshift. Surprisingly, the difference in acceleration between this standard model and the performance-oriented GS is minimal in our testing, despite the V-6’s 60-hp advantage. The Regal’s European roots and Audi-chasing aspirations don’t play out on the road, as this car’s handling is more relaxed than athletic. It’s comfortable and has plenty of power, but it doesn't offer much excitement behind the wheel. The Regal Sportback is competent in the twisties and provides a fair amount of grip, but it’s considerably softer and slower to react to steering commands than its sportier hatchback competitors.
EPA fuel economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest and most accurate fuel economy numbers on current and older vehicles, we use the U.S. Department of Energy's fueleconomy.gov website. Under the heading "Find & Compare Cars" click on the "Compare Side-by-Side" tool to find the EPA ratings for the make, model, and year you're interested in.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Regal’s cabin is much more family sedan than luxury car, with tons of space for all passengers but a decidedly plebeian environment that’s let down by cheap materials. On the plus side, the Buick’s interior is laid out in a simple and easy to use manner, with logical button placement and intuitive infotainment and climate controls. Unfortunately, it also looks plain and uses materials that don’t pass muster given its premium aspirations. Less expensive models look even more dour with their cloth upholstery, and they also lack the kind of features, such as heated seats, that we expect at this price. The hatchback body style is an ace up the Regal’s sleeve, providing tons of cargo space and a surprising amount of configurability. Interior storage cubbies are plentiful, too. The rear seats fold flat, offering an uninterrupted cargo floor that can easily accommodate big items, such as a bicycle. Lower trim levels have conventional 60/40 split rear seats, while upper trims feature a 40/20/40 split seat that allows for even more customization. We also appreciate the levers in the cargo area that make folding the seats a cinch.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Regal comes standard with most of the connectivity features you’d want, and its touchscreen is easy to use and quick to respond. The standard 7.0-inch screen is plenty functional, with standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and in-car Wi-Fi. You have to step up to the larger 8.0-inch screen to get SiriusXM satellite radio and navigation; it’s offered as part of a package on the Preferred trim and is standard on Preferred II, and Essence models.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.