2011 Buick Regal
While most buyers think of Buick as a posh, premium brand, their performance car history actually dates back to the legendary straight-8s of the 1930s. In more recent decades, the Regal nameplate carried the best of Buick’s performance intensions. So it makes sense that when Buick planned an all-new, mid-size sports sedan that the Regal name would once again appear. But this Regal is not like any Buick we’ve driven before.
After a six-year absence, the Buick Regal returns for 2011 as an all-new Euro-bred, front-drive sports sedan. Developed at Germany’s famed Nurburgring, the new Regal is a near doppelganger to the Opel Insignia â€“ Europe’s 2009 Car of the Year, and the most promising entry from GM’s tri-shield division since the Grand Nationals of the 1980’s. To that end, the Regal will compete with premium-level sports sedan like the Audi A4, Acura TSX, Volkswagen CC, and Volvo’s new S60.
Initially imported in premium CXL trim only, the Regal touts the same sleek and upscale design language, but adds a healthy dose of frontal aggression from the LaCrosse and Enclave - an oversized Buick waterfall grille, flanked by prominent, swept-back, non-HID headlamps.
The Regal’s sculpted coupe-like profile features a fast, flowing roofline, sharp body creases, and flared fenders, exuding a performance-oriented spirit. The tapered rear wears an abbreviated deck and bold tail lamps, both hallmarks of the contemporary sports sedan. Standard alloy wheels are 18-inch, with 19s optional.
Power will be a surprise to some, four cylinder direct-injected powertrains only from GM’s Ecotec family. The standard 2.4-liter, shared with the Lacrosse and Chevy Equinox, delivers 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque.
Optional is a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo with 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An even higher-performance turbo GS arrives next year. The 2.4 is mated to a self-shift six-speed automatic, while the 2.0 turbo offers a proper six-speed manual as standard and automatic as option. Unfortunately, for our test runs only a 2.4 automatic was available.
And while it felt pretty peppy off the line, it was only adequate overall; taking a longish 9.4 seconds to get to 60, and 17 seconds to complete the quarter mile at 84 miles per hour. We’d definitely opt for the 2.0 turbo. But, it is taking corners where this Regal shines brightest. The Epsilon II chassis, with its strut-type front, and four-link rear suspension, both with a hollow stabilizer bar, delivered an impressive level of agility and nimbleness.
Turbo models add a fine Interactive Drive Control System. Its three modes - Standard, Tour, or Sport - alter suspension settings, steering sensitivity, throttle response, and shift pattern. Stopping hardware is all disc ABS brakes. Our car met hard stops with a 60 to 0 average of 129 feet, all straight and smooth.
This Regal meets all the European sports sedan cliches. It handles like it’s on rails. It feels bolted to the road. But you’ve got to remember, this is a Buick and it’s made in Germany, and that puts this Regal in a whole new light. The Regal’s spacious and well-appointed cabin combines classic Buick styling with modern sports sedan cues.
Fit and finish are on par with anything in the premium segment, although the dash is mostly hard plastics. On the other hand, gauges and controls exude a decidedly upscale quality.
Seats are well-positioned, firm, and nicely-bolstered. Leather upholstery and seat heat come standard. Enhancing occupant comfort is standard auto climate with humidity sensor. For piping in your favorite driving music, there’s a seven-speaker stereo or an upgraded nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
But oh-so European is the absence of an available rear view camera. As is the console mounted, multi-function central controller for Stereo, Nav, Bluetooth, and even OnStar. The rear seat is comfortable for two adults, but tight for three. And the 60/40 split-folding feature adds length to the already very usable 14.3 cubic foot trunk.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Regal 2.4 are 19 city/30 highway. We achieved a fine 27.1 on regular in real-world driving. The Energy Impact Score is 14.9 barrels of oil consumed per year. The Carbon Footprint is a relatively modest 8.1 annual tons of CO2 emitted.
Pricewise, the new Regal is very competitive. The 2.4 CXL has a base sticker of $26,995. The CXL Turbo starts at $29,495. More models and a lower entry price will follow when Regal production moves to the U.S. next year.
Despite its stodgy name, the 2011 Buick Regal made a great impression on us. Yes, it needs the 2.0 turbo manual to be truly competitive to its European rivals. But even the standard car we tested was a revelation. We just hope the Regal is not a one-off effort, and that Buick performance is back for real.
- Engine: 2.4-Liter
- Horsepower: 182
- Torque: 172 Lb Feet
- 0-60 MPH: 9.4 Seconds
- 1/4 Mile: 17.0 Seconds @ 84 MPH
- 60-0 MPH: 129 Feet
- EPA: 19 MPG City/ 30 MPG Highway
- Mixed Loop: 27.1 MPG
- Energy Impact 14.9 Barrels Oil/Yr:
- CO2 Emissions: 8.1 Tons/Yr
2023 GMC Canyon
Canyon Goes Bigger
Most people know the GMC Canyon as the Chevrolet Colorado’s professional grade cousin. And while that sounds like just marketing speak, with an all-new design of GM’s midsize truck platform comes more genuine brand separation. So, let’s see what the third-gen GMC Canyon delivers in real time!
Small trucks are once again a big deal, and part of the reason is that they are no longer small. There’s not much about this 2023 GMC Canyon that resembles the ¼-ton Sonomas, S-10s, Rangers, and Datsun trucks that were wildly popular in the 1980s.
Of course, then, people were willing to sacrifice certain “big-truck” things for an easier to use and more economical pickup experience. Well, we don’t seem to be big on compromise for much of anything these days, and the current midsize crop of trucks deliver more than ever. So fittingly, the 2023 Canyon will be available as a Crew Cab only with a 5-foot bed. No more extended cab or long bed options. Wheelbase is about 3-inches longer than before, with the front wheels pushed more towards the front. It definitely looks tougher, and they’ve even eliminated the much-hated front air dam that protruded well below the front bumper.
The Canyon also comes exclusively with the high-output version of GM’s 2.7-liter turbocharged I-4, with a stout 310-horsepower and 430 lb-ft. of torque. At times it feels even more powerful than those numbers would indicate, with its diesel-like torque delivery enabling a best-in-class max tow rating of 7,700-lbs. No choice of transmission either, strictly 8-speed automatic, but you can still decide whether you want rear or 4-wheel-drive.
At minimum, ground clearance is 9.6-inches, which is more than an inch taller than last year, and almost 2-inches over Chevy’s base Colorado. And since it’s all about the off-road packages these days, our AT4 tester comes with 4-wheel drive, off-road suspension, locking rear diff, 2-speed transfer case, hill descent control, and 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.
And that’s just where things get started, as at the top of the heap, there’s a new AT4X with 10.7-inches of ground clearance, enhanced front and rear e-locking differentials, 33-inch mud terrain tires, Multimatic dampers, and an additional Baja Drive Mode. We’ll have more on the AT4X real soon.
But for all Canyons, including this AT4, GMC went tech-heavy, as all get 11-inch infotainment screens and a fully digital driver display in either 8 or 11-inches. Plus, an available head up display comes with most trims, and there are even optional underbody cameras.
Unique AT4 features include a Jet Black and Timber interior motif with stitched logos on the leather front seats. Those seats are definitely comfortable, and it feels maybe a tad roomier than before, but still well shy of the sprawling space in a full-size truck. It’s even more noticeable in the rear, though there are more practical storage options back here.
The AT4 gets a sliding rear window, along with a tailgate storage system to complement the integrated ruler, and bed side-mounted 120-volt power outlet. The Canyon already delivered one of the best rides in the midsize class, and the taller suspension seems to only improve on that; it’s not quite crossover plush, but certainly great for a body on frame truck.
Though the higher ground clearance and off-road emphasis kept it from being a track star. Indeed, healthy amounts of understeer and body roll greeted us in our handling course. It was a little hesitant off the line in speed runs, but once rolling, power poured on steadily. 0-60 in only 7.5-seconds, and through the ¼-mile in 15.6-seconds at 91 miles-per-hour.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the AT4 are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined; we averaged an acceptable 18.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Pricing starts with a 2-wheel-drive Elevation at $38,395. That puts it at midlevel Chevrolet Colorado, with is consistent with the mission of the new Canyon. All other trims come with 4-wheel drive, this AT4 starting at $45,395, and the AT4X now eclipsing Denali as the highest offering at $56,995.
So, as small trucks have grown, so has the price of entry. But if that doesn’t scare you off, there is no denying the 2023 GMC Canyon is yes bigger, but also bolder and badder than before. Does that necessarily make it better? We say positively yes!
- Engine: 2.7L Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 310
- 0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 121 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 18.2 mpg (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed auto
- Torque: 430 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 91 mph
- EPA: 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined