2011 Buick Regal Turbo Review

Matthew Elmer
by Matthew Elmer

Take all your preconceived notions about Buick, ball them up like a snowball, and hurl them at a brick wall for that satisfying “splat” sound. That’s what the all new 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo did for us during our test drive.


1. Powered by a turbocharged direct-injection 2.0L 4-cylidner the Regal Turbo makes 220-hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and delivers a 0-60 mph time of under 8 seconds.
2. Fuel economy is 20/32-mpg for the manual transmission and 18/28-mpg for the automatic.
3. The optional Interactive Drive Control System has three models to control the continuously adjustable dampers, throttle response, shift times and steering sensitivity.
4. Priced at $29,495 it’s just $2,500 more than the 182-hp 4-cylinder.

As you first approach the vehicle you notice the abnormally wide sport tires. Past Buicks featured large flabby side-walled tires, which gave the car added comfort. Not in 2011 though. The optional 19-inch aluminum rims and Goodyear Eagle RSA high-performance tires are ready for the track and not just an old couple’s Sunday drive.

Once you’re finished gawking at the tires, the vehicle design will catch your attention. The sleek body lines blend aspects of traditional Buick design with all the proportions of a sporty coupe. Plus, they’ve still incorporated the chrome waterfall grille – a signature in Buick’s design set.


Out on the road you’ll have a perpetual grin on your face with 220-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque under your foot. The 2.0-liter Ecotec four-cylinder turbo engine uses direct injection technology to optimize performance and a twin-scroll turbocharger to build more power at lower rpm. This all translates into some serious G-forces pushing you back in your seat when the light goes green.

Another reason to smile is the 2.0L engine’s fuel economy. You can drive like a race car all day long and it won’t cost you a fortune in fuel with the 32-mpg highway rating (28-mpg with the automatic). City consumption isn’t as impressive however, at 20-mpg for the manual and 18-mpg for the automatic; the result of using that turbo a lot more often.

Assisting those fuel economy numbers is a six-speed transmission (your choice of manual or automatic), with the auto-box featuring a driver selectable gear shift control so you don’t need the manual model if you want to have some fun.


The sport designed front seats really hug the driver and passenger while the rear seats are a bit plusher. Buick designers took all the signature styling cues distinct to the brand, added some black leather, and came up with seats you’d expect to find in a sport sedan. A word of warning to all you six-plus footers out there; your skull and the headliner in the Regal are going to become good friends whether you like it or not. Low and sleek body design has translated into less head room for the vertically gifted.

The seats were just a starting point for the work that was done to the interior. Between the front seats a flow-through console (originating from lines on the dashboard) provides plenty of space to store your stuff. However, the design of the storage bin lid interferes with the cup holders. Lids on coffee cups get caught and pull off, drinks spill, and additional trips to the drive-through window will be taken.

The design is pretty though, especially with all the silver trim and accent pieces guiding the twists and turns of the plastic. Inlays of Kibo wood compliment the lines and give the interior a more luxurious feeling.

Intuitively placed knobs and buttons make operating the Regal’s “infotainment” screen easy. This gives the driver access to the audio system, optional navigation, and Bluetooth or OnStar hands-free calling.

The Regal’s stereo performs like its engine. The Harmon Kardon speakers coupled with iPod compatibility, an internal flash drive, XM satellite radio, and a 10GB hard drive for music means that you’re prepared to turn the volume knob to 11 and enjoy your favorite songs – singing along (terribly) still optional.


After figuring out the ergonomic stereo system we came across a pair of buttons near the upper left corner of the console: one labeled “Sport” and the other “Tour.” We tentatively punched the Sport button and while there was no noise, no change in vehicle height, and no indication that anything had changed aside from a small orange indicator light illuminating inside the button, after taking the next corner a little aggressively we knew it was working.

Also aiding the competent handling is a fully-independent suspension, as well as the optional 19-inch wheels and IDCS (Interactive Drive Control System). So what does IDCS really do? When you start up the Regal it’s in the “Standard” suspension mode. This offers a balance between touring comfort and sporty performance. The “Tour” mode optimizes comfort by allowing the suspension to soak up more of the bumps on the road – great for long drives or rough road conditions. The “Sport” mode not only stiffens up the suspension components but it also instantly changes the transmission shift patterns, throttle response, and steering sensitivity. Translation – giv’er.

The system is also adaptive in that it constantly senses and recalibrates itself based on driver input. Imagine you’re driving down the highway in “Tour” mode and large rocks begin spilling out of the Dump Truck in front of you! Don’t fret, the IDCS has your back. The system reads the sudden change in steering and suspension roll input and adapts accordingly within milliseconds to keep you in control while making your chicane-like escape around obstacles.

Oh, but be sure to check your blind spot before you make those turns. The small exterior rear-view mirrors, with that aesthetically-pleasing yet vision-obscuring triangular shape, creat an extra large blind spot. Stylish, yes. Safe, not so much.

Other safety features include dual stage frontal airbags, side-curtain air bags and sizeable four-wheel disc brakes that give you power to stop safely and quickly.


The all new 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo is a wicked car. Yeah, we never expected to use the word “wicked” and “Buick” in the same sentence either. What you’re getting with this vehicle is a feeling of youth that still maintains its connection to class and refinement.

Priced at $29,495 it’s an attractive package that’s worth a comparison to European and Japanese rivals, not to mention an incredible alternative to fully-loaded V6-powered family sedans from anywhere in the world.

Buick says that this car was “Bred on the Autobahn.” Thankfully, you don’t have to move to Germany to get it.


2011 Buick Regal Review [Video]

2009 Acura TSX
2009 Volkswagen CC Sport Review
2011 Volvo S60 Review
2010 Lincoln MKZ Review


  • Powerful turbocharged 2.0L engine that remains fuel efficient
  • Dynamic suspension and steering system for varying driving types/styles.
  • More expressive styling


  • Cup holder and centre arm rest design.
  • Poor visibility with small triangular mirrors
  • Head room
Matthew Elmer
Matthew Elmer

More by Matthew Elmer

Join the conversation