You don't have to look very far to read that passenger car sales are down across the board while SUV sales continue to rise. Buick is betting against that trend with the new 2018 Regal Sportback. The Regal is a four-door midsize car that bridges the gap between a crossover SUV and a traditional sedan, and it's likely to be a success.
The most important thing that the Sportback offers is its cargo capacity. Instead of a traditional trunk, the entire rear window is part of the trunk lid, and when you fold down the rear seats, you get a massive 60.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity. That's enough to put a couple of bicycles in without having to remove their front wheels or perform any gymnastics.
The Regal comes with just one engine option, but it's a good one. Buick's new 2.0-liter turbo engine makes 260 horsepower and a whopping 295 pound-feet of torque in the all-wheel-drive Regal, and 260 pound-feet in the front-wheel drive version. The Regal comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission with AWD, or a 9-speed with FWD.
The Regal interior also creates its own class. It's slightly less luxurious than the premium brands, but substantially more luxurious than the economy brands. With the same performance and similar options, the high-end Regal costs a couple thousand dollars more than the top Toyota Camry, for example, but you'll get AWD and that nifty sportback with the Buick. The Regal's seats are comfortable, and in the better trim levels, they're heated and power-adjustable with lumbar support and nice leather upholstery.
The Regal's technology story is solid. All the modern equipment is there, from adaptive cruise control to various driver assistance features like forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and rear cross traffic alerts, backup assist, blind spot monitor, and a rear-view camera. The GPS navigation is easy to use, and not obtrusive. You get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, as well as OnStar and a 4G/LTE data and wifi capability.
On the road, the Regal Sportback is fun to drive and crisp in its handling. The AWD version is the one Oregonians will want, and it runs about $2,000 more than a comparable FWD car. The AWD Regal is a little more planted on the road, and drives better, although the FWD version is fun, too. There's plenty of power and the Regal allows you to drive with confidence. There are no particular drawbacks to mention.
The bottom line on the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback is that if you want a premium car with the handling of a sedan but the carrying capacity of a crossover, all at an economy car price, you should definitely check out the Buick.
Base price: $25,915
Price as tested: $39,715
Type: Mid-size sportback
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4 (250 hp, 295 lbs-ft)
Transmissions: 8-speed automatic AWD; 9-speed automatic FWD
EPA estimated mileage: 21/29
Overall length: 193 inches
Curb weight: 4,270 pounds
Final assembly: Russelsheim, Germany