First Look: 2018 Buick Regal

One of the most successful nameplates in Buick history, Regal was resurrected for the 2011 model year and applied to a U.S.-specification version of the award-winning Opel Insignia. Now, seven years later, it is time for the current Regal to retire, and its replacement has been revealed months in advance of an official debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.

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Squint at the photograph above, and you’ll discern Opel’s lightning bolt logo in the grille of this handsome sedan. From a design perspective, that’s likely the only significant visual change Buick will make while prepping the Insignia as the next-generation 2018 Regal, aside from adding Ventiports (those fake vent thingies all Buicks have).

We’ve scoured the details about the new Insignia in order to determine what’s relevant to American car buyers, and what follows represents well-educated guesses about what will roll into showrooms as the 2018 Buick Regal.

Lighter, longer, lower, and better

The entire automotive industry has entered a weight-loss program, and with each redesign, vehicles are typically shedding pounds as car companies chase more stringent fuel economy standards. The 2018 Buick Regal will be no different.

According to General Motors, the Insignia is 385 pounds lighter than the car it replaces, despite growing in terms of length, width and interior volume. The wheelbase is stretched 3.6 inches and overall length is up 2.6 inches, while width swells almost half an inch. The roofline is dropped more than an inch, helping the car to achieve a 0.26 coefficient of drag.

Official engine details remain a secret as this article is written, but GM says this car will receive the latest generation of turbocharged engines. Looking to the Chevrolet Malibu, that suggests a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the entry-level Regal and a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder in better-equipped variants. Should the Regal GS return – and it should – that larger engine will likely be massaged to deliver at least as much motive force as the current GS.

An 8-speed automatic transmission is confirmed for the Opel Insignia, at first limited to variants of the car equipped with a new torque vectoring all-wheel-drive system that works similar to Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). In the U.S., the 2018 Regal is likely to employ the same 6-speed and 9-speed automatics used in the Malibu – except in versions of the car with AWD.

A Drive Mode Control system with Standard, Sport and Tour settings adjusts drivetrain calibration, and when the car is equipped with its optional adaptive damping suspension also modifies the ride and handling.

Upscale interior with a bigger back seat

Like the exterior styling, the cabin’s design and materials intend to convey the look and feel of a premium automobile. Opel says that soft touch surfaces, clean lines, and “first-class” craftsmanship characterize the new Insignia, and these traits should translate to the 2018 Buick Regal.

The sleeker roofline positions people lower in the car, but the Insignia’s seats are certified “wellness” seats, which bodes beautifully for comfort levels. Plus, front seat occupants enjoy heating, ventilation and massage functions. Heated rear seats will be available.

Speaking of the back seat, one of the most significant drawbacks of the current Regal is its cramped rear passenger space. That will be resolved with the 2018 model, thanks to the car’s longer wheelbase. In fact, if the Insignia is any indication, the new Regal supplies greater room for rear seat passengers’ hips, shoulders, knees and heads. Trunk space expands, too, solving another of the current Regal’s demerits.

The new Regal will offer the latest version of Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system, complete with a frameless 8-inch touchscreen display. Feature highlights include OnStar subscription services with automatic collision notification and stolen vehicle recovery, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection technology and wireless device charging.

Three zones of controls are designed for quick and intuitive operation, eliminating the need for the driver or front seat passenger to delve into touchscreen sub-menus in order to find and use common features. A heads-up display and 360-degree camera system will be available as upgrades.

Additionally, the Regal will have adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert. Expect the company’s new Rear Seat Reminder system, too, and the new Regal might also be available with the active curve illumination LED headlights planned for the next-generation Insignia.

Could a Regal TourX crossover arrive to battle Subaru’s Outback?

While Opel has officially revealed the Insignia as a 4-door sedan, spy photos have caught barely disguised Insignia station wagons roaming European roads. Buick never brought the previous Insignia wagon to the U.S., but according to Car and Driver there is a possible opportunity for the new one to arrive wearing a Subaru Outback costume and a Regal TourX nameplate.

Though Buick already has three crossover SUVs in its lineup, the company could use something new and different like a Regal TourX. But even if such a variant never arrives in America, one thing seems certain. The redesigned 2018 Regal has the power to change the way people think about Buick.

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