Reborn as a 5-door liftback, the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback proves style and practicality can coexist, all at a price that undercuts rivals like the Kia Stinger and Audi A5 Sportback. The new Regal Sportback can be had with front- or all-wheel-drive, and the GS variants pack significant more power thanks to a V6 engine.
You'll Like The 2018 Buick Regal If...
If you’re looking for a premium alternative to a mainstream sedan like a Honda Accord, or seek the style and flexibility of a luxury fastback like the Audi A5 Sportback at a lower price, the 2018 Buick Regal hits the mark with a starting price under $26,000.
You May Not Like The 2018 Buick Regal If...
With its front-drive architecture, the standard Regal Sportback isn’t as inherently athletic as rear-drive rivals like the Kia Stinger or BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. Brand-wise, Buick still straddles the mainstream and luxury markets, and continues to fight perceptions of its past, elderly-embraced vehicles.
The 2018 Buick Regal Sportback and its higher-power GS variant are all-new. While it looks like a sleek sedan, the Sportback is secretly a cargo-swallowing 5-door liftback. Another model, the Regal TourX, has a similar name but a taller, crossover-SUV-like body. It is a separate model and has its own review.
The Regal’s 5-passenger interior ranges from respectable to really nice, depending on trim. Lower trims make do with cloth seats, and on the lowest trim you’re stuck with manual adjustments. All models have sun visors that don’t slide. Those detractors aside, even the least-expensive Regal Sportback boasts a contemporary dash layout with a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system (or an 8-inch screen in better-equipped models). The best thing about the Regal’s interior is its room for cargo and humans. Rear-seat space is good, and rear-cargo space is even better. As we noted in Favorite Features, if you fold the rear seats you’ll have SUV-like cargo space. We fit a full-size bicycle in the hatch without having to remove its front wheel.
The Regal Sportback deserves praise for its flexible and practical interior. That it doesn’t come at the expense of a stylish exterior is just as impressive. In fact, if you didn’t know about the upward-lifting rear hatch door, you probably wouldn’t even know the Sportback had one. Seen in profile, Buick’s new Sportback looks more like a sleek sedan. With its stately grille, athletic stance and dapper tail, we don’t think it’s too much to say this is the best-looking Regal that Buick has ever made.
Because it’s based on the Opel Insignia, the new Regal is made in Germany, which technically makes this a premium European car. Still, the Buick has been tuned for the American market, which means it’s less BMW and more, well, Buick. That isn’t a slight. New Buicks such as this are competently athletic, yet still compliant. The new Regal Sportback will tolerate being thrown into corners, but doesn’t exactly beg you for more. If sporty handling is your thing, you’ll probably want to wait for the Regal GS. What this will serve up is competent power from its 250-horsepower engine, and the comfort and quiet manners expected in a Buick. As a road-tripping car or grand touring vessel, we’d take one any day. Like other new GM vehicles, the 2018 Regal Sportback has a start/stop system that cuts engine power at idle, such as stoplights. The system can’t be turned off, but it’s at least smooth enough to not be bothersome. Speaking of smooth and not bothersome, we also applaud the Buick’s 9-speed automatic transmission. Unlike some we’ve tried, it proved quick and refined.
The 2018 Buick Regal Sportback has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $26,000 for a base model. That’s a tempting price, and one that puts this premium brand within easy reach of sedans from mainstream brands. That said, we suggest stepping up to at least a Preferred model, starting at $28,590, as it’s a more well-rounded package offering more options. If you want an AWD Buick Regal Sportback, you’ll have to step up to a Preferred II trim ($30,655), then add another $1,950. The topline Essence model debuts at $32,655 and can nudge $40,000 with options. The higher-powered, performance-oriented Buick Regal GS begins just under $40,000 and can add a few thousand from there. At these prices, the Buick Regal Sportback easily undercuts even its mainstream rival the Kia Stinger, which starts around $33,000, and certainly luxury sportbacks like the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A5 Sportback, each of which starts well over $40,000. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. As this is an all-new model, the Buick Regal Sportback’s resale value is still unknown at this time.
The new Buick Regal Sportback comes in four major trims: base, Preferred, Preferred II and Essence. The lowest-priced version still comes with a turbocharged engine, 6-way manual-adjust driver seat, rearview camera and a trial of OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with in-car Wi-Fi. The basic infotainment system consists of a 7-inch touch-screen display with AM/FM radio, Bluetooth and USB input. We’d suggest stepping up to at least the Preferred model, which adds power front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror and the ability to add popular features like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration.
Preferred II models add dual-zone climate control, 18-inch wheels, heated steering wheel, 40/20/40-split rear seat, remote start, 8-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and ambient interior lighting. Crucial for cold-weather states, you’ll also have to select this model or higher if you want all-wheel drive. The topline Buick Regal Sportback Essence trim includes leather interior and heated front seats. Options include a moonroof, parking sensors, Bose premium audio system and navigation. Among the optional safety and driver-assistance systems are blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision alert and automatic emergency braking.
HUGE REAR HATCH
Why do those in the know love hatchbacks? Cargo space without compromise. Behind the Regal Sportback’s rear seats is 31.5 cubic feet of space -- about twice that of a comparable trunk. With seats folded, there’s over 60 cubic feet -- like that of an SUV.
Another compelling way the Regal Sportback sets itself apart from, say, a really nice Toyota Camry is with all-wheel drive. Buick’s traction-enhancing system is a good one, too, and we’d highly recommend it if you live in a foul-weather state.
Under the Hood
The standard Buick Regal Sportback uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes a generous 250 horsepower. In front-wheel-drive (FWD) form, the engine is good for 260 lb-ft of torque, while all-wheel-drive (AWD) models boost that number to 295. FWD models use a 9-speed automatic transmission, and AWD models have an 8-speed. The sportier and more powerful Buick Regal GS has a 3.6-liter V6 good for 310 horsepower. All Regal GS models are all-wheel drive, and they use a 9-speed automatic transmission. All models have an engine start/stop that cuts power at idle to save fuel. Speaking of, a FWD model earns up to 32 mpg.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
250 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm (FWD)
250 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm (AWD)
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-5,200 rpm (FWD)
295 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000-4,000 rpm (AWD)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg (FWD), 21/29 mpg (AWD)
3.6-liter V6 (Regal GS)
310 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
282 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg
The 2018 Regal is an all-new version of Buick’s midsize premium car, and it’s unlike any before it. The 2018 Buick Regal is no longer a sedan per se, but a “Sportback.” Instead of a trunk, it has a liftgate and large hatch. The result is a Regal with sleek exterior styling yet more practicality. The new Buick Regal Sportback’s flexibility is further heightened with optional all-wheel drive. This 6th-generation Regal comes with a satisfying turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, and more punch can be had in the V6-powered Regal GS. For years the Regal has been an outlier among premium sedans, but this all-new version packs style and practicality, all at a lower price than rivals like the Kia Stinger and Audi A5 Sportback.