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Buick Regal gets sporty with better mileage

April 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Buick added some European sportiness to its lineup last year with the Regal sedan, an athletic mid-size based on a German-built Opel. Its only real downside was a lack of power from the standard four-cylinder engine.

Changes have been made. The Regal is now available with an upgrade under the hood in the form of a four-cylinder turbo good for a boost of nearly 40 horsepower.

The Regal CXL Turbo carries a price premium of $2,500 over the non-turbo CXL trim level, though that does include extra amenities, too.

With the additional go-power, the regal is now much more fun to drive and much better equipped to compete against other luxury sport sedans, though it's still no BMW.

In addition to the 220 horsepower engine, turbo models have an interactive drive control to further notch up the sportiness of the car. Click a button on the console to sport mode and you get a firmed-up suspension, more precise steering and crisper shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission.

Smaller turbocharged engines are a win-win for automakers, as buyers increasingly seek out vehicles with better gas mileage. Hyundai recently added a turbo engine choice to its Sonata and look for other car lines to embrace the technology in the near future.

Buick's Regal will also get a further bump in available power when a GS version comes along late this year. It will put out 255 horsepower still from only four cylinders and even more athleticism on curvy roads.

A little extra excitement without gulping gasoline, Buick's sporty Regal has gotten more fun to drive in a responsible fashion.