Test Drive: Is it a hatchback or a sedan? All-wheel-drive Buick Regal Sportback GS spins wheels and heads

Test Drive: Is it a hatchback or a sedan? All-wheel-drive Buick Regal Sportback GS spins wheels and heads

April 19th, 2019 by Mark Kennedy in Business Around the Region

The 2019 Buick Regal Sportback GS is shown in Sport Red.

Photo by Mark Kennedy /Times Free Press.

It's been awhile since we've driven a Buick Regal that stopped traffic. Come to think of it, it's never happened before.

But that changed Thursday as a group of lunchtime strollers stopped in the middle of Market Street and spun their heads around — like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" — as we drove by in the all-wheel-drive Buick Regal Sportback GS.

Fast facts

* Model: 2019 Buick Regal Sportback GS

* Exterior color: Sport Red

* Interior color: Ebony

* Engine: 3.6-liter, V-6

* Horsepower: 310

* Transmission: nine-speed automatic

* Fuel economy: 27 mpg highway, 19 mpg city

* Local Dealer: Integrity Buick GMC Cadillac, 6023 International Drive

* Price (as tested): $43,115

There's something about the garish Sport Red color, the bold body lines and the rakish roof — is it a hatchback or a sedan? — that makes a short glance at the Regal Sportback GS wholly unsatisfying. It is one of the most visually interesting commodity cars we've seen. A few weeks ago we drove the wagon version of the 2019 Regal, called the RegalX, and it didn't attract nearly as much attention.

To answer the hanging question from the preceding paragraph, the Regal Sportback GS is a hatchback that looks like a sedan. Open the hatch and the whole rear third of the Regal yawns open, rear window and all. Inside, is an improbably large, 32-square-foot cargo area. If you are a customer who wants seating essentially for four and an oversized place to store your stuff, the Regal Sportback is your car.

Technically, Buick says the Regal accommodates up to five passengers, but your "up to" rider better be pretty small through the hips, because the back seat is snug.

In Chattanooga, Integrity Buick GMC Cadillac at 6023 International Drive is the place to shop for Buicks. Earlier this week the local Buick store had seven Regals in stock, although none of fancy GS models like our tester.

WHAT IS IT?

The Buick Regal Sportback GS is a sports sedan introduced for 2018. The Sportback GS features a 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter, V-6 engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Car & Driver clocked the Regal hatchback at 5.4-seconds in a zero-to-60 mph sprint.

The 2019 Buick Regal Sportback GS has an upscale interior.

The 2019 Buick Regal Sportback GS has an...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

The Regal Sportback GS starts at $39,995 and our lavishly-optioned tester, provided for a one-week test drive by the manufacturer, has an MSRP of $43,115.

WHAT WE LIKED?

The Regal Sportback GS is a high-performance sedan wrapped in a gorgeous package. The powerful, normally aspirated V-6 has great throttle response. It's almost as if you are shooting a pistol with your big toe. The supportive front seats offer class-leading comfort. The eight-speaker Bose sound system, tuned to our favorite traditional jazz station, is a joy. The 48-month or 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty provides security.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

At 22 mpg, overall fuel economy is pedestrian, but that's the trade-off with a muscular V-6 engine. The all-black interior in our tester hides the nice materials and build quality of the Regal Sportback GS. The angle of the roof makes the back window little more than a slot.


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NOTEWORTHY FEATURES AND OPTIONS

Standard features on the Regal GS include all-wheel-drive, remote start, blind-spot alert, heated front seats (and steering wheel) and 4G LTE hotspot availability. The $945 "Sights and Sounds" package includes the upgraded audio system and eight-inch touchscreen with navigation. The $1,690 confidence package bundles several safety tech features, most notably forward automatic braking.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

The Regal Sportback GS is just as fast as it looks, and it looks plenty fast. I see this car in the hands of mountain grannies who like to smoke tires and appreciate the standard all-wheel-drive on the GS.

BOTTOM LINE

If an American-branded sport sedan with head-turning looks and wheel-spinning power is your cup of tea, your local Buick store has your ride waiting in the Regal Sportback GS AWD. Oh, and go with red. It suites the Sportback.

Online: In the market for a new vehicle? To access hundreds of Mark Kennedy's Chattanooga Test Drive columns visit www.timesfreepress.com/testdrive.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.

The 2019 Buick Regal Sportback is a hatchback shaped like a sedan.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The 2019 Buick Regal Sportback has an upscale interior.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

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