2018 Buick Regal First Drive: Great Intentions, Mediocre Results

– Austin, Texas

Despite their incredible popularity, not everyone wants a crossover these days. Buick is smart to have bolstered its CUV lineup in recent years; its steady sales increases are no doubt the result of Encore, Envision, and Enclave successes. But with the launch of its 2018 Regal, Buick is proving you don’t have to cross over to get functional utility, offering a Sportback body style with 60.7 cubic feet of usable cargo space. Unfortunately for Buick, there isn’t enough goodness about the rest of the Regal to make it a truly compelling package.

It’s certainly handsome, at least. The new Opel Insignia looks great, and none of that is lost in the Americanized, Buick-badged reskinning. There’s an inherent sportiness to the sharp headlamps and swept-back roofline, though the chunky taillamps appear a bit too large (and too bland) for this elegant shape. Standard 17-inch wheels don’t drown in the wheel wells, and the larger 18-inch set pictured here gives the Regal a really nice stance.

Rather than a normal trunk as you’d expect to see on a car like this, there are hinges at the top of the rear window, meaning the whole back end lifts up, revealing a capacious cargo hold – hence the Sportback name. With the rear seats in place, there’s 31.5 cubic feet of space, with a low load-in height and wide aperture to the opening. But fold those back seats and you get the aforementioned 60.7 cubic feet of space, which even bests the 57.3 cubic feet offered in Buick’s midsize Env...