Sedans have not been so popular lately, and average American buyer is looking for something else. This trend has been recognized by all carmakers including Buick, a company that managed to keep the sales of its Regal flat at just under 20,000 units in the last two years. However, the time for a change has come, and Buick has announced the 2018 Regal Sportback and TourX models.
During the announcement of the new vehicles, vice president of Buick-GMC sales Duncan Aldred talked about the fact that Buick sales have increased since 2009 and that their cars are mostly sold in the US and China. What is important about this leap is that the company can now experiment and develop new models it would not have even thought of producing only ten years ago.
Buick is the third biggest passenger car brand on the massive Chinese market, and because of that, the company manages to launch cars such as the Excelle GT and the GL8 minivan. Furthermore, they can now create “white space” products or in other words, cars in a segment where nothing was offered before.
The 2018 Buick Regal is the white space product only if you look at GM where there is no such car. With the end of the 2017 model year, the Sportback and TourX will replace the regular four-door Regal sedan, the former being a five-door liftback/hatchback and the latter a station wagon, but GM would want us to call it a crossover. These two models are important for GM, but they are not white space cars because other vehicles can be bought from Volvo, Audi and other carmakers.
Hatchbacks and wagons in their traditional form have struggled to draw the attention of the American buyers, but this right here is the trend GM started last year and which now continues. GM bankrupted back in 2009, and because of that they had to get rid of numerous models from the lineup, but many survived which meant a lot of overlap. The company started to differentiate cars on the same platform from diverse brands, and the introduction of the 2017 GMC Acadia showed that. Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave are all based on the same architecture, but these vehicles largely differ in size.
The ongoing Regal has the same platform that underpins the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu, which means that the production of another four-door sedan would be too much overlap, that was an issue for the previous Regal. The sedan design has moved from the three-box look to a two-box one in the last decade, and although new vehicles look cool, their utility is limited due to small trunk openings.
The new Regal Sportback looks similar to other similar cars in the segment, we need to mention the previous-generation Opel Insignia that was available in both the sedan form and as a five-door liftback, but these two offerings were almost identical. The same happens with the new Sportback which numerous people will not realize is a hatch until the reveal of the huge opening. The Regal TourX will add some black plastic wheel arch extensions, and it will grow a few inches to become a competitor to the Volvo V60 Cross Country and Audi AllRoad. It is a new car in the GM lineup that American buyers will like.
Considering that the sales of the prior Regal were relatively low, with the introduction of these two new versions, Buick can only benefit. Only one engine will power both variants, and it is the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 250 hp. While the Sportback will have an FWD configuration as standard and the new GM-Ford designed nine-speed automatic transmission, the TourX will feature an eight-speed automatic and an AWD config, which is optional on the Sportback.
Among driver assist technologies we have adaptive cruise control, lane keeping and blind spot monitoring together with OnStar with 4G LTE, etc. When the rear seats are up, there is 31.5 cubic feet of cargo space in the Sportback compared to 32.7 in the TourX. You can fold the seats flat on both modes to get 60.7 and 73.5 cubic feet respectively. Some of the completely new features include a pop-up hood for better pedestrian protection and insulated tires for minimized road noise.
Two new Buick Regals will hit the market by the end of this year.