See the new Buick Regal and the Chrysler 200
Class: Midsize Sedan
Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive
Starting price: about $27,000
Buick has been working hard to present itself to the buying public in a new way. With the restructuring of GM, it now plays a different role and covers a different segment of the market. Buick is now positioned as an “upscale” brand but without encroaching on the “luxury” turf of Cadillac. Current Buicks are more engaging, refined and appealing to a younger demographic.
The new midsize Regal is actually nothing like the Regals of the past. Some argue that the car is so different that the legacy name no longer describes the vehicle accuracy. The current model benefits from GM’s global platform doctrine, which states that they will have a global vehicle design which includes the best attributes from GM worldwide operations. That means that the Regal has a controlled, yet comfortable, ride thanks to the European branch of GM, the interior volume that the Chinese need and the styling and accruements suitable for the North American market. The days of Buick’s boulevard ride and velour interiors are gone.
Efficiency is a common theme in the design of this vehicle. With high gas prices and federal government regulations demanding better fuel economy and lower emission, this midsize Buick doesn’t even offer a V-6 engine. Rather it comes with two different 4 cylinder engines; a 2.4 liter and an optional turbocharged 2.0 liter. Both are joined to a very nice 6-speed automatic transmission and a manual is available on the turbo model. The standard 2.4 develops 182 horsepower and moves the 3,600-pound sedan around with no difficulty. The turbo 2.0 liter produces 220 horsepower and 258 ft lbs of torque. The turbo in the Regal delivers the traditional V6 feel along with a 32 mpg highway EPA economy rating.
The Regal handles with responsive and engaging precision. It goes where it’s pointed and loves corners, yet it also manages to deliver a very nice ride quality.
The Regal’s styling is modern, sleek and arguably the best looking Buick ever. The interior is no less appealing. Full instrumentation along with leather seating is standard. Only two interior colors are offered. Black with shiny metal accents, which seems to be all the rage today, but for my taste is like living inside a coal mine. The Cashmere’s interior is a warm light brown combination that is much more inviting. The Regal is festooned with all the latest technology, yet surprisingly, the tachometer displays rpm’s as “20 hundreds” rather than “2 thousand” an old illogical German automotive design that even Mercedes, BMW and Audi have now abandoned.
In all, GM and Buick have done very well with the new Regal. It’s a pleasing car to look at and drive. It’s efficient and it entertains its occupants very well. The Regal is totally competitive in its segment.
Class: Midsize Sedan
Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive
Starting price: about $20,000
The Chrysler 200 came blasting onto the scene in a Super Bowl commercial featuring Eminem driving the car through the gritty reality of present day Detroit. The commercial is mostly black and white showcasing the vehicle in all of its piano-black slinkiness.
Those were dramatic images of the 200. The styling was masterfully designed to evoke a reaction to the vehicle. This is a car that competes with Camry and Accord. People buy those two because they make logical sense. They’re not designed to be noticed…but the 200 is.
My test car was a profoundly black Eminem machine. I drive cars all the time and most elicit no reaction or are even noticed by the public. Even the teenagers at church don’t usually notice what I’m driving in any given week. But, the week that I drove the 200, it attracted a lot of attention. Women in parking lots would comment on the car and ask about it! Chrysler has succeeded in forging an emotional connection with potential customers that is powerful because people buy emotionally and justify logically.
Does the reality of the 200 live up to the persona? In most ways, yes. At its core, the 200 is a humble midsize sedan from the lineage of the Sebring. Its starting price is just below $20,000 and current lease deals offer monthly payments of a $199. For not too much more than that however, you can make the 200 look a million bucks.
The car is offered in two body styles, the sedan and the convertible. The sedan is a roomy four-door with a big trunk. The interior is totally modernized and the seating is expansive and comfortable. A plethora of standard equipment is offered on the 200 and even more is available for a bit of extra cash. My test car was the Limited model starting at $23k and with options topped out just above $26k. It included items such as the 3.6 liter V-6, 6-speed automatic transmission, leather interior with power seats, sun roof, Garman navigation system, super audio with an onboard hard drive, which can hold more than 4,000 songs.
The 200 Convertible is actually a hardtop — not a soft-top. Convertible hardtops are all-weather cars with increased safety and security compared with the softies. With the top up, they feel and drive just like a two-door coupe. They are insulated making them as quiet as any other solid roof vehicle plus they are weatherproof. With the touch of a button the top automatically folds itself into the trunk and the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is complete. This good-looking convertible with a starting price of about $26k is quite amazing in today’s market.
The new Chrysler 200 is a big step forward for the brand and is money well spent for buyers.
Visit www.MyCarData.com for more information on these models.