The 2013 Buick Regal luxury sport sedan arrives at dealerships this fall with a standard advanced eAssist powertrain and 36 highway mpg. Two powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engines give Regal one of the most technologically advanced engine ranges in the brand's history.
"With eAssist, Buick is redefining what a 'conventional powertrain' means to customers," said eAssist global chief engineer Stephen Poulos. "It changes the fuel economy - but not the experience - for the 97 percent of new car buyers who aren't buying hybrids."
Where a hybrid vehicle requires a complex system of large, heavy batteries and electric motors, Buick eAssist uses a compact lithium-ion battery and a small electric motor/generator in place of an alternator to achieve an EPA-estimated 36 highway mpg for both the Regal and the LaCrosse luxury sedans.
The three main advantages of the eAssist system are its stop/start functionality, which turns the engine off when the vehicle is at rest; regenerative braking that gathers and stores energy that would otherwise be lost during braking, and an electric motor assist that reduces the gas engine's work during acceleration or on inclines.
"It takes advantage of the best parts of a hybrid, and eAssist is now standard equipment for Regal," said Poulos. "These new functions happen seamlessly, a requirement for Buick drivers who demand a refined driving experience. They'll really only notice a difference at the pump."
Buyers interested in more acceleration can choose from a no-cost option of a 220-horsepower, 2.0L turbocharged Ecotec engine or the 270-hp Regal GS, both with variable valve timing and direct injection. In addition to one of the most power-dense engines ever certified by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the GS offers high-performance Brembo brakes, HiPer strut suspension technology and unique design cues inside and out.
Both Regal Turbo and Regal GS are offered with automatic or manual transmissions; Regal with eAssist is available exclusively with a six-speed automatic.
The Buick Regal name, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2013, is a powertrain innovation pioneer. In 1975, it was the only mid-size vehicle in the United States to forego a standard V-8 engine for a more efficient V-6, while remaining competitive in performance. Three years later, the Regal employed a turbocharger.
"In 1978, Buick was the only mainstream brand offering a turbocharged engine," said GM Heritage Center Manager Greg Wallace. "Only small, performance-oriented brands like Porsche and Saab were experimenting with the same technology at the time. It was very progressive of Buick to offer a turbocharged V-6 in a mid-size luxury coupe in the late '70s."
Regal powertrain engineers continued that innovation 19 years later, when the 1997 Buick Regal GS debuted with the brand's first supercharged V-6, rated at 240 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. It was among the most powerful and efficient vehicles in its segment and still achieved 28 highway mpg.
Today's Buick Regal combines sport sedan handling with intelligent powertrain technologies. Regal with eAssist offers five more highway mpg than an Acura TSX and six more than a Volvo S60, while the Regal Turbo and Regal GS offer more power than turbocharged four-cylinder engines from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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