Midsize car; Built in Canada
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,100*


1990 Buick Regal Gran Sport 2-door coupe


1991 Buick Regal Limited 4-door sedan


1991 Buick Regal Gran Sport interior


1994 Buick Regal interior


1996 Buick Regal Limited 4-door sedan

Pros:
  • Acceleration (3.8-liter V6)
  • Antilock brakes (optional until ’94)
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Engine noise (early models)
  • Fuel economy (3.8-liter V6)
  • Performance (early models)
  • Instruments/controls (early models)
  • Seat comfort
  • Steering feel

A Regal might not be much to get excited about, but it’s not a bad choice when prices are tempting. About 75 percent of Regals got the 3.8-liter V6, and that’s the one that approaches Ford Taurus in appeal.

Overview

Buick’s version was the first of the new midsize front-drive coupes introduced for 1988 and soon followed by the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and Pontiac Grand Prix. Regals came in Custom and costlier Limited trim. A Gran Sport option group featured Buick’s Gran Touring suspension and 16-inch tires. All-disc brakes were standard; antilock braking optional on upper models. No airbag was available, but like other GM cars, front seatbelts could be left buckled to deploy automatically.

Yearly Updates

1991 Regal
After a bit of delay, a 4-door sedan finally arrived as an early ’91, different from the coupe in styling despite sharing the same chassis. With the sedan came a larger (3.8-liter) V6 engine option. Regal was the only member of the GM midsize group to offer the 3.8-liter. Coupes gained a fresh face, courtesy of a new grille (body-colored with Gran Sport package) and turn-signal lamps.
1992 Regal
Gran Sport was now a full-fledged model. Antilock braking became standard on the Gran Sport and Limited, but remained an option for Custom Regals.
1993 Regal
A new electronic 4-speed automatic transmission went into ’93 Regals, which also exhibited a redesigned grille and rode standard 15-inch tires. Reworked rear bumpers and taillights looked more like those on the bigger LeSabre.
1994 Regal
Finally, Regals got a driver-side airbag, as well as standard antilock braking (ABS was formerly optional on the Custom). Despite the airbag, automatic seatbelts were retained. Limiteds now came only in sedan form. The Custom base engine gained 20 horsepower. Power windows were standard, and power locks would unlock automatically as the transmission was shifted into park.
1995 Regal
Dual airbags arrived for ’95 in a modified interior that featured a new dashboard and seats. Coupes now came in Custom and Gran Sport trim; sedans in all three price levels.
1996 Regal
Regal’s 3.8-liter engine, again standard in the Limited and Gran Sport but optional in the Custom, gained 35 horsepower, now totaling 205. This year’s lineup includes a Custom coupe and sedan, plus sedans in Limited and Gran Sport guise. The 1996 Regal saw extended production as an all-new 1997 1/2 Regal appeared late.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Only a 3.1-liter V6 was available in 1990 Regals, making 135 horsepower. A year later, Regals could be purchased with a 170-horsepower “3800” V6, which was essentially the same engine used in the Park Avenue and Riviera. That upper engine got a boost to 205 horsepower for ’96. Meanwhile, the base engine gained five horsepower for 1991, reaching 140. For 1994, output grew by 20, to 160 horsepower, courtesy of a new fuel-injection system. A 4-speed automatic was the only transmission available, but electronic controls did not arrive until 1993 when the optional 3.8-liter engine rose a bit in torque output to 225 pound-feet. A massive power boost emerged for 1996 in the 3.8-liter engine, which got new valves and roller rocker arms and developed 205 horsepower.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.1/191
Engine HP 135-160
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 180-185
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/29

20.5

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.8/231
Engine HP 170-205
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 220-230
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

19/30

17.3

Road Test

Front-seat room is generous, and the rear is adequate for 6-footers. Both body styles are roomy, but leg and head room are better in the sedan, though the lower cushion feels puny for long-distance comfort. Front shoulder belts in the sedan were anchored to door pillars, so belts could ride on the neck of shorter passengers. Wide front pillars compromise visibility.

The initial Regal’s lack of power was remedied by the arrival of the 3.8-liter engine in 1992. It gives the car sufficient oomph to accelerate smartly away from stoplights and pass safely. The early 3.1-liter, in contrast, sounds strained when a brisk getaway is called for, generating more noise than power. With the electronically controlled automatic installed in 1993, shifts grew swifter and smoother. Gas mileage is better with the 3.1-liter. We’ve averaged better than 20 mpg. The 3.8-liter yielded no more than 17-18 mpg.

Analog instrumentation in early Regals is not the greatest and some instruments are blocked by the steering wheel. The optional electronic cluster has poorly designed graphics and has to squeeze into the same tight space. Climate controls also are far to the right, but have big buttons. The new interior for 1995 cured many of these complaints.

Ride/handling aren’t bad, even with the base suspension. It seems to strike a sensible compromise between soft ride and capable handling, though slanting toward the former. Steering is on the light side, and the car leans heavily in turns. The firmer Gran Sport suspension provides taut handling and a well-controlled ride, but gets a bit harsh when rolling through pavement irregularities. Antilock braking works well, but takes high pedal pressure for a quick stop.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Buick Regal Limited Sedan

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 48

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.5 193.9 72.5 53.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.6 16.5 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.6 37.0 42.3 34.8
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.5 193.7 72.5 54.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.9 16.5 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.6 37.8 42.4 36.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A 2-door coupe

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 1
20%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: 4T60E transmissions may drop out of drive while cruising, shift erratically, or have no second, third, or fourth gear because of a bad ground connection for the shift solenoids. (1991-94)
Automatic transmission
Description: 440-T4 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all. The problem is a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. (1990-92)
Coolant leak
Description: The 3.8-liter V6 may leak coolant into the engine from the intake manifold. A new gasket kit, revised throttle body nuts, and sealing compound is available. Redesigned manifolds are also available in the aftermarket. (1993-96)
Coolant leak
Description: Coolant loss via plastic intake manifold is corrected by installing upgraded manifold and gaskets plus new PCV kit. (1995-96)
Engine noise
Description: Bearing knock was common on many 3.8-liter engines due to too much clearance on the number one main bearing. (1992-94)
Engine noise
Description: An intermittent rattle at start up may be due to too much wrist pin-to-piston clearance. (1994-95)
Engine noise
Description: An intermittent rattling noise at start up is often caused by automatic-transmission pump starvation or cavitation, or a sticking pressure-regulator valve. (1991-95)
Oil consumption
Description: Models with the 3.8-liter engine are prone to excessive oil consumption often accompanied by spark knock during normal driving conditions due to failure of the valve-stem seals. (1993-95)
Steering noise
Description: The upper bearing mount in the steering column can get loose and cause a snapping or clicking that can be both heard and felt. (1994-96)
Transaxle leak
Description: The right front axle seal at the automatic transaxle is prone to leak and GM issued a revised seal to correct the problem. (1992-94)
Valve cover leaks
Description: The plastic valve covers on 3.1-liter engines were prone to leaks and should be replaced with redesigned aluminum valve covers. (1994-95)

Recall History

1990
Description: Brake lights may not illuminate, or will not stay lit all the time when brakes are applied, due to faulty switch.
1990 w/Kelsey-Hayes steel wheels
Description: Cracks may develop in wheel mounting surface; if severe, wheel could separate from car.
1990
Description: Front shoulder belt may not properly restrain passenger in an accident.
1990-91
Description: Steering shaft could separate from steering gear.
1991
Description: Front-door shoulder-belt guide loops may be cracked.
1991 in 15 states
Description: Corrosion due to road salt could allow one or both front engine-cradle bolts to pull through their retainers; steering shaft could possibly separate from steering gear.
1992
Description: Reverse servo apply pin of 4-speed automatic transmission may bind, which could cause loss or slipping of reverse, poor performance, or transmission to remain in reverse while indicator shows neutral.
1993
Description: Manual recliner mechanisms on some front seats will not latch under certain conditions, causing seatback to recline without prior warning.
1993-95
Description: Replace clear front side-marker bulbs with amber.
1994-95
Description: Rear brake hoses can contact suspension components and wear through, resulting in loss of brake fluid.
1994-95
Description: Strained wire can cause intermittent or nonexistent wiper/washer operation.
1995
Description: On a few cars, steering-column support bolts could vibrate, loosen, or fall out.
1995
Description: Center-rear-seatbelt anchor plate could fracture in a crash.
1995
Description: Seatbelt anchor can fracture during crash.
1995-96
Description: The driver’s airbag could deploy inadvertently and injure the driver.
1996
Description: Left front brake line can contact transaxle mounting bracket or bolt, causing line to wear through, resulting in loss of fluid and eventual loss of half the brake system.
1996 w/3.8-liter V6
Description: Backfire can break upper intake manifold, resulting in possible fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.