Despite its carefully cultivated conservative image, Buick has a long history of building performance cars. But understand this: Buick builds performance cars on its own terms. Back in the '60s, the Buick Skylark GS was the silkiest, quietest, most refined muscle car ever to chase down a Pontiac GTO.
You might call today's Regal GS the spiritual heir to those big-muscle Skylarks, especially as it can match Pontiac's nifty Grand Prix GTP stride for stride, sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds. That's quick acceleration by any measure and particularly for a conservative-looking mid-size family sedan. Yet Regal sacrifices none of the virtues that make Buicks "Premium American Motorcars." Those virtues include roominess, a smooth ride quality and a long list of features.
Two models are available. Regal LS starts at $22,845. GS retails for $26,095.
The major distinction between the LS and GS lies beneath the hood. The LS is powered by a normally aspirated version of GM's ubiquitous 3800 Series II V6, rated at 195 horsepower and 220 pounds-feet of torque. The GS is motivated by the supercharged edition, with 240 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque. GS also comes with a higher level of standard equipment, including a crisper Gran Touring suspension and GM OnStar communications system.
Both engines drive the front wheels through four-speed automatic transmissions, though the GS has a heavy-duty version to handle the extra torque of the supercharged engine. The GS also has 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with slightly more aggressive tires, and firmer suspension tuning. However, the 16-inch wheel/tire package can be added to the LS, as can the handling upgrade, with the Y56 Gran Touring Package ($600).
New for 2001 is the limited-production Olympic Edition (a $1415 package on GS, $3246 on LS). Created to commemorate Buick's support for U.S. Olympic athletes, the Olympic Edition Regal comes only in Gold Metallic, Silver Metallic, or Graphite Metallic, with exclusive Sandrift lower body panels. The Olympic logo on tail lamps and floor mats, and Storm Gray accents for the grille and wheel centers further distinguish this special Regal. Taupe leather will be the only available interior. Olympic LSs are upgraded with OnStar and the Gran Touring suspension, and all Olympic Regals will feature a power sunroof and an eight-speaker Monsoon audio system with steering-wheel-mounted controls.
Olympic Edition colors were chosen by fashion designer Joseph Abboud, and Buick says that more Abboud-designed special editions may appear at mid-year.