First Drive: 2015 Buick Regal 2.4L eAssist
Does your bad fuel economy have you down? Does the thought of owning a Hybrid depress you? Do you not want to fall into the category of trend setting hipsters? Then you might be in luck… Buick just might have a solution for you… well, sort of.
Buick’s eAssist system is of no new news. In fact, it has been around for a few years, but not so much that it’s been a hot topic amongst the automotive industry. Heck we didn’t even know it existed until now. The eAssist system is something of like a hybrid system, but not really. Unlike a full hybrid it doesn’t feature an EV mode, nor the electric humming or that artificial braking you feel when releasing the go pedal. It’s also not priced like a hybrid – the eAssist fitted to our Premium I Regal (which is a trim level higher than a base) is capture at a starting price of $32,675.
So what is eAssist? It’s essentially a tag line for fuel-sipping technology. It consists of a 20-hp electric motor which acts in place of a traditional alternator using a 0.5 kWh lithium-ion battery that’s nestled in the trunk bay of the car that makes up 15 additional horsepower. Its overall its objective is to foresee fuel figures of 25/36/29 (city/highway/combined). In lieu of the 259hp, 2.0-liter turbo found in the GS, the eAssist works with a combined 182hp, 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder motor and a six-speed automatic transmission (not simulated like some hybrids.)
Taking over 8 seconds to 60 mph the Regal’s 2.4-liter isn’t going to be rushed. Nor is that its intentions. From behind the commanding driving seat, the Regal is a comfortable, easy going, smooth riding – you’ll get there when you get there kind of sedan. The steering is decently responsive to the driver’s input and features relatively good driving dynamics, making it a pleasurable driving experience. The suspension is soft and with the help of low-resistance 17-inch wheels, the ride quality is relaxing over uneven streets.
Even though Buick’s website lists the Regal as a “Luxury Sport Sedan,” it doesn’t quite feel that sporty – the transmission is a little dull in its responses and placing the gear lever in manual mode just seems idiotic. But again, the eAssist here is for fuel savings, which after spending some time on the urban streets and downtown district, we managed to see an overall combined rating of 27 mpg on regular grade fuel with a 350 mile range – just a couple mpg’s short of the EPA.
The interior setting is very Buick-ie – a more premier feeling than a Chevrolet. The Regal’s interior was updated for 2014 adding a new instrument cluster and a reconfigured infotainment system utilizing less buttons – the layout is simple minded and provides easy access to the driver and passenger. Using the latest version of Buick Intellalink, the touch screen infotainment system has a few hiccups in responsiveness and the backup camera is starting to look subpar compared to its competitors. We also did not like the touch panel dual-zone climate control system, it has a very poor reaction time to our temperature inputs which made it very distracting.
Our tester came in the usual business way with black leather interior and a dark wood grain trim. It was handsome contrast to say the least to our Smokey Gray exterior paint. The seats here were quite comfortable in their settings showing signs of minimal fatigue on our morning business commute as they came equipped with power adjustments and a heated feature. Being a small sized sedan, the Regal’s rear seat posed to be problematic to anyone over 5’-6” – leg room was tight and we became very friendly with the headliner.
If you’re concern over trunk capacity since that battery fills up a chunk of it, there is still some left for the usual grocery run or shopping mall trip. Even one of the seats folds flat for long-gated items.
If you’re looking for something that sips on fuel and runs discreet amongst the hybrid community, the Buick Regal has some good points to offer. Being a comfortable, good to drive, smooth riding sedan; its all you need to make your commute an enjoyable one.
|Price (As Tested):|
|2015 Buick Regal 2.4L eAssist (Premium I)||$31,750|