For roughly six years, GM's Buick brand took one of its most recognizable marques and threw it onto the scrapheap in favor of a newer, more costly Lacrosse. Consumers have been spending the entire year since the Regal's relaunch telling GM how bad a move that was.
In the Regal's first year in the lineup, its sales have already eclipsed those of the midsized Lucerne and are eating into sales of its Lacrosse replacement, whose numbers are down 5.1% this year. That's just fine by Buick, which cites Regal as one of the biggest reasons Buick sales are up 51% from last April and 35% year over year. More importantly, GM credits the Regal for bringing 40% of Buick's new customers over from non-Buick brands.
"For Regal and the Buick brand, that's been huge," says Edmunds' Drury. "It's really helped carve their image."That image is quickly shifting from Great American Retirementmobile to all-around luxury competitor. It was a different game when the Regal and its ilk looked at Ford's boatish Lincolns and Chrysler's luxury liners as the primary competition a generation ago, but with Toyota and Lexus' luxury share looking vulnerable and other high-end imports pricing themselves above some consumers' heads, a $26,000 base-model Regal with stability control; dual-zone climate control; a seven-speaker entertainment system with XM Radio, Bluetooth and USB connections; heated power seats; and 30 miles to the gallon on the highway starts to look like a sweet deal. Perhaps that's why GM stacks the Regal and its power features and OnStar package against such competitors as the Audi A4, Acura TSX and Volkswagen CC and, in more than a few instances, comes up with more bang for the buck. It's a brand with bigger aspirations than being the shiniest toy in the luxury bargain bin. "GM now able to pick out models that they want to make the flagship models," TrueCar's Schaffels says. "The Regal is one of the first cars in the Buick line where GM is seriously aiming at the luxury import competition."