We're on the Blackfoot
It’s been snowing and icing all over…a lot. A European-engineered sport sedan with all-wheel-drive would be perfect for the nasty precip, making dust of city streets while still a blast when pavement clears. But, forget Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Volvo, or even Volkswagen. Check out the Buick Regal, which was engineered by GM’s Opel division in Germany and significantly updated for 2014.
Regal’s German heritage shows up in its solid four-door coup profile. A more detailed grille and LED “light wings” grace the front, 18-inch wheels plant the car, and revised taillamps give the rear a more upscale aura. Except for the grille and ventiports on the hood, Regal looks the part of a sophisticated European.
The best part of driving the Regal in winter is snuggling inside. Heated leather seats that will burn your buns, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and dual zone automatic climate control kick cold to the curb. Controls for audio, climate, and Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system were simplified for 2014. Bose speakers, Bluetooth calling/streaming audio, and restrained use of woodgrain, that reminds me of my old Mercedes, make the cabin a comfy place to shelter.
A year ago, the Regal would have been less of a snowmobile. All-wheel-drive was added to the options list for 2014. The system can send up to 90 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels when the fronts slip; and an electronic locking rear differential shifts power side-to-side as needed. It sometimes takes a little time for the computer to figure out what’s happening and move power around, but it eventually gets to the ground.
Extreme roads have a way of sorting great cars from merely adequate ones. Whether blowing through snow and ice with AWD, or hammering dry highways with the turbo engine and improved dynamics, the Regal displays all of its German roots. It starts at $29,015, but our test car with turbo, AWD, and safety suite came to $40,445.