Buick Regal Generations: Through the Years

Coupes, sedans, wagons, and hatchbacks! The Buick Regal generations have taken several forms. Now, learn a bit more about its years of production.

Here, Then Gone, Then Here, Now Gone Again

1992 Buick Regal - media.buick.com

1992 Buick Regal – media.buick.com |  Shop Buick Regal on Carsforsale.com

Buick focuses on the Enclave, Envision, and best-selling Encore these days, but a long-lasting model that was just recently (again) removed from its lineup is the Buick Regal. It’s a car that’s been through highs and lows, still being manufactured today in some regions after debuting in the 1970s.

With the Regal, Buick became the first division in General Motors to offer a personal luxury vehicle to the American car-buying public. Although Buick was the first in GM to offer such a vehicle, Buick was playing catch up in the 1970s when it came to offering luxury. It was competing with a long list of cars like the Plymouth GTX, Chrysler Imperial Le Baron Crown Coupe, Lincoln Continental Mark IV, and the Ford Thunderbird in providing more and more upscale comforts behind the wheel. Read on to find out how the Regal evolved, fluctuating between performance and luxury, as each decade and generation went by.

1st Generation Buick Regal (1973-1977)

1973 Buick Regal - media.buick.com
1973 Buick Regal - media.buick.com
  • The very first Buick Regal was actually a two-door coupe that was named the “Century Regal Colonnade Hardtop.”
  • The 1973 Regal had a pillared hardtop roofline, frameless doors, and rear opera windows. It was big, had some curves, and was stylish.
  • Even though the 1973 Regal was only available in one body style, there were more options under the hood. First, there was a 5.7-liter small block V8 engine that produced 150 horsepower (hp) with a two-barrel carburetor. The other option was a 7.5-liter V8 that made 175 hp with a four-barrel carburetor.
  • The ‘73 Buick Regal coupe ended up selling 91,557 units. This number passed Buick’s all-time sales record, which was set in 1955.
  • The 1974 Buick Regal lineup expanded with a sedan version of the vehicle. The engine choices remained the same for this release.
  • 1975 Regal coupes came with Buick’s 3.8-liter V6 engine, which had been previously offered in the Buick Skylark from 1964 to 1967. Buick quit using the engine because the engine’s tooling was sold to Kaiser Motors for use in Jeep models, but it was sold back to GM in 1974.
1975 Buick Regal - media.buick.com
1975 Buick Regal - media.buick.com
  • During the 1975 and 1976 model years, Buick had the only mid-sized cars in America that offered V6 engines as standard. This was an advantage for Buick during the 1970s oil crisis.
  • Buick split Regal and the Century for the 1976 models, making it the first time the Buick Regal stood on its own. It was listed with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $23,381.
  • A facelift left the 1976 coupe with rectangular headlights that were mounted horizontally on the coupe and vertically on the sedan.
  • The 1976 Burick Regal was available as a S/R. This Sport/Rally version of the Regal came with reclining bucket seats and corduroy upholstery.
  • There were no major changes for the 1977 Buick Regal, but sales continued an upward trend. In 1977, Buick sold 174,560 Regal Coupes (up more than 50,000 units from the previous year) and 17,946 (an 800 unit increase from the year before).

2nd Generation Buick Regal (1978-1987)

1978 Buick Regal - BlueLineClassics on youtube.com
1978 Buick Regal - BlueLineClassics on youtube.com
  • When the 1978 Buick Regal kicked off the second generation of the vehicle, it was a downsized version. The goal in making this change was to achieve better fuel-economy.
  • The standard V6 engine made 117 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque, but there were also V8 and turbocharged V6 options. The 3.8-liter V8 made 152 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque while the 3.8-liter turbo V6 put out 150 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque on the Regal Sport Coupe.
  • The 1978 Regal Sport Coupe was offered with a two or four-barrel carburetor.
  • This new generation of the Regal mixed interior personal luxury with performance.
  • 1979 models were offered only as coupes, but the front was updated with less emphasized horizontal bars in the vertical grille. The word ‘Regal’ also appeared in the bottom corner.
NASCAR Buick Regal - nascarhall.com
NASCAR Buick Regal - nascarhall.com
  • A special Somerset Limited Edition trim was added for the 1980 Buick Regal. It had tan and dark blue exterior paint. Inside? Tan and blue upholstery. Wire wheel covers and sport mirrors were two other exclusive features.
  • For 1981 models, the Regal was given a redefined, more aerodynamic profile. This was done so that the car could compete in NASCAR races. Richard Petty ended up driving a Buick Regal straight to victory at the 1981 Daytona 500 race.
  • The 1981 Regal picked up several other NASCAR wins in 1981 and 1982 as well.
  • The first Buick Regals made with the General Motors rear-wheel drive (RWD) G-body platform were the 1981 models. A 5.7-liter V8 diesel engine was added as an option in 1981 Regal models, too. These versions were fast favorites among car buyers.
  • Hoping to make the Century front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicles, existing 1982 Century sedan and wagon models were transferred to the Regal line.
  • The Grand National trim was introduced in February 1982. The name came from its debut at the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Series.
1987 Buick Regal 3.8L V6 - carsforsale.com
1987 Buick Regal 3.8L V6 - carsforsale.com
  • More than 200 Regals were retrofitted with the Grand National package, which included a silver-gray firemist paint, red pinstripes, and “Buick” lettering. Fully-adjustable seats could be found inside with silver cloth and black vinyl inserts.
  • The 1982 Grand National had a 4.1-liter V6 that made 125 hp and 205 lb-ft of torque.
  • 35 Grand National models had a Regal Sport Coupe package with a 3.8-liter V6. 175 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque came from those versions.
  • Although it was popular, Buick didn’t offer the Grand National for 1983 models.
  • Continuing with the changes for 1983 models, the Regal Sport Coupe was eliminated in favor of the T Type trim. It came with a turbocharged V6 and sequential fuel injection to put out 200 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque.
1987 Buick Grand National - media.buick.com
1987 Buick Grand National - media.buick.com
  • Although the diesel V8 wasn’t available anymore, Buick did offer an optional 4.3-liter V6 Diesel. 85 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque.
  • Base trims in the 1984 Regal were equipped with a 3.8-liter V6 that made 110 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque.
  • The Grand National returned as its own model in 1984 while the station wagon body style was discontinued from the Buick Regal lineup. The wagon was added to the Buick Century lineup instead.
  • This time, the Grand National was all black. It reached 200 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque with a turbocharged 3.8-liter. It had back up in the form of a turbo-hydromatic 200-4R four-speed automatic transmission. Sequential fuel injection helped refine this Regal.
  • In 1984 Regal models, power brakes, power steering, dual mirrors, and an automatic transmission were all marketed as standard features.
  • After dropping the wagon the year before, the sedan disappeared from the 1985 Buick Regal lineup, too.
1987 Buick Regal GNX - media.buick.com
1987 Buick Regal GNX - media.buick.com
  • Thanks to a modified engine with an air-air intercooler, Buick increased performance in 1986 models to 235 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque.
  • 1987 brought about the Buick Regal GNX. It is now legendary, and was the quickest car Buick produced, going 0 to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds!
  • Buick worked with McLaren Performance Technologies on the GNX, which stood for ‘Grand National Experimental,’ for years. It was offered in limited production with just 547 models made available.
  • Hitting 60 mph in 5.0 seconds was impressive at the time, and the GNX hit that mark. It was pushed with 276 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque.
  • 1987, the last year of the second-generation Buick Regal, was also the last model year of the T Type trim. A ‘T sport’ package was offered instead.

3rd Generation Buick Regal (1988-1996)

1992 Buick Regal Gran Sport Coupe - media.buick.com
1992 Buick Regal Gran Sport Coupe - media.buick.com
  • Ten years after the last generation kicked off, Buick introduced a new version of the Regal. This one used a new W platform that was designed with better handling and more comfort in mind. It was also downsized from the previous generation.
  • The 1988 Buick Regal was the first in this car’s lineage to be offered with FWD. A 3.8-liter V6 engine produced 127 hp and 160.05 lb-ft of torque.
  • Along with updates under the hood came visible updates on the outside of the Regal. Designers turned to the Greek Parthenon for inspiration on the grille of the 1988 model. The grille and those big turn signals on each corner of the 1988 Regal offered a distinct, luxury feeling at first sight.
  • Buick debuted the 1990 Regal midyear. It came equipped with a new optional 3.8-liter engine that made 172 hp and 219 lb-ft of torque. It was paired to a four-speed automatic transmission.
  • An Anti-lock Braking System was part of the SE package that was on the Limited sedan. Leather was optional on the Grand Sport coupe and Limited sedan.
  • Buick sold 129,997 units (the most throughout its entire third-generation run) of the 1988 model.
  • The 1990 lineup added a sedan version of the Regal to provide competition for the likes of the Ford Taurus, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Maxima.
1992 Buick Regal - carsforsale.com
1992 Buick Regal - carsforsale.com
  • Without many updates in 1989 and 1990, the 1991 model, Buick offered another 3.8-liter V6, one that made 170 hp and 220 lb-ft of torque.
  • The 1992 Regal was offered as a sedan or coupe in the Custom, Limited, and Gran Sport trims.
  • Buick offered the 1993 Regal Custom with a MSRP of $16,865, but they wanted their buyers to know they had quality too, focusing a lot of their marketing efforts on promoting that message. Buick made improvements in seat design, providing support for the contour of the body.
  • The 1993 Buick Regal also had a few other changes, including 15-inch wheels instead of 14-inch wheels and a slightly revised grille.
  • 1994 models received a few more upgrades like an Anti-lock Braking System and a driver airbag becoming standard across the lineup, automatic door locks that unlock when the car is parked, and power windows. 20 hp was also added to the 3.1-liter V6 engine.
  • Dual airbags were added to the 1995 Buick Regal. When Buick gives, it also sometimes takes away. The faux wood paneling was removed from the door panels.
  • Continuing to refine the 3.8-liter V6, Buick got it to 200 hp and 225 lb-ft for the 1996 Regal. This engine became standard on the Limited and Gran Sport models.
  • Four new colors were offered in the ‘96 Regal. Climate control became standard as well. This model closed out the third generation of the vehicle.

4th Generation Buick Regal (1997-2004)

1999 Buick Regal 3800 Series II V6 - Steven Miller on youtube.com
1999 Buick Regal 3800 Series II V6 - Steven Miller on youtube.com
  • Kicking off the fourth generation with a complete redesign, the 1997 Buick Regal eliminated the coupe as a body style. The 1997 Buick Regal shared a platform with other GM vehicles including the Oldsmobile Intrigue, the Pontiac Grand Prix, the Chevrolet Lumina, and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
  • The 3800 Series II V6 engine continued to power the Buick Regal. 1997 models put out 195 hp and 220 lb-ft of torque. The Regal had a base MSRP of $23,495 in 1997.
  • It offered dual-zone climate control, heated exterior mirrors, and traction control as standard features on every model.
  • 1998 Regal LS models were given a new standard four-speed automatic transmission. In addition to that, an OnStar mobile communications system could be installed at the buyer’s request.
  • There weren’t major changes to the 1999 Buick Regal, but there were several of them: steering and suspension updates for a sportier ride, a Concert Sound II audio system with eight speakers, an optional self-dimming rearview mirror, and the new Auburn Nightmist paint color.
2000 Buick Regal - netcarshow.com
2000 Buick Regal - netcarshow.com
  • In April 1999, Buick began assembling the Regal in the Shanghai GM plant in Shanghai, China. It had different styling than the North American version along with different engines: a 2.0-liter straight-4 V6, a 2.5-liter V6, and a 3.0-liter V6.
  • Buick welcomed the new century with Gold Metallic and Sterling Silver paint colors, a split-folding rear seat, and leather-lined seats in the 2000 Buick Regal.
  • There weren’t many updates for the 2001 models. Again, it was mostly new color variations. This time, Buick offered White and Graphite Metallic exterior coloring.
  • Buick also mixed fashion in with cars in the form of a limited-edition Olympic Edition Joseph Abboud model, exclusive to the GS trim. I’ll save you some Googling and let you know that Joseph Abboud is a men’s American fashion designer who worked for the likes of Ralph Lauren in the 1980s and made clothes for the likes of Tom Brokaw and former Boston Red Sox player Nomar Garciaparra. GM worked with him for special editions of other vehicles including the Buick Rendezvous and the GMC Sierra, too.
2002 Buick Regal - netcarshow.com
2002 Buick Regal - netcarshow.com
  • Wood grain trim was added to the inside of 2002 Buick Regals. Another new color in the form of Dark Bronze Mist, too. That Joseph Abboud model? It added chestnut leather seating and a two-tone interior trim. A sunroof, satellite steering wheel controls, and an upgraded audio system were all added as well.
  • Buick worked with SLP Performance to develop the 2003 Buick Regal GSX, available in three powertrain packages. The first added 10 hp and a dual stainless-steel cat-back exhaust system. The second added 20 hp. The third added 30 hp, giving the GSX a total of 270 hp and 312 lb-ft of torque.
  • There weren’t many major changes for the 2004 Buick Regal, although wood trim was added to the interior of the vehicle. A few other features, like a CD player and audio system with speed-sensing volume, were offered as well.
  • The Buick Regal nameplate in North America was retired after the 2004 model rolled off the assembly line on June 1, 2004. It was replaced by the Buick LaCrosse in North America, but the Regal continued to sell in other parts of the world.
  • The Regal built in the Shanghai plant was sold in the Phillippines as the Chevrolet Lumina for the 2005 and 2006 model years.

5th Generation Buick Regal (2008-2017)

2012 Buick Regal GS - netcarshow.com
2012 Buick Regal GS - netcarshow.com
  • Although the fifth generation of the Buick Regal didn’t arrive in North America until the 2011 model year, Buick still rolled the sedan out in places like Germany and China, starting with the 2008 model.
  • The 2008 Regal in Germany used the same GM platform as the Epsilon II, which was mostly identical to the Opel Insignia.
  • In China, Shanghai GM also used the Insignia twin and badged it as the 2008 and 2009 Buick Regal.
  • General Motors was going to introduce the Opel Insignia as the Saturn Aura in North America, instead of the Buick Regal, but GM ended up eliminating the Saturn brand from their offerings.
  • The 2008 Buick Regal models that existed in countries other than the United States were built with constructed with a unibody form, using galvanized steel for the front fenders, hood, roof, and door panels.
2012 Buick Regal GS - netcarshow.com
2012 Buick Regal GS - netcarshow.com
  • The fifth-generation Buick Regal was finally revealed to North American dealers in October 2009, and introduced to the public a month later at the Los Angeles Auto Show. They began selling it in February 2010 as the 2011 Buick Regal.
  • The 2011 Buick Regal came with a twist: it was a mid-size sport sedan, going up against competitors like the 2011 Lexus IS 250 and the 2011 Acura TSX. As a result, the backseat was a little smaller than it was before.
  • Buick used a 2.4-liter four-cylinder as the standard engine for the 2011 Regal. It made 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. However, it was also available with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo that made 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The turbo was the star engine of this model year.
  • The 2011 Regal also received good reviews for its quiet cabin, soft ride, and sportier driving dynamics. With the 2.4-liter engine, the 2011 Regal was rated with 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The turbo achieved 18 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.
  • Two new trims debuted with the 2012 Buick Regal: the GS and the eAssist.
2013 Buick Regal Top Speed Record - media.gm.com
2013 Buick Regal Top Speed Record - media.gm.com
  • The GS had a firmer suspension, standard manual transmission, and 270 hp with a 2.0-liter turbo and free-flowing exhaust. With a six-speed manual transmission (or optional automatic), the GS makes 295 lb-ft of torque.
  • An optional light hybrid eAssist powertrain uses a 2.4-liter engine along with an 11-kilowatt electric motor and lithium-ion battery. The combo boosts mileage to 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.
  • That eAssist powertrain became standard on the lower three 2013 Buick Regal trims, and the 2.0-liter turbo was still optional.
  • It was a 2013 Buick Regal that was used by two Buick engineers to set a top speed record for Buick, maxing out at 162 mph in a closed-course road rally.
  • Several changes came along with the 2014 Buick Regal. Among them were better fuel economy, the elimination of the 270-hp turbo engine on the GS trim, optional AWD on all other turbo engines, and a new 259-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine. That new engine bumped the 2014 Regal up by 37 hp.
2014 Buick Regal - netcarshow.com
2014 Buick Regal - netcarshow.com
  • Blind-spot monitoring and forward collision warning became newly-available features as well.
  • Another notable trait of 2014 Regal was the continued stylistic evolution, inside and out. Exterior changes included a more sloped roofline, altered front and rear bumpers with updated LED displays, and a new grille. Inside, the 2014 Regal had a redesigned dashboard with less buttons, upgraded cabin materials, and a better overall upscale appearance.
  • After the 2014 refresh, the only real change in the 2015 Buick Regal was a standard Wi-Fi hot spot.
  • For 2016 Regal models, Buick eliminated the eAssist mild hybrid powertrain, offering the returning 2.4-liter base engine instead. Buick made other updates to its IntelliLink system, hoping to improve the compatibility of Apple CarPlay.
  • 2017 Buick Regal models received tech upgrades that provided even more Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Other than three new color options (Graphite Gray, Black Cherry, and Pepperdust), the 2017 Regal was mostly unchanged.

6th Generation Buick Regal (2018-2020)

2018 Buick Regal TourX - netcarshow.com
2018 Buick Regal TourX - netcarshow.com
  • Continuing its tradition of revamping the Regal every decade, Buick launched the sixth generation of the sedan with the 2018 model. It’s offered in five trims: the 1SV, Preferred, Preferred II, Essence, and GS. Also available is a wagon variant (the TourX) with three trims: the 1SV, Preferred, and Essence.
  • Buick introduced the wagon and hatchback styles, but dropped the sedan body style.
  • Most of the trims put out 250 hp through a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The top-of-the-line GS has a 310-hp 3.6-liter V6, however. Both engines are mated to a nine-speed automatic (for FWD models) or an eight-speed automatic (for AWD models).
  • There were no major changes for the 2019 Buick Regal. That may be, in part, because in December 2019, GM again announced it would discontinue the Buick Regal. The 2020 model would be the final in production.
2018 Buick Regal GS - netcarshow.com

1992 Buick Regal – media.buick.com |  Shop Buick Regal on Carsforsale.com

  • The Preferred II trim was dropped from the 2020 Buick Regal lineup. MSRPs ranged from $25,370 on the low end to $39,070 for the top-tiered GS. Standard features on the base trim included a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, four USB ports, a rearview camera, and dual-zone climate control.
  • Although the Regal was discontinued in North America, Buick continues to sell it in China.
  • While the Regal can be overlooked sometimes, it left a long history with a lot of impressive models to choose from. Those models and the ones it spawned can be seen in TV shows like King of the Hill and the Magnum P.I. reboot, in Mariah Carey music videos, and in the 2006 Disney-Pixar favorite: Cars.

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Jesse Batson

Jesse Batson earned his journalism degree from South Dakota State University. No stranger to newsgathering and reporting, Jesse spent 13 years in TV news. 10 of those years were spent working in Charlotte, NC, home of NASCAR. A highlight of his time there was being able to take a lap around the Charlotte Motor Speedway. His interest in vehicles, starting with Matchbox cars, a Big Wheel, and the Transformers, evolved into taking photos of motocross events. Now, he puts his research skills to use on car culture, reviews, and comparisons.

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