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2011 Buick Regal luxury sedans (base price $26,245)

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2011 Buick Regal luxury sedans (base price $26,245) back view

2011 Buick Regal luxury sedans (base price $26,245) front side view2011 Buick Regal luxury sedans (base price $26,245) front view

 2011 Buick Regal (base price $26,245)

The '11 Regal is a new model for Buick, though not for GM. The same basic car is sold in Europe under the Opel banner as the Insignia. It's about the same size as a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord but (according to Buick) is aimed more at slightly smaller, more athletic (and higher-priced) near-luxury sedans like the Lexus IS250 and Acura TSX.

It has a larger trunk than the Camry or Accord and delivers excellent gas mileage (30-plus on the highway) courtesy of a 2.4 liter, 182 hp engine with direct fuel injection. A six-speed automatic is standard equipment but later in the model year, Buick will offer an optional six-speed manual transmission - which will make the '11 Regal the first stick-shift Buick in decades.

A 220 hp turbocharged 2 liter engine - also with direct fuel injection - is optional.

Overall, this is (by far) the most engaging-to-drive Regal since the '80s-era rear-wheel-drive muscle coupes that also bore the Regal name. It comes standard with 18 inch rims and performance tires, not 15s with whitewalls and pop-off wire wheel covers. The steering actually seems connected to the road - and the suspension will hold the line if you lean on it hard in a corner.

It's sportier than a Camry for about the same money - and it's a bargain compared to the Lexus IS250 ($32,145) and Acura TSX ($29,310).

Tags: #Buick