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Auto blogWed, 12 Jun 2013 19:59:00 EST
Let's get the most pressing bits of this story out of the way right off the bat: What we see here appears to be a new compact crossover from Buick. According to the spy photographer, this machine may be a little bit smaller on the outside than the current Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain 'utes, which makes sense since recent rumors suggest GM's small crossovers will migrate to a new platform that will mark a convergence between the automaker's Delta (Chevy Cruze, Buick Verano) and Theta (Equinox, Terrain) platforms. This Buick would likely use this new D2UX platform.
We've been expecting Buick to unleash a crossover to slot between the very small Encore and the very large Enclave, and various rumors have indicated that the model may be known as either the Anthem or Envision. It's worth mentioning that Buick had planned, back in 2009, to release a vehicle in the compact CUV market, but abandoned those plans after a particularly poor reception.
And now for something completely different... Take another look at the spy shots above, and pay special attention to the cylindrical device mounted to the vehicle's roof. We can't say for sure what it is, but our spy photographer opines that it looks quite a bit like the 360-degree Lidar camera equipment used by Google for its autonomous cars. Is General Motors working with Google on autonomous car technology? We don't know, but you can definitely consider us intrigued.
Buick has announced pricing for the refreshed 2014 Regal. The base model offers a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, 259-horsepower, four-cylinder engine for $30,615 (*after $925 delivery and destination fee). The standard turbo can be replaced by Buick's eAssist mild hybrid system for $32,485. The electrified powertrain delivers 36 miles per gallon, in place of the turbo's 30 mpg on the highway.
The big powertrain news for 2014 is the inclusion of an all-wheel-drive system for an extra $2,175. Marking one of the few uses of all-wheel drive on a Buick car, the new Regal AWD has an electronic, limited-slip differential and a HiPer Strut front suspension, which is the same front arrangement used on the hot, front-drive Regal GS.
Speaking of the Regal GS, it's not so hot for 2014. It sports the same 259-horsepower engine as the standard Regal, but offsets that with a wealth of standard, optional or flat-out exclusive equipment like active dampers, Brembo brakes and a Bose stereo. Prices (all including the $925 fee) start at $37,830. Like the standard car, the GS will be available with all-wheel drive for the first time, bringing it a bit more in line with its cousins across the pond - Opel Insignia OPC and Vauxhall Insignia VXR. Prices for the GS AWD start at $40,195.
"This is just silly," I said as I laughed my way sideways around the icy track at Circuit ICAR, a racecourse, drag strip and kart track at the Montreal-Mirabel International Airport in Quebec. It wasn't the activity that had me cracking up, though. After all, winter driving experiences aren't uncommon in this business.
No, in this particular case, it was the car that had me chuckling. I wasn't in a mad hot hatch or a rally-derived rocket - I was in a Buick. The 2014 Regal GS, to be more precise. Somehow, despite its recent product renaissance (not to mention its distant - yet storied - history of performance models), I was having a hard time believing that this attractive, turbocharged, all-wheel-drive sedan sliding around the Great White North could possibly be wearing a Tri-Shield badge on its nose.
But it was, and slide about it did. While having access to a vehicle in this setting is fairly rare, what's rarer is the fact that I've had so much exposure to it. In Mr. Ewing's recent Volkswagen Golf R drive story, for instance, his ice capades were his first experience with the new model. In my case, though, I was lucky enough to first test the refreshed Regal GS for a week back in December before flying to Quebec to drive it on the snowy, icy, winding roads of Canada's most fiercely independent province and on the track at Mirabel.