What to Look For When Buying a Used Buick Regal

Buick may have followed other automakers by dropping sedans from its lineup to concentrate on more popular and more lucrative SUVs, but there are still loads of them for sale in the used market and plenty of eager buyers looking for a bargain. One of the models that got the chop was the Regal, so let’s take a look at what you need to look out for when buying a used Buick Regal.

2018 Buick Regal GS 022 scaled 1
2018 Buick Regal GS

What type of car is the Regal?

The Regal is a luxury mid-size car that was produced in both four-door sedan and two-door coupe body styles from the 1973 model year. It remained available in both body styles until 1997, and from then onwards it was only produced in sedan form until 2018 when a wagon version was added to the lineup. But if you like a coupe-like sloping roofline you should look at the fifth generation onwards.

From that point, there was a touch of that sporty element to the styling that continued right up to, and including, the final sixth-generation models in 2020. In fact, the sixth generation introduced a liftback body style that Buick decided to call Sportback.

If you are in the market for a used Regal there are certainly plenty of them to choose from and there are versions to suit all sorts of people and all sorts of budgets. You could pay an absolute fortune for a lovingly restored early Regal coupe or one that’s had the full-on restomod treatment, but there are also loads of really reasonably priced ones that can be an absolute bargain as long as you shop carefully.

Is the Buick Regal a muscle car?

There have been versions of the Regal that can be classed as muscle cars, with the Buick Regal GNX that came along in 1987 being the most obvious example. GNX was short for Grand National Experimental, and this sensational car was created by a collaboration between Buick and ASC/McLaren Performance Technologies.

Only 547 units of the 1987 Regal GNX were produced and they cost from around $30,000 when they were new, so you can imagine how much you’d have to pay for one of them in good condition today, can’t you? In fact, the very last GNX built was sold in 2017 at auction for $220,000, and another one sold for $205,000 in May 2021.

But if you can’t afford that kind of money there are plenty of more affordable Regal models with powerful engines and impressive performance around that are worth considering. One that immediately springs to mind is the Buick Regal GS that came along with the 2012 model year.

The Buick Regal GS became the fastest car the company had ever produced with a top speed of 162 mph achieved by it at the Nevada Open Road Challenge, and the car’s 0 to 60 mph time is also very respectable at just over six seconds.

2019 Buick Regal Avenir 077 scaled 1
2019 Buick Regal Avenir

Buick Regal history

Buick first introduced the Regal to its range for the 1973 model year, and back then it was a high-spec two-door luxury coupe. However, a year later a sedan version was introduced. The car remained largely unchanged for five years, although the coupe benefitted from a fairly substantial facelift in 1976.

Over the years there were six different generations of Buick Regal and it’s fair to say the car changed quite a bit during that time. Some of the early models are now classic examples of the automotive style and design of their time and you can pay as much for a used 1985 Buick Regal Coupe as you would for a low-mileage 2020 Buick Regal GS in perfect condition.

Buick Regal model years

First-generation Buick Regal – 1973 to 1977

1975 Buick Regal Coupe
1975 Buick Regal

Second-generation Buick Regal – 1978 to 1987

1979 Buick Regal
1973 Buick Regal

Third-generation Buick Regal – 1988 to 1996

1996 Buick Regal
1996 Buick Regal

Fourth-generation Buick Regal – 1996 to 2004

2003 Buick Regal LS
2003 Buick Regal LS

Fifth-generation Buick Regal – 2008 to 2017

Sixth-generation Buick Regal – 2018 to 2020

Is a used Buick Regal a reliable car?

According to the RepairPal website, the Regal gets a reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0 which places it 13th out of 24 midsize cars. Annual repair costs are considered average at $563, but the severity of repairs required is considered average and the frequency of such issues is low.

Of course, that’s a pretty general statement for a vehicle that was in production for almost half a century, but it’s still fair to say that the Buick sedan is, on the whole, a pretty reliable car.

Is the Buick Regal good on gas?

The Buick Regal isn’t especially impressive when it comes to fuel economy. The best fuel economy you can expect from something like a 2011 Buick Regal is with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder model with a manual transmission which is rated at 20 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined.

Jump forward to 2018 and the sixth-generation versions of the Buick Regal and things don’t get a whole lot better I’m afraid. The best of the bunch are the two-wheel-drive models with the 2.0-liter turbo-four that will get you 22 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined.

Which Buick Regal model year should you avoid?

There isn’t really a specific Buick Regal model year to avoid, but if I had to put a warning sign on one particular year it would probably have to be the 2011 model yearl. That’s because the consumer website Car Complaints recorded more complaints about the 2011 Regal than any other year, although it has to be said that the 2012 Buick Regal logged more severe problems even though there were fewer complaints overall.

Which is the best model year?

It’s really hard to answer the question of which model year of a car is the best when there have been as many model years as there have been with the Buick sedan. Different types of buyers are going to gravitate towards different generations of the Buick Regal for different reasons.

Someone looking for a reliable, comfortable, and well-equipped family car for daily driving probably isn’t going to be looking at anything earlier than the fifth generation from 2011. Collectors, restorers, and customizers will look at first, second, and third-generation versions of the Regal, and I suppose some will even speculate on a fourth-generation model in the hope that they become interesting to someone at some point in the future.

For me, the best model year would be the 2018 Buick Regal because they look really good, and they’re available in Sportback and Wagon body styles. As 2018 was the first year of the final sixth generation, a 2018 Buick Regal will usually be the most affordable and therefore the best value for money way to get a sixth-gen Regal.

2018 Buick Regal Sportback 002
2018 Buick Regal Sportback

How much should you pay for a used Buick Regal?

The cheapest used Buick Regal you are going to find that’s worth considering will probably cost you at least $4,000, but that could be a 1993 Regal Limited, a 2004 Buick Regal LS, or anything in between.

Below is a table showing the average minimum and maximum prices you should expect to pay for a used Regal from the 2011 to 2020 model years. These prices are according to thecarconnection.com website, which is the best place I know for new car reviews and for getting the best prices for new cars in your area using the site’s free, no-obligation quote tool.

Model YearMinimum Average Used PriceMaximum Average Used Price

Should you buy one?

A used Buick Regal is a very good midsize luxury car that’s available in a lot of different versions to suit an equally wide variety of buyers and budgets. I will admit that a lot of them can seem pretty dull, but this isn’t a car that was ever really aimed at driving enthusiasts.

This is a spacious, comfortable, well-equipped, and reliable used car that will serve you well for many, many years as long as you buy well to begin with and keep up with routine maintenance.

Where I have an issue with the Regal is the Buick brand and the fact you will pay more for its supposed luxury status than you would with an equivalent Ford Fusion or Chevy Malibu. If you have the choice of those three used cars with similar specifications but you are being asked to pay more for the Buick as it’s considered a luxury brand, is it worth paying the extra or would you be better off with the Ford or the Chevy?

I’d go for the cheaper option as I don’t consider the Buick brand to be anywhere near as prestigious as the likes of BMW, Mercedes, or Cadillac, which I would expect to pay extra for, but you might think differently.

Either way, if you do fancy the idea of buying a used Regal you’ll be getting a very competent used car that’s hard to criticize in any genuinely meaningful way.