Performance

The Regal I tested packs the base engine — a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that's good for 182 horsepower. There's no way around it: This is a sedate engine. You probably won't notice that it lacks power during typical around-town driving or during your commute, but once you hit even a moderate hill, the engine groans with disapproval.

Let's just say this isn't an engine for driving enthusiasts.

When passing on the highway, the six-speed automatic transmission kicks down somewhat aggressively, creating a lot of engine noise, but at least it gets to the right gear. Even in this base configuration, the steering and handling shine. The large, leather-wrapped steering wheel is tightly sprung, as if it were loaded with a few dozen large rubber bands. It offers a European feel without being heavy to turn. In sharp turns, the Regal snaps around bends like a true sport sedan, and it feels well-planted. Fans of BMW or other rear-drive cars might find the back end a bit light.

The terrific handling doesn't compromise ride quality. On various surfaces, the Regal exhibited little road noise, with none of the floaty ride I found in the redesigned LaCrosse. The Regal's short wheelbase is not a detriment here.

While the power is nothing to write home about, the mileage — at 20/30 mpg city/highway — is quite good, matching up well with the Acura TSX's 21/30 mpg. The TSX is the Regal's closest competitor in terms of price, power and size, and while that car's 201-hp four-cylinder is a brilliant Honda engine, the TSX has lackluster steering and a rather floaty ride. Maybe we could get the two together on Match.com?

I did get to drive an early version of the turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that will go on sale toward the end of 2010. You can read my thoughts in a drive report here. An even more powerful turbo model, called the GS, will go on sale sometime in 2011.

    See also:

    Power Reclining Seatbacks
    To raise or recline the seatback, tilt the top of the control forward or rearward. See Reclining Seatbacks. ...

    Flash-to-Pass
    To flash the high beams, pull the turn signal/lane change lever toward you, and release. ...

    Braking in Emergencies
    ABS allows the driver to steer and brake at the same time. In many emergencies, steering can help more than even the very best braking. ...