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:

    Courtesy Lamps
    The courtesy lamps come on automatically when any door is opened and the dome lamp is in the door position. ...

    Rear Seats
    Folding the Seatback Either side of the seatback can be folded down for more cargo space. Fold a seatback only when the vehicle is not moving. Notice: Folding a rear seat with the safety belts stil ...

    Ultrasonic Parking Assist
    Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist (URPA) uses sensors on the rear bumper to detect objects while parking the vehicle. It operates at speeds less than 8 km/h (5 mph). URPA uses audio beeps to provide dis ...