FEBRUARY 17, 1997

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On the Road: Test drive--1997-1/2 Buick Regal GS

Buick Regal

The 1997-1/2 Buick Regal GS.

On the Road The sixth-generation 1997-1/2 Buick Regal GS is a sporty midsize sedan with a classic design and luxury components. Quiet and smooth, it's an easy car to get used to driving--and it looks good on your driveway.
   The classic look, thin A-pillars, and the use of cladding on the doors between the wheels give the Regal real style. Different from previous generation Regals, this model is engineered to be larger and more comfortable. The front and rear tracks are wider, resulting in improved road handling and stability, and a better turning diameter. There is also more interior room and cargo space.
   Powered by a supercharged version of the Series II 3800 V-6, the Regal has 240 horsepower at 5200rpm and 280 lb.-ft. of torque at 3600rpm.
   An isolated four-wheel fully independent suspension provides a smooth ride on the sixteen-inch wheels and tires. Equipped with four-wheel power disc brakes and GM's ABS VI anti-lock brake system, braking fast or slow gets you instant and smooth results.
   The amber parking lamps serve as the standard daytime running lights.
   Inside the car you are well aware of the improvements of noise reduction. Triple door seals and added insulation seal off road noise. On-Board Diagnostics system is standard. Bucket seats replace the old Regal's bench ones, and leather is nice. The standard rear seat pass-through accommodates long objects and the trunk is roomy.
   Buick claims that the chance for squeaks and rattles has been virtually eliminated through stiffer structure, including extensive use of sound deadeners and improved fasteners.
   Nice options like heated seats, integrated child safety seat, cellular phone package, and others add to the attractiveness of this car.
   Buick is targeting "boomers" aged 40 to 49, both men and women, but this car, at about $24,600, is for anyone who wants something stylish and sporty, high on performance, fun to drive, and with room enough for other passengers.