Buick Regal, Volvo S60 join Consumer Reports' list of top upscale, sports sedans

The Regal, pictured, finished just 1 point shy of the class-leading BMW 328i.

UPDATED: 7/22/14 7:49 am ET - details added

The Buick Regal, refreshed with a revamped powertrain for 2014, now ranks among the top upscale sports sedans tested by Consumer Reports, just behind the BMW 328i but high enough to easily top the magazine’s road test scores for the Cadillac ATS and CTS sedans.

The magazine, in its September issue, also says the improved Volvo S60 is sportier enough to give “more prestigious competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz serious competition.”

The magazine’s engineers found the Regal’s performance, handling and easy-to-use infotainment system especially appealing, helping it beat the Volvo S60 in a head-to-head road test.

The Regal finished just 1 point shy of the class-leading BMW 328i, with 84 points, and tied the Mercedes-Benz C250 for second place with 83 points, in the magazine’s overall ratings of upscale sport sedans. The Volvo S60 received a road score of 80, ahead of the Volkwagen CC, Infiniti Q50, Audi A4 and Lexus IS.

Consumer Reports gave the latest Cadillac CTS, a mid-sized luxury sport sedan, and the ATS sedan, which competes more directly with the Regal in size and price, each a score of 76.

Of all the top upscale, sporty sedans the magazine has evaluated in recent tests, only the 328i, Regal and C250 are recommended.

“The Regal is a thoroughly developed and satisfying mid-sized sports sedan that’s more reminiscent of a German sports car than the softly sprung luxo-barges that Buick was once known for,” Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing, said in a statement.

Better engines

The 2014 Regal’s revised 2.0-liter, 259-hp, turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes the sedan quicker and more fuel-efficient than when it first came out, the magazine said.

In previous testing by the magazine, the Regal received a road test score of 79 and the S60 was awarded a score of 77.

Consumer Reports said the Volvo S60’s new, 240-hp, 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, “is a marked improvement in drivability, fuel economy, and refinement over the previous five-cylinder engine.”

The S60’s engine “power is generous and smooth, with a well-integrated turbo that makes the car very responsive and provides effortless power,” the magazine said. “Fuel economy is decent, at 25 mpg overall.”

The magazine said it also tested the redesigned Mercedes S-class sedan and awarded the S550 a road test score of 96. Only the Tesla Model S, with a road test score of 99, and the Mercedes-Benz E250 (98) rank higher in the magazine’s current rankings of all light vehicles.

Consumer Reports described the ultra-luxurious S class -- Mercedes-Benz's flagship -- as “a showcase of comfort, convenience, and technology. And priced at $114,475, “it’s brimming with advanced features, including active safety systems that let the car almost drive itself in some situations, foreshadowing the autonomous cars of the future.”

Audi A3

The magazine also awarded a road test score of 77 to the new Audi A3 sedan, making it the magazine's top rated upscale small sedan.

“The compact Audi A3, with prices starting at less than $30,000, is the latest in a wave of small luxury-branded models for buyers who have one eye on their budget and the other on gas prices,” the magazine said. “Derived from the upcoming 2015 Volkswagen Golf, the A3 might lack the plush, roomy environment and long list of features found in true luxury cars, but it’s a solid, agile sedan that’s enjoyable to drive.”

And unlike some other entry-level luxury cars that Consumer Reports says have wandered away from their brand’s DNA, notably the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Lexus CT, the magazine said the new A3 “actually feels, drives, and looks like an Audi.”

You can reach David Phillips at dphillips@crain.com



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