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How does the Buick Regal GS compare with the Dodge intrepid R/T?

To create the Intrepid R/T, Chrysler put a new handling package engine into the Intrepid, along with the 300M's 3.5 liter V6, putting out (in this case) 242 hp — down 8 hp from the 300M, but now running on regular gas. (thanks, Nathan D., for pointing out the reason for the gap). But the engines seem evenly matched for power, at least on paper.

The Buick Regal is an upgraded Century, with GM's venerable and likeable 3.8 liter V6. The GS has a supercharger which pushes horsepower to 240. The price range is roughly similar to Dodge.

We haven't been able to test the Intrepid R/T, but it sure has tough competition in a straight line comparison - the Regal GS can get to sixty in under seven seconds, according to Buick. On the other hand, the Regal isn't quite so good in the curves. Still, the Regal can be thrilling, and doesn't seem fazed by torque robbers such as hills and air conditioning. It also has many more gadgets, including optional OnStar navigation/concierge/emergency services.

Gas mileage on the Regal is fairly low at 18/27 (EPA) on premium (the Intrepid R/T takes regular).

The touring suspension (which is really needed with the supercharged engine) is fairly well insulated, but it does let pavement imperfections through. Entry and exit are easy. Cupholders abound though the rear ones seem flimsy.

The Intrepid shines on ergonomic issues. The Regal has no place to toss coins, and the change holder is too far back for the driver to comfortably reach (or see). The usual GM overloaded stalks and impractical cruise control are present, and there is one key for opening all the doors with a second key for the ignition - a system I never did, and never will, understand. The Intrepid avoids all those pitfalls with a well designed, visually integrated interior.

Our test Buick's thermostatically controlled climate control has dual temperature control. The fan is quiet at most speeds, and the air conditioning is powerful and effective. The instrument panel, though not particularly attractive, is easy to read, with a digital boost gauge integrated into the trip computer readout. The automatic headlights can be overridden by the driver. One moderately cool feature absent from the Intrepid is sideways headlights which light up when the turn signals are used.

The Regal is quiet but ready to fly at an instant's notice. However, we did get the impression that, unlike the Intrepid R/T, this was not a "complete package." The engine is terrific, and feels stronger than that of the 300M, partly because acceleration is more sudden. But the suspension doesn't feel as though it has been upgraded to match. Of course, if you are willing to plunk down some extra cash, GM's excellent Stabilitrak system can change that in a jiffy.

Overall, the Regal GS is a fair competitor for the Intrepid R/T. We'll stick with the Dodge, but we'll suggest that you visit your Buick dealer before signing a contract.

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