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Machine Design

2001 Buick Regal GS

The metallic gold Regal GS, complete with a special limited edition Olympic package and styling by fashion designer Joseph Abboud, had just about everything a driver would ever need, and then some.

For performance, the 3800 SFI Series II V6 uses a belt-driven supercharger to give it that little extra oomph. The 231 cu-in., overhead-valve engine generates 240 hp at 5,200 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. (This compares to 200 hp and 225 lb-ft for the nonsupercharged version.) A heavy-duty four-speed electronic transmission with overdrive shifts seamlessly and helps the sedan get its 18/28 mpg city/hwy rating. And for stopping, Buick engineers have specified four-wheel power-assist disc brakes, vented in the front, solid in the rear. All of this translates into plenty of passing and stopping power, comfortable highway cruising, and a tendency for jack-rabbit starts.

Handling is almost too refined thanks to a suspension and plush leather seating that seem to remove the driver from any direct contact with the road. The steering uses a magnet-based variable-effort rack-and-pinion system that makes it practically effortless to turn the wheels at slow speeds. The front end relies on MacPherson struts and a hollow stabilizer bar to smooth out the road, while the back wheels rest on independent strut-type coil springs aided by another hollow stabilizer bar.

The car comes with practically everything -- front and side airbags for the driver, antilock brakes, ABS, Onstar, dual-zone air conditioning with a filtration system, a six-way power driver seat, and the requisite power locks, windows and mirrors, CD/cassette player and radio, and heated outside mirrors. But naturally, for a few dollars more, you can get more options, namely the $1,915 Olympic package. But I wouldn't pop for it. It includes radio controls on the steering wheel, upgraded speakers, a six-way power passenger seat, a sunroof, electrochromic mirrors, and that Olympic appearance package and styling from Abboud.

The Olympic package consists of two body-colored five-ring logos that are practically invisible. I didn't really see much cutting-edge styling from the fashion maven, though I believe he will be contributing to the two-tone leather wrapping found on midyear models' steering wheels.

One night, after driving for an hour or so, the illuminated radio controls on the steering wheel got way too hot, hot enough to make me think something might've been wrong with the car. I thought I might be a bit too picky, but my friend concurred. The only other complaint I have with this car is the legroom allotted rear-seat passengers. With my friend and I comfortably adjusted into the front seats, there was little more than 6 in. left between the front edge of the back bench and our front seats. It seemed rather miserly considering it's a four-door sedan, but they do say it's midsized. Total cost for the vehicle, including a $600 destination charge and a $500 special edition rebate, is $28,110.

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