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Buick Regal Receives Raves

According to the U.S. News & World Report, the 2011 Buick Regal ranks 1 out of 21 Upscale Midsize Cars . This ranking is based on analyses of 27 published reviews and test drives of the Buick Regal, as well as analysis of reliability and safety data. Below is Rick Newman's "micro-review."

Starts at $26,360 / 19 MPG city / 30 MPG highway

What it is : A "near-luxury" sedan that's the best evidence yet that the General Motors bailout was worth it.

What's worth knowing : GM's Buick division was an also-ran for a long time, stuck between GM's everyman nameplate, Chevrolet, and the more upscale Cadillac lineup. When GM downsized its unwieldy portfolio in 2009, some analysts thought it should discard Buick along with Hummer, Saturn, Saab and Pontiac. But GM insisted Buick still had a place, and doubled-down on its efforts to revitalize the tired brand. By most accounts, GM has succeeded, and the Regal is the baby Buick at the bottom of a surprisingly strong lineup. Now all GM needs is young buyers willing to help Buick seem youthful again, or at least middle-aged.

Who it's for : The Regal is a crisp, well-mannered sedan for up-and-comers who appreciate good wheels and don't need a BMW or Lexus badge to make themselves feel worthy.

What's good: It packs a great set of standard features, like heated seats, Bluetooth, and leather upholstery, plus a thrifty four-cylinder engine that's surprisingly punchy. It also undercuts competitors such as the BMW 3 series, the Infiniti G class and even the Hyundai Genesis by thousands of dollars.

What's bad : The cabin is smaller than many Americans prefer, which is too bad because the smaller footprint generates better performance. Driving purists may prefer the more taut handling of the BMW 1 or 3 series.

What to do if you want one : Test drive the base model and the turbocharged version as well, then check out competitors like the Acura TSX, the Audi A4 and the Lexus IS. The imports might seem a bit nicer—but nice enough to justify a big premium over the Regal?

Click here for everything else you need to know.

Rick Newman is the Chief Business Correspondent for U.S. News & World Report and a longtime car buff. He covers corporate and consumer trends from the magazine's New York bureau. Rick is also the magazine's car reviewer and will be writing what he calls "micro-reviews" here on a regular basis, as well as writing about all things vehicular.

Follow Rick on Twitter, @rickjnewman.

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