One Car, No Waiting: The Immediate Payoff of the 2015 Buick Regal eAssist

Side view of 2015 Buick Regal
The 2015 Buick Regal. 
Our so-fresh-the-pixels-aren't-dry-yet reviews of the 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the 2015 Lexus ES 300h hybrid illustrate the wide range of time it can take for the fuel savings of a hybrid to pay for the extra cost over the gasoline version of the same vehicle. The Highlander's small difference in fuel economy and large difference in price result in an 11.6 year wait to break even, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Hybrid Cost Calculator.  A narrower price gap and bigger gain in fuel economy cuts the wait to just 4.6 years for the ES 300h.

But what if you could cut the wait to zero?  Start saving money immediately? What would that take?

Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Buick Regal
2015 Buick Regal.
Answer: A significant savings in gas mileage and no additional cost for the hybrid powertrain.  And that's what the 2015 Buick Regal eAssist offers.

If you buy a Buick Regal with the Premium I Group (see standard equipment here), the base price is $31,750 and part of the bargain is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 259 horsepower. That's a performance-oriented engine, but one that delivers a very respectable 19 miles per gallon city and 27 highway, according to EPA estimates.

But let's say that your interest is fuel economy. Buick allows you to order a 2.4-liter four with eAssist, a gasoline/electric hybrid, at no cost.  Horsepower drops significantly, to 182, which is still more than adequate, and the EPA mileage estimates take a big jump...to 25 city/36 highway.

And because you pay zero extra for the hybrid, the fuel savings are immediate. There's nothing to offset. Even if you only keep the car for three or four years, you're saving money.

Interior view of 2015 Buick Regal
2015 Buick Regal interior.
So what is the car itself like?  Well, as our Publisher and Executive Editor reported last month in his review of the 2015 Buick LaCrosse, Buick has become a very credible player in the near-luxury segment, with the only drawback being the use of some cheaper plastic bits where they are less likely to be seen, but can still be felt when the hand moves to certain controls (the power seat control surrounds being the most obvious example).

Past that, though, the Regal, like the LaCrosse Michael drove, is surprisingly capable.  Its smoothness leads you to expect a disconnect from the road, but that never proves true.  It is always involved but never intrusive...a modern interpretation of what once made Buicks great road cars.

With the eAssist powertrain a no-cost option, the only other additional charge on our test vehicle was $1,000 for a power moonroof.  The as-tested price, with $925 destination charge, came to $33,675. A reasonable price for this car---a bargain when you consider that your savings on fuel are immediate.

In the 60s, eAssist at no cost and its benefits would have been part of a massive advertising campaign designed to steal share from and shame any other hybrid on the market.  Instead, it is very nearly a secret.  But now you know.