Buick launched its mid-size Regal sedan in late 2010 as a 2011 model, with the Turbo, high-performance GS and eAssist models following suit over the past year. Now, General Motors' tri-shield arm has announced a couple of powertrain updates that will go into effect for the 2013 model year, namely the discontinuation of the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter inline-four in the base Regal.

For 2013, the Regal's standard engine is the 2.4-liter eAssit powerplant – a mill that, according to the EPA, is good for up to 36 miles per gallon on the highway. Buick pulled a similar stunt with its larger LaCrosse, killing off the base 2.4 in favor of the eAssist powertrain with a V6 available as a no-cost option. That said, Buick has not announced pricing for the updated 2013 Regal line, but we'll be interested to see if the 220-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-four of the Regal Turbo will be available at no additional cost.

The 270-hp Regal GS carries over largely unchanged, though as initially promised, a six-speed automatic transmission will now be optional. Buick states that the self-shifting unit will not hinder performance (well, except for that whole shift-on-your-own-terms thing), citing that the automatic-equipped Regal GS will sprint to 60 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds, just like manual-equipped cars.

Buick will release full pricing and availability for the 2013 Regal line later this year. In the meantime, read the full details for yourself in the press release below the fold.
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Drivetrain Changes Announced for Buick Regal Lineup

New automatic transmission for Regal GS and eAssist to be standard on 2013 Regal


DETROIT – Coming off strong sales year in which it outsold the Audi A4, Lexus IS250, and Acura TSX, Buick's midsize luxury sport sedan continues to evolve. The performance-oriented Regal GS has a new automatic transmission available in dealerships now. Additionally, with the introduction of the 2013 model later this year, eAssist fuel efficiency technology becomes standard.

U.S. News and World Report has named the Regal the "Best Upscale Midsize Car for Families." Last month, it was named "Best Car for the Money" in the same category. The "Upscale Midsize Car" category includes 19 different vehicles.

Self-shifting Regal GS

The 270 horses of the Regal GS' turbocharged 2.0L Ecotec – one of WardsAuto World's 2012 "10 Best Engines" for North America – can now be controlled through a second transmission. A six-speed automatic with Driver Shift Control is now offered as a no-cost option instead of the existing six-speed manual.

"With the Regal GS, we made a conscious decision to go against the current trend and give enthusiasts the manual transmission they desire as standard equipment" said Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of Buick Marketing. "Adding an automatic simply makes the performance of the GS even more accessible."

The new Aisin AF40 automatic is calibrated specifically for Buick's most athletic sedan. With the car's Interactive Drive Control System set to "GS" mode, the transmission delivers firmer shifts, aiding performance. Acceleration matches the manual with an estimated 0-60 mph time of 6.7 seconds.

EPA-estimated fuel economy of 19 mpg city and 27 on the highway, standard performance components like Buick's innovative HiPer Strut front suspension and Brembo front brake calipers, and optional features are identical regardless of the transmission.

Hagerty insurance recently named the Buick Regal GS to its "2012 Hot List" of vehicles its valuation experts expect to be future collectibles.

Standard 36 Highway MPG with Regal eAssist

Starting with the arrival of 2013 models, eAssist will be standard on the Regal with the discontinuation of the 2.4L base model. Both the Regal Turbo and Regal GS models will remain available.

The eAssist uses a compact lithium-ion battery pack and a small electric motor to aid the performance of a fuel-efficient 2.4-liter gas engine. The system provides an electrical boost to aid the engine at low speeds and on inclines where fuel efficiency can suffer most. The Regal with eAssist achieves an EPA-estimated 36 highway mpg, equal to a Mini Cooper and higher than some full hybrids like the Infiniti M35h, which is rated at 32 mpg.

"Buick is committed to increasing innovation across the lineup," said DiSalle "By making the advanced eAssist powertrain standard on a second vehicle, we are putting the spotlight on smart technology."

For the 2012 model year, eAssist became standard for the larger LaCrosse luxury sedan. Offered at the same price as the V6, eAssist is already outselling its hybrid competitors and is projected to grow in popularity this year.

According to Hybridcars.com, the Buick LaCrosse with eAssist outsold the Lincoln MKZ by a 3-to-1 margin and the Lexus HS250h by a 5-to-1 margin in January 2012.

Pricing and an on-sale date for the 2013 Regal with eAssist will be announced later this year.