2018 Buick Regal Sportback vs. 2018 Volkswagen Golf

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Regal Sportback offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Golf doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Regal Sportback Essence/GS’ optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Golf doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

Both the Regal Sportback and the Golf have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, blind spot warning systems, front and rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The Buick Regal Sportback weighs 745 to 1325 pounds more than the Volkswagen Golf. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.


The Regal Sportback comes with free roadside assistance for 6 years 70,000 miles. Buick will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Golf.

Buick pays for scheduled maintenance on the Regal Sportback for 2 years and 24,000 miles. Buick will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance (up to 2 oil changes). Volkswagen doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Golf.

There are over 3 times as many Buick dealers as there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Regal Sportback’s warranty.


J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick third in reliability, above the industry average. With 41 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Buick 8 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.


The Regal Sportback’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 80 more horsepower (250 vs. 170) and 66 lbs.-ft. more torque (265 vs. 199) than the Golf’s 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. The Regal Sportback GS’ standard 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 140 more horsepower (310 vs. 170) and 83 lbs.-ft. more torque (282 vs. 199) than the Golf’s 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Buick Regal Sportback is faster than the Volkswagen Golf (automatics tested):


Regal 2.0 Turbo

Regal GS


Zero to 60 MPH

5.6 sec

5.4 sec

7.7 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.8 sec

13.5 sec

21 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.1 sec

5.7 sec

8.1 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

13.9 sec

15.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

101 MPH

101 MPH

88 MPH

Top Speed

131 MPH


124 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Regal Sportback’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Golf doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Regal Sportback has 3.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Golf (16.3 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The Regal Sportback has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Golf doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.


The Buick Regal Sportback comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Golf.

A nine-speed automatic is available on the Buick Regal Sportback, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Golf.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Regal Sportback’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Golf:




Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.3 inches

10.7 inches

The Regal Sportback stops much shorter than the Golf:





70 to 0 MPH

162 feet

175 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Regal Sportback has larger standard tires than the Golf (225/55R17 vs. 195/65R15). The Regal Sportback’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Golf (245/45R18 vs. 205/55R16).

The Regal Sportback’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Golf’s standard 65 series tires. The Regal Sportback GS’ optional tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Golf SE’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Regal Sportback has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Golf. The Regal Sportback GS’ optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 16-inch wheels on the Golf SE.

Suspension and Handling

The Regal Sportback offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Golf’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Regal Sportback’s wheelbase is 7.6 inches longer than on the Golf (111.4 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Regal Sportback is 1.8 inches wider in the front and 3.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Golf.

The Regal Sportback GS handles at .87 G’s, while the Golf S pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.


The Regal Sportback AWD uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Golf doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the Regal Sportback Essence is quieter than the Golf S (37 vs. 42 dB).

Passenger Space

The Regal Sportback has .4 inches more front headroom, .9 inches more front legroom, 1 inch more front shoulder room, 1.3 inches more rear legroom and 1.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Golf.

Cargo Capacity

The Regal Sportback has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Golf with its rear seat up (31.5 vs. 22.8 cubic feet). The Regal Sportback has a much larger trunk with its rear seat folded than the Golf with its rear seat folded (60.7 vs. 52.7 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Buick 9th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 22% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 16th.


The Regal Sportback offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Golf doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When two different drivers share the Regal Sportback (except Base/Preferred), the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver and front passenger’s seat positions and outside mirror angle. The Golf doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Regal Sportback (except Base/Preferred)’s optional easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Golf doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Regal Sportback’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge – which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Golf does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Regal Sportback GS offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Golf doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Regal Sportback offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Golf doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Regal Sportback has standard extendable sun visors. The Golf doesn’t offer extendable visors.

When the Regal Sportback with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Golf’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Regal Sportback’s optional rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Golf doesn’t offer the luxury of automatic dimming mirrors.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Regal Sportback GS keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Golf doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Regal Sportback’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Golf doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Regal Sportback’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Golf doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The Regal Sportback’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Golf doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Regal Sportback Essence/GS offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Golf doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Regal Sportback is less expensive to operate than the Golf because typical repairs cost less on the Regal Sportback than the Golf, including $70 less for a starter, $142 less for front struts and $39 less for a timing belt/chain.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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