2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs. 2019 Buick Regal Sportback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 3 Series Sedan’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The 3 Series Sedan has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional Surround View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Regal Sportback only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the Regal Sportback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 3 Series Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Regal Sportback has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the Regal Sportback’s (12 vs. 6 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Buick only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the Regal Sportback.

Reliability

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Regal Sportback’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 11 places higher in reliability than Buick.

Engine

The 3 Series Sedan has more powerful engines than the Regal Sportback:

Horsepower

Torque

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

255 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

382 HP

369 lbs.-ft.

Regal Sportback 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. FWD

250 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

Regal Sportback 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. AWD

250 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

Regal Sportback GS 3.6 DOHC V6

310 HP

282 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the 330i is faster than the Buick Regal Sportback 2.0 Turbo:

3 Series

Regal

Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

2.2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.2 sec

5.6 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

8.6 sec

8.9 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

3.9 sec

4 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

14.2 sec

Top Speed

156 MPH

131 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Regal Sportback:

MPG

3 Series Sedan

RWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

AWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

Regal Sportback

FWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/32 hwy

AWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/29 hwy

3.6 DOHC V6

19 city/27 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Transmission

The 3 Series Sedan’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Regal Sportback:

330i

M340i

Regal Sportback

Regal Sportback GS

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.7 inches

12.6 inches

13.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.6 inches

11.3 inches

12.4 inches

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Regal Sportback are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

The 330i’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Regal Sportback’s standard 55 series tires. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 225/35R20 front and 255/30R20 rear tires have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile than the Regal Sportback Avenir/GS’ 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 330i has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Regal Sportback. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the Regal Sportback Avenir/GS.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.5% to 48.5%) than the Regal Sportback’s (61.6% to 38.4%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The 330i xDrive handles at .89 G’s, while the Regal Sportback GS pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the 3 Series Sedan’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the Regal Sportback’s (37.4 feet vs. 39 feet). The 3 Series Sedan xDrive’s turning circle is 1.8 feet tighter than the Regal Sportback’s (39.2 feet vs. 41 feet).

Chassis

The 3 Series Sedan is 7.2 inches shorter than the Regal Sportback, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The front grille of the 3 Series Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Cargo Capacity

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 3 Series offers cargo security. The Regal Sportback’s hatchback body style, non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the 3 Series Sedan. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the 3 Series Sedan offers an optional power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer a power liftgate.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 3 Series Sedan is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Regal Sportback. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The 3 Series Sedan’s front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Regal Sportback’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the 3 Series Sedan the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Regal Sportback can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The 3 Series Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Regal Sportback’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 3 Series Sedan detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Regal Sportback’s optional cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the 3 Series Sedan has standard extendable sun visors. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The 3 Series Sedan has a standard 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. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Regal Sportback.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional Parking Assistant Plus can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The BMW 3 Series comes in sedan, four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Buick Regal isn’t available as a sedan.

Recommendations

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Buick Regal by over three to one during 2018.

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

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