2020 Buick Regal Sportback vs. 2020 Volkswagen Golf

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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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.

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, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, 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.

Warranty

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Buick’s powertrain warranty covers the Regal Sportback 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Golf. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Golf ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The Regal Sportback’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Golf’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

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.

Reliability

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A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Regal Sportback’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Golf’s camshafts. If the Golf’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Buick vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 21 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Buick 9 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

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The Regal Sportback’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 103 more horsepower (250 vs. 147) and 76 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 184) than the Golf’s 1.4 turbo 4-cylinder. The Regal Sportback’s optional 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 103 more horsepower (250 vs. 147) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 184) than the Golf’s 1.4 turbo 4-cylinder. The Regal Sportback GS’ standard 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 163 more horsepower (310 vs. 147) and 98 lbs.-ft. more torque (282 vs. 184) than the Golf’s 1.4 turbo 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regardless of its engine, the Regal Sportback’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Volkswagen only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Golf Auto.

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.

Transmission

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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 standard on the Buick Regal Sportback, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Golf.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Regal Sportback

Regal Sportback GS

Golf

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

13.6 inches

11.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.3 inches

12.4 inches

10.7 inches

The Regal Sportback stops much shorter than the Golf:

Regal Sportback

Golf

70 to 0 MPH

162 feet

184 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

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

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

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Regal Sportback has standard 17-inch wheels. Only 16-inch wheels are available on the Golf. The Regal Sportback Avenir/GS has standard 19-inch wheels.

Suspension and Handling

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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 pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Regal Sportback GS executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Golf (26.6 seconds @ .67 average G’s vs. 27.2 seconds @ .65 average G’s).

Chassis

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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, the interior of the Regal Sportback Essence is quieter than the Golf TSI:

Regal Sportback

Golf

At idle

37 dB

38 dB

Full-Throttle

75 dB

80 dB

70 MPH Cruising

70 dB

71 dB

Passenger Space

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Regal Sportback a Large car, while the Golf is rated a Compact.

The Regal Sportback has 4.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Golf (98 vs. 93.5).

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

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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

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Buick 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

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The Regal Sportback (except Base) 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.

The Regal Sportback’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Golf has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.

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

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 Preferred/Essence/Avenir/GS’ standard rear view mirror and optional 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 offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

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 Essence/Avenir/GS’ standard 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 GS has standard massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Golf.

The Regal Sportback’s 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. The Golf doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The Regal Sportback’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature 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/Avenir/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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Buick Regal (except Base/Preferred) offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Golf doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

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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 $75 less for a starter, $142 less for front struts and $40 less for a timing belt/chain.

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

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