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Is the 2020 Buick Regal Any Better Than the 2020 Chevy Malibu?

The 2020 model year marks the last year Americans will see a new Buick Regal, as the General Motors brand announced plans to cut the entry-level luxury sedan from its lineup. But many experts question whether the latest, and last, of the Buick Regal legacy is worth the “luxury” moniker at all, or just a poor attempt at copying one of its GM cousins.

Did GM just upgrade a Chevy Malibu for the last of the Buick Regals?

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Both the Buick and Chevrolet brands sit under the GM umbrella, with the Regal and Malibu being each brand’s flagship sedan. While Chevrolet is GM’s family-friendly brand, Buick stands as its more upscale, luxury car maker.

But as a cousin to the Malibu, it shares much of its underpinnings. According to Consumer Reports, the newest 2020 Buick Regal might even have so much in common with the cheaper Chevy Malibu that to some, “the Regal may come across as an up-level Chevrolet Malibu, rather than a luxury car.”

But as prices for the newest Regal are certainly considered “luxury,” is it too similar to the Malibu to be worth it?

2020 Buick Regal vs. 2020 Chevy Malibu: pros and cons of each

A Buick Regal on display at an auto show
A red Buick Regal | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

As 2020 is the last year Buick will sell the Regal in the U.S., the 2020 Regal doesn’t receive too much in the way of updates and changes. According to U.S. News, the 2020 Buick Regal’s trim lineup has changed slightly, offering two body configurations: the hatchback and wagon.

Owners can choose between five trim levels with the hatchback Regal, while wagon owners have three choices. Other than new exterior colors and a few new standard features, nothing about the new Buick Regal stands out.

In fact, when compared with other cars in the luxury segment, it offers below-average fuel economy ratings, cheaper-quality cabin materials, and a less-sporty attitude. In addition, many of its pricey available features come as standard features in rivals. However, the Buick Regal does offer a pretty potent engine, tremendous reliability ratings, decent handling, and an overall gentle ride.

The 2020 Chevy Malibu fares just as poorly as its cousin when it’s stacked against the competition in its segment. Updates with design in the most recent generation help the Malibu become more handsome and stylish, but it also results in more complications with visibility.

While the Malibu has a decent base price, fuel economy ratings, comparable tech, and comfortable handling, U.S. News experts believe interior quality and performance are better in competitors. 

Is it worth the higher price tag?

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When comparing the scores of Consumer Reports’ testing, there isn’t much of a difference between the two vehicles. While the Buick Regal earned an 87 (out of 100) on the road test, the 2020 Chevy Malibu scored a close 80.

Both vehicles scored mostly fours (out of five) in performance and comfort categories, while the Regal pulled slightly ahead in predicted reliability and customer satisfaction scores. Regardless, both of these 2020 GM vehicles fell to the bottom of their respective segments.

It’s not that the Buick Regal is a bad car. In fact, the same Consumer Reports experts that put doubt in its luxury claims call it “a pleasant, competent car that doesn’t flaunt its talents.”

Regarding performance and features, the Buick Regal simply pales in comparison to rivals in the small luxury car segment, and its price tag doesn’t help it gain any footing in the competition.

For those already willing to pay the luxury cost, there are simply much better options to choose from. And with only a slight price difference between the Regal and Malibu, owners may better benefit from the upgrades made to the popular Malibu.