now a year beyond the centennial mark as the venerable car line at General Motors,
scores a new sport-utility vehicle to join a cluster of four plush sedans plus
another SUV that drives like a car.
newest SUV -- Rainier
-- emerges as a 2004 model based on GM's mid-size SUV architecture that also underpins
Chevrolet's Trailblazer and GMC Envoy. Rainier skews toward the luxury side of
motoring with plush seats in a cabin and deluxe appointments including rich perforated
leather upholstery. It comes with a choice of V6 or V8 powertrain and either rear-wheel-drive
(RWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction for forays on slick pavement or graveled
other Buick SUV -- Rendezvous -- also has a spacious passenger compartment with
room for all in the family while delivering a ride quality that seems as refined
as what you'd expect from a big sedan. For 2004, a luxurious new monochromatic
version of Rendezvous called Ultra emerges with appointments that elevate it beyond
CX and CXL trims. It also gets a new 3.6-liter V6 engine with variable valve timing
(VVT) and produces up to 245 hp.
sedans in 2004 extend from the full-size Park Avenue and a supercharged Park Avenue
Ultra flagship to full-size LeSabre with special Celebration commemorative edition
in limited numbers, the sporty mid-size Regal with optional supercharging and
a mid-size Century available in three new bargain-priced packages.
the second SUV for Buick following in the path of Rendezvous. It's new to Buick's
line for 2004 and fits in the mid-size class as a five-door wagon with two rows
of seats for five passengers plus room for cargo in a back bay.
looks big but refined and decidedly like a Buick, due to a rounded prow that prominently
displays the Buick signature of an oval grille in chrome inset with vertical bars
and Buick's tri-shield insignia.
agile nature and smooth ride quality are the result of a rigid ladder-frame chassis
with one-piece steel rails running the length of the wagon. An uncommon component
for a truck-based wagon is the quick rack and pinion steering mechanism coupled
to hydraulic power assistance.
stopping, four disc brakes connect to an intelligent four-wheel anti-lock brake
system (ABS), with electronic traction control (ETC) at the rear. Optional AWD
utilizes a smart system to distribute engine torque between front and rear wheels.
It operates automatically and requires no input from the driver.
locomotion, Rainier presents V6 and V8 engine choices. Standard is the 4.6-liter
in-line-six with 275 hp. Optional is a 5.3-liter V8 that runs to 290 hp.
the cabin, Rainier provides a luxurious environment in monochromatic hues with
personal comfort as the theme. A pair of bucket seats in front stands beside a
central console with multiple functions. It cradles the shift lever and a dash
stack of gear for audio and climate systems. Round analog gauges in the instruments
cluster include a large tachometer to the left of the centered speedometer, with
all dials displaying faces in white and needles prominent in a shade of aqua green.
to Rainier's long wheelbase, legroom for the rear three-person bench is ample.
The seatback splits into sections and folds down to fashion a flat floor in the
cargo bay with double the space at 85 cubic feet.
comes with a high content of standard equipment like power windows and locks and
mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate system, OnStar telecommunications with a
DVD-based navigation system, and perforated leather upholstery with front seats
adding armrests and power controls plus memory settings.
range from heated seats to adjustable floor pedals,
a Bose audio system with CD changer and a DVD-based
video entertainment system for backseat riders.
our Review: Buick
smaller SUV feels good -- it's easy to enter, effortless to operate, smooth in
suspension and entirely pleasant for passengers. Further, the cabin contains flexible
seats that flip and fold or pop out quickly to vary the balance between seats
and cargo space.
year's editions introduced the choice of AWD traction, third-row bench seats and
optional captain's chairs on the second row instead of a bench seat. For 2004,
Rendezvous adds the Ultra edition in front-wheel-drive (FWD) format and charged
with power from a new V6 VVT engine that rips to 245 hp. Rendezvous Ultra is trimmed
in monochromatic style outside, and the cabin's lined in premium appointments
with leather captain's chairs and trim accents in chrome and wood.
range from XM satellite radio service to a DVD-based entertainment system, navigation
system, head-up display (HUD) instruments, automatic level control and ultrasonic
rear park assist (UPAS).
pick out 2004 versions of Buick's flagship sedans by a new monochromatic ornament
standing on the prow of the hood. The series consists of two sedans that vary
primarily in power points and on-board amenities.
Park Avenue Ultra ripples with energy due to a mechanical supercharger used to
extract more-than-normal power from a six-cylinder engine. Without the supercharger,
Buick's 3.8-liter V6 for base Park Avenue musters 205 hp. Then apply the supercharger
and the booster makes 240 hp.
cluster graphics line the instrument panel in a posh cabin, with new colors evident
like Light Cashmere with Dark Birdseye Maple woodgrain trim or Medium Gray keyed
to Satin Walnut woodgrain.
Ultra rolls on 17-inch chrome-plated aluminum wheels and flashes portholes on
front fenders plus chrome exhaust tips at the tail.
full-size sedan has been the best-seller in its class for the past eleven years.
For 2004, LeSabre divides into two trims, Custom and Limited, yet the latter serves
as foundation for a Celebration series.
emerged last year to mark the centennial anniversary of Buick and repeats in 2004
with all features of LeSabre Limited plus body-color lower fascia and rocker moldings,
a monochrome badge up front and the oval grille displaying blacked-out bars inside
a chrome ring. Celebration
appears in three new premium paints -- Platinum Metallic, Glacier Blue Metallic
and Steelmist Metallic.
surges from the strength of a 3.8-liter V6, which reaches 205 hp and ties to a
smooth four-speed automatic transaxle with electronic controls. Standard LeSabre
seating consists of a 55/45 split bench in front, but a 45/45 design with console
is optional. Cloth and leather upholstery may be applied to each series.
refinements with Celebration include two-tone leather seats, woodgrain trim on
the instrument panel and doors, shiny chrome finish on door handles and floor
mats embroidered with Buick's tri-shield symbol. Options range from a sunroof
and Gran Touring sport suspension to XM satellite radio service.
mid-size sedan comes in two trims with base LS stocking GM's 3.8-liter V6 for
200 hp or sporty GS applying a supercharger boost for 240 hp. The cabin pitches
twin buckets up front (and, unlike other Buick sedans, there's no option for a
front bench), with space for up to three on the rear bench.
new optional packages come in 2004 -- the Luxury Package or a Leather and Luxury
Package. The former brings 16-inch aluminum wheels, Gran Touring sport suspension
tuning, radio controls mounted on the steering wheel, assist grips at passenger
doors with switch-on reading lamps and color-keyed floor mats. The latter carries
these items plus leather seat upholstery, twin zones for the automatic climate
system and a rear seatback that slits and folds.
Regal also gets new wood trim in the cabin and fresh body paint colors like Cashmere
Metallic and Steelmist Metallic.
on this sedan traces back to 1936, when Buick first identified its products by
easy-to-remember names rather than numbers. Now it's the entry-level Buick in
the mid-size class and 2004 editions offer three new packages of appointments
and gear ranked by ascending price points.
The packages are labeled with familiar Century trim names -- Standard, Custom
and Limited. Century Standard with six-place seats brings a remote keyless entry,
twin zones for climate control, power door locks and power windows, and an audio
kit with CD deck.
Custom adds six-way power to the driver's seat, cruise control, deluxe lighted
visor mirrors, rear grips with switch-on reading lamps, floor mats and a cargo
net in the trunk. Then the Limited piles on luxury items like leather seats and
radio controls on the steering wheel.
enriched engine -- a 3.1-liter V6 -- registers 175 hp. It links to the GM 4T65E
automatic transmission with four forward gears and electronic controls.