2004 Buick Park Avenue Ultra (471)

Overview:

This week was a time for me to revisit the past by testing the 2004 Buick Park Avenue Ultra. The very first thing I noticed was the fender portholes that helped to launch me back to the 1950’s. Great trip down memory lane.

It’s a touch of class but to me it always represented the “Second Class” line along with Oldsmobile, both behind Cadillac. Chevrolet and Pontiac were further down the line. But all these cars come from a “First Class” company that dates back over 100 years. Oldsmobile is the oldest and if memory serves me, GM announced they were discontinuing the line soon.  

Speaking of “Memory Lane”, you know how some things just stay with you over the years; I can’t help recalling a friend in youth who drove a Buick. Roy was a little strange or eccentric if you will. When he wasn’t driving the Buick he was riding a Heritage Harley Davidson motorcycle. That was strange because only “California Cowboys”, Cops, police officers, rode Harley’s in those days. I don’t even think the Hells Angels rode Harley’s then. Anyway, Roy had changed the radio buttons from B-U-I-C-K to C-I-K-U-B. I’ve told this story before and I wonder if you can figure what those letters stand for. Email me at joe@atthewheel.com.

General Info:

Parts –  n/a

Assembly – Orion, Michigan

Class:  – Large

Cars: – Century, Le Sabre, Park Avenue, Rainier, Regal & Rendezvous.

Handling & Performance:

Buick used to be a real tank. It was not so lovingly referred to as a “road hog”. When you went over a dip it would still be oscillating up and down into the next county. Today it handles superbly. It is lean and mean with great road presence. What a nice turnabout. The supercharger is like a jet assist that makes this Buick faster than the sophisticated image should imply.

Styling:

The black color gives it the appearance of being an FBI car. Good thing it didn’t have chrome spot lights. But the mafia leans toward black cars too. And with tinted windows I could have donned a chauffeurs cap and added even more intrigue.

Well, it just goes to show you both the FBI and the Mafia have good taste in cars.

Fit and Finish:

Very good and the interior is well fitted with Faux Burled walnut trim reminiscent of Jaguar interiors. Truly this Buick has a standout elegant look I believe will sell this car more than any other feature of this American icon.

Conveniences:

One feature I’ve come to appreciate is the rear parking sensors on some cars these days. Buick refers to it as Ultrasonic rear parking assist. The cost is $295 and well worth it. It could save you the embarrassment of backing into objects in parking lots or while parallel parking. Another feature that is convenient (standard equipment) is separate climate control for driver and passenger. She never likes the setting I chose. And finally, the (standard equipment) Rain Sensor windshield wipers are trick but also very practical.

Cost:

Not cheap. I must admit I was a little surprised it was as pricey as it is. But on the other hand it competes with much more expensive cars. They are pricier by virtue of the fact they are foreign made. That distinction is beginning to be less of an argument for paying more.

Consumer Recommendation:

This Buick as well as many American cars is hugely under rated. Foreign carmakers hungry to do business in America entered with a “try harder attitude”. That attitude was apparent early on but today American cars are back and better than ever. With pricing advantages for American carmakers I believe it will be less fashionable to buy foreign in years to come. You’ve got to love this Buick.

The Competition:

Buick Park Avenue $35-40,000, Mitsubishi Diamante $26-28,000, Chrysler 300M $29-33,000, Cadillac DeVille $45-50,000, Ford Crown Victoria $24-31,000, Audi A6 $36-50,000, Lexus GS $39-48,000, BMW 5-Series $39-58,000, Jaguar S-type $43-62,000.

Good News:

Price competitive with foreign imports costing much more for similar quality.

Bad News:

Traditionally has a lower resale value than foreign competitors.

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter supercharged V6 engine with 4-speed auto trans, OnStar system, traction control, Stabilitrak chassis control system, child seat latch, leather seating, driver info center, driver 10-way power seat with lumbar, child seat latch system, audio with CD and cassette with steering wheel controls, compass, power windows, remote keyless entry, power mirrors, 17”chrome wheels, 4-wheel ABS brakes, fender portholes, Faux burled walnut trim and moisture sensing wipers.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 28Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $39,925.

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