1998 Buick Century

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1998 Buick Century
Available in 2 styles:  Century 4dr Sedan Custom shown
Asking Price Range
$855–$6,111
Estimated MPG

20 city / 29 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 3 of 3

By 

washingtonpost.com
I forgot it. The 1998 Buick Century Limited.

I test-drove it a few days, parked it in a safe downtown garage, and lost mental track of it -- until its rightful owner came calling.

Had I hated or loved the car, this would not have happened. Passion is a constant reminder that something or someone needs tending.

But the Century? Hmph.

It's a front-wheel-drive, mid-size car that's so quintessentially mainstream, so utterly blah, it leaves me cold.

And the thing of it is, in terms of overall performance, the Century isn't such a bad automobile. It's highway competent, comfortable and easy to drive.

But to me at least, it's not lovable; and love is necessary for the success of any relationship, including that between car and owner.

If the Century had looks, I might feel something. But it's stylistic vanilla -- an ellipsoidal body with narrow wraparound headlamps and a modestly pleasant grille.

The interior offers little relief. It features a suspended, linear dashboard, the length of which is mitigated by a semi-elliptical hood atop the instrument cluster. The rest of the six-passenger cabin is so bereft of zing, it has the aura of a bus.

Still, the Buick Century has its ardent supporters, people who find virtue in its conservatism. I cannot count myself among them, not in this Century and, unless it gets some visual zest, not in the next.

Background: Part of the Century's problem is that it appears to be redundant in the six-car Buick lineup, where it rides near the bottom. It is a modified version of the slightly larger Buick Regal and the larger Buick Le Sabre. As such, the Century comes off as a poor imitation of its better-looking cousins.

The car has virtues, of course. It's loaded with standard equipment, including an electronically controlled, four-speed automatic transmission; power windows and locks with a remote keyless entry system; four-wheel anti-lock brakes; and a dual climate-control system that allows the front driver and passenger to adjust temperatures on their sides of the passenger cabin to their own liking.

The Century is equipped with a 3.1-liter, sequentially fuel-injected V-6 engine, rated 160 horsepower at5,200 rpm, with torque rated 185 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm.

There are new air bags in the 1998 car -- the Second Generation or "Generation II" models that deploy slowly. Adjustable lap belts and shoulder harnesses are standard. Use them.

'98 Buick Century Limited

Complaint: Buick needs its larger, 3.8-liter, 195-horsepower V-6 in this thing. The 3.1-liter, 160-horsepower engine is adequate, but bereft of any qualities approaching fun to drive.

Praise: Objective, nuts-and-bolts assessment? It's a decent mid-size family car that will fill most transportation needs. If you don't care about looks or passion, fun or excitement, the Century will serve you well.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Excellent ride. Adequate acceleration, especially on la ne-changing maneuvers. Decent handling. Braking is very good, meaning that it stops well enough to help you avoid an accident in most cases.

Head-turning quotient: This is your grandfather's Buick.

Mileage: About 24 miles per gallon (17-gallon tank, estimated 400-mile range on usable volume of regular unleaded), combined city-highway driving, running with one to three occupants and light cargo (trunk capacity, 16.7 cubic feet).

Sound system: Six-speaker AM/FM stereo radio and cassette with console-mounted, single-disc CD player. GM/Delco system. The only thing in this car that seems to jump with life.

Price: Base price on the tested Century Limited is $19,220. Dealer invoice price on base model is 17,586. Price as tested is $21,390, including $1,620 for the Prestige option package (reading lights on rearview mirror, automatic climate control system, steering wheel-mounted radio controls and a host of other goodies) and a $550 destination charge.

Please note tha this is a late 1997 price. There may be some modest pricing changes for 1998.

Purse-strings note: An excellent value for people who view cars as appliances, and who want an appliance with whistles and bells. Compare with Ford Taurus, Toyota Camry, Mazda 626, Toyota Avalon, Honda Accord.


    Expert Reviews 3 of 3

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