1991 Buick Park Avenue

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    Expert Reviews 2 of 3
1991 Buick Park Avenue 3.7 3
$ 1,810-3,402
September 20, 1990
Innovation doesn`t have to mean my car has more microprocessors than yours.

Sometimes innovation simply means making a car a little longer, a bit more powerful and a lot quieter than the version you had been offering, because that`s what your customers wanted.

That`s what Buick has accomplished with the new `91 Park Avenue.

After but a few brief turns around the block in Chicago to whet our appetite, we`ve had the chance to spend time with the machine.

The folks from Flint did their homework when it came to giving loyalists what they wanted: a car 8 inches longer than the downsized version foisted upon them in 1986, a car with 10 more horsepower (170) than the 3.8-liter V-6 had been delivering and a vehicle almost eerily quiet and devoid of wind noise at 65 miles per hour on Detroit expressways.

Hear a pin drop in the Park Avenue? You can hear it slice through the air before it lands on the thickly padded carpet.

There`s not so much attention to frills as to details, such as making antilock brakes and a driver`s side air bag standard.

Those are the major items, but little nuances also are covered, such as giving the driver and front seat passenger their own temperature controls, positioning light switches in the door where they`re easier to see and use and placing fuel filler door and trunk release buttons in the instrument panel so you don`t have to fumble around to find them, much less use them.

There`s more, such as cassette, coin and cup holders in the center console and two-in-one sun visors to shade front and side windows at the same time.

There also are wide bodyside moldings to protect against parking lot nicks and a spacious trunk to hold several sets of golf clubs or the family`s vacation luggage.

Yet the Park Avenue is not without flaws, such as the hood release button buried on the floor next to the emergency foot brake or a back seat with sufficient head room so passengers can wear a 10-gallon hat but a stingy bottom that barely holds the chaps.

Another aggravation obviously was not meant to be so. To keep occupants from submarining under the dash in a frontal collision, the lower dash sports padded knee bolsters. But the bolster also has a lip on top big enough to attract pencil, pen or coins that will slide out of control in any corner or turn.

You`ll find little to complain about with the engine or suspension, however. The 3.8-liter V-6 goes to tuned-port injection, good for a 10-h.p. boost, enough to make a quicker departure from the light or into the passing lane than was possible with last year`s 160 h.p., 3.8-liter, V-6. Yet the fuel economy is an impressive 18 miles per gallon city/27 m.p.g. highway with the standard 4-speed automatic transmission.

Dynaride suspension blends the firmness of a sports setting with the softness of a luxury setting to minimize up/down/sideways body movement. Smooth describes the ride, precise the handling.

Standard equipment includes tilt steering; cruise control; power windows; power seats; power brakes and steering; automatic level control; solar tinted glass; rear window defogger; power door locks; air conditioning; AM/FM stereo with digital clock and cassette player; dual, electric, remote mirrors; intermittent wipers; front and rear seat reading lights; aluminum wheels; and steel-belted, all-season, radial tires.

Park Avenue base price is $24,385, up $2,635 from 1990, in large part from the addition of antilock brakes and air bag as standard. The Ultra starts at $27,420, up $405 from 1990.

Our test car added a $1,029 option package that included power antenna, low oil and coolant level indicator lights, illuminated entry system, door- edge guards and white-stripe tires. Add $580 for freight, and the sticker read $25,994.

>> 1991 Buick Park Avenue Wheelbase: 110.8 inches Length: 205.2 inches Engine: 3.8 liter, 170 h, p. V-6 Transmission: 4-speed automatic Fuel economy: 18/27 m.p.g. Base price: $24,385 Strong point: Styling, longer size, standard ABS and driver` side air bag, peppier engine. Weak point: Shortage of cars, especially top of the line / Ultra version, substantial price increase from `90. >>

    Expert Reviews 2 of 3

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