Buick's luxury line adds the StabiliTrak skid-control feature as a new option for the base Park Avenue and a new standard amenity for the top-shelf Ultra model. Anti-lock brakes are standard on both, and traction control is standard on the Ultra, optional on the base.
The front-drive Park Avenue was redesigned for the 1997 model using a basic platform (or architecture) also found on the Buick LeSabre, Pontiac Bonneville and new Cadillac DeVille. These cars have different styling and dimensions, so they are not clones.
The Park Avenue has the same basic look as Buick's other sedans, only bigger. At 207 inches stem to stern, it is 7 inches longer than the LeSabre, its lower-priced, family-oriented counterpart.
Both the base model and the Ultra have a classic Buick-style grille with vertical chrome bars. The Ultra has less chrome trim and different aluminum wheels to differentiate it from the base Park Avenue.
The roomy interior has standard seats for six, though on both models the front bench is split 55/45, shaped for two and comes with a folding center armrest that contains cup holders and storage space. Bucket seats are optional on the Ultra.
Leather is standard on the Ultra, optional on the base, and the wood trim in the Ultra is real. The spacious trunk holds 19 cubic feet of cargo, and a pass-through behind the rear center armrest accommodates long, narrow items.
Under the Hood
Base models come with a 205-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6, and Ultras pack a supercharged version of this engine with 240 horsepower. The base engine takes regular gas and the supercharged one requires premium fuel. Both team with a four-speed automatic transmission.