As the 2004 model year began, a midsize luxury sport utility vehicle dubbed Rainier joined the Rendezvous "crossover" model in Buick's lineup. Built with full-frame construction, the Rainier can carry up to five occupants.
Rainiers come with rear- or all-wheel drive. All are built on General Motors' short-wheelbase midsize SUV architecture, which is also used for the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy. An electronically controlled rear air suspension is intended to produce a comfortable ride.
An inline-six-cylinder engine is standard, and it gains 16 horsepower for 2006. A 5.3-liter V-8 is optional. Woodgrain trim is standard on the instrument panel, doors and center console. Side curtain-type airbags are available.
Though it is intended primarily for driving on regular pavement, the all-wheel-drive Rainier offers offroad capability, according to Buick, and is said to be "very capable on . . . an unpaved, two-track road."
For 2006, a new front grille and tri-shield emblem are installed. Sculpted wheel flares and shoulders are meant to enhance the Rainier's appearance.
Clear headlights have offset high/low beam fixtures. Fog lamps with chrome surrounds are standard. Two-tone front and rear fascias are body-colored over gray, with the gray portion extending into the rocker panels. The Rainier features 17-inch wheels, power rack-and-pinion steering and Bilstein shock absorbers.
Perforated leather upholstery is standard, and heated front seats are optional. The monochromatic interior features chrome accents and dark woodgrain trim. Standard steering-wheel controls operate the stereo. With the 60/40-split rear seats folded, the Rainier has 80.1 cubic feet of storage space.
The instrument panel features green-needle gauges that are reminiscent of those in the Rendezvous. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard, and the Rainier is equipped with GM's OnStar communication system. A navigation system, DVD video system and XM Satellite Radio are optional.
Under the Hood
A 291-hp, 4.2-liter inline-six-cylinder is standard, and a 300-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 is optional. A four-speed automatic is the sole transmission.
Optional side curtain-type airbags incorporate a new rollover sensing system for 2006. All seating positions have three-point safety belts, and all-disc antilock brakes are standard. GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability system is also standard.