1998 Buick Century

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$18,415

starting MSRP

1998 Buick Century

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 1998 Buick Century trim comparison will help you decide.

1998 Buick Century review: Our expert's take

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The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

It doesn’t take a whole lot to improve a car with a life span slightly longer than the Ice Age. But the Buick Century attracted its loyal following with a combination of low sticker price and traditional Detroit amenities.

These drivers like it soft and quiet, and value this over the ultimate in sophisticated engineering.

But that didn’t stop Buick from creating a much more refined automobile for the latest incarnation of the Century.

The newest iteration is based on GM’s new mid-size car platform, which also carries the Pontiac Grand Prix, Oldsmobile Intrigue and Buick’s own Regal. The Century has a slightly different character from the Regal, with which it shares most of its visual cues.

The body shell of both cars differ in details. The Century takes a more liberal approach toward chrome, with a somewhat formal chrome grille up front, and more open-handed use around the body. This is something the Regal avoids. Neither car is trendy; both have conservative baby Buick-like looks.

Inside, the interiors are similar but, where the Century uses the all too typical bench seat and column shifter, the Regal uses bucket seats and a console. Certainly the seating is comfortable in the Century. But any thoughts of actually carrying six people in this car will shortly be dashed. Those in the center position up front surely will strangle you the minute the ride is over for sentencing them to ride on this high, uncomfortable perch.

The storage armrest that serves as a backrest for this uncomfortable center passenger serves as a resting place for the cup holders as well as coins, CDs or tapes. Gaining access to these things can be a problem if someone is using the center position.

Rear seating is much improved over the old cars, with chair-height seating and much improved legroom. Front and rear seats could use a little firmer padding and lower back support, though.

Aside from the lack of a center console, and its handier storage, the interior is identical to the Regal. This means clear, large instrumentation (sans the Regal’s tachometer). Idiot lights monitor volts, oil pressure and the like. The radio is high on the sensuously curving dash, and the test vehicle included an AM/FM-cassette-CD player. The audio system has good imaging, although overall sound quality was only fair.

What’s impressive about the Century is content for the price. It’s available in two trim levels: Custom (base price $18,215) and the upper level Limited (base price $20,270). The test car was a Limited, which is worth springing for if you want such standard features as dual automatic climate control, variable effort power steering, rear center armrest, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, power mirrors, retained accessory power and front seat storage pockets. Available on all Centurys are keyless entry, automatic door locks, automatic headlamps, power windows, air conditioning and rear seat heating du cts.

An option worth considering is the integrated child safety seat, located in the center of the rear seat. Another one is GM’s OnStar. Hooked to a hands-free cellular phone is a Global Positioning System that can track where your car is and give you directions if you’re lost or it can recommend a nearby restaurant. An option worth skipping is steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. They’re located right where your hands fall, and it’s too easy to change stations or raise the volume inadvertently.

If you notice that I haven’t talked a whole lot about what this car is like to drive, it’s because this is not really a driver’s car and is inferior to its more expensive sibling, the Regal.

While the Regal gets Buick’s smooth, silky 3.8-liter V6, the Century makes do with the corporate 3.1-liter V6. This workhorse engine pumps out an adequate 160 horsepower, 35 less than the Regal’s mill. With a full load, this strains with a hoarse growl that’s pretty unrefined. I ‘s obtrusive. There is no engine option.

Hooked to a fairly smooth-shifting four-speed automatic, it makes adequate work of getting around. The suspension is fully independent, but is set for a softer ride. Bump absorption is good in either the Regal or Century. The difference is that the Century has a l-o-t of body lean, and the body rocks long after the bump has passed. All this motion makes one notice the poor condition of some roads in the Lehigh Valley.

The tires aren’t much help. Asked to do anything beyond a moderate pace and these puppies howl in protest. Fast starts set the tires spinning, and because traction control isn’t available on the Century, this can happen often. Wet-weather grip is better.

Anti-lock brakes and dual air bags are standard.

The trunk has almost 17 cubic feet of space and features a low lift-over. It’s roomy and flat and has a cargo net standard.

Despite its positioning as a cheaper alternative to the Regal, it comes off more as a shrunken LeSabre. Certainly, the content of the vehicle is generous for the price. At around $20,000, this car offers a lot of little luxuries at a family-bus price. It also modernizes the traditional American sedan, and that should keep Century owners happy until the next one.

1998 Buick Century Limited Standard: 3.1-liter V6, four-speed automatic transmission, dual air bags, anti-locks brakes, keyless entry, daytime running lamps, battery rundown protection, P205/ 70R15 tires with bolt-on wheel covers, speed-sensitive steering, tilt steering column, air conditioning with air filtration system, power windows with driver express down, power door locks, dual power outside heated mirrors, dual visor vanity mirrors, front and rear map pockets, theater lighting, lockout protection. Options: GM Buypower Package (dual automatic climate control, rear window antenna, cruise control, electrochromatic rear-view mirror, AM/FM cassette stereo, steering wheel radio controls, concert sound II speaker system, trunk convenience net, leather seating surfaces, CD player, California emissions. Base price: $20,270 As tested: $21,740 EPA rating: 20 mpg city, 23 mpg highway Test mileage: 23 mpg

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.4
  • Interior design 3.9
  • Performance 4.0
  • Value for the money 4.2
  • Exterior styling 3.9
  • Reliability 4.1

Most recent consumer reviews

3.7

quiet and absorbent ride on average level roadways

the seats, whether leather or cloth, lacked lumbar support and needed supplemental lumbar support pillow for the driver, my back got very sore after just a few minutes otherwise. the engine was barely audible, road and wind noise well-suppressed. road bumps were effectively neutralized, the car floated like a cloud over raised railroad track [crossings], but the handling got scarily unstable on wavy/curvy roadways though, i had to drive extra-slowly [well below the speed limit] in order to remain safe on all such non-straight roads. it drove about like an early 90's era cadillac sedan de ville with worn shocks. the ride got bouncy on scalloped pavement and frost-heaved pavement, especially when going downhill. acceleration was better than i expected, i never wanted for more power, and the engine remained quiet and smoothly refined when revved. the concert II sound system was strictly average. there was slightly better than average room inside especially in the front with its flat floor [no tranny hump/center console]. tall driver's legroom was average. the headroom was a bit tight, however, for this 6'3" person, especially in the rear. the monochromatic interior color scheme was somewhat monotonous, with only a dash of wood trim on the power window switches [limited only] to break up the visual plainness.

4.1

Extremly reliable many still on the road

Needs more power 0-60 otherwise a great car very comfortable huge leg room !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3.9

I liked mine so much I bought my son one!

I purchased a used 2002 Century about 3 years ago. I really love this car. Other than the intake manifold gasket issue the 3.1 L engine has this is one of my favorite cars I have ever owned. I like mine so much I bought my son who just started driving a 1998 Century. He absolutely loves his. When we bought his, the 1st question asked "was the intake manifold gasket replaced". That is a question you should always ask with this car. We are a 2 Buick family now.

See all 11 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Buick
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/36,000 miles
Corrosion
72 months/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)
Powertrain
6 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
172-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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