Vehicle Overview
Buick’s flagship sedan gets a monochromatic stand-up hood ornament for 2004. The Park Avenue’s interior features new cluster graphics, and fresh interior hues and woodgrains are now available. Restyled wheels will be offered midway through the 2004 model year.

Portholes returned on the high-end Park Avenue Ultra in 2003. Called VentiPorts, the chrome-plated portholes on the side of each front fender first appeared on Buicks in 1949 and were last seen on the 1983 Electra.

As Buick puts it, the Park Avenue Ultra “draws from a rich design heritage to reveal a modern interpretation of a classic Buick.” A prominent vertical-bar grille was inspired by the automaker’s LaCrosse concept car, which integrates a chrome see-through tri-shield badge in its center.

Lower-profile tires on the Park Avenue Ultra are mounted on larger, 17-inch, chrome-aluminum wheels that promise better handling and a sportier ride. A standard Gran Touring Package includes a specially tuned suspension and rear stabilizer bar.

Buick’s full-size, front-wheel-drive, near-luxury sedan is similar to the company’s LeSabre, but the supercharged Park Avenue Ultra comes with more standard features and a higher price tag. Buick also continues to offer a base-model Park Avenue with a nonsupercharged engine, 16-inch tires and fewer amenities.

Even though the Park Avenue is larger in dimensions, it has the same basic appearance as other Buick sedans. The Park Avenue rides a 113.8-inch wheelbase, and at 206.8 inches long overall, it stretches almost 7 inches longer than the lower-priced, family-oriented LeSabre.

A monochromatic trishield badge is visible on the grille and trunk lid. Special chrome-plated exhaust tips are installed. Two new body colors will be available. Turn-signal indicators are incorporated into the side mirrors.

Seating for six occupants is standard in the roomy interior. The spacious trunk holds 19.1 cubic feet of cargo.

An optional convenience console for the Park Avenue Ultra creates a five-passenger environment. Bright aluminum sill plates with raised ridges line the floor at the front door openings. Leather upholstery and wood trim are standard. GM’s OnStar communication system is standard in the Ultra model and optional in the base trim level.

Under the Hood
A 240-horsepower, supercharged 3.8-liter V-6 engine goes into the Park Avenue Ultra, while the base Park Avenue uses a 205-hp nonsupercharged version of that engine. Both power plants team with a four-speed-automatic transmission.

Traction control, antilock brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard. GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability system is standard on the Park Avenue Ultra and comes in an option package for the base model.

Driving Impressions
Even though the Park Avenue Ultra is a great road car, the ride isn’t quite as easygoing as some sedans in its class. Occupants may be knocked around a bit when the car is riding on rough pavement, but the top Buick model is well controlled on any surface. Smooth performance is a Park Avenue hallmark. Most buyers would probably be satisfied with the base model’s engine. The supercharged version in the Park Avenue Ultra adds extra zest, but its operation is subtle.