While its rivals have chosen to promote engineering and technology in the form of new engines, transmissions, suspension systems, anti-lock brakes and air bags in the 1992 preview season, Buick has opted for the personal touch by revealing that every 1992 Skylark has a built-in tissue holder in the center console.

You supply the tissue, Buick the holder built into the inside top of the center console armrest. The holder is large enough only for one of those pocket-size tissue dispensers, not a giant economy-size box, but at least Buick had its heart in the right place.

This is the year that the automakers are pulling out all stops to attract buyers. Cadillac, for example, offers free loaners and Oldsmobile free rides to the train station for service customers.

Buick, Instead, stays personal. It`s offering cupholders-five of them, one that pulls from the dash, two in the glove box lid, and two that pull from the back of the center console to serve rear-seat passengers.

And the piece de resistance: The ashtray in the Skylark can be removed; when the butt bowl is gone, you`re left with a compartment to store your favorite CDs.

Where does the non-smoker put the now-removed ashtray? Better you not ask a smoker.

The lighter receptacle remains, however, so you can insert your favorite radar detector. Buick must consider going 30 miles per hour over the speed limit undetected less harmful to the citizenry than a puff or two on a smoke. These are just some of the personal touches in the 1992 Skylark that the automaker unveiled at its1992 model preview in Grosse Point, Mich., that starred the larger, redesigned compact.

Skylark is offered in base and top-of-the-line Gran Sport versions. We test drove the Gran Sport coupe and sedan.

Though new technology is fine and the Skylark has its share of it, sometimes it`s refreshing for an automaker to simply focus on those little trifles, the items current owners say they would like to see in their next car.

Consider, for example, that the Skylark trunk lid opens at almost a 90- degree angle for easy entry/exit of golf clubs or luggage; doors on coupes and sedans swing wide open to allow you to slip inside without brushing up against grease from the hinges; rear seatbacks fold down individually and open access to the trunk, so you can carry skis without tying them to the roof; power window buttons are located on the driver`s door close to the dash so it`s easy to see and use them without taking your eyes off the road; and the hood is spring-held.

The `92 Skylark seems to have been designed with one eye on the drafting board, the other on letters from owners more concerned with creature comforts than on 0- to 60-m.p.h. times.

Yet, there are some goofs. The washer/wiper stalk behind the steering wheel on the right side is flush with the wheel, so you can strike it with your hand. Make a turn, w ash your windows. Buick says the stalk is going to be made about 3/4-inch shorter ASAP to make amends.

Then, too, the glove box is big enough to hold a pair of boxing gloves- maybe two pairs. Yet the interior of the box is finished in cheap plastic that not only shows dirt and scuff marks quickly, but it also is so smooth that items inside will tend to shift and rattle while the car`s underway. Buick promises a skid-proof rubber lining is on the way, again ASAP.

Also, the leather wrap on the automatic shift handle boot is so bulky it blocks your ability to read what gear you`re in. You have to look at the P R N D L display on the dash to ensure you`ve hit the proper gear.

Like its sister car, the Pontiac Grand Am, the Skylark has raised headrests for the rear seats. What`s a safety feature to one is an obstruction of rear vision to another.

As another safety feature, the doors on all Skylarks lock automatically when you engage the transmission. That`s a big plus for those who don`t want to fiddle with buttons and want the assurance that the toddlers are safely locked in.

However, some cars offer the same feature, but take it a step further in that the doors automatically unlock when you turn off the ignition key. The Buick doors remain locked until you push the button to open them. For a few cents more, we`d prefer Buick doors that unlocked on their own, too.

On the plus side, for 1992 all Skylarks have anti-lock brakes as standard for faster, surer stopping, regardless of road surface or weather conditions. Since the roads were dry when we tested both cars, we couldn`t give the ABS any rain/snow testing. We had to settle for simulated panic stops. Each time the car stopped in a straight line quickly.

Skylark for `92 features General Motors` ABS design, which operates without the pedal chatter found in early anti-lock systems from outside suppliers.

Oddly, while the ABS performed as designed, the brakes on the Gran Sport coupe had far too much pedal travel for our liking. The sedan pedal provided firmer, surer feedback.

While Buick offers ABS in all Skylarks, it doesn`t offer air bags. GM insists that accident avoidance is more important than crash protection. In other words, ABS can keep you from needing the bag. Keep in mind GM makes its own ABS, but buys air bags from outside suppliers.

For `92, the compact Skylark sports new styling and dimensions. The coupe and sedan are built on a 103.4-inch wheelbase and are 189.2 inches long. The wheelbase is the same as in `91, but overall length was increased by 9.2 inches. That`s also the same wheelbase, but 6 inches longer than the Chevy Corsica, the platform on which the Skylark is based.

Rear-seat occupants benefit from the longer dimensions for `92. Leg, head and arm room is ample. The sedan feels especially roomy, a feature lacking since the in X-body version of the Buick Skylark was discontinued after the 1985 run.

The Skylark`s rounded aero look is similar to that of the Saturn, especially the two-door coupes. The focal point of the new look is the front end with protruding bumper. Buick boasts that it borrowed that styling cue from its 1939archives.

One styling feature that pays homage to the `90s is the plastic lower body cladding running stem to stern to ward off rust on all Skylarks. A nice touch.

A 2.3-liter, 120-horsepower, 8-valve overhead cam 4-cylinder engine that evolved from the 2.3-liter, 16-valve Quad is new for 1992 and standard in the base model. A 3.3-liter, 160-h.p. V-6 is optional in the base car, standard in the Gran Sport. Buick expects 60 percent of all cars to have the 3.3 V-6.

All Skylarks offer only three-speed automatic transmissions regardless of engine. A four-speed is coming, but probably not until 1993. Both Gran Sports we drove are rated at 19 miles per gallon city/29 m.p.g. highw ay. With the 2.3-liter engine, the rating is 24/31 in the base Skylark. A four-speed with overdrive should mean an extra 1 m.p.g. at least, Buick engineers say.

The 3.3 offers good pep off the line or into the passing lane. Though the same engine was in the coupe and sedan we tested, the coupe`s exhaust also had some built-in rumble for the sound of performance.

Whether coupe or sedan, however, at initial acceleration the 3.3 with automatic is a bit noisy. The industry long has maintained that ``quiet is the sound of a well-made car.`` Skylark is well made, but could use some more insulation to get the desired quiet. The Skylark isn`t as silent as a Toyota Camry off the light.

Both cars we drove offered the choice of suspension-soft/auto/sport. The Japanese started the craze toward do-it-yourself suspension settings. Most buyers won`t be able to detect the nuances of each setting.

The Gran Sport models offer 16-inch steel-belted Eagle GA touri g radial tires. The base models have 14-inch all-season radials as standard, 15-inch touring radials as an option. The 16-inch tires are best suited for optimum ride and handling.

Buick has yet to release the price of the `92 Skylark. The range on the `91 line was $11,000 to $14,000. With the addition of ABS alone you can expect a $500 increase.

Standard equipment on the Gran Sport we drove included power door locks, manual remote releases for trunk and fuel filler door, left remote/right manual outside rear-view mirrors, driver and passenger vanity mirrors, power brakes, side-window defogger, tinted glass, AM-FM stereo with clock, power steering, trunk convenience net, bodyside moldings, leather-wrapped shift handle and steering wheel.

Options include keyless remote entry, driver`s down express power window, power seats and two-tone paint.

>> 1992 Buick Skylark GS
Wheelbase: 103.4 inches Length: 189.2 inches Engine: 3.3 liter, 160 h.p. V-6. Transmission: 3-speed automatic. Fuel economy: 19 m.p.g. city/29 m.p.g highway. Base price: NA Strong point: Engine performance, ABS standard, roominess versus `91, plastic lower body cladding to prevent rust, attention to amenties--from 5 cupholders to a tissue dispenser. Weak point: Air bag not available, engine/trans noise at initial acceleration, only 3-speed automatic and not 4-speed,too much brake pedal play. >>