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Buick Rainier provides SUV luxury

December 05, 2003|by KEN CHESTER, JR./Motor News Media Corporation

Representing an important landmark in Buick history, the Rainier is the first full-frame SUV to wear the Buick name. Based on GM's award-winning midsize SUV architecture, the new Rainier offers a level of style, ride comfort and performance that sets it apart from other midsize SUVs.

Built at the automaker's Moraine, Ohio, assembly plant, the Buick Rainier is available in CXL and CXL Plus trim levels as a four-door wagon. Offered in two- or four-wheel drive configurations, the midsize SUV is powered by a state-of-the-art Vortec 4200 4.2L inline six-cylinder aluminum engine bolted to a smooth shifting Hydra-Matic four-speed electronically controlled automatic with overdrive and torque converter clutch. The powerful Vortec 5300 5.3 V-8 engine is available as an option.

On the road, the Vortec 4200 shows its mettle. Powerful and very responsive, the Rainier answers every command from the driver immediately and completely. Off road, this luxurious SUV shows it has the right stuff. The shift-on-the-fly AWD system is bona fide. Very low speed maneuvers are handled with finesse. A body-on-frame vehicle structure, stiff frame and world class suspension work together to provide above-average ride, handling and sense of comfort and stability.

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Inside the cabin, occupants are treated to a high level of luxury and creature comforts. Outward visibility is excellent, with a full complement of analog gauges - speedometer, tachometer, oil pressure, volts, fuel and water temperature. The odometer is digital.

Buick engineers developed a concept for Rainier called Quiet Tuning that features increased sound absorption in the engine compartments, all four doors and quarter panels. Quiet Tuning also includes an acoustic laminate in the windshield and front-door glass, as well as additional sealing at the vehicle's C and D pillars. The result is a quiet cabin interior that approaches the level of many upscale luxury cars.

Thoughtful touches abound - from the standard headlamp washers to two dash-mounted power points, seat-mounted safety belts for driver and front passenger, ample storage space and cupholders. Entry and exit are enhanced by wide doors and strategically placed hand grips at each door. Leather seating is comfortable and inviting.

Rear-seat passengers enjoy special attention, with separate controls mounted at the back of the center console for ventilation, audio jacks for headphone, two power points and a dual cupholder. The 60/40 split rear seat is of the flip/fold variety. The headrest flips back when folded flat with the cargo floor. It does not have to be removed or stored separately.

QUICK VEHICLE STATS

Wheelbase: 113.0; overall length: 193.4; width: 75.4; height: 71.9 - measurements in inches

Engine: Vortec 4200 4.2L inline six - 275 hp at 6,000 rpm and 275 lbs-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm; Vortec 5300 5.3L V-8 - 290 hp at 5,200 rpm and 325 lbs-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm

Transmission: Hydra-Matic 4L60-E four-speed automatic

EPA fuel economy: Six-cylinder - 16 city/21 hwy., (2WD); 15 city/21 hwy., (AWD); Eight-cylinder - 16 city/19 hwy., (2WD); 15 city/18 hwy., (AWD). Both engines use regular unleaded gasoline.

Cargo capacity: 43.7 cu. ft., (behind second row seat); 80.1 cu. ft., (behind first row seat)

Towing capacity: 6,200 lbs., (six-cylinder); 6,700 lbs., (eight-cylinder)

SAFETY FEATURES

Four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, battery rundown protection, side-door guard beams, fog lamps, theft deterrent system, dual front air bags, automatic power door locks, universal transmitter, daytime running lights, rear locking differential (2WD), traction control (2WD), remote keyless entry, OnStar safety and security plan agreement and full-size spare tire. Optional safety/security equipment includes power adjustable pedals and dual front side-impact air bags.

WARRANTY

Basic: 3 year/36,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper

Corrosion: 6 year/100,000 mile

Roadside assistance: 3 year/36,000 miles, 24-hour

PRICING

The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2004 Buick Rainier SUV starts from $35,295 for the CXL 2WD model up to $38,295 for the CXL Plus AWD. Destination charge adds $650.

AS TESTED

2004 Buick Rainier CXL AWD

Exterior color: Crimson Pearl Metallic

Interior color: Cashmere Pewter

Tires: Michelin Cross Terrain P225/60R17

Base price $37,245

Destination charge $650

Bose Premium sound system $495

Side-impact front air bags $350

AM/FM Stereo, 6-disc CD player $290

Heated front seats $275

Crimson Pearl Metallic exterior paint $165

Cargo Convenience package $150

Luggage rack cross bars $40

Total as tested $39,665

© 2003, Motor News Media Corporation

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