REVIEW: 2002 BUICK CENTURY LIMITED

By Matt/Bob
 Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

      Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 23,430
      Price As Tested                                    $ 25,965
      Engine Type               OHV 12-valve 3.1 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
      Engine Size                                 191 cid/3136 cc
      Horsepower                                   175 @ 5200 RPM
      Torque (lb-ft)                               195 @ 4000 RPM
      Wheelbase/Width/Length                  109.0"/72.7"/194.6"
      Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
      Curb Weight                                     3386 pounds
      Fuel Capacity                                  17.5 gallons
      Tires  (F/R)                          P205/70R15 all-season
      Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
      Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
      Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
      Domestic Content                                        N/A
      Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

      EPA Economy, miles per gallon
         city/highway/average                            20/29/24
      0-60 MPH                                        9.9 seconds
      1/4 (E.T.)                          18.0 seconds @ 80.0 mph
      Top-speed                                           104 mph
                  * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

     (The Century is a very old name in the Buick lineup and the 
current version is getting dated. Bob Hagin says that it could use a 
freshening-up But his son Matt believes that it doesn't make sense to 
mess with success.)
     
MATT - If you put last years's Buick Century alongside the '02 
version, the only thing that you might notice on the outside is that a 
new bronze color had been added. This version of the Century came on 
line in 1997 and it was noted for its lack of uniqueness. It bordered 
on being bland and that's just what Buick stylists and engineers were 
hoping for. It was designed to have a long "shelf-life" and to be a 
good, solid-seller for a long time.
     
BOB - They obviously got their wish, Matt. For seven years now, 
the Century has been a top-seller in its market niche and it doesn't 
show any signs of tapering off. It's big enough to seat five 
average-sized adults in great comfort and the plush seating is in the 
best tradition of the classic American boulevard cruiser. Although the 
front seats are single units, they're not like the body-hugging sporty 
buckets of upscale luxury cars. In truth, those in the Century are more 
like easy chairs in a front room - soft and cozy. The controls and the 
dash layout are uncomplicated and unlike some of the imports, you don't 
have to be an engineer to figure out how to use the radio and the 
climate control system. And since it doesn't target the kid market, it 
doesn't have a useless tachometer, and it has a vintage steering 
column-mounted gear-shift lever. This is a handy item if the buyer 
specifies a bench front seat because it makes the Century a six-seater.
     
MATT -There's a neat item that we skiers will find useful on this 
Century. There's a door that drops down in the middle of the rear seat 
that goes into the trunk. It's wide enough for maybe four sets of skis 
to protrude into the passenger's area with the trunk lid closed and 
there's still enough room back there for luggage and ski togs. It's 
handy because the skiers don't have to lash their "boards" on a roof 
rack where they're an easy target for thieves. There's so little new 
stuff on this Century Limited that the brochure has to point out the 
new wood trim around the door switches and shifter.
    
 BOB - There's an old adage that says "If it ain't broke, don't fix 
it," and to me, that applies to this Buick Century. Although it's 
getting pretty long in the tooth, it's a pleasant design that still 
looks good and it's a great favorite with fleet managers for use by 
mid-management executives. It has a reliable track record and it has 
enough fancy standard equipment to keep everybody happy. It has the 
Onstar system of telematics that drivers can use if they're in an 
accident, run out of gas, lock themselves out of the car or if it gets 
ripped off. It costs a couple of hundred dollars a year to subscribe, 
but it's worth it if drivers do much traveling.
  
   MATT - The V6 engine in the '02 Century is the smallest available 
in the Buick lineup. It's a V6 that displaces 191 cubic inches, but it 
puts out a respectable 175 horsepower with a torque rating of 195 
pound-feet. This  accounts for its meager tow rating of 1000 pounds, 
but the Century wasn't designed to be a family weekend outdoor 
convenience. The valve train is based on technology that's almost as 
old as the original 1936 Century with two pushrod-operated valves per 
cylinder. It's old stuff, but it gets the job done. A four-speed 
automatic is standard, and it shifts smooth and strong.
   
  BOB - One factor that makes this full-sized Buick an attractive 
buy is the fact that its relatively small engine is coupled with a 
long-legged final drive ratio to give the car a mileage rating of 29 
miles per gallon on the highway and 20 around town. Buick has trimmed 
down its Century offerings this year and the only two that are listed 
in its catalog are the Custom and the Limited. There's a couple of 
optional packages available to kind of individualize the car. A touring 
package adds cosmetic add-ons rather than performance enhancements and 
the Special Edition version changes some of the colors on external parts.
     
MATT - The Century name has been in the Buick lineup off and on 
for over 65 years - I wonder how long the company will hang on to it.
     
BOB - Probably until it's a hundred years old, Matt.

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