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New Car/Review

Buick Park Avenue 2000

SEE ALSO: Buick Buyer's Guide

by Annabelle Frankl

Whilst its design might suggest that this car is targeted at the older driver, given its unimposing lines and body style, what lies beneath the hood is a pleasant surprise. Offering excellent acceleration, and fuel consumption which doesnít give you heart palpitations every time you put your foot down (as you are likely to when driving this car!), the Park Avenue may attract a more mature consumer, but it does not attract an un-adventurous one.

Without a doubt, the best feature of this car is its 3.8 liter, SFI V6 3800 series II, fuel injected engine. Well, with a name that long, it ought to have something going for it! But seriously, talk about never judging a book by its cover. I had so much fun barreling along in this car, and it was quite unexpected. But with 200 horses galloping, and 230 lbs-ft of torque, how can one not have a good time? The sort of power that this car develops is very impressive and propels one along at a vast rate of knots, quietly and comfortably.

But alas non-too firmly. What have they done with the suspension? Well, clearly, not enough. What a disappointment. If this car traveled half as well round corners, as it does in a straight line, this would be a best seller. But instead this fantastic piece of engineering - Mr. Series II himself - must be saddled with a spongy, sluggish, lackluster independent Dynaride suspsension, with automatic, rear level control. Talk about mismatched.

And itís a shame, especially when all other aspects come together nicely. The 4-speed electronic automatic transmission is extremely smooth, the power rack and pinion steering, precise, helping somewhat to keep the wayward suspension in check. Power, Anti-lock, 4 wheel disc brakes provide excellent stopping power and the car itself is nicely appointed. Standard equipment includes A/C, power mirrors and windows, 10 way power front seats, electronic cruise control and day running lights.

The model tested came equipped with the Prestige Option Pack. This includes instrumentation detailing (tyre & oil pressure, oil life & level monitors, volts, low washer fluid and coolant, & trunk ajar monitors) and basic trip computer (fuel consumption etc), plus auto-dimming left mirror, auto-dimming interior mirror with compass*, an improved radio, 3-position memory driverís seat and mirrors, and moisture sensing mirrors. (*Is it just me, or would this seem like an obvious and extremely useful addition to any vehicle? Thank you, Buick.)

A cavernous interior included a 55/45 split front seat with storage armrest - with enough room for 3 - which was very soft and comfy. Plus oodles of room for rear passengers, even ones with long legs. General visibility was good, dash and dials were clearly laid out, and radio controls on the steering wheel are always a good idea.

Despite driving like a big car, the Park Avenue was surprisingly easy to park, and its lines disguise a huge trunk, with cargo net, which would gladly house the largest of suitcases, and even the kitchen sink, should one be required. This, along with the realisation that the engine would actually match up to the weight of six adults plus luggage, is a refreshing concept. And giving 19/28, city/highway the Park Avenue fares favourably enough on fuel.

I canít say that I would be likely to purchase this car; as a young driver it just doesnít hold any real appeal. But Iíll certainly hold those who do choose the Park Avenue as their mode of (fast) transportation, in higher regard. Anything with an engine this good, and which comes in under $35,000 fully loaded, is worth a look.

Base Price     $31,130
Model Tested   $33,945
Engine         3800 Series II, 
               3.8 liter,
               V6, fuel injected
HP             200 @ 5200
Torque         230 @ 4000
Transmission   4 speed electronic
Suspension     Independent Dynaride w/ rear automatic level control
Brakes         4 wheel ABS
Steering       Power rack and pinion

Prestige Option Package     $970
Astroroof                   $1,095
Destination charge          $670