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SEE ALSO:Buick Buyer's Guide

Even though the compact Skylark is Buick's smallest model, it looms large in sales and interest. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the introduction of the first 1954 Skylark. This special model was initially powered by 200 horsepower V8, and in the following year its performance was upped to almost 240 horsepower. However, in the intervening years changing economic and world conditions gradually but dramatically changed the Skylark from a powerhouse to an econocar. To increase its appeal Buick decided to change its image, and in 1992 launched a totally and dramatically redesigned Skylark. The new styling gave the Skylark a decidedly distinctive appearance over other more traditional Buick models. To enhance its value each Skylark coupe and sedan was generously equipped with the latest convenience, comfort and safety features to the point that Buick called it the best equipped compact model that it has ever offered.

Outwardly the 1994 Skylark appears to be unchanged, but many significant changes, some standard and some optional, have been made since 1992. The newest top-of-the-line model, the Gran Sport, is equipped with a new 3.1 liter V6 engine, an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission and a driver-side airbag, as well as increased sound-proofing installations. Additionally, as part of a value packaging program air-conditioning, power-windows, cruise control and a tilt steering wheel are standard on the 1994 Skylark Gran Sport.

APPEARANCE: The Gran Sport presents distinctive styling that breaks from the traditional with its unique V-shaped body-colored waterfall grille and surrounding head and cornering lights. This theme carries on from the peaked hood, over the sizable cabin and sloping rear deck to the slightly V-shaped rear bumper. A longitudinal side crease and rub strip, plus contrasting color lower body plastic cladding create a classic Gran Sport image, that is highlighted by alloy wheels and Goodyear Eagle Touring tires.

COMFORT: The Gran Sport is luxuriously appointed with combination leather and cloth contoured front and rear seats, backlighted analog gauges, power windows, mirrors and remote lock/unlock doors. The quiet and efficient standard heater/air conditioner includes rear seat ducting, while the upgrade AM/FM/CD sound system fills the cabin with high fidelity music. The full-size flat trunk includes a cargo net, and can accommodate additional cargo by folding down the back of the rear seats, Four wide- opening doors allow easy access to all seats, and the driver has a six-way power adjustable seat. The Prestige Option Package provides even more comforts and conveniences.

SAFETY: Automotive safety is divided into three distinct categories; occupant protection, accident avoidance and security features. Among the features found in the 1994 Skylark are: Drivers airbag, energy absorbing steering column, side-guard door beams, front and rear crush zones, three-point seat belts, rear door child security locks, a rear seat child comfort guide, automatic door lock/unlock device, anti-lock brakes, PASS-Key theft deterrent system, and infra-red remote door lock/unlock device.

ROADABILITY: While sporty looking, the Gran Sport is not a true sports sedan. But with its Gran Touring suspension, augmented by Goodyear Eagle GA /55R16 Touring tires and anti-lock brakes it is a very competent machine for a compact family sedan. Its ride is comfortable and controlled without excessive body lean, and it is a good highway cruiser. Several improvements have been installed to further reduce engine and road noise, and all-around vision is excellent.

PERFORMANCE: An improved 3.1 liter V6 replaces the venerable 3.3 liter engine of earlier models. The updated engine features a computerized ignition system, sequential fuel injection, and friction reducing roller lifters. It develops 155 horsepower and a 185 lb-ft of torque across a wide rpm range. Hydra-Matic's well-proven and newly improved electronically controlled 4T60-E four-speed automatic transmission supplants the older three-speed automatic, and is a tremendous improvement. This new powertrain combination gives the Gran Sport the performance it needs to live up to its name.

CONCLUSION: The Gran Sport presents traditional American values in a contemporary package.


	   Base Price              $  18,299
	   Price As Tested         $  20,261
	   Engine Type             V-6, ohv -pushrod, pfi
	   Engine Size             3.1 liter/191cid    
	   Horsepower              155 @ 5200
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         185 @ 4000
	   Wheelbase/Length        103"/189"
	   Transmission            four speed auto w/od
	   Curb Weight             3060
	   Pounds per Horsepower   20
	   Fuel Capacity           15
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 oct)
	   Tire                    Goodyear Eagle GA P205/55R16 M+S                       
	   Brake                   anti-lock standard    disc/drum    
	   Drive Train             front engine/front drive
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      20/29/25.7
	   0 to 60 mph                  9.2 sec  
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                16.9 sec       
	   Coefficient of drag (cd)     .32