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SEE ALSO:Buick Buyer's Guide

For over 30 years the Riviera has been Buick's premiere luxury coupe. First introduced in 1963, it became an instant classic because of its distinctive styling and performance. Subsequent years brought change, but the Riviera has always been unique. One of the best-remembered models was the boat-tail sports coupe of 1971. 1979 brought the S-Type, powered by a turbocharged V6 engine with front wheel drive and independent suspension. During the '80's and early '90s changes continued. For 1995, the Riviera is almost completely new in styling, comfort, performance and handling.

The styling and content of the new Riviera were developed through a combination of customer input and manufacturing design and production feasibility studies. From these studies the car's design was finalized and its purchasing, tooling, and production requirements were determined. As a result the new Riviera meets the needs and wants of 1995 luxury coupe buyers.

Along with several thousand other volunteers I played a small role in the research for the final design of the Riviera's comfortable seats. It was done by sitting on a special chair pad designed by Buick engineers and having my posterior image translated into dimensional data. This data was used to develop an adjustable production seat that provides near-perfect comfort in most driving conditions. Details like this harmonize on the new Riviera to create a world-class luxury machine.

APPEARANCE: The newly designed 1995 Riviera is a real eye-catcher. Its smoothly rounded shape and flowing contours provide the look of luxury and power, which it definitely has. From its oval grille and headlights to its almost-matching oval rear lighting group the only straight lines are the body colored side rub strips. The grille, side windows, wheel wells and rear lights are accented by stainless brightwork. Goodyear Eagle GA touring tires are mounted on distinctive cast alloy wheels.

COMFORT: From the inside the Riviera is definitely a four-passenger American luxury coupe. It has all of the convenience items expected in a luxury car and some novel, but practical, features. The powered drivers' seat is fully adjustable, heated, has a two-position memory switch plus an "Exit" button that rolls the seat fully back and down for easy access. The comfortable full-sized front and rear seats allow plenty of head and leg room. The front seats have dual temperature controls for the driver and passenger and keep the cabin comfortable regardless of outside weather conditions. The Bose sound system offers the flexibility of AM, FM, CD or cassette and great sound all around. The Riviera's large flat trunk can accommodate plenty of luggage and groceries. The instruments and controls are well-placed. Excellent aerodynamics virtually eliminate wind noise and contribute to the feeling of quiet luxury in the car.

SAFETY: The Riviera is equipped with a complete range of safety features, many of which are not required by Federal safety standards until 1997. Among these items are dual front airbags, three-point seat belts with tensioners for the front seats and anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes. Additional factors include rigid body structure and strong safety cage cabin construction, a theft deterrent system, and front and rear crumple zones.

ROADABILITY: Buick's goal was to engineer the suspension of its new Riviera to deliver a smooth, comfortable, controlled ride. It succeeds quite well with its rigid body structure and the further assistance of traction control plus a magnetic speed-sensitive variable assist power steering unit. Highway cruising or spirited driving are both part of the Riviera's performance envelope. Its styling provides excellent vision in all quadrants. Its ride quietness is the result of detailed acoustical and sound dampening studies to reduce wind, road and engine noise.

PERFORMANCE: Our test Riviera had the optional supercharged 3.8 liter V6 engine that develops 225 horsepower and is mated to Hydra-Matic's well proven 4T60E electronically controlled automatic transmission. The Roots supercharger is belt-driven and controlled by the powertrain control module to deliver the required amount of boost and extra fuel for increased on-demand power. The automatic transmission quietly and quickly shifts up and down the gear range to match the power demands of the driver. In total the Riviera delivers power and performance with control.

CONCLUSION: The classic new Riviera is the latest challenge to the growing luxury coupe market that up to now has been dominated by overseas manufacturers. Its styling, comfort, quality and price give this new luxury package a potential advantage in today's highly competitive automotive market.


           Base Price              $ 28,732
           Price As Tested         $ 30,999   
           Engine Type             V-6, ohv - pushrod, supercharged, TPI*
           Engine Size             3.8 liter/231 cid   
           Horsepower              225 @ 5000
           Torque (ft/lbs)         275 @ 3200
           Wheelbase/Length        114"/207"  
           Transmission            4-speed EC automatic w/od
           Curb Weight             3800
           Pounds per Horsepower   17  
           Fuel Capacity           20
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded premium (91 octane)
           Tires                   Goodyear Eagle GA  P225/60R16 all-season
           Brakes                  anti-lock standard    vented disc/disc
           Drive Train             front engine, front drive
            * TPI  = Tuned Port Injection
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
             city/highway/observed          17/27/24.8  
           0 to 60 mph                      7.9 sec
           1/4 mi (E.T.)                    16.1 sec           
           Coefficient of drag (cd)         .32