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Review: 2005 Buick Century

June 15, 2005 11:11 AM EST | Buick , Sedans | Email to Friend

View large imageAlthough roomy and comfortable, the aging Century can't match the competition when it comes to refinement, features and resale value.

Pros
Roomy interior, easy to decipher controls, low base price.

Cons
Mushy seats, engine lacks power and refinement, lacks the features of its more modern competitors.

What's New for 2005
Changes for the Century's final production year are minimal; Glacier Blue Metallic replaces Graphite Metallic and a Special Edition option package has been added.

Introduction:
Back in 1997, a revamped Century hit the showrooms with a bigger, more ergonomically designed interior and a roomier trunk, all wrapped in smooth, flowing sheet metal that Buick stylists hoped would have a long shelf life. It appears they got their wish, as the current Century enters its ninth, and final, year of production. The Century still stacks up nicely when it comes to offering room for five and plenty of trunk space, but the aging design and lackluster interior leave much to be desired, especially considering what kind of cars can be had for the same money. If you're looking for nothing more than a comfortable and reliable American sedan with few bells and whistles, the Century will suffice. However, a better overall value can be found in Buick's new 2005 LaCrosse, which replaces both the Century and the departed Regal. In fact, the Century will see only a short production run for 2005 to make room for the LaCrosse.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The Century is offered in several trim levels. Standard equipment includes remote keyless entry, manual dual-zone air conditioning with air filtration, programmable power door locks, power windows, automatic on/off headlamps with daytime running lamps, a tilt steering wheel and a theft-deterrent system. The Custom package adds a power driver seat, cruise control, rear-seat assist handles and floor mats. The Limited package builds on the Custom features with leather seating, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and chrome wheel covers. The new Special Edition is the top-line Century this year, and boasts dual-zone automatic climate control, 16-inch touring tires mounted on chrome alloys, ABS, traction control and a tire inflation monitor. Additional options include the OnStar communications system and an upgraded CD/cassette stereo.

Powertrains and Performance:
The Century is powered by a 3.1-liter V6 that makes 175 horsepower. With V6 family sedans like the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima now making at least 240 hp (and their four-cylinder versions making at least 160), this Buick is certainly on the short end of the power spectrum. Fuel economy, however, is good for a V6 with a rating of 20 city/29 highway. A smooth-shifting four-speed automatic transmission puts the power to the pavement through the front wheels, and traction control is included with the optional ABS.

Safety:
All Centurys come with four-wheel disc brakes; ABS and a side-impact airbag (for the driver only) are optional. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Century four stars (out of a possible five) for driver-side front-impact protection and three stars for front-passenger protection. Side-impact tests resulted in a three-star rating for both front and rear passengers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Century an "Acceptable" rating for in frontal offset crash testing.

Interior Design and Special Features:
Inside, occupants will find easy-to-use controls, inoffensive styling and plenty of room up front. The seats are more like couch cushions than car seats, so don't expect much in the way of firm support. The quality of the cabin materials could be better, but overall build quality tends to be better than average. Trunk space is quite generous for a midsize sedan with a maximum capacity of 16.7 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions:
The Century offers a pleasant ride over most surfaces, but road feel is minimal and large potholes tend to upset the soft suspension. The standard V6 provides adequate acceleration from a standstill, but freeway passing maneuvers tax its ability to move the sizable sedan. The Buick's forgiving ride and efficient engine make it a solid highway cruiser, but more demanding situations reveal the car's aging design.

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