Overview & Reviews
The Buick Century is a nameplate that was produced for almost half a century. It first appeared in 1936 and ran for six years, then reappeared for four more in 1954. Both of these generations were known for having shorter bodies with V8 engines to create a performance-oriented Buick -- a descriptor that would apply to the reborn Century in 1973. As with so many cars of its time, though, fuel economy regulations and the gas shortage turned the next Buick Century into a tamer, downsized car. For the next 27 years, it would follow along this path, providing affordable, comfortable but not particularly interesting transportation for millions of Americans.
Most Recent Buick Century
The most recent Buick Century was produced from 1997-2005 in a midsize sedan body style only. Like its predecessor, it shared its platform and engine with several other General Motors vehicles, but this Century differed more in terms of styling. Its chief exterior designer said at the time of its introduction, "We purposely avoided anything that could be considered trendy" for a long shelf life. Mission accomplished, as this Century roamed the Earth for nine years in not-so-trendy anonymity.
There was only one engine offered, a 3.1-liter V6 that sent power to the front wheels. This engine initially produced 160 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, but was upgraded to 175 hp and 195 lb-ft in 2000.
For most of its life, this Century was offered in Custom and Limited trim levels. Both came standard with six-passenger capacity, keyless entry, full power accessories and dual-zone climate control. Items like cruise control, leather upholstery, a sunroof and a power driver seat were early options on both trim levels, and later became standard on the Limited in the 2000s. To commemorate the turn of the actual century, Buick offered a Special Edition package that included a monochrome exterior and special badges.
In terms of safety, items like antilock brakes, traction control, a tire-pressure monitor, front side airbags, OnStar and an integrated child safety seat switched from being standard, optional and not available at various points through the Century's nine-year run. Make sure to examine a used example carefully to be certain that it has the safety equipment you are looking for.
A used Buick Century from this generation is a comfortable car with a very good reliability record, but it has a floaty suspension, unresponsive handling and so-so brakes. In general, most other midsize sedans are a better choice. Even related GM vehicles from Oldsmobile and Pontiac provide better driving dynamics.
Past Buick Century models
The previous Buick Century was made from 1982-'96, with a significant midlife refreshening in 1989. This was an extremely successful car, selling more than 2 million units during its lifespan. It was available in sedan, wagon and coupe body styles, the latter of which was dropped after 1993. Trim levels included Custom, Limited and Special, depending on body style and year. The sedan and coupe were capable of seating six, while the wagon had optional eight-seat capacity with a rear-facing and foldable third-row bench. The wagon could also be had with a forever-classy exterior wood grain vinyl appliqué.
By the time the 1990s rolled around, the Century's standard engine was a 2.5-liter inline-4 making 110 hp and 135 lb-ft of torque. Although horsepower didn't change, the base engine was replaced in 1992 with a 2.2-liter unit that actually lost 5 lb-ft of torque. It was later upgraded to 120 hp in 1994. Most Centurys had the optional V6 that made 160 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. (This engine was standard on the 1996 wagon.) A three-speed automatic transmission was standard, with a four-speed auto optional. A driver airbag and antilock brakes were added as standard equipment in 1994.
So what do we think of this generation of Buick Century? Well, pretty much the same as we did in its final year. "In many states, this design is just a decade away from antique car status. Buick's aging Century has been in production since 1982 and looks like it. Regular updates have barely kept it competitive, and the Century is definitely ready for the crusher. It's slotted smack in the middle of the average American's budget; however, we'd rather spend our money on something whose expiration date wasn't rapidly approaching." More than a decade later, that's still dead-on -- although no state has recognized the Century as an antique car. We can't be right every time.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 411.00
just a good car - 2003 Buick Century
By johnbortz - October 29 - 11:57 am
Bought this car used high mileage but this car was garaged and well maintained. has a few minor maintenance issues to be taken care of need motor for the windshield washer sprayer. a couple of new front tires and a coolant flush normal maintenance! before winter otherwise should be ready for the cold winters here in Montana. owned a 88 Oldsmobile 96 and it went three years with very little repairs. hope the century can give me a least 3 to 4 years service. this car looks sharp and seems to get pretty good gas mileage. hopefully will buy a newer one in the future.
Old Reliable! - 1996 Buick Century
By BuickLover - October 14 - 3:47 pm
Great starter car! Bought mine used when I was 17 and it had 115,000 miles on it and several dings on the exterior. Got me every where and it now has 155,000 miles on it. Motor/transmission runs great and gas mileage is great at a whopping 28 mpg and that's in the country and city. Only bad thing about this car is window motor easily goes out and so do the automatic locks. I've put many miles on my car and driven it through snow, ice, mud, potholes and it never let me down!
Love It - 2002 Buick Century
By Bob - October 8 - 11:34 pm
I have had it for 12 years and have put about 100,000 on it. As far as reliability, the car has failed to start only one time-when the original battery gave out after six years. It has never been in a shop for repairs. A few things have gone wrong such as power windows, a blower resistor, led resistor in gauge cluster, and a/c clutch coil. I fixed all those things myself. The cost and level of difficulty were low, though. I have done all of the regular maintenance such as oils, filters, brake pads,coolant, tune up, -again cheap and easy. This year (2015), the car was showing some signs of wear, and since it ran and drove quite well still, I decided to do a semi restoration. I repaired the rusted rocker panels. New tires, brakes, struts, motor/tranny mounts, tires, headlights,exhaust system, wheel bearings, paint touch up, a few other piddly things. It runs and drives like brand new no issues at all. In 12 years time I have spent under 4000 on maintenance and 2500 of it was on the semi restoration this year. It has spent most of it's life outside, but the paint still looks very good. It has been a great car for 12 years and it will most definitely last another 12. Good solid reliable car.
225,000 miles and no problems... - 1992 Buick Century
By tiffany - September 29 - 8:32 am
owned my 92 century for about 4 years now. i got it with 208,000 miles. in the past 4 years i've put under $500 into this car to keep it running (brakes, oil changes, cracked exhaust manifold, harmonic balancer, heater core, a couple of hoses.) all of these repairs were very easy and affordable to have repaired. the parts for this car are very cheap and easily found just about anywhere. this car is very comfortable with plenty of leg and cargo room. the trunk is huge and the back seat is so comforable, i've slept back there. this car has been incredibly reliable. no one can believe the mileage on it and how reliable it has been. i am planning on getting another buick when this one dies someday...
Great Average car - 2001 Buick Century
By email@example.com - September 28 - 3:20 am
Bought mine for $1200 off a private seller. It needed and alignment and tires. It also had the ABS and "Trac Off" light on. I bought it with 165,000 miles on it and had a mechanic look over it and do some pressure tests. Only complaint i really have with this car is there is no rpm gauge on the cluster. kind of a pain but i can live with that. The car is extremely comfortable. I have a slightly bad back and driving for long periods of time doesn't mess with my back at all. The electronic seat adjustment helps out a lot too. The dash has a nice setup. Nothing is complicated and its easier to fix that a lot of newer cars. The engine is pretty nice. It holds up well with basic maintenance. With the higher mileage I have on mine I've never had to do anything with it. Previous owner did have to replace the intake manifold gasket, but that's a known problem with the Century. Has the perfect amount of acceleration. It not ridiculously fast but its not slow. Its got some pick up if you need it. You don't need to race in a Century. Once i got the alignment and tire fixed the car rode like it was brand new. Heck, it drove nicer than my brand new Kia Soul did. The car doesn't look flashy, but I still think it looks alright beside the rocker rust that come free with every Century. :-) If you find one for a good deal and you like it get it.
Reliable soldier!! AND guardian angel!! - 1999 Buick Century
By Aji - September 13 - 8:38 pm
This was my first car, bought at 101,000. I had it for 6 years before i traded it in, it ran like a champion the entire time I had it even when I traded it in. It was my guardian angel protecting me from all sorts of things. I was hit from the side by semi truck one time, and stepped out the car without a scratch on me. I was hit from behind on a highway, I still don't have a scratch. The car was attacked and vandalized while I was in it, I ran over an attacker, and sped away. It was also my reliable soldier, because no matter what happened to it I always knew it was going to start and get me to where I needed to go. No major repairs needed. Only basic maintenance, is needed. It was because of this car that the Buick is the only car brand I will buy hands down. Safe and reliable!! You won't be disappointed!!
Don't let the looks fool you - 1998 Buick Century
By Ben Parrino - September 7 - 2:15 am
She isn't the fastest nor is she the prettiest. But, our 98 Century is holding up remarkably well considering she's about 18 years old. The Odometer went out @ 154k about 9 months ago. These cars are known to have faulty wiring problems, as we have to have the driver door and another door open to control the windows, which is dangerous if you drive off forgetting you had a door partially cracked open. Otherwise, doing regular engine maintenance has kept her running like a dream. The maintenance guy was even like "Wow! Your cruise control still works. A lot of these cars don't have it anymore because they didn't take good care of the engine". So yeah if you take moderately good care of this car it will take VERY good care of you. Our buick gets very very hot in direct sunlight which is great for winter time. Also, if you have decent tires on yours, you can outdrive most AWD vehicles in the snow. And it's awesome. We were being told the engine might go soon, so we went out and bought a 2002 Regal LS to have for when this car goes out. But, honestly, since the mechanic fixed her up I think she's gonna make it to 200k hopefully, and we can just have the Regal sit in the parking lot for 4 months and use ole reliable to pay off new reliable.
2001 Buick Century Custom. - 2001 Buick Century
By Oleg Dyachuk - March 29 - 2:44 pm
I had this handed to me as my first car, don't remember much about it but I know it had over 130k miles and it was leaking oil. I had it for 2 weeks until I fell asleep at 6 AM and crashed into an utility pole with it. cracked the pole in half and totalled the car. But i was perfectly fine, walked away with a tiny scratch over my eyebrow from the airbag.
my first real car - 1999 Buick Century
By hallnutz1 - December 4 - 5:41 am
bought it at 126,000 miles from an old dude here where i live in north east montana. all highway miles. thing was so quite that it was running and the only way i knew it was on was to pop the hood and see that the belt was spinning! im 20 and i love this car. the engine isnt a brute. but the car isnt that heavy either. its got enough power to do everything you need it to do. pull onto the interstate, get on it, and before you exit the ramp your up to 75. brakes are great. starts in -40 weather, seats you can fall asleep in (quite nice for the girlfriend also ) haha) its a great car. you just gotta know how cars work and keep up on the matience and it will last forever.
My MaMa's Buick - 2003 Buick Century
By msbemidji - October 21 - 6:40 pm
I inherited my mom's Buick. I also inherited one big problem...the engine ticks. I thought at first it was just common with that type of car since a couple of other Buicks in the neighborhood tick as well. Found out it was a piston problem, and that there was no fix. I was devastated. SO I'm putting the money down on a new engine and transmission. The body is in just too good of shape to let it go for scrap...plus, it's my mom's car, so it holds special sentimental value as well.