Overview & Reviews
Park Avenue. Monopoly buffs and New Yorkers hold that name dear. And so do those whose automotive tastes run toward old-school American luxury, the kind that's reflected in the Buick Park Avenue. To these folks, soft, pillowed seats, smooth and quiet powertrains and a ride quality that shields occupants from the nasty noises and jolts of the outside world are of paramount importance.
Originally introduced in the mid-1970s as a super-posh trim level for the Electra model, the early Park Avenue boasted velour upholstery so thick and soft you'd swear you were sitting on Queen Victoria's sofa. Other hallmarks of this 455-cubic-inch, V8-powered, disco-era bruiser included more faux wood trim for the cabin and more chrome trim for the body.
Downsized in 1977, the Electra Park Avenue was still a big car that could be powered by a large V8. A more serious downsizing program took place in the mid-'80s that saw the big Electra morph into a slimmed-down, squared-off sedan that was much shorter and lighter. The powertrain did an about-face as well, as the new Buick flagship adopted front-wheel drive and exclusively used fuel-efficient V6 power.
The dawn of the 1990s saw the Buick Park Avenue transition from a trim level to its own model when it replaced the Electra. Slightly larger than the boxy '80s version, this Park Ave boasted an elegant, softly curvaceous body. An available supercharged V6 sated the appetites of those who longed for the thrust of the distant past, while luxury features such as dual-zone climate control kept the hedonists happy.
For 1997, a more polished Park emerged and loyalists of the isolationist school of auto design were not disappointed, as the big Buick still prioritized a plush ride over precise handling. For the new millennium, however, Buick's managers decided a changing of the guard was required. The Park Avenue (and the LeSabre) was replaced by the Lucerne.
Most Recent Buick Park Avenue
The most recent Buick Park Avenue, produced for the 1997-2005 model years, served as the brand's flagship large sedan. This model's stiffer platform improved ride and handling characteristics and also minimized the chance of any squeaks and rattles as compared to the previous generation. Styling was evolutionary, with the same silhouette shaped with smoother body sides and crisp fender peaks. The cabin redesign included larger gauges and more easily used controls, though storage spaces were in short supply and the radio still had too many small buttons.
Base and Ultra trims were offered, with the latter providing additional luxuries such as leather seating, a power passenger seat and an upgraded audio system. With the front bench seat, the Park Avenue could seat up to six passengers.
Engine choices were a tried-and-true pair of 3.8-liter V6s. The standard Park Avenue came with the naturally aspirated version (205 horsepower), while the Ultra boasted the supercharged version (240 hp). Both models drove their front wheels through a four-speed automatic.
In a review of the Buick Park Avenue Ultra, we lauded the car for its strong acceleration (zero to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, surprisingly good steering and traditional ability to gobble up vast amounts of Interstate in supreme comfort). Noted downsides included disappointing interior build quality and mediocre braking performance. Some drivers will also find the car's ride quality to be overly floaty, especially if the car isn't equipped with the suspension-stiffening Grand Touring package.
Key upgrades through the years include available OnStar communications in 1998, stability control (standard on Ultra) in 2000, available park assist in '01, and a new grille, 17-inch chrome wheels and the addition of fender "portholes" for the '03 Ultra.
As a used car consideration, the Park Avenue fares respectably. Draws include relatively low pricing, a roomy interior, good engine performance and fuel economy, and the pride of owning something that truly fulfills the "rides like a Buick" cliché. Potential buyers might want to also check out the Toyota Avalon, as it provides very similar traits.
Past Buick Park Avenues
The previous generation of the Buick Park Avenue was produced from 1991-'96. Well-equipped base and more luxurious Ultra versions were offered. With its curvaceous body and (on the Ultra) supercharged V6 power, this Park Avenue was a showroom star for the tri-colored-shield division of General Motors.
Initially, both Park Avenues came with Buick's bulletproof 3.8-liter V6 that made 170 hp, but for 1992 the Ultra received a supercharged version that pumped out 205 hp. There were a few other upgrades during this model's run as well. In '94, the Ultra got 20 more hp and heated seats were a new option. The base Park Avenue got its power boost for '95 so it made 205 hp. The last year ('96) of this generation saw the Ultra receive the Series II supercharged V6 (with 240 hp) and variable-assist steering.
Whether one chooses the standard Park Avenue or the Ultra, this Buick is a solid choice for a used luxury car thanks to its comfortable ride, power and admirable fuel efficiency.
Prior to this Park Avenue was the 1985-'90 version, which marked a major downsizing of the model and a switch from rear- to front-wheel drive.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 191.00
I'm not old & gray but liked the Park Av - 1998 Buick Park Avenue
By MLMB - November 5 - 10:00 am
I've driven my Pk Ave for 6 yrs, and enjoyed the comfort ride, many perks, fuel economy and size. Wrecked it and got good front end protection (I totaled the full sized pickup truck I hit!). Large trunk is great. Didn't like the suspension - the bottom drops hard in some cases. Also huge expense at 120,000 miles for repairing the plastic intake manifold $1300!! Common problem according to the mechanic, and they no longer use plastic, he says. Only selling it to get a car large enough to handle our dog kennel!
Once satisfied! - 2005 Buick Park Avenue
By Ron Stein - October 31 - 2:10 am
Purchased a Park Avenue in 1991, traded in 1995 and again in 1998. Last year I purchased a Chrysler Pacifica. Wow, what a change. I think it is time for Buick to make a body style change. Been using this mold since 1991. Just my opinion.
Ultra Nice - 2002 Buick Park Avenue
By davescrafts - October 4 - 2:00 am
This is our 3rd Park Avenue. It has a better ride than Cadillac and Lincoln.
My Park Ave - 2002 Buick Park Avenue
By Ted S - October 2 - 10:00 am
Everything I had hoped for. The Park Ave Ultra is like being in your favorite chair
John's ratiing - 2004 Buick Park Avenue
By John A McDonnell - September 30 - 10:00 am
The spacious trunk is a big plus but the sheer comfortable ride is far better than the numerous other cars I have owned/driven. The pick up in this Ultra is great for a familly sedan.
Shame on GM! - 1997 Buick Park Avenue
By Gidge - August 15 - 11:00 pm
Sharp car but GM refuses to make good on all the 3800 engines damaged by plastic intake manifolds (class action lawsuit only gives you $50 or so unless the entire engine is replaced & then what you get won't cover it.) (GM wonders why people are buying other brands?) Replaced alternator, battery, pwr st. pump, transmission parts, warped rotors, Intake manifold, I/M gaskets separately (which are now leaking again for 3rd time) ashtray replaced psgr seat controls replaced, wipers very erratic, Rear air shocks, front strut mounts bad, had to pull engine mount just to replace serpentine belt, repeated problems with rough upshift, (dealer says" no code, no problem") Gets 30-4o mpg highway. Nice ride.
11 years of near bliss - 2005 Buick Park Avenue
By geeo - August 15 - 1:10 am
I just love the big car feel. The bench seat front and back are great. You can seat the entire family of grown children all the luggage ans all the electronic gear in comfort their are four 12 volt receptacles.The Park Ultra is very popular in China in 2010. Why we can not have it here is a mystery to me. I guess the bone heads at Buick in USA still do not get it.
Best car I ever owned. - 2000 Buick Park Avenue
By George Teabo - August 12 - 10:00 am
Initially I had trouble with the computer indicating that my "door was ajar", which it wasn't. After that problem was corrected I have had no problems with the car. It gives great mileage for a large car. 31 mpg on a recent trip and the average overall is around 28 mpg. I have the grand touring feature which provides excellent steering and cornering.
Buick? Drive Park AV. you will love it ! - 2002 Buick Park Avenue
By New Buick Lover - August 3 - 2:00 am
You will find V-8 power in a V-6 with outstanding fuel mi. 23 in town and 33 highway on 87 oct. My wife and I suffer from bad backs, well the Buick seats are wonderful even the back seat is so comfortable and easy to get in and out of, and the pull handles on 3 doors are a big help also. Quite wonderful smooth ride with great road handling. GM found a great way of making a front driver feel like a rear drive. My Dad who always drives a Town Car did not know he was driving a front driver.
We love our Park Avenue! - 2003 Buick Park Avenue
By 007 Blond - July 10 - 2:03 pm
Our 2003 Buick Park Avenue is a pleasure to drive. There are no blind spots so we have full view of what is around us when maneuvering in traffic. Comfortable ride is what we get, even on bumpy roads. Our other car, a Lexus, has a blind spot and we feel every bump, so we really appreciate riding in our Buick. There are no rattles so body integrity is built in. Our only problem at the moment is that we need new wheels because of a damaged rim and the dealer is having a problem getting replacements. This car is great and we hope Buick brings back the Park Avenue.