Buick Rainier Research & Reviews

Overview & Reviews

Average Score

4.52/5 Average
242 Total Reviews
Model Overview:

At its debut, the Buick Rainier added a bit of diversity to the brand's rather uniform lineup. Joining a family of mostly big, softly sprung sedans, this truck-based, midsize SUV became the first Buick in a long time with traditional body-on-frame construction and rear-wheel drive (with optional all-wheel drive), enabling it to carry a considerable amount of cargo (80 cubic feet) and tow heavy loads (up to 6,700 pounds).

Buick sourced the majority of Rainier's design from General Motors' midsize SUV platform. This meant that there wasn't much variation between it and its GM sport-ute brethren like the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy and Oldsmobile Bravada -- the third of which the Rainier effectively replaced when the Olds division was discontinued.

Of this core SUV grouping, the Buick Rainier was meant to be the most comfortable and upscale. Buick's exclusive rear air spring suspension made the Rainier the most successful at concealing ruts in the road, and the effects of Buick's "QuietTuning" could be heard in its near-silent interior. The Rainier also earned a bit of initial distinction as it was the only regular-length SUV of the bunch to offer an optional V8 engine. (The Rainier was never offered in extended-length seven-passenger form.) Finally, Buick's SUV came with the most standard equipment.

Sadly, all the extra effort didn't cure the Buick Rainier of its deepest family flaws. The combination of a high stance, high weight, a softly tuned suspension and a live rear axle penalized handling on several fronts. Handling was sloppy even by truck-based SUV standards. The Rainier's numb steering needed continual corrections to hold a straight line and its rear end felt loose and unstable in extreme handling situations. It also guzzled more gas than any modern Buick, and its interior was marred by cheap and mismatched materials, illogical controls, a lack of storage space, subpar build quality and fatiguing seats.

The Rainier partly redeemed itself with smooth and strong powertrains, competitive acceleration and a plush, quiet ride. But compared to other competing upscale SUVs, Buick's entry failed to completely deliver in the important categories of refinement, feature content and handling. For consumers shopping used midsize SUVs, we suggest taking a look at more qualified and desirable vehicles such as the Mercury Mountaineer, Toyota 4Runner or Volkswagen Touareg. Another good option is Buick's new large crossover SUV, the Enclave.

Most Recent Buick Rainier

The Rainier debuted for 2004 and received minor changes over its four-year run. Initially it was offered in CXL and CXL Plus trim levels with the six-cylinder engine producing 275 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque and the 290-hp (320 lb-ft) V8 available as an option. Aside from its significant increase in torque, the V8 also featured a cylinder deactivation system that saved a little fuel when cruising. Either way, a four-speed automatic transmission was standard, and both engines were available with rear- or all-wheel drive.

The following year, Buick dropped the Plus trim and the optional front seat-mounted side airbags. In their place, full-length side curtain airbags became available. In 2006, stability control became standard, the inline-6 gained 16 hp for a total of 291 and the V8 was pumped up to 300 hp.

The Buick Rainier midsize SUV was discontinued after 2007, its final model year, to make way for the vastly superior Enclave. At this point there was one well-equipped model, the CXL. Standard equipment included alloy wheels, an auto load-leveling suspension, dual-zone climate control, a CD player, power front seats, leather upholstery, antilock brakes, traction control and stability control. Major options included a navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system.

If you're shopping for a used Buick Rainier, we'd advise confining your search to the '06 and '07 model years to ensure you get a Rainier with stability control, a feature we consider especially important given this SUV's less-than-ideal handling dynamics.

User Reviews:

Showing 1 through 10 of 242.00
  • Not your average College Students Car! - 2004 Buick Rainier
    By -

    Being only 19, this isnt car most college guys have. Im the only one on campus with one of these! Ever since I bought my Rainier, It has been nothing but good to me. It has proved to be a reliable, luxurious, and all around great vehicle. Only repairs Ive done are oil changes and new brake pads. This truck is extremely comfortable and surprisingly easy to drive. The V8 is very powerful, and can get up and go. Highway driving is awesome, the rear air suspension really makes the ride a million times better. The AWD is awesome when driving in snow and rain, it has kept me out of a lot of trouble. It really is a hit or miss with the rainier, either you get a good one or you get a lemon.

  • Dont bother with this one... - 2004 Buick Rainier
    By -

    My Rainier is a piece of garbage. Parts are expensive, and labor even more so unless you are like me and do your own repairs - and even then, it is so poorly designed that it is a major undertaking to repair. As an example, the front differential blew up recently and I had to remove the steering rack, axles, AND the engine oil pan (the passenger side axle goes THROUGH the oil pan!) to remove it. Many of the bolts are difficult to get at. It would have cost me $2500 in labor alone to have a shop repair it for me, plus parts cost. I will NEVER willingly own another vehicle in this series again, and if I could afford to buy another vehicle I would. At least its fully paid for...

  • Money Pit - 2005 Buick Rainier
    By -

    I am the second owner of my Rainier. At 65000 miles, I had to replace my engine due to a cracked head (coolant got in the oil and wiped out my bearings). I am experiencing turning problems at low speeds and now my security light comes on and vehicle will not start. My GM rep. told me I was out of luck when the engine blew, and the repair costed me over $4000 to do myself. GM needs to actually stand behind their vehicles. I have owned GM vehicles all of my life and am no where near satisfied with this one.

  • Love my Buick! - 2006 Buick Rainier
    By -

    After owning many other cars, incl. a Mercedes C230, my Buick Rainier is by far my favorite car, maybe ever. Im in my early 30s, and a few years ago I probably would have scoffed at driving a Buick. In 2011 we were looking for a work SUV for my hubby (trailblazer, etc) and came across it at a dealership and got it for a steal. The next year he bought a truck, and I happily took over the Rainier. It is so comfortable, air ride is fantastic and it drives great. We got an extended warranty and had to have some of the suspension fixed (airbags and sensors) right after we bought it, but really no issues since. Have taken it on several long trips and its just so comfortable! Really a great SUV.

  • Broken suspension and transmission - 2005 Buick Rainier
    By -

    For the past 2 years I have been dealing with my suspension,I bought the car at carmax,they fixed the comressor only to find out I need an air bag,and what they couldnt see that the holes in the air bag is what is causing it to sag. And of course I am now out of warranty so I have to pay out of pocket. Now my transmission is slipping and it doesnt want to move faster than 35mph.It wont shift into 3rd gear.What else can go wrong with this car....If I knew what i know now about it I would never have bought it! Oh and warranty parts at carmax SUCKS!6MO OR 6000 MILES WHICH COMES FIRST, HOW ABOUT A YEAR LIKE OTHER PLACES OR DEALERS!

  • Best automobile I have ever owned - 2005 Buick Rainier
    By -

    Most trouble free auto I have ever owned. It is quiet and handles well in curves.

  • Buick Rainier: Too many headaches - 2005 Buick Rainier
    By -

    Bad fuel sender. Buick sends a notice to finally to cover 1/2 the repair cost. Too late. Drivers side door handle. Broken twice. Part is engineered to fail. $127 to buy $4 of plastic Rear air suspension problems. This will be the last Buick I ever own.

  • Love my Rainier - 2005 Buick Rainier
    By -

    I amazed when I see the bad reviews from people. My Rainier has been so good to me. I love it sooooo much. My husband has always wanted to take it from me and keep it as his own. It handles so well. I feel safe. I know my kids are safe. The ride is so smooth. The sound system is great. For the price, I feel that I have gotten so much more than I paid for. Love it. Love it. Love it. Cant wait to get my next Buick. I am sold and super excited about all the new models Buick is offering. To be honest I always thought Buicks were just for "old people". Forget about it. The new models are hot!! and I cant wait to trade up! Wont be the least bit apprehensive either.

  • Buick Rainer V-8 - 2004 Buick Rainier
    By -

    I have owned several Buicks and this is by far the worst one I have owned. The one I traded in had 143,000 miles on it and was still running perfectly. With the Rainier, I began have trouble around 60,000 miles. The instrument panel had to be replaced, then the air conditioner blew hot air on the passenger side. Then it was the transfer case, then the air bags used in the suspension area began leaking. At this very moment, it is parked in my garage with a broken water pump. I havent driven it in 4 months. Instead, I bought a used vehicle that I paid cash for to get around town in. It has been much more reliable than the Buick.

  • More Electrical Problems - 2004 Buick Rainier
    By -

    My Rainer has had soo many electrical problems. 1. No speedometer for over 2 yrs 2. No gas gauge for 1 yr 3. The ambient temp sensor was knocked loose because the water pump dislodged it causing the A/C to quit working. So its 100 degrees outside and the rad out says its -14. Cost me $600 to repair 4. And not to mention every once in a while when you hit a bump wrong at night, the headlights will just quit. And I have checked connections. Anyone else have ideas or comments.

Buick Rainier Reviews By Year:
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