What's New for 1997
Buick engineers substantially improve the Park Avenue for 1997 by strengthening the body structure, improving interior ergonomics, and introducing a sleek new look. Powertrains are carried over, and two models are available: base and Ultra.
Just look at what the Riviera has done. Two years after its ballyhooed debut, engineers adopt chassis structures and styling themes from the trend-setting coupe for the complete redesign of the 1997 Park Avenue. With these two models, it's clear Buick has narrowed its focus. Forget what you know about the 1991-96 edition Park Avenue, a favorite of the retirement village set. The new Park appeals to a much wider audience.
Styling is the first thing you notice about the new Park Avenue. It's strong, classy and dignified. It has character without resorting to tacky chrome add-ons or questionable styling themes. Massive is the word to describe the new car, not surprising since it's longer, wider and taller than the car it replaces. But, is it attractive? That's for the consumer to decide.
Despite larger dimensions, a couple key dimensions inside shrank. Front legroom is marginally cut, and the trunk lost a cubic foot of capacity. To compensate, head, rear leg, and hip room are up this year, resulting in a cabin that feels more spacious than last year's car. Lift-over into the trunk has also been improved.
Interior sound levels have been reduced by 33 percent, according to Buick. Structural improvements result in less shake, rattle and roll, as well as improved build quality. Interior ergonomics have been improved with the addition of larger analog gauges, seat-mounted safety belts, metaphoric power seat switches, and more accessible radio and climate controls.
Park Avenue is available in a standard model, and upscale Ultra trim. Both cars get a higher-capacity four-wheel disc braking system this year, while Ultra's are equipped with magnetic variable-assist steering that the dealership can reprogram for higher or lower steering effort. A variety of new goodies are either standard or optional, including rain-sensing windshield wipers and a head-up display that projects speed, turn signals, high beams and idiot lights onto the lower portion of the windshield.
Powertrains are carried over from last year, and that's not a bad thing. Buick's 3800 Series II engine provides V8 power in a fuel-efficient V6 package. The supercharged edition of this engine is an absolute joy. Fortunately, it comes standard on the Ultra. That fully loaded model tips the scales at a hefty two tons.
Buick aims to retain traditional Park Avenue buyers, while going after baby boomers. The message here is uncompromised comfort, according to marketing folks. All indications say Buick has a winner on its hands with the 1997 Park Avenue.