What's New for 1997
Upgraded transmissions, several new colors inside and out, additional standard equipment and new options summarize minimal changes to the Riviera.
After decades of mediocre personal luxury coupes from Buick, 1995 brought a stunning Riviera that returned the car to its performance roots, when equipped with the optional supercharged V6. Photos do not convey the elegance and beauty of this design. It looks best in dark shades, and from just about every angle, the new Riviera's sheetmetal is intriguing. The dashboard is thankfully devoid of digital wizardry, sporting simple round gauges and a slightly retro look. Real wood inserts on the instrument panel and console soften the otherwise stark ambience of the interior.
Motivating the base front-wheel drive Riviera is GM's tried-and-true Series II 3.8-liter V6, which puts 205 horsepower to the ground through the front axle. A supercharged version of that motor, which comes standard with bigger wheels and tires, stretches the Riviera's performance envelope a bit, getting the big Riv to 60 mph in about eight seconds. Antilock brakes and dual airbags are standard, and traction control is one of the few options available.
For 1997, Buick ups the ante with added standard equipment like PASS-Key II theft deterrent system, retained accessory power, Twilight Sentinel, memory door locks, and flash-to-pass headlamps. Daytime running lights are also new this year, along with a larger coinholder. New options include an electrochromic rear view mirror with integrated compass, and an automatic parallel park feature that tilts the passenger-side exterior mirror down so that the driver can see the curb. The rear defogger now operates continuously until manually shut off when vehicle speed is above 30 mph. Below 30 mph, the defogger times out after ten minutes. Three new exterior colors and one new interior color freshen the Riviera this year.
Prices start right around $30,000. While this big Buick won't woo buyers who favor smaller, more sporting cars like the BMW 3-Series, the Riviera is a fine American luxury coupe with more than a hint of Euro flavor.