What's New for 1998
Supercharged power is now standard, OnStar satellite communications system is a new option and depowered airbags debut. Four exterior colors are new, suspension and steering have been massaged and a heated passenger seat with lumbar support has been added to the options list.
After decades of mediocre personal luxury coupes from Buick, 1995 brought a stunning Riviera that returned the car to its performance roots with an optional supercharged V6 engine. 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 center console soften the otherwise stark ambiance of the interior.
For 1998, Buick makes the supercharged 3800 Series II V6 standard on all Rivieras. So equipped, the big Riv gets to 60 mph in about eight seconds. Antilock brakes and dual airbags are standard, and traction control is one of a few options available. All 1998 Buicks have second-generation airbags, which inflate at a slower rate to help protect small adults and older children from cuts and bruises in the event of deployment.
Also new is the availability of an OnStar communications system. A dealer installed option, OnStar uses a hands-free cellular telephone and a Global Positioning Satellite to help you find your way around an unfamiliar city, get reservations at a swanky club or notify emergency personnel about an accident. Suspension and steering revisions are aimed at producing less body roll, better road isolation and improved steering feel. Four new exterior colors freshen the Riviera this year.
While this big Buick won't woo buyers who favor smaller, more sporting cars like the BMW 328i, the Riviera is a fine American luxury coupe with more than a hint of Euro flavor.