2003 Buick Century

 

The 1997 Buick Century and Regal were both the last of their nameplates, at least until the Regal was reintroduced in 2009. Both vehicles were essentially the same but they had there own distinct flavors, the Regal being the sportier and more expensive of the two. The aim of the Century seems to be quite the juxtaposition to the relatively daring Regal, giving buyers more traditional virtues as opposed to the Regals more international qualities. Being impervious to most trends, fads, and gimmicks over its development and long life, the Century was able to be what would seem to be the quintessential modern Buick and an especially stress-free midsize sedan.

Identifying a Buick of this generation as a Century or Regal starts at the front. The Century has a blunt nose with an upright waterfall grill and two wide, rounded headlights, thereby distinguishing itself from the relatively swept shape of the Regal. The staid Century has few sheet metal garnishes, but those that are there break up the rotundity. Conservatively applied also is chrome trim found on the grill, script nameplates, and around the rear light bar. The tested Century rode on a set of purposeful-looking black steel wheels with wheel covers. The unpretentious design of the Buick is most definitely reserved, but because of that continues to be worn well and proves quite likable.

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The interior of the Century is as refreshingly plain as the exterior with a monotonous expanse of grey in the case of the tested car. This may not sound positive, but just like occasionally choosing vanilla over chocolate ice cream, it nice to experience restraint and neutrality. The dash is defined by gentle curves and well-marked switchgear. The lack of a true center console leaves a vast expanse of space under the dash contributing to the overall airiness of the interior. The velour 60/40 split bench seat is incredibly soft, giving the perception of an infinite amount of give in the cushion. Behind the dated four-spoke steering wheel is a simplistic instrument cluster consisting of a center speedometer, temperature gauge, and gas gauge. Other information is relayed through large warning lights. Trunk space is a more than decent 16.7 cubic feet.

 

Buick made for a calming driving experience in the Century by keeping outside disturbances to a minimum. The compliant suspension quashes the resonance of impacts and the harshness of a poor road with competence while the cabin is tightly wrapped in a sheath of silence, isolated from wind noise and tire roar. The absence of hardly any impact along with the quiet acoustics enhances the surprising feeling of solidity in the tight-feeling Buick. The steering is rather heavy for such a comfort-oriented automobile, but is direct and responsive. Not responsive is the 3.1 liter pushrod V6 producing 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Centuries made before the 2000 model year had 160 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. This engine puts power to the front wheels through a four-speed automatic with a column mounted gear selector. For any sort aggressive acceleration, the V6 requires some persuasion; otherwise it lazily propels the car to speed, emitting harsh, throaty notes in the process. Though the power train is far from ideal, it is adequate for the relaxed Century.

The driving position is considerably flawed; the accelerator is far away while the steering wheel and the brake are close, but the Century makes up for this discomfort with its other previously discussed qualities. The brakes were neither grabby nor too spongy.  The Buick is rated by the EPA to get 18MPG city and 26MPG on the highway, good numbers from a larger V6 sedan.

The Buick Century adheres to the tried and true values that defined past American sedans and has its own appeal because of that. Even if the motor may be neither smooth nor spritely, an excellent ride and comforting interior ensure the Century can create a most serene driving experience. Kelly Blue Book says the fair purchase price for a 2003 Buick Century with the average of 115,495 miles is $4,296. For that price, rest assured your buying a likable Buick with luxuries and traditions that count.

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2007 Saab 9-5 Sedan

The cars from the Swedish brand known as Saab withered upon the vines from which they sprouted by 2007. Outside opinions molded and sculpted by automotive journalists in collaboration Saab’s languished state cause most, even those with automotive obsessions, to dismiss the innovative, aviation-themed brand to this very day. Mention Saab and they will mention BMW and the dynamics of rear-wheel-drive that are absent in Saabs. They may also thumb their noses to the Saab quirks: the central ignition, egg crate vents, and the long production runs the vehicles normally enjoyed. In reality, the 2007 Saab 9-5 is an unexpectedly competent luxury sedan undeserving of much of the criticism it receives.

The 2006 Saab 9-5 was a rework of the original 1998 9-5. The 2006 was obviously from the late 90s, however new front and rear fascias in addition to trunk lids and hoods made the 9-5 appear trim, clean and modern, perhaps the best looking midsize sedan of its day. Smoked headlights, a restrained application of chrome, and smooth, flush taillights  allowed the 9-5 to have a unique style a cut above its competitors. Not that the original 9-5s lacked styling substance as evidenced by the subtle, flowing curves of the 9-5s basic shape. The slope of the rear window, how it integrates into the decklid, and the forward rake of the rear door windows create a shape both beautiful and reminiscent of past Saabs.

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Pictures can be worth so many words though they can omit crucial details, as is the case with the Saab 9-5 interior. It is better than you may think it is, unless you have seen it in person. Then again, nothing is perfect. The design of the dash is as far as can be from timeless, an anachronism in its day, though it would look at home in any Saab 900. A large, concave area is the site of all of the instrumentation, most of the controls, the infotainment system, and HVAC controls. The vents are of the egg crate variety and are adjusted with with a clever central knob, but it must to be admitted that they are visually unappealing. An expanse of shiny, ultra-fake dark wood trim covers this concave area. The topmost area of the dash is squishy, while other areas of the dash make do with various kinds of hard plastic. Most of the hard plastics are of sufficiently nice quality; not everything has to be soft to be nice in an interior. The door panels are noticeably nice with a dash of wood trim on the grab handles, and a metallic door handle. A Saab quirk is the entertaining passenger-side cupholder which folds out from the dash in a series of satisfyingly fluid motions. Attention to these seemingly insignificant details extends to even the overhead console with a neat lamp. The tan, perforated leather seats are some of the best. Sitting upon one is to find exceptional suppleness not found in many of the Saabs Germanic competitors. The interior exudes a sense of spacial plentifulness. The rear seat is roomy and befitting of a midsize sedan with excellent legroom and comfort. The trunk opening is wide granting ample access to 15.9 cubic feet of cargo room.

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A list of Saab quirks would make an interesting, if long article in itself. This article likely glosses over some but cannot ignore the one that becomes the most apparent at start-up: the centrally mounted ignition cylinder. Irrationally fun is to place the key between the seats and turn. The car shimmies and comes to life with a quiet burble. The 9-5 may not be refined in the same way as a German competitor, but it sure is characterful and charming. At first glance, interior switchgear seems placed in a slapdash manner but is strikingly logical to use making it easy to adjust seats and mirrors. The curved windshield presents a partially panoramic view of the outside world and unlike some luxury cars, the Saab has a low cowl that helps the car afford great forward visibility to the driver. Piloting the car through a tight area reveals both its dimensions and front-wheel drive roots. The 9-5 is a rather sizable vehicle with a wide turning radius. The accelerator is awkwardly positioned far to the right, necessitating a little experience to become fully used to driving the Saab. The steering, despite lacking to a slight degree in engagement, proves to be successful in displaying a fair amount of nimbleness in the 9-5. Shove your foot far into the long traveling accelerator pedal, and the car comes into its element. The 2006-2009 Saab 9-5 is propelled only by a 2.3 liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 260 horsepower and 258 lbs-ft of torque. The monster of an engine channels its wealth of power and torque through a five speed manual, or a five-speed automatic with a sport setting. The 2.3 is a phenomenal motor able to pull the Saab along in tenacious and torque-rich acceleration and in the process serenades with a throaty growl. Amazingly, the turbocharged four-cylinder lends the car the heart of a six-cylinder.

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The Saab feels like it can easily desecrate speed limits. Luckily, a set of clear and informative gauges gives the driver the opportunity to percisely monitor not only speed but also other functions, even turbo boost. The night panel switch, located to the left of the steering wheel, takes into account eye fatigue and the distraction of dash backlighting by limiting lighting to only crucial instrumentation such as the speedometer. This seems to be another example of the many insightful features Saab designed into the 9-5. The tuning of the all-independent suspension firmed the ride quality but not to any fault or deprecation in comfort. The boosted engine gives the 9-5 mixed fuel economy according to the EPA ratings of 17MPG city and 26MPG highway for vehicles equipped with the automatic. Manual 9-5s add 1MPG in the city and on the highway. All of the vehicles require premium gasoline.

A 2007 Saab 9-5 with the average of 98,789 miles and an automatic is expected to cost $5,906 by Kelly Blue Book. For reference, a 2007 BMW 525i with similar mileage costs $10,290. From these numbers it is ascertained that the Saab is an incredible value.

The 2007 Saab 9-5 is a highly unique and desirable sedan. The 2006 refresh gave it a stunning exterior, adding to the powerful turbocharged four-cylinder, comfort, and ergonomics the 9-5 already possessed. For those who like things that are particularly clever and unique, the Saab 9-5 is an enticing vehicle.