Whether admiring or seriously considering buying the Buick Park Avenue Ultra sedan, don’t be misled by its throwback touches such as the three porthole openings on each front fender. This is one up-to-date sedan with moxie.
In no way will sliding behind the leather-wrapped wheel and adjusting the cradling driver’s seat make you feel you’re in your father or grandfather’s Buick. Show it to them, and they might approach it the same way they’d approach the latest high-tech computer — with apprehension.
Buick, remember, started really shredding its stodgy image quite some time ago, notably with its Grand National whooshmobiles in the ‘80s, so that’s no longer an issue. If there are issues with the 2003 Park Avenue Ultra, they deal with fuel mileage — its supercharger really sucks up that recommended premium unleaded.
Not only is the Ultra a comfortable car with a kicking stereo (optional, of course), it’ll snap open the eyes of anyone expecting a dull, sedate sedan ride.
Between the high-tech magnetic, self-leveling touring suspension and the 240-horsepower supercharged V-6, the Ultra is serene at times and a siren-inviting speedster at others.
The supercharged test car was quite content to rock along at the maximum speed limits without really utilizing its potential while, for the most part, maintaining its comfort-inducing composure.
High-tech features that you easily become accustomed to include General Motors’ heads-up display projecting the primary instrumentation, which has Lexus-like script, on the windshield. Then there are big red turn-indicating arrows that flash on and off in the outside rearview mirrors. A driver who fails to note you’re planning a turn clearly has both eyes closed.
You might be tempted to close yours, too, and take a brief nap after looking at the lulling beige-and-brown wood and leather interior for several hundred miles.
But the comfort level easily atones for the interior’s lack of excitement. Something the Ultra doesn’t lack is space.
Feel free to move about in the Ultra, just don’t expect to put three people in the rear seats. It’s good for two adults, unless you do a "Sopranos" number and put a third in the capacious trunk.
And that reminds us that the Ultra would be a good fit for Tony. As Buicks go, this 2003 is thene plus Ultra.
Test vehicle: Buick Park Avenue Ultra front-drive sedan.
Price as tested: $41,935 (base price: $39,145 plus $770 delivery).
Drivetrain: 3.8-liter supercharged V-6 engine (240 horsepower), four-speed automatic transmission.
Safety features: dual front and side air bags, power anti-lock disc brakes, switchable traction control, StabiliTrak anti-skid system, tire pressure monitor, OnStar system for obtaining information, roadside assistance and emergency services (one year, fee charged afterward).
Other standard features include: dual-zone climate control, automatic headlamps with delay and self-dimming interior lights, power mirrors with memory and turn signal feature, leather, aluminum and faux wood interior trim, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory, CD/cassette stereo with remote rear control and steering-wheel controls, programmable power locks with keyless entry system, trip computer, 17-inch aluminum wheels with 235/55 speed-rated tires, self-leveling magnetic touring suspension.
Options on test vehicle: package with sunroof, trunk-mounted CD changer, console with drinkholders and power outlets, $1,875; heads-up instrumentation display on windshield, $300; rear parking proximity alert system, $295; special white diamond paint, $550.