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Buick Century is a car you can count on, day after day, mile after mile. It's practical and comfortable, with a smooth ride, good performance, and predictable handling. It even offers a fair amount of luxury for a very practical price. As Buick's best-selling model, Century has established a large and satisfied following.
The Century provides the comfort of a traditional American sedan. The ride quality is soft and its V6 engine is strong but frugal. The interior design is straightforward. Everything is exactly where you think it should be, and everything works exactly how you expect it should work. Its broad bench seats provide plenty stretch-out room, but bucket seats are available.
The Century's V6 engine provides a crisp, authoritative response. What is even more impressive about this engine is that, in addition to providing plenty of power, it also achieves excellent fuel mileage, with 20 miles per gallon in the city and a whopping 30 miles per gallon on the highway.
A keynote of Buick's heritage is that the big cars from Flint delivered vigorous performance. The Century delivers this with a 3.1-liter V6 rated at 175 horsepower at 5200 rpm, and 195 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. Called the 3100, it's a solid and conventional engine, with overhead valves and sequential-port fuel injection.
The 3100's power is delivered through an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. It shifts smoothly, but otherwise its performance is only adequate. Kick -down response is slow when compared with the latest transmissions used in higher-priced vehicles.
Electronic traction control, which comes standard, reduces wheel spin for improved control on slippery surfaces. Also standard is an antilock brake system (ABS), which allows the driver to maintain steering control of the car in a panic-braking situation.
Century's front suspension is a MacPherson strut design, while its rear suspension is a multi-link independent using a coil-over strut. This setup is tuned for a soft ride when cruising on smooth, straight highways at normal speeds. But while the boulevard ride is traditional for Buick, it results in undistinguished handling in any sort of vigorous maneuvering: The Century leans when driven quickly through corners and it floats and wallows at high speeds over wavy surfaces. The driver feels isolated from the road.
Buick Century is modest-looking yet generously equipped. As a utilitarian four-door sedan, it was designed to provide long, workmanlike service for those who appreciate the traditional Buick values, that is, a premium vehicle at an affordable price.
The Century's engine is very satisfying, and there is ample interior space to please traditional Buick buyers. Its soft ride should also feel familiar to longtime Buick owners, who are extremely loyal to the brand.
But the price of that soft ride is a somewhat old-fashioned personality on the road. In this way, the Century looks backward to the big American sedans of years gone by, not forward to a more international vision of an agile and balanced family car. For now, Century is still finding buyers whose values are rooted in that past, while Buick offers other models that look enthusiastically to the future.