Pre-Owned Profile: 1991-1996 Buick Park Avenue

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author photo by John Rettie September 1999

Buick Park Avenue provides luxury comfort for up to six passengers for a lot less money than other luxury cars on the market.

In many ways it is difficult to categorize the Buick Park Avenue. It is very similar to the Buick LeSabre yet it’s not quite as luxurious as a Cadillac or Lincoln. It’s variously described as near luxury or traditional luxury. In reality the Park Avenue is a good in-between choice. It offers a decent dose of luxury in a large package that does not cost an arm and a leg.

The Park Avenue is a classic example of good value that is available in many American cars. Its sweet V-6 engine provides enough power yet is not excessive. It delivers a smooth ride although its handling is not on par with a sports sedan.

Buick owners tend to be much older than buyers of comparable imported cars. Because of this they hang on to their cars longer than most. They also tend to look after their cars nicely. Consequently a pre-owned Park Avenue can be hard to find. However if you do find one it makes an intelligent buy for someone who wants a roomy six-passenger vehicle with luxury trimmings but without the ostentatious trappings often associated with many luxury cars.

What You Need To Know:

1. Review of a 1992 Buick Park Avenue

2. Summary of Good and Bad Points by Owners

3. History of Park Avenue

4. Review of Current Model

5. Basic Facts

6. Changes Year-to-Year

7. Safety Information

8. Value Guide

9. Option Installment Rate

10. Sales History

11. Awards and Commendations Earned

12. Other Reviews

13. Recall Information

14. Price of Spare Parts

1. Pre-Owned Vehicle Evaluation - 1992 Buick Park Avenue

Likes: stylish looks, good V-6 engine, smooth ride

Dislikes: soft handling

Competitors: (on same platform: Buick LeSabre, Oldsmobile 98), Lincoln Town Car, Cadillac DeVille, Chrysler LHS, Lexus ES 300, Acura Legend

Miles: 76,400

Condition: B+

Price when new: $27,350 (est.)

Posted Price: $10,945 (July 1999)

When I first drove this iteration of the Park Avenue back in 1991 I was struck by how similar its design was to the Jaguar. It was perhaps a bit of an exaggeration on my part but nevertheless the Park Avenue’s stylish lines have remained contemporary to this day, just like a Jaguar.

The first thing one notices about the Park Avenue is that it’s quiet and smooth. Even though it is only powered by a V-6 engine it feels more like a V-8. The 3800 V-6 engine is one of the best engines on the market and has been rated three times among the Top Ten Best Engines by Ward’s Auto World, an influential trade magazine. Over the years the engine has been refined and it has gained horsepower without sacrificing fuel economy or its smoothness.

The power output on the Ultra version of the Park Avenue is even greater, thanks to a supercharger. Superchargers are pretty rare in today’s engines compared to turbochargers but in many ways they are better as they provide power at low speeds which is when it is needed in a road car. The Ultra model costs about $5,000 more than the basic Park Avenue when new, which makes it tough to justify. However the price differential is only about $1,000 on pre-owned Park Avenues over three years old. In this case I would recommend trying to find an Ultra even though they are less common.

The Park Avenue’s handling is not as crisp as one finds in import luxury cars. It won’t upset those who like to drive sedately but brisk driving finds the car lurching and the suspension bottoming on rough roads. It also wallows on undulating roads much as all large American cars are wont to do.

The car I tested came with the optional Gran Touring package, which is standard on the Ultra model. It is a worthwhile option as it helps improve the handling somewhat with slightly bigger tires and stiffer suspension. It does not improve the steering enough in my opinion, as it is still too sloppy for my liking.

In 1991 the interior was viewed as being quite futuristic with a sweeping dashboard that curved around and ended on the door panels. The doors were definitely part of the dash layout as climate controls and light switches were moved there to make them fall easily to one’s left hand. It was a neat concept but it’s funny how dated it looks now.

Rear seat passengers will enjoy the Park Avenue as it has excellent legroom and headroom that is as good as in most large luxury cars. Seating is comfortable and the majority of Park Avenues had leather seats. With a split bench seat in front a driver is not held in place as tightly as with bucket seats. However, this is a benefit for larger people and those who don’t often drive on twisty roads. In keeping with the generous interior space the trunk is also large although the liftover is a tad on the high side because of a high trunk lid.

Taking everything into consideration a pre-owned Park Avenue makes a good deal for somebody who wants to frequently carry four passengers in comfort. It can carry six people but it’s a bit tight for the center passengers. The fact that older people who buy this model keep it for many years shows that it is something they can enjoy living with day after day.

2. Summing It Up - Owners Views


Very comfortable car

Nice and big


Rear power door lock and window quit working, but fixed under warranty

3. History of Park Avenue

The Buick Electra Park Avenue was one of GM’s first models to switch to front-wheel-drive back in 1985. The Electra name was dropped when the car’s body was redesigned in 1991. When the rear-drive Roadmaster disappeared in 1996 the Park Avenue inherited its position as the largest car in the Buick lineup. An all-new model was introduced in 1997 based on the platform used for the Buick Riveria and Oldsmobile Aurora.

4. Review of Current Park Avenue

The current version of the Park Avenue, first introduced in 1997, is essentially very similar in character and looks to the previous model. However the platform is much improved over the earlier one that had remained largely unchanged since 1985. While the new car handles much better it still offers a plush ride for those who want to be far removed from the bumps and rough surfaces of the highway. The interior has been totally redesigned making it much more luxurious than before. In many ways the newest Park Avenue offers even better value than before as its capabilities are closer to those of import luxury cars and yet in terms of size it offers much more than those of similar price.

5 Basic Facts: 1991 - 1996 Park Avenue

Vehicle Type: Luxury Sedan

No. Passengers: up to six

Origin of assembly: Wentzville, MO (until 1994); Flint, MI (‘95 - ‘96); Orion, MI (‘97 on)

Engine: (standard): 3.8-liter 170 hp V-6 ('91-'94); 3.8-liter 205 hp V-6 ('95 on)

(optional): supercharged 3.8-liter 205 hp V-6 ('92-'93); supercharged 3.8-liter 225 hp V-6 ('94-’95); supercharged 3.8-liter 240 hp V-6 ('96 on)

Transmission: 4-spd automatic; front-drive

Length: 206 inches

Wheelbase: 111 inches

Width: 74 inches

Height: 55 inches

Curb weight: 3500 lbs. (approx.)

Cargo volume: 20 cu. ft.

Fuel tank capacity: 18 gals.

Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway): 18/27

6. Changes in the Buick Park Avenue Line 1991 - 1999

1991 Model Year (first year of new model)

Park Avenue introduced as a replacement for Electra.

Uses same front-drive chassis but with all-new longer body

New 4-speed electronic automatic transmission introduced

1992 Model Year

Supercharged Ultra added to model lineup

Traction control offered as option

1993 Model Year

Base engine improved

Minor changes to grille and taillights

1994 Model Year

Supercharged engine gets power boost

Dual airbags become standard

1995 Model Year

Base engine gets power boost

Redesigned instrument panel

Minor bodywork changes

1996 Model Year

Ultra supercharged engine gets a power boost

New power assisted steering

Personal choice keyless entry system remembers settings

1997 Model Year (first year of new model)

All new model introduced with longer wheelbase

Redesigned interior

Powertrain choices remain same as before

1998 Model Year

Reduced power airbags

1999 Model Year

Minor changes

7. Safety Notes

NHTSA Crash rating: Driver NR; Passenger NR (5 is best)

ABS standard on all Park Avenue models

Driver side air bag standard from 1991, dual air bags standard from 1994

8. Value Guide

Prices listed are for base models. Options can add considerably to the lowest price listed as these are usually "stripped" models. In many cases, very few vehicles are ever sold at the lowest price listed! Source: Kelley Blue Book

1992 Model Year

New: $25,885 to $29,380

1993 Model Year

New: $26,640 to $29,995

1994 Model Year

New: $27,624 to $32,324

1995 Model Year

New: $27,871 to $32,537

1996 Model Year

New: $28,845 to $33,460

1997 Model Year (first year of new model)

New: $30,660 to $35,660

1998 Model Year

New: $31,340 to $36,215

9. Option Installment Rate

Generally, when you order a new car you have a choice of factory-installed options. When you buy a pre-owned vehicle the choice is limited to what was actually installed on vehicles sold in that model year. Use this option installment rate as a guide to the chances of finding particular options on a pre-owned vehicle. Source: Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

As one would expect in a luxury car, most important creature comforts, such as power accessories, automatic climate control, etc. are included as standard on the Park Avenue.

1992 Model Year

Installment Rate


3.8-liter V-6: 93%

3.8-liter supercharged: 7%

Traction Control: 6%

Leather Seats: NA%

Keyless entry: 55%

1993 Model Year

Installment Rate


3.8-liter V-6: 73%

3.8-liter supercharged: 27%

Traction Control: 17%

Leather Seats: NA%

Keyless entry: 55%

1994 Model Year

Installment Rate


3.8-liter V-6: 80%

3.8-liter supercharged: 20%

Traction Control: 36%

Leather Seats: NA%

Keyless entry: 94%

1995 Model Year

Installment Rate


3.8-liter V-6: 82%

3.8-liter supercharged: 18%

Traction Control: 36%

Leather Seats: 75%

1996 Model Year

Installment Rate


3.8-liter V-6: 85%

3.8-liter supercharged: 15%

Traction Control: 41%

Leather Seats: 79%

1997 Model Year

Installment Rate


3.8-liter V-6: 79%

3.8-liter supercharged: 21%

Traction Control: 32%

Leather Seats: 90%

1998 Model Year

Installment Rate


3.8-liter V-6: NA%

3.8-liter supercharged: NA%

Traction Control: 39%

Leather Seats: 95%

10. Production/Sales Volume History

Normally a model year runs from October to September. Often though, when a new version is introduced it hits the market before October. Legally, a model year can start as early as January of the preceding year. Accurate model year sales counts are almost impossible to collect as different model year vehicles are regularly sold side-by-side for several months. Production figures, when listed, often include vehicles made for export to Canada, Mexico and overseas. Source: manufacturers/Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

1992 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1991 through Sept. 1992

Total number produced: 63,390

Total no. sold in U.S.: 59,728

1993 Model Year

Production run: Oct.1992 through Sept. 1993

Total number produced: 55,210

Total no. sold in U.S.: 55,390

1994 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1993 through Sept. 1994

Total number produced: 64,665

Total no. sold in U.S.: 63,695

1995 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1994 through Sept. 1995

Total number produced: 59,264

Total no. sold in U.S.: 53,667

1996 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1995 through Sept. 1996

Total number produced: 46,924

Total no. sold in U.S.: 46,577

1997 Model Year (first year of new model)

Production run: Oct. 1996 through Sept. 1997

Total number produced: 66,142

Total no. sold in U.S.: 65,046

1998 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1997 through Sept. 1998

Total number produced: 61,974

Total no. sold in U.S.: 60,330

11. Awards and Commendations


"Among the Top Ten in Initial Quality" - J. D. Power and Associates

"Best Overall American Car Value (Over $13,000) - IntelliChoice


"Best Overall American Car Value (Over $13,000) - IntelliChoice


"Best Overall American Car Value (Over $13,000) - IntelliChoice

"Best in Class ($25,000-$35,000 category)" - Kiplinger’s Personal Finance


"Best Overall American Car Value (Over $20,000) - IntelliChoice


"Best in Class ($25,000-$35,000 category)" - Kiplinger’s Personal Finance


"First for Safety ($25,000-$35,000 category)" - Kiplinger’s Personal Finance


"The Park Avenue specializes in a soft, smooth ride at the cost of handling ability. There’s plenty of room for five and a good-sized trunk." - Jack Gillis, The Used Car Book 1997-1998

"In terms of bang for the buck, domestic luxury cars such as the Park Avenue offer far better value than their imported rivals.." - New York Times Regional Newspaper Group, John Rettie Test Drive, July 1991

13. Recalls (Only major recalls listed)

ID Number: 91V167000

Component: emergency parking brake: mechanical: lever settling mechanical

Potential Number of Units Affected: 20,765

Year: 1991

Manufactured From: Apr 1991 To: May 1991

Year of Recall:'91

Summary: When applied, the parking brake lever assembly may release one or more teeth, reducing the cable load to the rear brakes.

Depending on the extent of the lever release and road level. The parking brake may not hold the vehicle, allowing it to roll, which could result in an accident. Vehicle does not comply with FMVSS 105.

ID Number: 96V015000

Component: power train: transmission: automatic: cooling unit and lines

Potential Number of Units Affected: 585,182

Year: 1992-1995

Manufactured From: Aug. 1991 To: July 1995

Year of Recall:'96

Summary: The transmission oil cooler line can separate when the vehicle is operated in low temperatures in combination with high transmission loads. Vehicle fires can occur due to the spillage of transmission fluid.

ID Number: 95V158000

Component: lighting: lamp or socket: head lights

Potential Number of Units Affected: 12,832

Year: 1995

Manufactured From: Feb. 1995 To: Mar. 1995

Year of Recall:'95

Summary: The driver side headlamp lens has an incorrect aim pad number on the lens. This does not comply with FMVSS no. 108, "lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment." Consequence of non-compliance: if these head lamps are re-aimed using a mechanical aiming device that utilizes the aiming pad numbers, the resultant aim would be out of the specified range. This may cause a visibility problem increasing the potential for a vehicle accident.

ID Number: 95V204000

Component: electrical system: ignition: anti-theft

Potential Number of Units Affected: 32,869

Year: 1996

Manufactured From: Mar. 1995 To: Aug. 1995

Year of Recall:'95

Summary: These vehicles were assembled with a malfunction alarm, lighting and locking (mall) module that can contain a damaged capacitor. If the capacitor is damaged, the "key in the ignition" warning chime and the driver seat belt unbuckled warning chime and indicator lamp may not work. This does not meet the requirements of FMVSS no. 114, "theft protection" and FMVSS no. 208, "occupant crash protection." In addition, other chime reminder functions, interior lighting controls, and power door locking features are also affected. Consequence of non-compliance; the driver may not be aware that the key was left in the ignition or that the safety belt was not buckled.

ID Number: 96V116000

Component: fuel: carburetor: single: manifold: intake

Potential Number of Units Affected: 275,811

Year: 1996

Manufactured From: July 1995 To: May 1996

Year of Recall:'96

Summary: A backfire during engine starting can cause breakage of the upper intake manifold. This condition can cause a no-start condition and possibly an engine compartment fire.

ID Number: 97V036000

Component: interior systems: tracks and anchors: rear seat

Potential Number of Units Affected: 20,959

Year: 1997

Manufactured From: Apr. 1996 To: Jan. 1997

Year of Recall:'97

Summary: These vehicles were assembled with center rear seat belt anchor bolts not properly installed. This does not meet the requirements of FMVSS No. 210, "Seat Belt Assembly Anchorages." In the event of a vehicle crash, the seat belt system would not withstand the required load and injury to the seat occupant could occur.

ID Number: 97V064000

Component: brakes: hydraulic: anti-skid system

Potential Number of Units Affected: 156,910

Year: 1997

Manufactured From: Apr. 1996 To: Apr. 1997

Year of Recall:'97

Summary: The Electronic Brake Control Module or the Electronic Brake and Traction Control Module can cause the Antilock Brake System (ABS) to cycle during a non-ABS brake application.

This condition can result in an increase in vehicle stopping distance increasing the risk of a vehicle crash.

14. Cost of Parts (relative to other vehicles)

Headlight unit: $339 (above average)

Side marker lamp: $56 (average)

Door (left front): $1,120 (above average)

Fender (left front): $285 (above average)

Note: these are estimated retail prices for commonly replaced body parts on a 1995 model. Prices are current as of mid 1999 but will vary from region to region and are subject to change at any time. Source: ADP Collision Repair Services

The Rettie Report and Pre-owned Profiles contain objective information from a variety of sources. The subjective comments are those of John Rettie.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Pre-Owned Profile: 1991-1996 Buick Park Avenue - Autotrader