2001 Buick Century Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marc K. Stengel Marc K. Stengel Editor
November 6, 2000

Do you think General Motors' Buick Division fully appreciates the meaning of the name "Century" that designates its well-known family sedan?

Of course, for the 2001 model year, Buick's marketing operatives clearly mean to imply a new era dawning, with their car leading the way. I cannot deny spending an entirely lovely week in Buick's latest version of its entry-level sedan. But it was clearly a week spent behind the wheel of a car from the former, and not the future, century.

It is decidedly old-fashioned--but surely not unwise--to offer an affordable family car for six passengers in this Brave New Age. Hasn't Buick been paying attention? Don't those Buick slide-rule types notice the rash of minivans and sport-utes that spent the last decade of the last century transforming people into truck cargo? It takes some nerve to buck this trend, I suggest. Just the same, it is the postwar Buick sedan from the middle of the last century that, arguably, represents the apotheosis of the six-seater family car. So if Buick perfected it, why shouldn't the company keep making it?

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Certainly, for the Century's base price just under $23,000, it would be hard to find any new minivan or SUV with comparable seating room, interior comfort — and let's not forget plain and simple grace. As old-timey as a three-passenger front bench seat may be, this latest Century has thoroughly modernized it: When there are just one or two up front, a handy console folds down to create an impression of semi-sporty bucket-like seats, split 55/45 between driver and passenger. The console even has functional, un-fancy cupholders and rectangular cutouts for holding items like cell phones and pagers, plus a covered, leather-upholstered bin under the driver's right forearm. But...when occupant number six steps up to claim his seat, the console folds back, and a new berth is born. State-of-the-art 1950, I'll admit; but you'd be hard-pressed to count the competing models offering a similar retro-change-o front-bench layout in 2001.

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