As the 2004 model year began, a midsize luxury sport utility vehicle dubbed Rainier joined the Rendezvous "crossover" model in Buick's lineup. Built with full-frame construction, the Rainier carries five occupants.
Rainiers come with rear- or all-wheel drive. All are built on General Motors' short-wheelbase midsize SUV architecture, which is also used for the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy. An electronically controlled rear air suspension is intended to produce a comfortable ride.
Either an inline-six-cylinder or a V-8 may be installed. For 2005, the 300-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 is available in all models. A wood steering-wheel rim has been added, and side curtain-type airbags are available.
Though it is intended primarily for driving on regular pavement, the all-wheel-drive Rainier offers offroad capability, according to Buick, and is said to be "very capable on . . . an unpaved, two-track road."
Exterior design cues � starting with the vertical-bar grille that includes a chrome crown and surround, embossed Buick lettering and a tri-shield center insignia � are distinctly Buick. Sculpted wheel flares and shoulders are meant to enhance the Rainier's appearance.
Clear headlights have offset high/low beam fixtures. Fog lamps with chrome surrounds are standard. Two-tone front and rear fascias are body-colored over gray, with the gray portion extending into the rocker panels. The Rainier features 17-inch wheels, Michelin tires, power rack-and-pinion steering and Bilstein shock absorbers.
Five adults fit inside the Rainier. With the 60/40-split rear seats folded, the Rainier has 80.1 cubic feet of storage space.
Perforated leather upholstery is standard, and heated front seats are optional. The monochromatic interior features chrome accents and dark woodgrain trim. Standard steering-wheel controls operate the stereo.
The instrument panel features green-needle gauges that are reminiscent of those in the Rendezvous. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard, and the Rainier is equipped with GM's OnStar communication system. A navigation system, DVD video system and XM Satellite Radio are optional.
Under the Hood
A 275-hp, 4.2-liter inline-six-cylinder is standard, and a 300-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 is optional. A four-speed automatic is the sole transmission.
Side curtain-type airbags are optional. All seating positions have three-point safety belts, and all-disc antilock brakes are standard.