New Car Review
BUICK ROADMASTER ESTATE WAGON
by: BILL RUSS
SEE ALSO:Buick Buyer's Guide
This years Buick's Roadmaster Estate Wagon has the distinction of being one of the largest and most powerful V8-powered station wagons in the world. It harks back to an earlier era when almost all American-built vehicles featured the body-on-frame, front-engine, rear drive design. In 1991, after hiatus of over 20 years, the Roadmaster Estate Wagon, now redesigned and brought up-to-date. again became a prominent member of the Buick automotive lineup. Even though it no longer wears its old badge of distinction, four portholes on its front fenders, it has returned to the Buick stable as an up-to-date reincarnation of the automotive glories of the forties and fifties.
Up until recently the ubiquitous van appeared to be the vehicle of choice for many American families, and in the past decade many new models made the automotive scene. However, in the last couple of years several new station wagon models have debated, an now almost every major car maker has one to offer as an alternative choice to the van.
While the Buick Estate Wagon has been in showrooms and on the street for two years, many significant alterations have been incorporated into the 1993 model . This big versatile wagon can fairly comfortably seat nine passengers. It now rides smoother and quieter and offers good performance, reasonable fuel economy plus many creature comforts.
Over 400 miles of metropolitan, suburban, country and mountain driving left these impressions.
From its waterfall grille to its dual purpose tailgate/rear door everything about the Roadmaster Estate wagon is big. It is long, wide and well-rounded, with a huge cabin with many large tinted windows, including the overhead Vista Roof. The wagon theme is emphasized by the vinyl wood trim all along the sides highlighted by a black rub strip, and a built-in highly adjustable roof rack. White-striped General Ameritec ST all-season tires are mounted on shiny cast alloy wheels.
Our test wagon came sumptuously equipped with practically every convenience item in Buick's parts warehouse. It fit the classic definition of "loaded". In 90 degree plus weather with a full load the climate control worked wonderfully and kept the large cabin at a comfortable temperature. The Delco AM/FM/CD unit is easy to set and tune, and has excellent reception. The instrument panel includes a full complement of analog gauges, while all the power accessories, including remote keyless entry are installed. The versatile seating arrangements enable this wagon to seat up to nine persons, or, with both sets of rear seats folded down, to be a flat floor cargo hauler. There's a good deal of secure inside storage space, plus cup and coin holders. Buick's newly redesigned seats are a great improvement over earlier models make all-day driving a treat.
Ride and handling capabilities of the Roadmaster Estate Wagon have quite noticeably improved. Buick's heavy duty suspension mounted on the ladder frame provides much better stability as well as greatly diminished oscillation - in other words as it wends its way down the highway, it doesn't "wallow" any more, and body lean on turns is much milder. The power steering is responsive, the anti-lock brakes provide straight stopping, the limited slip differential provides positive t traction on slippery road conditions. With the optional trailer towing package, which includes additional cooling and an automatic load leveling system, it is possible to safely tow up to 5000 pounds, plus a full load in the wagon. Vision is excellent in all directions, and wind noise is minimal.
This year's Roadmaster is powered by General Motor's throttle-body fuel injected, 5.7 liter, overhead valve, pushrod, V8 engine that generates 180 horsepower and an impressive 300 foot pounds of torque. This combination allows the Estate Wagon to haul heavy loads down the road or up the grade with excellent pulling power right from the start. Its four-speed Hydra-matic transmission shifts fairly smoothly and provides compression in lower gears for convenience when descending long and/or fairly steep grades. This powertrain combo is right for this vehicle.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, "The demise of the large, V8 powered, front engine, rear drive, body on frame, vehicle has been grossly exaggerated". The Estate Wagon is a proof that a Roadmaster does not have to be a "road monster", but, rather, a powerful, luxurious, well equipped, and most of all, a quite versatile means of transportation for both people and things.
PRICE AS TESTED: $ 28,347 completely equipped.
BASE PRICE: $ 23,850.
BUICK ROADMASTER ESTATE WAGON
|Price As Tested||$28,347|
|Engine Type||V8, ohv - pushrod, tbi|
|Engine Size||5.7 liter/350 cid|
|Horsepower||180 @ 4000|
|Torque (ft/lbs)||300 @ 2400|
|Transmission||four-speed automatic w/od|
|Pounds per Horsepower||25|
|Fuel Requirement||Unleaded regular (87 oct)|
|Tires||General Ameritec ST P225/70R15 M+S|
|Brakes||anti-lock standard disc/drum|
|Drive Train||front engine/rear drive|
|EPA Economy - miles per gallon,|
|0 to 60 mph||9.2 sec|
|1/4 mi (E.T.)||17.3 sec|
|Coefficient of Drag (Cd)||35|