Rainier is Buick’s mid-size, truck-based SUV. Its closest relative is the GMC Envoy. With its sliding rear roof and hose-friendly hold, Envoy XUV keys on cargo. With Buick, the priority is on the passenger compartment. Rainier is offered in 4x2 and all wheel drive versions, with two engine options (I-6, V-8) and two trim levels (CXL and CXL Plus). My test truck was a typically equipped Rainier; a V-8 powered CXL, with all wheel drive. With a few options added and the destination charge, the big Buick stickered for $40,815.Because of the popularity of the breed, SUVs are a diversified lot. Count Rainier as an urbanite; it is far more likely to be found in the canyons of a city than it is rolling along a rocky trail. This class of ute is generally called upon to be equal parts station wagon, tow vehicle and all weather transport. It’s well suited for all roles. Rainier has an understated, well finished interior – at the top end among GM entries. Up front, the leather trimmed seats will adjust to fit most any size passenger.
Page 2: Interior Style
The dash display is a clean looking design and an easy read, day or night. A GPS based navigation system is available optionally. My test truck was not so equipped, and the center dash cluster was uncluttered and straight forward, requiring little diversion from your driving to adjust temperature and sound. Speaking of sound, there’s a step-up Bose system available, it’s a healthy price bump - $495 – but also a nice quality unit. With six speakers, a six disc, in dash CD player and 275 watts of power, it’s worth a listen before deciding. A rear seat DVD system is also on the option sheet to keep those in back entertained. The second row will take two to three adults in good comfort. Rainier is a mid-size; no third row seat is offered. This frees the rear compartment to hold a generous amount of cargo. There is 39.8 cubic feet of room in back, accessible through a top swinging lift gate. The opening is wide, the hold is large and lift over height is low. Capacity expands to as much as 80.1 cubic feet, depending on how many of the split back seats you choose to fold.
Page 3: Power
Rainier is available with a standard, 275 hp, 275 lb. ft. of torque, 4.2 liter six cylinder engine or an optional, 5.3 liter V-8. The eight makes 290 hp and 325 lb. ft. of torque. Both are coupled to GM’s four speed automatic transmission. GM’s 4200 I-6 is adequate all around, but the 5300 V-8 feels far smoother and less stressed. There is a modest gas mileage giveback (comparing all wheel drive models, the six rates 15/21 city/highway, while the eight gets 14/18 mpg’s), and a not too modest price bump ($1,500 to step up to the V-8). However, amortized over the life of your car loan, I think that the dollars will matter less than the overall driving satisfaction of the larger motor. This is especially true if you tow. Rainier with the 4.2 will pull up to 6,200 lb. (4x2, 4.10 axle), while the 5.3 can be equipped to handle as much as 6,700 lb. (4x2, 3.73 axle).
Page 4: Buick Ute
All-wheel drive models have a strong, rear-wheel bias under normal conditions, but are capable of channeling as much as 95% of available torque to the front axle when things get slippery. The system is transparent, requiring no input from the driver. Rainier’s suspension is independent, double A-arm in front; electronically controlled, five link air suspension in back. While it feels its size when cornering (and braking), rider comfort approaches car levels and it is a notably quiet cabin. Buick additions like an acoustic laminate in windshield and front door glass, extra sealing in C- and D-pillars and designed in acoustic absorbers all conspire to effectively isolate passengers from outside noise.
If the idea for Rainier was to translate traditional Buick brand cues to a sport ute platform, its hit the mark. Smooth and refined, Rainier is inviting for new shoppers of mid-size, mid-luxury suv’s, and Buick owners will feel right at home, too.
Page 5: FAQs
What type of power options come with the Rainer?
Rainier is available with a standard, 275 hp, 275 lb. ft. of torque, 4.2 liter six cylinder engine or an optional, 5.3 liter V-8. The eight makes 290 hp and 325 lb. ft. of torque. Both are coupled to GM’s four speed automatic transmission.
How much weight will the Rainer tow? Rainier with the 4.2 will pull up to 6,200 lb. (4x2, 4.10 axle), while the 5.3 can be equipped to handle as much as 6,700 lb. (4x2, 3.73 axle).
Is there are third row seat with Rainer? No, Rainier is a mid-size SUV with no third row seat available.
What type of fuel economy does the Rainier achieve? Expect around 15/21 with the standard engine.
How much room is in the back? There is 39.8 cubic feet of room in back, accessible through a top swinging lift gate. The opening is wide, the hold is large and lift over height is low. Capacity expands to as much as 80.1 cubic feet, depending on how many of the split back seats you choose to fold.
Page 6: Writer's Notes
You may also be interested in...
Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Chevrolet Suburban Overview
Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Chevrolet TrailBlazer Overview
Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Chrysler Pacifica Overview
Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser Overview
Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Dodge Durango Overview
The Best Large SUVs