Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,000*


1995 Buick Century Special Edition 4-door sedan


1995 Buick Century Custom 2-door coupe


1991 Buick Century Estate 4-door wagon


1995 Buick Century Special 4-door wagon


1995 Buick Century interior

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Antilock brakes (later models)
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Quietness (V6)
  • Visibility
Cons:
  • Acceleration (4-cylinder)
  • Handling (base suspension)
  • Ride

Nothing flashy here, but Century can be a sensible choice for families on a budget. Forget the 4-cylinder models and look for a livelier, quieter V6. That shouldn’t be difficult, as most late Centurys were sold with the V6 engine.

Overview

Introduced in 1982, like the related Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, Chevrolet Celebrity, and Pontiac 6000, Buick’s version of the front-wheel drive intermediate was a longer, plusher derivative of GM’s ill-fated X-car family. Facelifted a bit in ’89, the Century came in coupe, sedan, and station wagon form. The Custom series included all three body styles, while the more costly Limited skipped the coupe. Air conditioning was standard.

Yearly Updates

1991 Century
A new grille, turn signals, and front-end trim gave the Century a fresh front-end look.
1992 Century
Only detail changes were evident in the Century coupe, sedan, and wagon. In addition to the Custom and Limited, a Special series went on sale for a lower price. By now, the related Pontiac 6000 and Chevrolet Celebrity were gone, leaving only the Century and Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera.
1993 Century
A driver-side airbag was added for ’93 (optional on the Special, standard on Custom and Limited). A new 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine replaced the 2.5-liter. Fuel tanks grew from 15.7 to 16.4 gallons, and rub strips and side moldings were now body colored.
1994 Century
A driver-side airbag went into all Century models for ’94, along with antilock braking. Loss of the Limited sedan and Custom coupe and wagon left only four models: two sedans, two wagons, and no coupes. A 120-horsepower 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine replaced the short-lived 110-horsepower version. Also new: a 3.1-liter V6, delivering the same 160 horsepower as its 3.3-liter predecessor. The grille was new, too.
1995 Century
A new backlit instrument cluster and new seats were the only significant changes for 1995.
1996 Century
Engine coolant now was intended to last 5 years or 100,000 miles, spark plugs expected a 100,000-mile life, and a new stainless-steel exhaust system was supposed to be more durable. Otherwise, the Century showed little change for its final outing in this form. All models now had V6 engines except the Special sedan, in which the V6 was optional.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Engine choices in 1990 included the base 2.5-liter four and an optional “3300” 3.3-liter V6, developing 110 and 160 horsepower, respectively. A 2.2-liter four replaced the 2.5 as base engine during 1993, while a 3.1-liter V6 edged aside the 3.3-liter for ’94, driving an electronic 4-speed automatic transmission. A 3-speed automatic was standard on all other models, but the 4-speed unit could be installed on any Century with a V6 engine.

ohv I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/151
Engine HP 110
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 135
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
3-speed automatic

22/31

ohv I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/133
Engine HP 110-120
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 130
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
3-speed automatic

24/31

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.1/191
Engine HP 160
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 185
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/29

22.3

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.3/204
Engine HP 160
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 185
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
19/26
19/30
19.8

Road Test

The rough 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is barely adequate for sedans, and weaker yet in the heavier station wagon. A smooth, responsive 3.3-liter V6 delivers ample power at low speeds and a surprisingly strong kick under heavy throttle for brisk highway passing. That engine also is fairly quiet, unlike the noisy standard four. Also, the 2.5-liter four did not prove to be trouble free, and fuel mileage wasn’t much better than the V6. We averaged nearly 20 mpg with a 3.3-liter V6 in mixed city/suburban driving. A four gets only about two mpg more. The 2.2-liter four that replaced the 2.5-liter in 1993 isn’t much improvement, lacking the power to move a car this size with any authority. Adding 10 horsepower to the four for ’94 didn’t make it a tempting choice, either. The 3.1-liter V6 installed in more recent models delivers ample power for passing and spirited takeoffs.

Century’s Dynaride suspension delivers a soft and reasonably good ride, but handling won’t win any awards. The base suspension and narrow standard tires are fine for gentle commuting, but spirited cornering causes the narrow tires to lose their grip. That suspension absorbs most bumps easily, but the front end bounces over wavy surfaces for a floaty, poorly controlled ride. An optional Gran Touring Suspension, with fatter tires, improves cornering ability but results in a harsh ride.

Six adults will fit inside, but four will be far more comfortable. Head and leg room are adequate all around, but three cannot fit across without squeezing. Luggage space is ample, with a deep, wide trunk that has a flat floor. Wagons have an optional rear-facing third seat, for 8-passenger capacity.

Front brakes tend to wear out quickly. Many early problems, including trouble with the rack-and-pinion power steering system, were eventually corrected on the later models.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Buick Century Special sedan

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 50

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.9 189.1 69.4 53.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
16.2 16.4 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.6 38.3 42.1 35.9
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.9 189.1 69.4 54.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
16.2 16.5 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.6 38.3 42.1 35.9
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.9 190.9 69.4 54.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
74.4 16.5 8
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.6 38.9 42.1 34.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A 2-door coupe

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 2
40%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: 4T60E transmissions may drop out of drive while cruising, shift erratically, or have no second, third, or fourth gear because of a bad ground connection for the shift solenoids. (1994)
Automatic transmission
Description: TH-125 or 440-T4 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all. The problem is a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. (1990-94)
Engine misfire
Description: Cars with the 3.1-liter engine may stall, idle roughly, or suffer from tip-in hesitation after extended idling. Additionally, the defroster may not clear the windshield when the temperature is around 40-50 degrees F. The fix is to get a new PROM and a vacuum-hose elbow for the PCV system. (1994-95)
Engine noise
Description: A tick or rattle when the engine is started cold may be due to too much wrist pin-to-piston clearance. (1994-95)
Engine noise
Description: Bearing knock was common on many 3.3- and 3.8-liter engines due to too much clearance on the number one main bearing. (1992-93)
Engine noise
Description: An intermittent rattling noise after starting is often caused by automatic transmission pump starvation or cavitation, or a sticking pressure-regulator valve. (1994-95)
Oil leak
Description: The plastic valve covers on 3.1-liter engines were prone to leaks and should be replaced with redesigned aluminum valve covers. (1994-95)
Steering noise
Description: The upper bearing mount in the steering column can get loose and cause a snapping or clicking, requiring a new bearing spring and turn-signal cancel cam. (1994-96)
Transmission leak
Description: The right front-axle seal at the automatic transaxle is prone to leak and GM issued a revised seal to correct the problem. (1992-94)

Recall History

1990-91 w/six-way power seats or power recliner
Description: Short circuit could set seats on fire.
1990-96
Description: Rear-outboard seatbelt anchors may not withstand required load; in a collision, metal may tear and allow anchor to separate from body.
1992
Description: The reverse servo apply pin may bind causing the transmission to remain in reverse when shifted to neutral.
1993
Description: Right front brake hose on some cars is improperly manufactured and can cause reduced brake effectiveness.
1994
Description: Water can cause short circuit in power door-lock assembly.
1994
Description: Improperly tightened spindle nut can cause premature wheel bearing failure.
1994
Description: Cruise control cable may separate from the conduit while engaged, resulting in loss of accelerator control.
1994
Description: Secondary accelerator control may not return throttle to the fully closed position and could cause a collision.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.