Large car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,700*


1992 Buick Roadmaster Limited 4-door sedan


1992 Buick Roadmaster 4-door sedan


1991 Buick Roadmaster Estate 4-door wagon


1991 Buick Roadmaster Estate interior


1996 Buick Roadmaster Limited Engine

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Antilock brakes
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Trailer-towing capability
Cons:
  • Fuel economy (city)
  • Size and weight

Naturally, not everyone needs a boat this large, but Roadmaster ranks as one of the better examples of this now-extinct breed.

Overview

A famous old name, last used in 1958, graced the latest full-size, rear-drive Buick, offered first as an Estate wagon. Fully restyled with a rounded aero look, Roadmaster used the same chassis and mechanicals as the Chevrolet Caprice and Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser wagon–both redesigned for ’91. A driver-side airbag was mounted in a standard tilt steering wheel. Antilock braking was standard. Only one powertrain was available: a 170-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 driving a 4-speed automatic transmission. Wagons had woodgrain siding and two or three rows of seats, for up to 8-passenger capacity. A fixed-glass “vista roof” sat above the middle bench, while a 2-way tailgate swung open to the left. Center and rear seats fold to create a flat cargo area, which can hold a 4×8 sheet of plywood.

Yearly Updates

1992 Roadmaster
A 4-door sedan joined the Roadmaster wagon as an early ’92 model, carrying a 5.7-liter V8 engine that developed 180 horsepower. That engine also went into the Estate Wagon, displacing the original 5.0-liter.
1993 Roadmaster
Change was minimal.
1994 Roadmaster
Dual airbags were installed, but even bigger news went under the hood. Roadmaster buyers got a modified version of the LT1 engine used in Chevrolet Corvettes. Similar in displacement to the prior V8, the LT1 sent 260 horsepower to a new 4-speed automatic transmission. A redesigned dash held new gauges, with climate controls higher and a knee bolster below.
1995 Roadmaster
Only a handful of minor changes marked the ’95 models, including long-life automatic-transmission fluid. Larger, foldaway style mirrors were installed, and radios got bigger controls. Sedans wore new bodyside moldings, while Estate wagons added a shade for the “vista roof” as well as a cargo cover.
1996 Roadmaster
For its final season, the traditional-size, rear-drive Roadmaster enjoyed only a few changes. Engine coolant could last 5 years or 100,000 miles, and automatic climate control became standard.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

Roadmaster wagons started off with a single engine: a Chevrolet-built 5.0-liter V8 with single-point fuel injection, making 170 horsepower, connected to a 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission. A 5.7-liter V8 arrived along with the sedan, rated at 180 horsepower and yielding considerably more torque than the 5.0-liter. The Corvette-based LT1 engine installed in 1994 Roadmasters made 260 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. Although the block was the same as that used under prior Roadmaster hoods, most internal parts were new. The LT1 engine had one fuel injector for each cylinder, plus a stainless-steel dual exhaust system. A new electronic 4-speed automatic also entered Roadmasters for ’94.

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.0/305
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 255
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

16/25

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.7/350
Engine HP 180
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 290-300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

16/25

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.7/350
Engine HP 260
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 330-335
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

17/26

13.8

Road Test

More stable than its predecessors, with a firmer suspension than Chevrolet’s structurally similar Caprice, the Roadmaster offers capable highway handling for a car of this class. The ride is smooth and steady, with less bounce over bumps and sway in the corners than a Caprice suffers. The big wagon feels stable and is easy enough to control at high speed. Steering is more accurate and the ride more controlled than a Caprice’s. Even so, the generously sized sedan and wagon tend to bound and float over wavy surfaces. Antilock braking works well, with good control.

Acceleration with the initial 5.0-liter V8 is good. Snappier yet, especially when passing or merging, is the 5.7-liter V8 that became standard for 1992. Hottest of all: the Corvette-based 260-horsepower V8 tucked into 1994-96 models. Those Roadmasters also contain dual airbags, rather than a driver-only airbag as in earlier models.

Gas mileage is barely passable in town, but surprisingly good on the road. We averaged 24 mpg on a highway trip in a Limited sedan with the 180-horsepower engine, but mileage dropped below 16 mpg in city driving.

Six fit easily in a sedan, and the wagon’s rear-facing third seat holds two youngsters. The fixed-glass “vista roof” manages to brighten the wagon’s interior. A roomy Roadmaster with Trailer-Towing Package can haul 5000 pounds. In addition to a large cargo area, the wagon has numerous storage bins and pockets. Sedans offer a huge trunk, but rearward visibility is marred by thick roof pillars. Controls are straightforward. Full analog gauges, including a tachometer, are better than Caprice’s. Nine large climate-control buttons may be reached by the driver or front passenger.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Buick Roadmaster 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 - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 7
70%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 6
60%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 57

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
115.9 215.8 78.1 55.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
21.0 23.0 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 38.6 42.1 38.9
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
115.9 217.5 79.9 60.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
92.4 22.0 8
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.6 39.4 42.3 37.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1995 Roadmaster 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 2
40%

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 96
Injury 61
Theft 41

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: Model 700-R4 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all. The problem is a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. (All years)
Engine noise
Description: The exhaust valves on the 5.0- and 5.7-liter engines may not get enough lubrication causing a variety of noises. Usually, the same engine consumes excess oil because the valve-guide seals on the exhaust valves are bad and have to be replaced. (1994-96)
Steering noise
Description: The upper bearing mount in the steering column can get loose and cause a clicking that can be both heard and felt, requiring a new bearing spring and turn-signal cancel cam. (1994-96)

Recall History

1991-92
Description: Secondary hood-latch assembly can corrode, causing high latch release effort and possibly preventing hood from latching properly.
1991-92
Description: Shoulder-belt guide loop plastic covering may crack and expose steel subplate; seatbelt webbing could be cut in a crash.
1992
Description: Antilock brake system modulator can corrode and leak fluid; can reduce brake effectiveness and increase stopping distance.
1994
Description: Oil cooler inlet hose may be too close to steering gear, causing chafing; could result in oil leakage and fire.
1994
Description: On a few cars, paint between wheel and brake rotor/drum can cause lug nut to loosen.
1994
Description: Fuel-tank fasteners can detach, eventually allowing tank to sag and strike roadway.
1994-95
Description: At low temperatures, throttle return spring could fail, and engine speed may not return to idle.
1994-95
Description: Lower ball joint on a few cars sent to Guam and Puerto Rico can separate.
1995
Description: Improperly adjusted transmission linkage may permit shifting from “park” position with ignition key removed.
1995-96 station wagon
Description: Airbag caution label and roof-rack caution label were incorrectly installed on same side of sunvisor.
1995-96
Description: Wheel lug nuts were not tightened to the proper specification. This could result in wheel loss.

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.