Premium midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,600 – $12,800*


2005 Buick Rainier


2005 Buick Rainier


2005 Buick Rainier

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
  • Trailer-towing capability
Cons:
  • Fuel economy

As the Bravada retired at the end of the 2004 model year, Buick adopted its position as GM’s upscale midsize SUV. Rainier remained alone among SUVs in offering V8 power in the regular-length body, an advantage that helped it compete against luxury-oriented midsize SUVs. Still, it cannot match the best import competitors for overall refinement, materials quality, or prestige. Rainiers cost more than their GM siblings when new, and cannot escape the fault common to their noncar-based design: indifferent handling and mediocre fuel economy. On the other hand, Rainier is the quietest and best-riding of the GM bunch.

Overview

Buick added a new model for 2004: a midsize sport-utility vehicle that shared its basic design with the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy, Oldsmobile Bravada, and Isuzu Ascender. TrailBlazer and Envoy offered both a 5-passenger regular-length version and 7-seat extended-length model. Rainier came only as a regular-length 5-seater.

A six-cylinder engine was standard, with V8 power optional, making Rainier GM’s only midsize regular-length SUV to offer a V8. A four-speed automatic was the sole transmission. Rainiers could have rear-wheel drive with traction control, or all-wheel drive that did not include low-range gearing.

CXL and CXL Plus trim levels were offered. Both included antilock braking, a load-leveling rear air suspension, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Also standard were leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, and OnStar assistance. Front side airbags were optional. Curtain side airbags were not offered. Rainier was available with adjustable brake and gas pedals, heated front seats, satellite radio, a navigation system, and DVD entertainment. Competitors included the Acura MDX, Lexus RX, Lincoln Aviator, Volvo XC90, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander.

Yearly Updates

2005 Rainier
Curtain side airbags became optional for 2005, but the Rainier now came only in CXL trim. Oldsmobile became extinct as a brand before the 2005 season began, so the Bravada model disappeared.
2006 Rainier
An antiskid system went into 2006 Rainiers, again offered only in CXL form. GM’s new Active Management system automatically deactivated four of the engine’s cylinders under light cruising conditions, to save fuel. Curtain airbags added rollover deployment.
2007 Rainier
Rainier carries over unchanged.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive

Two powertrains were available in 2004-05 Rainiers: a 275-horsepower 4.2-liter six-cylinder engine or a 290-horsepower 5.3-liter V8, each mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. For 2006, the six-cylinder engine rose to 291 hp, while the V8 adopted Active Fuel Management and a 300-hp rating.

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.2/256
Engine HP 275
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 275
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

15/21

19.3

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.3/325
Engine HP 290
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 235
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

14/18

14.8

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.2/256
Engine HP 291
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 277
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

15/21

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.3/325
Engine HP 300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 330
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

15/21

Road Test

With a six-cylinder engine, Rainier delivers good acceleration off the line for brisk takeoffs, as well as adequate passing power. A V8 Rainier feels measurably stronger on both counts. Buick’s Rainier and the equivalent Oldsmobile Bravada have averaged 12.7 to 17.4 mpg with a six-cylinder engine. A V8 Rainier averaged 14.8 mpg in a mix of city/highway driving. With its new fuel-saving technology, the 2006 V8 gets the same 15/21-mpg EPA fuel-economy estimate as the six-cylinder model. Both engines use regular-grade gasoline.

A rear air suspension, standard on Rainier, provides firm control without the rebounding that a coil-spring setup would suffer. During test drives, the Rainier’s tail sometimes has jolted or hopped when traversing pronounced bumps and sharp ridges.

The rear air suspension also accounts for better road manners and greater poise than GM’s coil-spring setups could provide. Even so, Rainier still exhibits typical truck-based-SUV behavior: slightly wobbly feel in quick changes of direction, plus mediocre cornering grip compared to a car. Steering feel is too light for stress-free control, though response is slightly sharper than on other GM SUVs. Rainier and Bravada (and later, the Saab 9-7X) were the only versions of the GM SUVs to offer all-wheel drive, so all-wheel traction is always available, but there’s no low-range gearing.

Rainiers have laminated glass for the windshield and front doors, plus other sound insulation denied their GM cousins. Expect noticeably less wind and road noise than most SUVs. Unlike the V8, the six-cylinder engine sounds gruff at full throttle.

Rainier exhibits a monotone color scheme for its dashboard design, which is otherwise the same as Bravada’s. Instruments are backed in silver rather than black. Interior materials and assembly fall short of similarly priced SUVs from Acura, Lexus, Infiniti, and Volkswagen. Most controls are clear and handy, though adjusting the low-mounted climate system demands a long look away from the road. Rainiers have been available with GM’s combination navigation/audio system, which is a relatively easy-to-use mating of map screen, navigation functions, and radio controls.

Front head and leg room are fine. Seat comfort is okay, but firmer cushions would give better support. Headrests and thick roof pillars interfere with some over-the-shoulder and aft sightlines. Modest step-in height makes entry/exit easier. Available power-adjustable pedals, if installed, may please shorter-statured drivers.

Good head and knee room also is offered in the back, along with adequate under-seat foot space–despite an uneven floorboard. The split bench seat is comfortable, fairly supportive, and wide enough for three friendly adults. Cargo space is acceptable with the rear seatback in place, and generous with it folded. The 60/40-split seatback folds easily with help from automatic-folding headrests. A high opening to liftgate glass hampers loading or unloading without using the full liftgate. Cabins boast a nice array of small-items storage space.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2005 Buick Rainier CXL w/6-cyl., AWD

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 - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 58

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
113.0 193.4 75.4 71.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
80.1 22.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.2 39.6 44.6 37.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2005 Rainier 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

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

Fuel gauge
Description: The engine may not start or may stall because the tank is empty yet the gauge shows fuel remaining, or the fuel gauge will not show full after refilling due to sulfur corrosion of the fuel level sender and, if after treating with Fuel System Cleaner PLUS the problem remains, the sender may need to be replaced. (2004-06)
Fuel pump
Description: If the gas tank is hard to fill because the nozzle keeps clicking off, or gas spits back out, there is a problem with the filler pipe, which needs to be replaced along with a section of hose that has a check valve. (2004)
Tail/brake lights
Description: The taillights and brake light may quit working and new circuit board(s) will be installed under warranty for up to 6 years/72,000 miles. (2004)
Water leak
Description: Vehicles with the 4.2L 6-cylinder engine may suffer from water in the transmission evidenced by rust on the dipstick and shuddering between 40-50 mph, requiring replacement of the dipstick tube. (2004-05)
Water leak
Description: Strange behavior of the 4WD or AWD system, especially after a car wash or rain could be due to water entering the speed sensor wiring at the rear sensor. (2004-05)
Wipers
Description: The rear wiper may do a poor job for which there is a revised replacement wiper arm. (2004)
Electrical problem
Description: The ABS warning light may come on due to a poor electrical ground for the electronic brake control module. (2004-05)
Electrical problem
Description: The turn signals may stay on, or all four may flash at the same time due to a faulty flasher. (2004)
Electrical problem
Description: If the OnStar system quits or won’t come (no power), but comes back to life if the fuse is removed for five minutes, the vehicle communications interface module must be replaced or else the problem ill recur. (2004-06)
Electrical problem
Description: On vehicles equipped with OnStar the global positioning system may lose precision (lose track). Window tinting may cause this or, if the antenna is in the rear parcel shelf, by things placed on the shelf. (2004-05)

Recall History

2004 Rainier
Description: On some vehicles, operating the turn-signal switch normally may cause the front marker/turn light and rear turn lights to flash in a manner similar to a hazard warning, rather than signaling the desired turn.
2004 Rainier
Description: Vibration and heat could cause taillamp/stoplamp bulb to loosen; bulb may flicker and eventually become inoperative.
2005 Rainier
Description: Windshield might not be retained in the event of a crash, because during the curing process, the urethane bead may not have adhered to certain areas of the car body.
2006 Rainier
Description: Tire and loading information label may list inaccurate vehicle capacity weight.
2006 Rainier
Description: During extreme steering maneuvers, the power steering hose on some vehicles may fracture and leak fluid, causing loss of power assistance and increased steering effort.
2006 Rainier
Description: Fluid may enter the driver’s door module, causing corrosion that could short the circuit board and cause inoperative switches, overheating, or fires.

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.