Premium midsize car; Built in USA
  • 2-door coupe
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,800 – $3,500*

1995 Buick Riviera

1995 Buick Riviera

1996 Buick Riviera

1996 Buick Riviera interior

1997 Buick Riviera

  • Acceleration
  • Antilock brakes
  • Ride
  • Steering/handling
  • Entry/exit
  • Fuel economy (supercharged)
  • Instruments/controls
  • Rear visibility

Buick aimed the Riviera against such 2-door contenders as the Acura Legend Coupe, Cadillac Eldorado, Lincoln Mark VIII, and Mercedes E320. If the styling appeals, it’s worth a serious test drive. If not, you might prefer to shop elsewhere.


After a season’s absence from the lineup, this redesigned version of Buick’s luxury coupe went on sale in spring 1994, as an early ’95 model. The new Riviera was nine inches longer, 1.9 inches wider, a couple of hundred pounds heavier, and more powerful than its predecessor. Although Riviera was built on the same front-drive platform as the Oldsmobile Aurora sedan, the two cars shared no styling or interior features or major mechanical details. Rivieras came in a single price level, with a standard “3800” 3.8-liter V6 engine. Shoppers who craved more get-up-and-go could select a supercharged version of the V6, producing 225 horsepower (20 more than standard). A 3-place front bench seat was standard; leather buckets optional. The new interior had dual airbags, full analog instrumentation, and 6-way power front seats. Antilock brakes were standard; traction control optional.

Yearly Updates

1996 Riviera
A new version of GM’s supercharged 3.8-liter V6 engine became optional under Riviera hoods. Named 3800 Series II, that engine produces 240 horsepower (15 more than in 1995). New spark plugs in both engines were designed to last 100,000 miles. Coolant was supposed to last 5 years or 100,000 miles. Riviera’s standard keyless entry system added a new Personal Choice feature. The remote-entry transmitter can automatically adjust the driver’s seat, outside mirrors, automatic door locks, lighting, and other accessories to one of two settings.
1997 Riviera
Only minor changes hit the Riviera for ’97. New features included standard daytime running lights and a new electronic torque converter clutch.
1998 Riviera
Buick dropped the base 205-horsepower engine and made the supercharged 240-horsepower engine standard. Also dropped was the front bench seat.
1999 Riviera
Slow sales prompted Buick to stop production of its luxury coupe in midyear–only about 2000 made it out the door. Of those, 200 or so were Silver Arrow models that sported distinctive silver exterior paint and special logos. There were no other changes for 1999.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Two 3.8-liter V6 engines are available. Riviera’s base engine was reworked to make 205 horsepower (35 more than in previous models). The optional supercharged 3.8-liter V6 is rated at 225 horsepower (240 horsepower for 1996-97). Both engines drive an electronic 4-speed automatic transmission.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.8/231
Engine HP 205
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 230
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


Supercharged ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.8/231
Engine HP 225-240
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 275-280
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



Road Test

Acceleration, handling, and ride quality are vastly better than in the old Riviera. In performance as well as refinement, this rendition rivals premium coupes that cost much more. Even at highway speeds, noise, vibration, and harshness of any sort are nearly absent.

We clocked a supercharged ’95 model at a brisk 7.9 seconds to 60 mph. That kind of action sends the Riviera into the same league as some V8 competitors. As for economy, we averaged 17.7 mpg in a supercharged Riviera, commuting through urban areas about two-thirds of the time. The normally aspirated engine offers acceleration that is more than adequate, though less lively.

Despite its rather abundant size, this Riviera feels balanced and nimble in turns, exhibiting little body lean and good grip onto the pavement. Buick’s suspension teams with the long wheelbase to provide a comfortable ride, even over bumps and broken pavement.

Though a front bench is standard, Riviera works best as a 4-seater. An occasional passenger might occupy the middle rear seat. Leg room is sufficient for four 6-footers to stretch out. Head room is generous in front but only adequate in back. Long, heavy doors are cumbersome in tight parking spaces.

One big weak spot is the dashboard, which lags in practical considerations. Not only are the speedometer and tachometer too far apart, but the steering wheel blocks the headlamp and cruise control switches. Visibility is generally good, but a high rear parcel shelf and thick rear roof pillars interfere with the driver’s view aft and over the shoulders.


Model Tested: 1996 Buick Riviera supercharged 3.8-liter

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.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 3
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 5

Total: 50


2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
113.8 207.2 75.0 55.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
17.4 20.0 5/6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.2 36.2 42.6 37.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Riviera 2-door coupe


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

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


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

Collision 76
Injury 52
Theft 37

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: The 4T60-E automatic transmission can suddenly go into neutral at highway speeds due to a problem with internal shift valves. (1995-96)
Climate control
Description: The heater output on the driver’s side may be inadequate because the insulation material may be protruding into the heater duct. (1995-96)
Coolant leak
Description: The 3.8-liter V6 may leak coolant into the engine from the intake manifold. A new gasket kit, revised throttle body nuts, and sealing compound is available. Redesigned manifolds are also available in the aftermarket. (1995-99)
Coolant leak
Description: Coolant loss via plastic intake manifold is corrected by installing upgraded manifold and gaskets plus new PCV kit. (1995-99)
Description: The power door locks may not operate due to a rubber bumper falling off of the actuator arm. (1995-96) The locks may malfunction, and the door locks fuse may blow due to a short inside the door. (1995)
Engine misfire
Description: The idle may be rough when restarting a warm engine (supercharged) and is fixed by replacing the fuel-pressure regulator and computer MEM-CAL. (1995)
Description: The starter may keep running after the engine starts or the key is turned off due to a short in the wiring. (1995)
Suspension noise
Description: A thumping sound from the rear is likely unless the original shock mounts are replaced with redesigned ones. (1995-96)
Description: Battery venting or an overflow of acid causes the floor pan to rust. (1995-99)
Electrical problem
Description: The door locks may quit working and the instrument panel fuse may blow due to a short circuit caused by a bolt inside either front door chafing the wiring harness. (1995)

Recall History

Description: Rear shoulder belts may not retract.
Description: “Key in the Ignition” chime, driver seatbelt-unbuckled warning, and other functions may fail to operate properly.
Description: Backfire during engine startup can cause breakage of upper intake manifold, resulting in nonstart condition and possible fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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.

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