Premium large car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,300 – $8,000*

1998 Buick Park Avenue Ultra

2000 Buick Park Avenue

1998 Buick Park Avenue interior

2000 Buick Park Avenue Ultra

1999 Buick Park Avenue

  • Acceleration
  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
  • Steering/handling (Ultra)
  • Fuel economy (supercharged V6)
  • Steering/handling (base suspension)

What do you get from a Park Avenue? Mainly, traditional American virtues– roominess, power, and amenities–at a sensible price. This domestic sedan is definitely worth a close look, though some of its virtues can be found in Buick’s LeSabre for less money. In addition, it must be said that Buick’s customer satisfaction ratings have not been as high as those of some foreign competitors.


Redesigned for 1997, Buick’s “flagship” front-drive luxury sedan faced such rivals as the Infiniti I30, Lexus EX 300, and Oldsmobile Aurora. Wheelbase grew by three inches, overall length by about an inch. Weight also went up, by some 250 pounds. Styling was strictly evolutionary. Two models went on sale: a base Park Avenue and the plusher Park Avenue Ultra. Each carried a 3.8-liter V6 engine, but the one in the Ultra was supercharged to deliver 240 horsepower. The base V6 was rated at a more modest 205 horsepower. Both were teamed with a revised 4-speed automatic transmission, whose new electronic torque converter clutch was designed to produce smoother shifts. A redesigned interior featured unique seats that anchored both the lap and shoulder belts to the seat itself. The belts moved with the seats, to improve comfort for very tall or very short drivers. Buick’s Personal Choice system, standard in Park Avenue, included a remote entry transmitter that could automatically adjust the driver’s seat, outside mirrors, automatic door locks, lighting, and other accessories to either of two settings. This year, it added sound and climate adjustments, retained accessory power, and daytime running lights. A newly optional head-up display projected speedometer and other gauge readings onto the windshield. Also joining the option list: rain-sensing wipers and a dust filter for the automatic climate-control system.

Yearly Updates

1998 Park Avenue
Park Avenue sedan gained some enhanced safety and convenience features for 1998. Dual airbags got reduced inflation power to deploy with less force (but still meet federal safety standards). A new passenger-side mirror, standard on Ultra and optional on the base model, tilted downward when reverse gear was engaged. Buick dealers could now install GM’s OnStar communications system. That system linked the car by satellite and cellular telephone to a 24-hour GM center from which advisors could provide directions and travel advice, and also notify local authorities during an emergency situation.
1999 Park Avenue
Changes were modest for ’99, including the addition of “Elite Walnut” interior trim to the Park Avenue Ultra, and availability of a tire-pressure monitor gauge. The tire-monitor was standard on the Ultra edition.
2000 Park Avenue
Front side airbags went into both 2000 models. GM’s StabiliTrak system became standard on the Ultra and optional on the base Park Avenue. Designed to sense an impending skid in a turn and apply the brakes to an individual wheel, to keep the car on its intended course. Both models also gained child-seat anchors on the rear package shelf.
2001 Park Avenue
Ultrasonic rear parking assist was a new option for 2001, while leather upholstery and an interior memory system became standard on base models.
2002 Park Avenue
Steering-wheel radio and climate controls became standard on both models for 2002.
2003 Park Avenue
Ultra gets three chrome-plated “VentiPorts” on each front fender. Associated with Buick since 1949 and last seen in the 1980s, these design icons also increase engine-compartment airflow, Buick says. Other retro additions to Ultra are a “waterfall” grille, tri-shield Buick insignia, and chrome exhaust tips.
2004 Park Avenue
No significant changes were made in ’04.
2005 Park Avenue
In ’05, Park Avenue gets revisions to grille and taillamps, and the base model gains the front-fender “portholes” previously reserved for the top-line Park Avenue Ultra. Buick says 2005 is the final model year for Park Avenue.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

A 3.8-liter V6 engine went into base Park Avenue sedans, developing 205 horsepower. Park Avenue Ultras had the same engine size, but in supercharged form for an extra 35 horses. A 4-speed automatic was the only transmission.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.8/231
Engine HP 205
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 220-230
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 240
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 280
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



Road Test

Performance is satisfying in basic form–sufficient for most situations–but especially impressive when the engine is supercharged. Acceleration in an Ultra feels much like a small V8, so it makes a strong showing against the 6-cylinder competition. Helped by the automatic transmission’s subtle and alert shifting, both models distribute ample, seamless power over a wide range of engine speeds. A base Park Avenue averaged 19.8 mpg using regular-grade fuel, helped by some highway time. Another base model averaged 19.5 mpg with a more even driving mix.

Standard steering and suspension settings favor low-effort comfort. Unfortunately, this produces steering that’s too light at freeway speeds, as well as floaty body motions over undulating surfaces. The Ultra’s suspension is markedly stiffer–possibly too much so for some luxury-car buyers. A Gran Touring suspension setup has been optional on both models. That unit does a fine job of soaking up bumps with little jarring, while maintaining a flat, stable ride. It also quells undue body lean and front-end plowing through corners. Part of that package is magnetic variable-effort steering, which responds quickly with good straightline stability, but feels a bit numb. Braking power feels strong. Simulated emergency stops can produce pronounced nosedive, but with no loss of stability or control. The Ultra, in particular, does a great job of muffling wind, road, and engine noises.

Roomy and comfortable, Park Avenue promises space for adults to relax. Head and leg room are abundant. Six-passenger capacity is a bonus, though everyone will be sitting shoulder-to-shoulder when the car is filled. Seats are comfortable, but not sufficiently contoured to give occupants good lateral support when the road turns twisty. Front lap and shoulder belts are anchored to the seat itself, so they move right along with the seats, fore and aft. Belts are handy to grab and always seem to fit just right. Gauges and switches are generous in size, easy to read and operate. A simple dashboard pull-knob operates the headlights. If a secondhand Park Avenue is equipped with OnStar, the buyer will have to pay a monthly service fee to make use of the system.

Park Avenues that were test driven when new demonstrated good fit and finish, inside and out. One Ultra driven in subfreezing weather, however, emitted creaks from its suspension when crossing speed bumps or entering driveways.


Model Tested: 2002 Buick Park Avenue Ultra

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 - 6
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 7
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 7


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
Cargo Room - 6


Value - 6

Total: 62


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
113.8 206.8 74.7 57.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
19.1 18.5 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.8 38.0 42.4 41.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Park Avenue 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Rear Passenger Injury - 4


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

Collision 68
Injury 43
Theft 24

Trouble Spots

Brake noise
Description: The brakes make grinding, squealing, growling, and other noises, and new brake pads were issued; but new, heftier rotors are also needed. (1997-98)
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. (1997-2004)
Coolant leak
Description: Coolant loss via plastic intake manifold is corrected by installing upgraded manifold and gaskets plus new PCV kit. (1997-04)
Engine temperature
Description: Overheating and coolant loss may be due to rough surface on radiator filler neck. Neck should be sanded smooth and cap replaced. (1999-2000)
Fuel odors
Description: Fuel spurts out of the filler pipe as the tank reaches full. (1997)
Description: The horn sounds by itself, especially in cold weather, requiring replacement of the horn pad assembly. (1997)
Keyless entry
Description: The trunk pops open because the button on the remote is too sensitive and is easily activated while in a purse or pocket. (1997-98)
Oil consumption
Description: The oil dipstick shows on overfilled level because the original dipstick tube is too short and must be replaced. (1997)
Description: Some owners have complained of excessive shoulder belt slack. (1997-98)

Recall History

Description: Electronic Brake Control or Brake/Traction-Control module can cause antilock brake system to cycle in non-ABS braking; could increase stopping distance.
Description: Front shoulder belts might twist, becoming jammed in retractor.
Description: Fuel-pressure regulator can leak leading to vehicle backfire and, potentially, a vehicle fire.
Description: A few cars may have been built with incorrect brake components, and could pull to one side during braking.
Description: Brake booster to pedal assembly attachment nuts on some cars may be loose.
Description: Due to internal fluid leakage in some cars, rear brake proportioning, ABS, traction control or stability control may not perform as designed.
Description: Wiper-system processor is susceptible to voltage transients, which can cause a “latch-up” condition in the system controller rendering the low- and high-speed wiper modes inoperative.