For 2005, Buick takes some clutter out of its lineup, replacing both the aging Century and Regal with the new Buick Allure. The name is specific to Canada; in the United States, it’s known as the LaCrosse.

With consideration toward Buick’s traditionally older customer demographic, the Allure combines middle-of-the-road styling, roomy interior, uncomplicated controls and all-day driving comfort; but its top-line higher-performance engine, tighter suspension and quality build may draw younger buyers away from the competition. Its base price is cheaper than the two models it replaces, although dealers may offer discounts to get the last of the limited-run 2005 Century models off the lot.

The Allure comes in three models. The base CX and mid-line CXL are very similar; both offer a 3.8-litre 3800 V6 engine, and while both come standard with front bucket seats, both can be optioned with a 55/45 divided front seat that turns them into six-passenger sedans. Both come with air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes, cruise control, power windows and locks with keyless entry, 16-inch wheels, tilt wheel, 6-way power driver’s seat and six-speaker CD stereo system.

The CXL also includes a theft alarm, remote starter, aluminum wheels, automatic dual-zone air conditioning, driver information centre, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, and 60/40 folding rear seat as standard equipment (all of these are available as options on CX).

The top-line CXS contains a 3.6-litre DOHC engine that, due to its variable valve timing, makes more horsepower than the larger-displacement 3.8-litre on the lower lines. To this, CXS also adds traction control, ABS, Magnasteer magnetic speed-sensitive variable-assist steering, fog lights, 17-inch wheels, and leather heated seats with 6-way front passenger power adjuster.

The Allure is extremely comfortable and there is no driver fatigue or passenger discomfort even after a full day on the road; usually you have to spend considerably more money to get such ergonomics. The car is remarkably quiet, due to considerable applications of "quiet-tuning materials" such as laminated "quiet steel" panels and foam-filled structural gaps. The ride is smooth but firmer than wallowing Buicks of old; the four-wheel independent suspension receives slightly larger stabilizer bars to tighten up CXS’ "Gran Touring" suspension. Interior materials and fit-and-finish are extremely good for the price.

Short drivers may find it difficult to achieve the perfect seating position; power pedals would be a welcome addition but are not available. The window lock-out does not disable the front passenger window switch, which comes with its own remote trunk release. Buick is obviously counting on younger grandchildren being relegated to the back seat.

The Allure is built in Oshawa, Ontario.

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