The Buick Rainier receives numerous small updates for 2005. There’s a genuine wood and leather steering wheel, additional chrome accents, an occupant sensing system for the right-front passenger, upgraded navigation radio with touch-screen feature, two new exterior colours, a new grey interior colour, and a few new options, including a CD/MP3 player, OnStar with Gen 6 hardware and upgraded hands-free capability, optional six-spoke polished aluminum wheels and curtain air bag system.

The Rainier is Buick’s version of GM’s mid-size, body-on-frame SUV, which also appears as the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy and Saab 9-7X. The base engine is a 4.2-litre V6 that can be optioned up to a 5.3-litre V8, both with four-speed automatic transmission. Canadian buyers receive the CXL model in all-wheel-drive only; in the U.S., the CXL is a base rear-wheel-drive model that can be optioned up to the AWD CXL Plus.

The CXL comes with fog lights, privacy glass, front cornering lights, heated mirrors with curb-view assist, memory and integrated turn signals, roof rack, 17-inch aluminum wheels, variable intermittent wiper, rear washer/wiper, automatic dual-zone climate control, driver information centre, power-adjustable pedals, leather-wrapped wheel with audio and climate controls, power windows, woodgrain accents, heated front bucket seats with perforated leather and eight-way power adjustments, 65/35 split rear bench, driver’s position memory, CD/cassette with six speakers, and OnStar.

Unlike the GMC Envoy, the Rainier comes only in short-wheelbase configuration. In keeping with Buick’s upscale image, it’s packed with luxury features, a great deal of sound-deadening material, and numerous options, including a navigation system and rear-seat DVD. Still, there are only so many buyers to go around, and the Rainier doesn’t seem to be doing very well for itself, especially since the Buick Rendezvous offers a fair bit of luxury for a much lower starting price. The Chevrolet and GMC versions are a bit easier on the pocketbook, but if you’re up in this range anyway, consider the Saab 9-7X: for an extra $1,235 you get a lower, sportier suspension, quicker steering ratio and a cooler nameplate.

The Rainier is built in Moraine, Ohio.

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