2005 Buick Allure CSX
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Review by Jil McIntosh
Photos by Grant Yoxon

Founded in 1903, Buick is the second-oldest nameplate in GM’s stable. Cadillac edges it by less than a year, but Buick wins by seniority in another category: its owners, on average, are the oldest in the industry.

The company has tried for years to appeal to a younger audience, and it has succeeded somewhat with the release of its Terraza minivan and Rendezvous SUV. But it also understands the buying power of the older generation, and targets it faithfully with the new-for-2005 Allure.

The Allure replaces both the Regal and Century. Although it’s longer, wider and taller than both of those, its base price is lower, starting at $25,200 for the CX. The mid-level CXL is $27,865, while my top-line CXS tester began at $33,265. Options and freight pushed it to $39,420, which felt like a bit too much money once I was behind the wheel.

While you don’t need to be collecting pension to drive the Allure, it’s obviously aimed straight for older buyers, and it succeeds admirably. There are no surprises here. It doesn’t have a lot of techno-gimmicks: it’s big and smooth and comfortable, its styling doesn’t put it anywhere near left field, and although it’s front-wheel drive, it feels more like rear-wheel, and I mean that in a good way. Allure does exactly what it is supposed to do, and really, you can’t ask any more of a car than that.

2005 Buick Allure CSX

2005 Buick Allure CSX
Click image to enlarge

Its trunk badge got a couple of odd looks when I took it on a cross-border shopping trip; in the United States, the model bears its original name of LaCrosse. GM Canada changed it after it discovered that the word is slang for sexual self-indulgence in Quebecois French. I don’t speak the language so I’m not really qualified to comment, although it does make me wonder how Buick thinks our national game is actually played in Montreal.

Two engines are available: the CX and CXL carry a 3.8-litre 3800 Series III V6, producing 200 hp at 5,200 rpm and 230 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. The CXS has a smaller-displacement 3.6-litre V6, but this all-new engine’s variable valve timing raises power to 240 hp at 6,000 rpm and 225 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm. It’s smooth and powerful, yet I found it quieter than I would have expected. All models have a four-speed automatic transmission.

I also found the throttle stiff, and placed considerably lower than the brake pedal; I’m five-foot-four, and had to sit just a bit too close to the air bag to maintain a comfortable position.

The suspension on all Allures is four-wheel independent with MacPherson coil-over-springs in front and trailing arm/tri-link rear. CXS adds a Gran Touring suspension with larger stabilizer bars, and a Bosch four-wheel anti-lock braking system that’s optional on the lower lines. Magnasteer magnetic variable-assist, speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion replaces the regular power system on the two lower lines. Despite its comfortable ride, the Allure doesn’t wallow the way Buicks of old did; it’s tight and takes turns confidently. The Magnasteer, while fine on the road, occasionally translated a jitter to the wheel when making low-speed manoeuvres in parking lots.

2005 Buick Allure CSX
Click image to enlarge

Inside, the Allure is roomy and extremely comfortable; the standard front bucket seats can be exchanged for a 55/45 bench seat on the CX and CXL, with an accompanying column shifter that turns the car into a six-passenger. The big test is long-distance luxury, and my Buick did an excellent job of it. I felt as refreshed at the end of a 400-plus km day as I did at the beginning of it, and that’s become a rarity in automobiles these days. The seat cushions reach to the back of one’s knees, and they’re firm enough to ease spinal discomfort while still cradling one in just enough leather-clad softness. Snowbirds who can’t afford a Cadillac shouldn’t find the Allure to be much of a compromise.

2005 Buick Allure CSX
Click image to enlarge

Controls are straightforward and simple, although the sharp-edged, rectangular radio and heater are at styling odds with the rest of the gently rounded dash and are downright unattractive. The large speedometer is uncluttered, with only one row of numbers; a button recalibrates its single sweep from metric to Imperial. Wood trim abounds, and there’s no manual-shift mode on the transmission, which is no great loss. My tester’s wheel-mounted cruise control would be well served by a cancel button – notable for its absence. It’s nice to be able to shut off the cruise momentarily, without hitting either the brake (which can confuse other drivers) or shutting the system off entirely (in which case the resume button doesn’t work).

2005 Buick Allure CSX
Click image to enlarge

Buick has also figured that any grandchildren will be told to sit in the back seat. The power window lock-out switch does not disable the front passenger’s window, only the rear ones. As well, both front passengers receive remote trunk-release buttons on their doors.

The 115 cm long trunk can handle quite a bit of shopping, but if necessary, the rear seats can be folded to open it up to 186 cm. Unfortunately, though, the lid is all wrong. The handle for pulling it down is tucked up deep inside, and you have to tug it down hard and then haul your hand out in a hurry, lest the trunk close on it. But that’s unlikely, since your arm is at such an angle that it’s hard to pull down with enough force to latch it, and the springy lid just pops right back up again. I finally gave up, and resorted to pulling it down by its lip and then pushing on it, and then searching for something to wipe the dirt off my hand.

Even the ba

2005 Buick Allure CSX
Click image to enlarge

se CX comes nicely equipped, with power windows, mirrors and locks with keyless entry, four-wheel disc brakes, 16-inch wheels, manual air conditioning, cloth bucket seats with driver’s six-way power, 6-speaker CD system, and one year of OnStar Safe & Sound Plan. The CXL adds 16-inch aluminum wheels, automatic dual-zone air conditioning, courtesy lighting, remote starter and telescopic wheel.

To all that, the CXS adds traction control, ABS, fog lights, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and six-way power front passenger seat. Side head curtain air bags can be added to all models, and ABS can be tacked onto the lower two.

Built in Oshawa, Ontario, the Allure takes some clutter out of Buick’s passenger-car line-up, replacing two aging models with a single package that combines the best of both. It may not get 20-year-olds flocking into dealerships, but it should put a smile on some older faces.

Technical Data: 2005 Buick Allure CXS

Base price $33,265
Options $5,055 (“Platinum Package” of universal transmitter, electrochromic rearview mirror, heated side mirrors, rear park assist, chrome appearance package, 8-spoke chrome aluminum wheels $2,295; power sunroof $1,155; 6-CD changer $1,030; head curtain air bags $575)
Freight $1,000
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $39,420
Type Four-door, five-passenger sedan
Layout Front engine, front-wheel-drive
Engine 3.6-litre DOHC V6 with VVT
Horsepower 240 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 225 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
Transmission Four-speed automatic
Tires P225/55R17 all-season touring
Wheelbase 2807 mm (110.5 in.)
Length 5032 mm (198.1 in.)
Width 1854 mm (73.0 in.)
Height 1458 mm (57.4 in.
Cargo capacity 453 litres (16.0 cub. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 12.4 L/100km (23 mpg
  Hwy: 8.0 L/100km (35 mpg)
Warranty Three years/60,000 km

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