Buick Century T-Type geared to younger buyers

While it will easily accommodate five people in comfort, the Buick Century T-Type is a long way from the sedate family sedans of a few years ago that carried the Buick nameplate. The T-Type Buicks aim to dispel the geriatric image the General Motors car division has long had. In other words, it's an effort to reach the younger buyers.

Equipped with a 3.8-liter, multiport, fuel-injected V-6 engine, including a 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission, the Buick Century T-Type sedan sails from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in a wee bit over 11 seconds. Zero to 50 is about 3 seconds less, all without stumbling or hesitation. Overall performance and feel are very good.

Sitting on a sports-oriented suspension, standard on the T-Type, the car is fast, yet easily contained. Estimated mileage stretches from a low of 18 in the city to 25 on the expressway. That's not bad, given the kind of performance built into the Buick.

Even the price seems in line with competing cars of this type. The sticker price of the test car, at $15,444, includes more than $3,600 in options, plus a shipping charge of $414. Obviously, the options are nice to have, but $3,600 worth?

The air conditioner, for example, is list-priced at $730 and the 6-way power driver's seat at $215. A worthwhile extra, the theft-deterrent system, lists for $159.

Why do carmakers list such things as a front license plate mounting or exterior color at ``no charge''? All the no-charge items on the bill do little to mask the increasing cost of new cars today.

The Buick Century is also sold as the Pontiac 6000, Chevrolet Celebrity, and Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera.

It's hard to fault the T-Type Buick Century as it sits in the driveway or runs on the road, but sometimes the little things are a puzzlement, indeed. I can never understand why a carmaker sells a fine, upmarket automobile such as the Buick Century T-Type and then fails to include a trip odometer on the instrument panel.

Also, the glove box is too often an endangered species these days and the Buick Century T-Type does nothing to help matters. The wide glove box door on the dashboard, for example, suggests a king-size storage bin behind it. Surprise! Open the door and the fuse panel takes up two-thirds of the space.

Inside the car, however, the usable space is not bad. A rear-seat passenger can relax in broad comfort -- and so can anyone sitting up front. By and large, headroom and legroom are sufficient in this 2,800-pound car. The wheelbase is 104.9 inches.

The Buick Century is designed to host a family with a minimum of distress. The T-Type simply adds a sporty flair to the mix.

Charles E. Dole is the Monitor's automotive editor.

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