Buick gets its first minivan for 2005. Terraza shares its basic design with the 2005 Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana SV6, and Saturn Relay. All basically add an SUV-style nose to the 1997-2004 GM minivan design to create what GM dubs the “crossover sport van.” Terraza is the costliest, most luxurious version, and is the only one to come standard with automatic load-leveling rear suspension. Terraza offers CX and uplevel CXL models.
There’s one body length and seats for seven via folding/removable 2nd-row bucket seats and a 50/50 fold-flat 3rd-row bench. A power sliding passenger-side door is standard on CX; CXL adds a power driver-side door, which is optional on CX. Terraza uses a 200-hp V6 and 4-speed automatic transmission, and either front- or all-wheel drive. Front-drive models get GM’s Stabilitrak antiskid/traction control. All models come with 4-wheel antilock brakes, 17-inch wheels, and OnStar assistance. Front side airbags providing head and torso protection are optional on CX and standard on CXL, but curtain side airbags aren’t offered. Also standard are a CD/MP3 player, rear DVD entertainment, and a roof-rail system with available snap-on storage modules. Rear air conditioning and a rear cargo organizer are optional on CX, standard on CXL. CXL also adds leather seating surfaces and rear obstacle detection. Among the options for both models are satellite radio and a remote starting system that operates from the key fob.
Available AWD and standard rear DVD entertainment are Terraza’s competitive advantages. The lack of curtain side airbags, however, is a big minus for safety-conscious buyers, and the rear seating rows and cargo area aren’t as convenient or as roomy as the minivans from Chrysler, Honda, or Toyota. While Buick’s first minivan is a competent entry, there is no compelling reason to chose it over our Recommended and Best Buy choices.
All of GM’s “crossover sport vans” amount to new wine in a now very old bottle, so it’s anyone’s guess how long they will hang around. Regardless, Terraza and its nameplate cousins aren’t likely to change much over the next couple of years.