When Buick decided to offer its first minivan, it attempted to minimize the associated stigma by labeling the Terraza, a badge-engineered General Motors minivan, a "luxury crossover sport van." In other words, the Terraza was a minivan featuring a taller stance, an elongated nose and available all-wheel drive. While it shared a platform with several corporate siblings such as the Chevrolet Uplander, the Buick Terraza offered a few distinguishing characteristics and styling tricks that lent an upscale feel in comparison. Nicely finished leather and wood trim in the uplevel versions provided an elegant ambience not seen in the Buick's more lowbrow relatives, and it came with more standard features as well.
But as minivans go, the Buick Terraza lagged behind the segment leaders (as well as newer true crossovers) in terms of driving refinement and safety features. Shoppers are advised to check out models such as the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna or even Buick's own Enclave before settling on this "luxury crossover sport van."
Most recent Buick Terraza
Buick introduced the Terraza in 2005 and discontinued it after the 2007 model year. At first, it had an underwhelming 3.5-liter V6 providing 200 horsepower matched to a four-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive was optional. The Buick Terraza minivan came in three trim levels -- CX, CX Plus and CXL. The well-equipped CX offered the expected popular amenities, while the CX Plus added a sport-tuned suspension, dual-zone climate control and auto-leveling rear suspension. The top-of-the-line CXL provided alloy wheels, rear air-conditioning, rear parking assist and eight-way power front seats.
The Buick Terraza comfortably accommodated up to seven people and offered room for lots of stuff -- its second- and third-row seats folded down to provide up to 137 cubic feet of space. However, unlike most other minivans, the Terraza's third row did not fold completely into the floor, though it could be removed. The rest of the cabin was luxurious thanks to convincing faux wood and double-stitched leather seats with contrasting piping. A modular roof rail system allowed passengers to adjust the DVD player and storage compartment components, and folding center trays were located between the first- and second-row seats. There was also an available remote vehicle start system that enabled one to heat up or cool down the cabin before getting in.
Used-model shoppers might want to focus on 2006-and-later models, as these vans became available with first- and second-row side airbags inside and the more powerful 3.9-liter V6 under the hood of front-wheel-drive models. Rear DVD entertainment was made standard, and those wanting more choices could opt for the PhatNoise digital media system. All-wheel drive and the 3.5-liter V6 were dropped for 2007.
In reviews, we found the Buick Terraza's large V6 capable of delivering respectable acceleration around town and ample power for merging and passing at highway speeds despite its hefty mass. The suspension struck an acceptable balance between ride comfort and responsive handling, but other minivans offered sharper reflexes and a tighter turning radius. The Terraza's braking distances were also a little on the long side. And despite Buick's advertised "QuietTuning" technology, cabin noise levels were above average and not as whisper-quiet as we expected.