Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, according to the popular book. In the Ward's offices there is a similar polarity about Buick's supercharged Riviera.
Our tech editor thinks the styling is stunning, flatly pronouncing, "I can't believe there's an automaker out there that wouldn't be proud to say they came up with this shape." Others editors are patently offended by its profile and proportions.
Styling is subjective. Not so mech-anicals. Here, the Riviera has no detractors. The supercharged Series II 3800 V-6 doesn't mess around: it moves the 3,759-lb. (1,705-kg) Riviera with autocratic aplomb and with real-world midrange acceleration that shames more, uh, "sophisticated" overhead-cam engines. Yes, we had one engine-component failure that stranded a driver, and yes, we think the 3800, with its iron block and head, is getting ever more outdated. But the execution can't be faulted.
Apart from validating our opinion that the Series II 3800 remains one of the industry's most versatile and pleasing engines, the nearly 36,000 miles (57,936 km) we toted up with the Riviera showed it to be surprisingly economical to own and operate. Nobody could complain about 240 willing hp teamed with 23.3 mpg (10L/100 km) overall. Except for one instance of hassle, we found Buick's service - which we sampled at three different dealerships - to be satisfying and abnormally painstaking. Bravo.
In all, we think there's a load of positives Buick can take away from our experience. The 3800 works well and could continue to be competitive - with some updating.
Coupes are resurging, and the Riviera's about the best thing the domestics have to offer right now, what with Lincoln's Mark VIII on the heap. Most of us don't believe the current iteration of this car is competitive with highline stuff like the Mercedes-Benz CLK and the Volvo C70. But the G-body is one of GM's better platforms, so if the company wants to make a run at Mercedes, et. al. in the premium coupe segment, there would be worse places from which to start.