2007 Buick Rainier Performance

$3,576 - $3,849

2007 Buick Rainier Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2007 Buick Rainier was new.


Performance: 6.9

Reviewers find that the Buick Rainier is a powerful, smooth-riding SUV better built for the open road than twists and turns. The Washington Post calls the Rainier "a luxury liner," saying, "Although it is built body-on-frame in the manner of traditional SUVs and pickup trucks, it is better suited to peaceful cruising than combat."

It is a living room on wheels, best enjoyed at a casual pace. A 4.2-liter in-line 6 engine comes standard, while a 5.3-liter V8 is optional. Edmunds finds, "Power is ample with the standard inline six, and more than enough with the optional V8." Other reviewers agree with the Los Angeles Times when it writes, "What makes this Buick stand apart from its Chevrolet and GMC brethren is the optional 5.3-liter, 290-horsepower V8."

The Rainier's ride is noticeably quiet. The Detroit Free Press reports, "The Rainier is extremely quiet on the road, thanks to extra sound insulation around the engine compartment doors and quarter panels and acoustic laminate on the windshield and front door glass." The result, finds AutoWeek, is that the Rainier "is quiet inside as you drive through the city and at highway speeds." As for the ride, U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman says the Rainier is "smooth and pillowy on the highway." Most reviewers are not wowed by any one aspect of the Rainier's performance, but agree with Car and Driver that "the Rainier rates as a pleasant place to pass one's driving time."

Acceleration and Power

The 2007 Rainier comes standard with a 4.2-liter in-line 6 that makes 291 horsepower and 277 foot-pound of torque. Optional is a 5.3-liter V8 that makes 302 horsepower and 330 foot-pound of torque. Both are matched to a four-speed automatic transmission. The San Diego Union-Tribune has "no gripes with the powertrain. To heft three tons requires V-8 power, though the standard 275 hp inline-six is no slouch." The Auto Channel reports, "As good as the six is, the V8 makes a difference. Power was never a problem, and the ride quality was pure contemporary Buick."

The standard in-line six-cylinder is generally well liked. Consumer Guide finds, "The six-cylinder provides brisk takeoffs" and "adequate passing power." Auto Mall USA calls the in-line six-cylinder "a wonderful engine, delivering plenty of power." Forbes claims it "has more muscle than some competing models' V8 engines." The smaller engine has its benefits at the pump. As Kelley Blue Book notes, "When equipped with the six-cylinder engine, the five-passenger Rainier provides good power and reasonable fuel economy." According to the EPA, the in-line 6 in either two-wheel or all-wheel drive gets 14 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway. The optional V8, reviewers find, is the Rainier's most pleasing feature. Or, as the New York Times puts it, "The Rainier's biggest advantage is the V-8. Although rated only 15 horsepower higher than the in-line 6, it feels like more." AutoWeek says the V8 "moves the vehicle with ease," while MSN calls it "quite pleasing and confidence-inspiring." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, the "V-8 provides excellent power when pulling away from a stop, and while it delivers a bit of growl, it's not excessive." "Simply step on the pedal and you scoot from the light or up that steep incline without the V-8 needing to pause for a gulp of energy," writes the Chicago Tribune.

Not all reviewers are happy with the transmission, however. Forbes says, "While adequate, it lacks the refinement and response of newer five-speed automatics offered by much of the competition." The Detroit Free Press reports, "The Buick accelerates reasonably quickly, although its strong engine is handicapped by a four-speed automatic that shifts smoothly but makes less effective use of the engine's power than the five- and six-speed automatics the competition offers." MSN likes the transmission well enough, but argues it "would be even more responsive and deliver better performance if it were a more modern 5-speed unit."

Handling and Braking

Though the Rainier's handling is less than sharp, the ride is smooth enough to remind reviewers of its lineage. AutoWeek writes, "Being Buick, all drivetrain combinations have been tuned and tweaked to ensure maximum smoothness." This means, as Motor Trend points out, "Buick tuned the Rainier's suspension for less harshness and more compliance; it's no Park Avenue in the ride department, but the engineers have managed to exorcise most of the truck jounce without compromising driver control." Nonetheless, notes the Los Angeles Times, "Being truck-based, the Rainier does suffer from some of the swaying and body lean that come with the breed." The Chicago Tribune reports, "While the suspension is tuned to all but eliminate bumps or bruises to cabin occupants from imperfections in the pavement, at times you experience a noticeable body wiggle when it comes to handling."  Edmunds take it a step further, referring to the handling as "sloppy" and remarking, "Buick Rainier's lack of confident handling at higher speeds hurts it when compared to segment leaders such as the Toyota 4Runner, Mercury Mountaineer and Volkswagen Touareg." U.S. News says, "The Rainier handles easily but feels top-heavy and somewhat clumsy on curves." However, Motor Trend says the steering is "fairly precise and nicely weighted."

The suspension draws praise from Kelley Blue Book, which points out, "Underneath the Rainier resides a standard load-leveling rear air suspension. Compared to traditional steel springs, the air suspension not only makes the Rainier's ride smoother, but keeps it sitting level, even when loaded down with crew and cargo." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the "ride was well controlled with only moderate bumps delivered to the passengers on rough roads and railroad tracks. " "The Rainier copes very well with lumpy pavement, absorbing most of the roughness," writes AutoMedia.com. "Even so, you can expect to feel nearly all of the imperfections, at least a little."

The anti-lock brakes, according to MSN, "perform well." Auto Mall USA explains, "The big disc brakes responded immediately to pressure on the pedal and slowed our Rainier in a nicely composed and orderly fashion."

All-Wheel Drive

The Rainier comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is optional. The Sacramento Bee explains, "The Rainier AWD package is an on-demand system and includes a standard locking rear differential. It's fully automatic, a nice feature that makes it decidedly easier on drivers who regularly make the transition from pavement to dirt or gravel."

Some reviewers find it comes in handy during inclement weather. A reviewer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, "When I used the Rainier for a week, Pittsburgh was hit with as much as 10 inches of snow. I had all-wheel drive on the Rainier and just plowed right on through while several other SUVs were sidetracked on the parkway." AutoWeek says, "The on-demand all-wheel drive works great in the snow and slop," and moves "easily over roads littered with winter spin-out victims." Some reviewers complain that there's no "AWD low" setting for off-roading. The Chicago Tribune finds this to be a "valid argument for the minority of folks who take a $40,000 vehicle off-road."


Edmunds counsels, "Overall performance with the six is more than adequate, but those who plan on heavy towing should consider the brawny 5.3-liter V8." This is because the V8 with rear-wheel drive can tow up to 6,700 lbs. The all-wheel drive version can tow 5,600. This means "the Rainier is a serious trailer hauler in the midsize luxury loop," according to the Sacramento Bee.  And it means, as the Chicago Tribune points out, that the "Rainier can easily tow the boat to the lake, a feature potential Buick buyers have been asking for."

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