Just what we've all been waiting for -- a Buick minivan. Banking on the extreme popularity of SUVs, Buick is marketing the new Terraza as a luxury crossover sport van rather than just calling it a minivan. The Terraza takes on a taller stance, and features a longer, more angular nose, in comparison to typical "soccer mom" minivans. Still, a spade is a spade.
The Buick Terraza is built off the same platform as GM's other minivans, but the addition of Buick's QuietTuning measures should provide a more serene cabin environment. Designers have adorned the Terraza's interior with plenty of leather and wood grain trim. The instrumentation is set against surrounding dark wood grain, and each gauge is trimmed with a thin chrome ring.
The double-stitched leather is softer than what you'd find in a Pontiac or Chevrolet, so the line between product offerings is less blurry and more distinct. Inside, there is a useful roof rail system that offers a variety of solutions for storage and entertainment with the pieces being easily moved or added as the owner sees fit. For 2006, the Buick Terraza is available with a PhatNoise mobile digital media system that allows owners to store thousands of MP3s and/or several dozen movies on a 40-gig hard drive.
Another update for '06 is an optional side airbag package for front- and second-row occupants. This is certainly a worthwhile addition, although many competitors now offer three-row airbag coverage. Overall, we're not entirely sold on the whole "SUV/van" concept. To our eyes, the Terraza looks more like a minivan with a really big and flat front end. Subjective styling issues aside, the 2006 Buick Terraza offers a myriad of amenities and decent performance, but can't match the driving dynamics, conveniences or safety features of the best-in-class minivans.
The Buick Terraza minivan comes in one size and two trim levels, CX and CXL. Standard CX amenities include power windows, air conditioning, an eight-speaker sound system with a CD/MP3 player, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, the OnStar communications system, cruise control, keyless entry, a power driver seat, auto-leveling rear suspension, a trip computer and leather seating. The CXL adds rear air conditioning, a 115-volt AC outlet, rear parking assist, dual eight-way power seats with driver's memory, upgraded storage and alloy wheels. An optional 40-gig PhatNoise mobile digital media system allows owners to store thousands of digital music files or a few dozen movies. Other noteworthy options include heated seats, a remote vehicle starting system and satellite radio.
The Buick Terraza seats seven, and the fold-flat third-row seat offers a 50/50 split. A tasteful color scheme with convincing faux wood accents gives the van a more luxurious ambience than its GM siblings. The double-stitched leather seats with contrasting piping are particularly elegant. Folding center trays (with cupholders) between the first- and second-row seats offer convenient storage while providing parents with ready access to little ones seated in back. An overhead rail system provides rear-seat access to climate and entertainment functions, and can be outfitted with various storage containers. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system is standard on all Terrazas, though springing for the PhatNoise digital media system saves you the hassle of juggling DVDs on road trips. An optional remote vehicle start system makes it easy to warm up the Buick minivan on cold mornings.
Standard on the Buick Terraza is a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 201 horsepower (196 on all-wheel-drive models). A 3.9-liter V6 with 240 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque is optional, but oddly, only on front-wheel-drive models. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard. Buyers in cold climates may want to consider the optional all-wheel-drive system.
The standard 3.5-liter V6 is down on power for this class, so we recommend you spring for the optional 3.9-liter V6. The Terraza's suspension does a decent job of balancing ride comfort with responsive handling, but competitors like the Odyssey and Sienna offer sharper reflexes and a smaller turn radius. Braking ability is average among minivans, as are cabin noise levels despite Buick's QuietTuning initiative.
All models come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, and traction and stability control are standard on the 2WD. Side-impact airbags for front- and second-row occupants are standard on the CXL, and optional on the CX. In NHTSA testing, the 2006 Buick Terraza earned five out of five stars for its protection of the driver and front passenger in frontal impacts. Side-impact testing (on a Terraza without side airbags) resulted in a four-star score for front-passenger protection and five stars for rear passengers.
First- and second-row side-impact airbags are available on the Buick Terraza this year, and a 240-horsepower, 3.9-liter V6 has been added to the options list of front-wheel-drive Terrazas. Other minor changes to feature content for 2006 include the DVD entertainment system becoming standard and the introduction of a newly optional PhatNoise digital media system.