2006 Terraza New Car Test Drive
The Buick of minivans is generally what we'd expect a Buick to be: big, quiet, comfortable and loaded with conveniences.
If anything stands out about the 2006 Buick Terraza, it's how well this minivan takes care of its passengers. It comfortably seats seven in a nicely designed and finished interior. The base Terraza CX is loaded with standard features, including a DVD entertainment system for rear passengers and a one-year subscription to GM's in-demand OnStar tele-aid service. Terraza is also available with GM's unique PhatNoise removable hard drive, which allows the onboard entertainment system to play or display MP3 music files, photographs, video games and the latest movie releases.
Terraza's build quality meets or beats the best in the class, and it has the minivan essentials covered. It comes standard with a V6 engine, and it's available with all-wheel drive. With the optional towing package, it can pull 3,500 pounds.
For 2006, the Terraza offers side-impact airbags for rear passengers, and Buick has increased the standard warranty to a premium-grade four years or 50,000 miles. Yet the biggest news for 2006 is an optional 3.9-liter V6 with variable valve timing and a 22 percent increase in horsepower. Choose this engine and Terraza morphs from one of the least powerful minivans available into one of the most powerful.
That's good, because if Terraza falls short of the best in class, it's most obvious in the driving. The standard 3.5-liter V6 is adequate, no more. And while Terraza is quiet and comfortable in the Buick tradition, it feels less responsive than the minivans from Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota. That more powerful 3.9-liter V6 should help.
For now, Terraza's real strength lies in other important minivan virtues, and to considerable extent in its value. Comparably equipped, it retails for less than the Chrysler Town & Country or a loaded Toyota Sienna, and that's before the incentives GM frequently offers.
Like its contemporaries from Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn, Terraza stands on more solid competitive ground than previous GM minivans. It shares its chassis and mechanicals with the Chevy Uplander, Pontiac Montana and Saturn Relay, and the differences are defined by minor styling changes and varying equipment levels. While each brand may indeed appeal to different buyers, smart consumers will shop them all. Price differences among the GM minivans amount to a few dollars when they are comparably equipped, and all are available with the most popular features. The choice may come down to satisfaction with a particular dealership.
Like its GM counterparts, Terraza's long-nose, truck-style exterior design is intended to create the image an SUV more than a minivan. We say no one will mistake the Terraza for anything but what it is: a minivan with the flexibility, features and family-friendly conveniences minivan buyers expect.
The 2006 Buick Terraza is offered in two feature-packed trim levels, with standard front wheel-drive, a 196-hp 3.5-liter V6 and four-speed automatic transmission. Both models have seating for seven and dual sliding rear doors. All-wheel drive and an upgrade V6 are optional on both trim levels, but you can't have both awd and the more powerful engine.
The Terraza CX ($27,250) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, tilt wheel, remote keyless entry with programmable locks, power driver's seat, power windows, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD MP3 stereo system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and rear seats that can be folded or removed. It features GM's interior roof rail system, with an overhead console and accommodations for snap-in accessory options. Plastic wheels covers are standard on 17-inch steel wheels. Versatrak all-wheel drive is optional ($3,000).
The Terraza CXL ($29,750) adds leather-trimmed seats with power adjustment for the front passenger and position memory for the driver, power rear doors, rear climate control, ultrasonic rear park assist, audio controls on the steering wheel, a rear cargo organizer, a 115-volt (house-current) power outlet in the rear cargo area, and a first aid kit. Alloy wheels are standard. Versatrak all-wheel drive is optional ($3,500).
The 240-hp 3.9-liter V6 ($500) is optional on both models.
Options for the Terraza CX include most of the features standard on the CXL, including the rear cargo area organizer ($285), rear air conditioning ($475), alloy wheels ($325), and a left-side power sliding door packaged with rear park assist ($545). Both trim levels are available with a remote starter ($190), six-CD changer ($295), XM Satellite Radio ($325), PhatNoise ($675), heated front seats ($275), and polished alloy wheels ($650).
Safety features that come standard on all models include ABS and traction control. Front-wheel-drive models come with GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control. The OnStar subscription includes Advanced Automatic Crash Notification, which sends crash data to participating 911 centers to help them dispatch the appropriate life-saving personnel and equipment. Crash protection includes dual-stage front airbags. Side-impact airbags for first and second-row passengers are standard on Terraza CXL and optional on CX ($750). Terraza is not available with the head-protection airbags offered is some other minivans, but it scores well in government crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it five stars for a frontal impact, and four stars for side impact with the optional side airbags.