Buick Skylark Offers Low-Key Competence
Aukofer, Frank, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Except for its unusual styling, which has been toned down considerably for 1996, Buick's compact Skylark could stand in as the prototype for a generic automobile.
Despite a hefty load of standard features and optional equipment that would appeal to almost any car buyer, there's virtually nothing about the Skylark that triggers the senses. The ambience is that of a fleet car - something you'd expect to find parked among the rental units at the airport.
There is the styling, which in the context of other Buicks could probably be dubbed high-zoot. But it's not as bizarre as before, and now could even be described as inoffensive, perhaps even pleasant.
The Skylark goes about its transportation duties in much the same fashion. Low-key competence is its forte. The test car, a two-door, was the top-line Gran Sport, which sports a 3.1-liter V-6 engine that delivers good straight-line acceleration and smoothness, though it gets a touch noisy under hard acceleration.
The horsepower is 155, just five more than the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder in other Skylark models. But the V-6 has more torque, or low-speed pulling power, and does not thrash around nearly as much as the four.
These days, with international exchange rates biased against the dollar, American cars offer a lot more features for the money than most imports.
The Gran Sport Skylark was no exception. With a sticker price of just over $19,000, it came equipped with almost everything you'd find on a luxury car costing twice as much.
Anti-lock brakes are standard - as they should be everywhere - and the front-drive Skylark even comes with what Buick calls "traction enhancement." If a sensor detects wheel slippage, the engine's power is automatically dialed back. That should receive an enthusiastic welcome from customers who are not especially confident of their winter-driving techniques. …