Truly one of GM's best automobiles.
I bought the my Rainier V8 in January of 2007. It was exactly what I was looking for. It had the V8 and no running boards.
I started looking at SUVs to replace my aging 1996 Explorer. It was starting to rust and was 10 years old. I looked at new Explorers but they were way overpriced for what you get. So after looking at many SUVs from many different manufactures, I stumbled upon the Buick Rainier. After doing extensive research, it looked to be a great SUV...and once I started to realize how much they depreciated, it was meant to be.
I found one locally. It was a silver V8 with 25K on the clock...for $20,500. What a steal! It only took one drive to convince me that this was a great vehicle.
I ended up buying it and could not be happier.
There were a few things that went wrong with it. The first was a weld in the A/C system broke leaking a small amount of A/C oil on the garage floor. No big deal as the Rainier was still under warranty. The dealer was great, very helpful and got the repair done very quickly.
The second thing that went wrong with it was when it was getting an oil change, the Tech. noticed that the oil pan and front pinion seal were leaking a small amount of oil. At this point the factory warranty expired, but I had purchased an extended warranty. The sheer number of electronics in this car is a great reason to have an extended warranty. GM builds the best American cars and trucks, but I was still hesitant. Anyway, with this one repair, the warranty paid for half of itself...money well spent.
Other than those two small things, my V8 Rainier has been an absolute dream. Great gas mileage (22-24 Highway), wonderful ride, awesome V8 rumble, and it is quick. This thing will move.
It tows very well too. I have a 19 foot fiberglass (heavy) boat. My old Explorer huff and puffed towing the boat, but the Rainier with it's 5.3 V8 has no trouble at all. And as an added bonus, when I hook my boat up, the auto leveling rear suspension makes the car perfectly level...so no more squatting like with the Explorer.
My Rainier has the AWD system. Living here in Minnesota, it is a nice thing to have. It also has the G80 locking rear differential. Between those two devices, there has not been a storm that this Rainier cannot get through. And just as important as being able to move is, being able to stop is just as important...and the Rainier does not disappoint. Rarely does the ABS kick in due to the abundance of traction...and that is with the factory tires. But still, as safe as the car is, you must drive with due regard when the weather is bad.
The Rainier comes with two different engine choices. A 4.2L I-6 and a 5.3L V8. Let me explain the reason why I chose the V8 over the I6. 1) It is a V8. 2) The gas mileage difference was tiny. 3) Performance. As mentioned above, the V8 Rainier moves. It is nice knowing that when I need to get going, I can. My old Explorer was a slug.
Overall, I cannot say one bad thing about the Rainier. It is fast, comfortable, capable, and more feature laden than anything I have ever driven.
There are some areas of the interior that could be improved...but for the price paid, I would not change a thing. The Rainier proves that way back in 2004 (when the Rainier came out), the US Automakers knew how to build a vehicle that would smash the competition. And the Rainier smashes the imported competition from Japan and Europe as well as the domestic competition.
And to think... the Buick Enclave is a BETTER vehicle.
I am crossing my fingers that the Buick Enclave gets the 5.3 V8... because as soon as it does, I will be buying it.