By on June 21, 2006

Lucerne10.jpgElectra Waggoner Biggs was born a Texas cattle and oil man’s daughter, but left the Lone Star State for Bryn Mawr, Columbia and the Sorbonne.  Upon her return she became a revered sculptress, best known for her work “Into the Sunset,” memorializing cowboy actor Will Rogers.  In 1959, the President of Buick (and Electra’s husband’s brother-in-law) named a flagship sedan after the middle aged Texan.  Today's Buick Lucerne is named after a quaint Swiss tourist trap, with only a failed peasant’s revolt to its name.  And there you have it: Buick has tossed away decades of brash Americana for subdued Euro-style.  That's beyond stupid.  

Of course, Lucerne is a beautiful town, and the Lucerne CXS is a beautiful car.  Truth be told, the comely Lucerne is a pastiche of the Audi group’s best sedans– a bit of Audi A8 here (rear three quarter) and a bit of Phaeton there (pillars, rear)– with a healthy dose of Buick’s polarizing Velite concept roadster (front).  Fortunately, it works.  There’s no question the Lucerne is its own machine; the Buick’s portholes are as authoritative a brand statement as Mister T's mohawk.  

X06BU_LU028.jpgIt’s all very dignified and elegant in a vaguely European way– until you open the door. Then you discover that the Lucerne is cursed with GM's latest interior initiative: strategically placed quality.  For example, the Lucerne’s dash is fashioned from a polymer that’s less forgiving than a Taliban elder.  And yet, only millimeters away, you encounter GM's finest door panels to date.  They’re superb examples of industrial art: a Lexus-like mix of triple-stitched vinyl, padded plastic and convincing wood grain.  But aside from the swank door trimmings, richly textured headliner and hip cobalt blue gauge faces, the Lucerne's interior is the Buick brand’s Bay of Pigs.

The optional Harman-Kardon boombox is the cabin’s saving grace.  Play that funky music [white boy] and you unleash both top-notch imaging and skin-tight bass response.  The noise is most welcome; the Roadmaster-esque seating rivals memory foam mattresses for sybaritic somnambulism.  Mobsters looking for a place to stash rivals heading for the big sleep take note: the Lucerne’s trunk is a thing of beauty. It’s large and accommodating, replete with plastic modesty panels hiding the decklid's dogleg hinges.

Fire up the Lucerne CXS’ Northstar 4.6-liter V8 and the mixed messages continue.  Dial-up a few revs and the hunky Lucerne rumbles like an old muscle-bound big-block Buick GSX.  (Buick’s “Quiet Tuning” obviously doesn’t apply to Cadillac-sourced powertrains.)  Drop the hammer and the de-clawed 275hp Northstar helps the Lucerne slide to sixty in a tick under seven seconds.  Yes, but how many front-wheel drive V8-powered luxury cars can you name?   And how many have you bought?  There’s a reason for that… 

X06BU_LU0142.jpgAt sensible speeds, the Lucerne hides its wrong-wheel drive roots commendably.  Eight mild-mannered cylinders render torque steer a minor issue.  But awaken the beast at the wrong time and the Lucerne counters with smoking rubber and a completely wayward helm.  Fortunately, the iron filings floating in the Lucerne’s shocks deliver a reasonable imitation of dynamic fluidity; Magnetic Ride Control suspension keeps the two-ton luxobarge flat during cornering. Yes, really.  

But to what end?  The big Buick fails to impress one's "land yacht" Ying or "grand touring" Yang.  For Type-A personalities, the Northstar's "take-a-number" throttle response, uncommunicative and overboosted steering and lazy four-cog slushbox infuriates.  Even with Magna-charged dampers in full suppress mode, mundane Continental rubber, cushy springs and planar seats deny sporting satisfaction.  Grab a lower gear for upcoming corners and the flimsy floor-shift quivers in anticipation.

For the Type-B folks, the Lucerne rides comfortably enough on most surfaces, but nails surface imperfections like an economy car chassis, lacking the brick-house swagger of Mercury’s mighty-mighty Marquis.  No matter what your tastes, the Lucerne's coarse underpinnings prove GM half baked this auto-culinary treat.

X06BU_LU019.jpgThe Lucerne certainly outclasses its clueless Park Avenue predecessor, but what does this sub-$40k whip do that a fresher-looking Camry can’t?  De-ice its windscreen with heated washer fluid?  Seriously, when a carmaker promotes its flagship model with a relatively minor gadget, you know it’s a “pay no attention to the car behind that curtain” affair.  The fact that the portly Lucerne’s standard mill is a positively ancient pushrod V6 shows that even GM knows they’ve over-priced and under-delivered.  While entry-level Lucernes face the prospect of rental car Hell, the CSX goes nowhere fast. 

More than that, the Lucerne’s lack of soul proves that Buick is a dead marque dying.  One could argue that Electra Waggoner Biggs’ sculpture and the car named after her were tacky– nothing more than American populism with a continental twist.  But their unabashed spirit demanded your attention.  If the Lucerne is as good as a Buick gets, it’s only a matter of time before the entire brand follows its Swiss namesake into historical irrelevance. 

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66 Comments on “Buick Lucerne CXS Review...”

  • avatar

    Interesting that the Buick’s strengths and weaknesses seem to be the opposite of the Ford reviewed yesterday.

    Is it worse to get it half right than to get it all wrong? Someone should remind them that a car is more than the sum of its parts – that it is important to get everything right at the same time because one major failing devalues all the otherwise brilliant work that might have gone into it.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Its worse to get it all wrong. The Lucerne still appeals to GM loyalists in its current state, even if that pool gets smaller every year.

    As I concluded my test drive–passing a Lexus ES to boot–I imagined the Lucerne’s quarter panels wearing an “Electra 275” badge…ya know, kinda like the good old days. It wouldn’t change the facts presented here, but the name has a nice ring to it, just like Chrysler’s 300.

  • avatar

    I saw one of these cars on an offramp the other day and I was sure it was a Phaeton. Then I saw it was a Buick… that explained the silver haired driver on the way to the golf course.


    (Wouldn’t be caught dead.)

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Saw one in a parking lot today… in white.

    Looks great from the front.

    Acura-ish, which is a good design language.

    Rear? Keep trying.

    Oh, and I felt — the mesh behind the portholes is… actual metal!

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    Hmmm… Lieberman’s been reduced to feeling up Buicks.


    So very sad.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Yup, its metal and so is the Pontiac G6’s grille. I was impressed…kinda. Perhaps feeling up a Lucerne makes sense after consuming mass-quantities of their generic carbonated Kool-Aid?

    Dr. Skipper’s my fav!

  • avatar

    It takes Hyundai a few attempt to get from crap to today’s quality. GM is still behind, but its Buick is a good start and I think it should do ok. They seriously should get the interior redesign going before the next model refresh, if not to gain sales at least to improve the brand’s image.

  • avatar

    The Lucerne looks awfully generic to me. The interesting thing is that they can make a beautiful car if they want to. Check out what Buick calls a LaCrosse in China:

    Nothing like our warmed-over son-of-a-Regal. It’s slick and purposeful and in many ways could go toe-to-toe stylewise with the 300C.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    TTAC — We stick our fingers in holes for you.

  • avatar

    as long as it’s just your fingers….

    Does your medical cover that? Is it only the fingers because your insurance doesn’t cover toes?

  • avatar

    I’ve read Mr. Farago’s work for years, even before this site was instituted, and I regularly enjoy TTAC for its original content. If you should move to subscription-based articles, please count me as a subscriber.

    That said, original work is often polarizing, and so the new format with its invitation for reader comment is much appreciated.

    Writing here as both an enthusiast and as a member of FriendsOfBuick, I’d take issue with a few aspects of this review.

    Mr. Mehta, you suggest that Buick is irrelevant because of the Lucerne’s duality of character, and (thus implied) lack of soul.

    These two ideas are not synonymous. Duality of character is largely to be seen in the history of no less a brand than Mercedes-Benz (Mercedes historically being the emotional side of the company; Benz, the rational), and one could happily find the influence in its products.

    To stay on topic, I’ll ignore the upcoming Buick Enclave crossover here – but allow me the brief note that the reception to the Enclave at the recent 2006 North American International Auto Show demonstrates that Buick’s romanticism can be youthful.

    Many an independent survey will find Buick to have, in addition, regularly demonstrated superlative reliability. That’s fairly relevant, in any segment and at any price.

    I’d agree wholeheartedly that duality of character is indeed a hallmark of the Lucerne. Cue (for instance) the fast, 60-degree windshield and the faster, 70-degree rear window. It befits a traditionally magnanimous Buick to offer the only V8 in its segment; but it also befits Buick to offer a stoic front end integrated with body lines that are more fluid. Lucerne is simply a 21st century interpretation of what Buick has stood for over the past one hundred and three years.

    When discussing irrelevance, consider that the near-luxury car is by no means dead. Indeed, please also consider that, despite its pendulum weight-distribution issues, the front-wheel-drive near-luxury car is by no means irrelevant. How else to account for the Toyota Avalon; Lexus ES350, or for the entrance of the upstart Hyundai Azera?

    The “wayward” behavior you describe when power is injudiciously applied in such vehicles is clear in the aforementioned Lexus ES350; the Toyota Avalon; the Hyundai Azera, and in the Acura TL; the Nissan Maxima, and the Volkswagen Passat.

    All of these are front-wheel-drive cars that weigh over 3,000 pounds. That layout is suspect in itself, but either the public has fallen in love with front-wheel-drive despite the irrationality of making it available in this weight class, or virtually every manufacturer has convinced us that we want it, likely because of the expedience of expanding ’80s front-wheel-drive econoboxes into ’90s luxury cars.

    Buick is thus simply playing in a segment that has spoken its preference.

    At issue here is how well Buick has managed to get this front-weight-distributed, front-wheel-drive sedan to both ride and handle.

    You ask what the Lucerne has that Toyota/ Lexus does not (I’ll use Avalon/ ES350 here, for it seems churlish to make comparisons between a near-luxury vehicle, and the Camry mainstreamer).

    In addition (feature-wise) to adaptive damping; patented dual-depth airbags, and the convenience and security of standard OnStar, I’d submit a more inherent answer than simply heated washer fluid: double the links in its rear suspension.

    Toyota’s Avalon and Lexus’ ES350 ask between $27k and $45k for the platform of an $18,000 Camry, replete with expedient, 2-link MacPherson struts all the way around (the Avalon is simply extended in wheelbase). Toyota is alone in using this configuration, even in the Camry segment; suffice to say that rear MacPhersons on a front-heavy car are a cost decision, and not one made in the interest of excellence in ride or handling.

    By contrast, Buick uses the same platform as that in Cadillac’s DTS, a platform which won recognition for its rigidity not too long ago, and one which – both at launch and in its third major revision – keeps its rear wheels perpendicular with a four-link multi-link configuration.

    The idea that the Lucerne “nails surface imperfections like an economy car chassis” leads me to suspect tire pressure on your test car. I certainly have not noticed the jounce and rebound issues that one might associate with an economy car, nor the consequent disturbed body motions. The Washington Post (for one) did not either, despite testing the car on some of the most challenged roads in the country: “I particularly liked the feel of the car’s four-wheel-independent sport-tuned suspension on New York City’s rough streets, which would have shaken to oblivion a car with lesser underpinnings” – The Washington Post, April 23rd, 2006.

    The key here is fluidity – linearity – of conduct: that sweet spot where ride and handling meet. Looking for a sports car in the five/ six-passenger Lucerne – be it base CX or tuned CXS (not “CSX”) – is to miss the point (as you clearly understand, given your comments on the limitations of front-wheel-drive).

    That said, the ability to tune a car’s cornering line on the throttle is a key factor in driver enjoyment. Just as is the steering, the throttle is a primary control. Get that rear four-link working, and all Lucernes are throttle-steerable, mid-corner, to a pleasing degree; the CXS is simply more responsive in this endeavor, thanks to somewhat stiffer springs and MagnaRide adaptive damping (the latter of which being another aspect that no competitor offers – although both Audi and Ferrari will soon be employing such flexibility).

    I’d add that the Lucerne’s four-speed automatic is smoother than the unit used in Toyota’s Avalon (the USAToday has agreed). It also has had nothing like the reliability issues (and a little research will demonstrate that the Avalon has sorely fallen in this regard, in general, over the past year).

    The Buick Lucerne’s cabin quality is more than competitive with that of its rivals, and exceeds many in fit. Lucerne’s upper interior panel, for instance, fits to 0.5mm, and minor controls are not far behind. Try as I might, I have not perceived any variation across randomly sampled models. If the “forgiveness of polymers” were an indication of the quality of plastic, then the Mitsubishi Endeavor crossover would be by far the most praised vehicle in its class for fit and finish.

    I’d ask, however, whether you’ve driven a car in the Lucerne’s class that is possessed of softer (and more aromatic!) leather. I certainly have not.

    Lucerne might eschew the more cryptic dashboard layouts and bright red and blue dashboard lighting of fleeting fashion but, ergonomically, it excels.

    QuietTuning is indeed in effect in the Lucerne, although if one is to offer a V8 in this class, it stands to reason that one would want to hear this engine’s note at full throttle. Drive a BMW 7 series – current E65 or previous E38 generation – and you will notice the same duality of character: quiet at part-throttle, belied by a throaty roar when called upon.

    Finally, let me disagree wholeheartedly with the assertion that lower-model Lucernes are intended for (or will be relegated to) fleet duty. We’ll leave aside here a much-needed discussion of overhead-valve (Lucerne 3.8-liter) versus dual-overhead-cam (Lucerne 4.6-liter) powerplants, but consider that 91% of Lucerne sales in March 2006 were retail models. Given that the vast majority of Lucerne sales are not top-line CXS variants, this seems all the more interesting.

    This notwithstanding, thank you for an original, entertaining review – and for the opportunity to comment.

    • 0 avatar

      The comment written by FriendsofBuick should be read with an open mind. Buick automobiles have been highest rated in reliability for years. The only design aspect of the Lucerne that I don’t like is the low roof. I am 6’5″ tall and getting in and out can be dangerous and it makes me a little uncomfortable to drive it in congested traffic also. Thank goodness I only rented one. I drive a 2003 Regal LS and I love it. Good power, great handling, and a comfortable ride. When it’s trade in time, I hate to think of what I would have to trade it in on. I think I’ll just keep repairing it when needed.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    RF — can you change my name to “FriendsOfBoxster?”

    Oh, and Toyota Avalon? ES350?


  • avatar

    Its a new model and GM is saying they are eschewing fleet sales. Lets come back in a year and see how large a percentage are going to fleets.

    That GM is still shoving pushrod V6s and 4-speed transmissions in the “Near luxury FWD” segment really is a joke. Heck, Ford has a VVT OHC and a 6 speed in the (yawn-o-matic, badge engineered) Zephyr, and will have AWD soon enough.

    Is GM just too penny pinching to do a proper V6 and transmission?

  • avatar

    Pushrod engines are riding a “retro” wave, at least that’s what we are being sold. Well, almost. Buick is the one nameplate that is probably beyond hope. When even the head of GM says it’s a “damaged brand,” why would anyone outside the Company try to argue with him? The Lucerne is for those who hope against hope that Buick has a future. It does…buried next to Oldsmobile.

  • avatar
    Jay Shoemaker

    I think this was one of the best written pieces on TTAC which elevated an otherwise forgettable automobile. Nicely done Sajeev, Clarkson better watch his back.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta


    Thank you for writing! I am a Buick fan too, precisely why I tested the Lucerne. The first car I steered (too small to reach the pedals) was a 1980 Century Limited. But I digress…you gave me a lot to think about and here’s my take. If I overlooked something you really wanted my opinion on, don’t be shy. :-)

    Lucerne is simply a 21st century interpretation of what Buick has stood for over the past one hundred and >three years.

    I agree, but it has VW/Audi group style in it too. Those seat covers are pure Jag. I hoped, prayed, for 1980 Park Avenue-style thrones from my childhood, but it wasn’t in the cards.

    the front-wheel-drive near-luxury car is by no means irrelevant. How else to account for the Toyota Avalon; Lexus ES350, or for the entrance of the upstart Hyundai Azera?

    I don’t get the idea of large FWD cars, other than to take advantage of the “make what you already know” principle. FWD was fine in the 1980s, but these new rides outgrew their efficient roots.

    The wayward behavior you describe when power is injudiciously applied in such vehicles is clear in the >aforementioned Lexus S350; the Toyota Avalon; the Hyundai Azera, and in the Acura TL; the Nissan Maxima, >and the Volkswagen Passat.

    I’ve never driven a Maxima that dived and wallowed like the Lucerne under throttle, Buick’s suspension tuning magnifies an already bad FWD charasteritic.

    You ask what the Lucerne has that Toyota/ Lexus does not use for it seems churlish to make comparisons >between a near luxury vehicle, and the Camry mainstreamer.

    Is it really churlish? The 6-speed, 268hp Camry XLE sure looks like a 4-speed, 275hp Lucerne on paper. Its got a pretty darn nice interior, not to mention most folk find Camry’s blend of vanilla more appealing than Buick’s current offerings.

    Toyota’s Avalon and Lexus ES350 ask between $27k and $45k for the platform of an $18,000 Camry, replete >with expedient, 2-link MacPherson struts all the way around

    I learned a long time ago thatt less complex suspension systems mean nothing, witness BMW’s struts and (gasp!) recirculating ball steering. Put another way, it isn’t what you got, its what you make of it.

    The idea that the Lucerne nails surface imperfections like an economy car chassis leads me to suspect tire pressure on your test car.

    Possibly. My beef with the Lucerne’s ride stems from a loosy-goosy unibody chassis compared to newer designs like the Chrysler 300, which I drove on the same streets a few months ago. By the same token, I took a Grand Marquis (another ancient whip with modest chassis upgrades) on the same bumpy test road and felt bad for what I did to those unsuspecting potholes.

    Get that rear four-link working, and all Lucernes are throttle-steerable, mid-corner, to a pleasing degree; the >CXS is simply more responsive

    Gotta disagree with ya here: CXS or not, the Lucerne is far from a “pleasing” corner-carver. The MagnaRide (which I’ve experienced in Corvettes) gives the Lucerne an good ride/handling balance, but its far from stellar. Its in an uncomfortable middle ground these days, and it doesn’t work.

    If the forgiveness of polymers were an indication of the quality of plastic, then the Mitsubishi Endeavor >crossover would be by far the most praised vehicle in its class for fit and finish.

    There’s no excuse for putting poor quality plastics on the dashboard at this price point. None. The overstuffed vinyl dash on my ’80 Century makes a Lexus blush, and if Buick did it back then for 6000-ish dollars, what the heck is their excuse today?

    whether you driven a car in the Lucerne’s class that is possessed of softer (and more >aromatic!) leather.

    I think the Lexus ES’s leather is about a bazillion times better in both texture and aroma. I’m testing one in the near future, and if it smells worse or its ride/handling balance is inferior to the Lucerne CXS, I assure you I will eat my words. :-)

    QuietTuning is indeed in effect in the Lucerne, although if one is to offer a V8 in this class, it stands to reason >that one would want to hear this engines note at full throttle.

    Its pretty mean at part throttle too. I enjoy the Lucerne’s intake tenor and somewhat rumbly exhaust, though the irony of “Quiet Tuning” with a hot-rod motor is downright delicious. Ever wonder if Lexus’ tuning is one reason why their perceived quality and customer loyalty is through the roof?

    We’ll leave aside here a much-needed discussion of overhead-valve (Lucerne 3.8-liter) versus dual-overhead->cam (Lucerne 4.6-liter) powerplants.

    Start your engines, as my 3.8L LaCrosse road test is on its way. Stay tuned. :-)

    Sajeev Mehta

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Oh, and before I forget about the John Kerry/Buick Lucerne connection:

    Sorry, I thought the Electra Waggoner Biggs reference worked better in 800 words.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Clarkson better watch his back? Oh goodness.

    Jay, you are waaaay too kind. :-)

  • avatar

    Ill chime in as a serious prospective Lucerne CXS shopper recently. Im mid thirties and Buick’s target market here.

    I recently owned a 2000 SLS and missed that smooth ride and fingertip effort steering. As I considered the competition at 30-35K I kept thinking, over and over, “FWD for 30K???”

    The overall design is just too plain to me also to jusify the price. I dont need flash but effortless is what Im after both in terms of style and performance. The ride was spot on for me, the steering was pretty light and the power was fine. It was mostly the fear of regretting spending 35K for a car that I was certain I would have wanted more from.

    If this car had AWD in CXS form, it would be in my garage and Id call it a winner (still not a tremendous value, however). It doesnt, and it isnt. I dare say AWD would have changed the outcome of this review as well.

  • avatar

    Whenever someone has the audacity to suggest to GM that they get rid of a brand or three, they always come back with either “They don’t know what they’re talking about” or “Oldsmobile cost us $1.5B and getting rid of brand X would cost us more.” I cannot comment on the intelligence of the writers, but I will question the cost of getting rid of Oldsmobile. What I have never heard from The Rick and his cohorts is what getting rid of Oldsmobile has saved GM. That figure, almost certainly, has to be at or above $1.5B, and it will only continue to grow. I haven’t heard a member of the press and car fan suggest that getting rid of Oldsmobile was a bad thing other than the few die-hards left. It might have been initially painful, but it was the right decision. Do they not come out with this figure because it would make the decision to get rid of some brands too easy? Have they been unable to quantify it? Why?

    I came with three possible reasons why. One is they really do think getting rid of Oldsmobile was a mistake. And instead of coming back with the brand, they simply won’t make the same mistake again. The second is that no one dares question the bean counters at the top who are only looking at the immediate expense, and not the long term savings, of jetisoning some brands. The third is that they know they simply do not have the money to do it.

  • avatar

    Ms Mehta,

    On June 21 @ 5:19 PM,you mentioned the “Electra 275″badge.

    Wouldn’t that be “225”,the old deuce and and a quarter?


  • avatar

    Sorry,meant Mr. Mehta.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    No worries, dt…that happens a lot when your first name is “Sajeev.” LOL

    Anywho, the “deuce and a quarter” referred to the Electra’s length, which doesn’t sound right with the Lucerne at 203 inches. But the horsepower is a classy sounding 275. That may sound odd, but Buick made the “Electra 380” (i.e. 3.8L V6) back in 1985, complete with the quarter panel badges.

    But let’s keep it real for a sec, the Electra 225’s first (and only?) music video:

  • avatar

    Really enjoyed your article.
    First car I steered (also too short to reach the pedals) was a 77 Buick Park Ave. Man that thing was fun. I still remember the 4 port holes on each side and the (wow) 8-track player. Oh, and of course, the huge crushed velvet seats you (literally) sunk into. We had too many problems, so we had to junk it. But a few years later, my parents found another one-same year, color, everything exact-so we got it for fun. Of course, it ended up with some huge problems so we sold it to a neighbor’s brother who was willing to pay the prices to get it running. (He had the engine in parts in a bunch of crates before he had even towed it out of our driveway!) I still see him drive it around a little.

    I’ve always thought that if I see one for sale, I might buy it just for fun.

    But about this car-
    I like most of it.
    Front end is a little odd.
    This car really should have RWD if Buick is trying to remind people of how it was.
    The first thing I thought when I heard about the Lucerne was, “When did Buick start making generic dairy products?”.

    Does it come in non-fat or 2%?

  • avatar
    Bob Elton

    I thought Electra was a Greek Goddess.

    Otherwise a good story.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Sure was. Forget a road test, we need 800 words on Buick’s rich heritage of names!

  • avatar

    Mr. Mehta,

    Thanks for your response, and for your evident enthusiasm for the Buick brand.

    I agree that large front-wheel-drive cars – whether tuned predominantly for ride quality (e.g: Buick Lucerne and Lexus ES350) or for performance (e.g: Acura TL; Nissan Maxima, and Volkswagen Passat) – can prove to be suspect.

    After the second gas crisis, automakers looking to either expand their horizons or to make their near-luxury vehicles relevant simply drew from the hardware that had helped them survive turbulent times. Today, a slew of safety regulations have propelled forward the weight of these vehicles while customer power demands have increased. At the same time, the nature of the industry has meant that the platforms of the ’80s have steadily evolved, rather than begun entirely anew.

    They have remained front-wheel-drive, in other words.

    The combination of the above has made it easier to find the limitations of today’s 3,000lb+, front-wheel-drive layouts.

    As noted, the near-luxury front-wheel-drive class is now sizeable, and growing. Buick is thus simply playing in a segment that has (rightly or wrongly) spoken its preference.

    Front-wheel-drive is generally fine at 3,000lbs and under (as a – I freely admit – rough guide). Above this point, the pendulum-like weight difference between loads riding on front and rear tires can become difficult to manage.

    I would argue that the “diving” and “wallowing” of which you speak is less a front-wheel-drive characteristic than that of weight and weight distribution (admittedly a potential corollary of FWD).

    The sheer impact of static weight distribution upon a vehicle’s dynamics also makes it difficult to compare BMW’s use of front struts and erstwhile use of recirculating-ball steering with Toyota/ Lexus’ persistent (and unique) use of expedient rear MacPherson struts.

    BMW’s hallmark 50/50 weight distribution is an expensive way to start building a car, because a goal is defined from the outset and must be upheld throughout the product development process. However, it has paid for itself several times over, not only in its marketing potential but also because it enabled BMW to retain older hardware for a surprisingly long period.

    Toyota/ Lexus’ use of rear MacPherson struts is at odds with refinement in a front-heavy vehicle, and is noticeable in its expedience (albeit that it is no doubt a profitable decision). Consider the tire slap upon rebound over bumps in a base Camry, which is without the benefit of some additional noise insulation. Adding insulation to control for expedient engineering is not why the original Lexus LS became so famous. The LS’ Chief Engineer, Ichiro Suzuki, was fanatical about controlling noise at the source (a basic part of Buick’s QuietTuning process). Mr. Suzuki was a true enthusiast; unfortunately, those who came up with the expedient Lexus LX450 a decade ago hardly followed his edict, and I’d argue that rear MacPhersons on today’s Lexus – entry-level or not – are not indicative of luxury either.

    Also note that the throttle-steerability of ES350; Avalon, and Camry is rather behind Lucerne’s. The difference in weight between the front and rear wheels of all four vehicles makes it even more important (and difficult) to control geometry across their range of travel. I admire Buick for lending the Lucerne’s rear wheels more links and more flexibility – and a touch of passive rear steer – than Toyota/ Lexus provide. Why not offer the driver the ability to fine-tune the cornering line on the throttle? If the chassis is rigid enough (I’d disagree with the use of “loosy-goosy” to describe a chassis which in previous incarnations managed a natural frequency rating of 25Hz), and the suspension sufficiently sophisticated, this flexibility certainly becomes an inherent virtue – a quality for which you asked when voicing a potential comparison between Lucerne and Camry.

    Moreover, why not go the extra mile to offer better ride quality? Why not add a link or two to control geometry, rather than stiffening the struts up and calling it a day?

    Incidentally, the comparison to the Grand Marquis and inference that Lucerne’s chassis is unreasonably mature should be matched with an understanding of the industry’s general practice of continuous improvement. Most enthusiasts know that Lucerne rides on an evolved G-Body chassis; but the only reason this information is interesting is that no similar catch-all label for the Camry/ Avalon (extended-wheelbase Camry)/ ES350 chassis exists.

    Truth be told, the 2007 Camry is in no way an all-new car, compared with the 2006 model; indeed, even the wheelbases are identical and, certainly, those rear MacPhersons have not changed.

    Thus I disagree with comparing the Lucerne to the Camry, “on paper” or on the road. If solely horsepower output and the number of gears are a basis for comparison, then one could equally compare vehicles that drove fairly differently and, indeed, that played in vastly different price classes and were of rather dissimilar sizes; character, and intent.

    Four speeds the Lucerne’s automatic may have, but (as the USAToday has noted) it is a smoother unit than Avalon’s 5-speed, and I’d gladly stack it up against Camry’s 6-speed ‘box for silkiness in shifting.

    Regarding your comments on the Lucerne’s ride quality, I continue to suspect tire pressures on your vehicle. Your comments about the Lucerne’s inability to absorb road surface irregularities are exceedingly at odds with those of virtually all press drives of this vehicle, not to mention those of myself and of colleagues who have tested (and, in some cases, own) Lucerne.

    I should clarify that I’m not advocating the Lucerne as a “corner-carver” – but then, nor could one suggest this of Nissan’s Maxima, among the stiffest and (theoretically) most performance-oriented vehicles in this front-wheel-drive segment. Injudicious application of the Maxima’s throttle results in violent torque steer; chassis grip over poor surfaces can be tricky, and ride quality is well behind Lucerne’s. Nissan does many things well, but suspension travel and – in some cases – traction are not among them (as not only Maxima, but even Quest will confirm). While I disagree that the Lucerne wallows excessively (certainly, Lucerne’s ride-biased damping does not impact its directional stability), your comments about the Maxima’s relative lack of wallow should take into consideration the level of vibration that bumps send through Maxima’s steering rack, and the sizeable difference in ride quality between Maxima and Lucerne.

    Every vehicle – be it front-wheel-drive or not – is a compromise in product development budget (among other things). More money spent in one area means less in another. I’d submit that the Lucerne’s throttle-adjustability lends it a little poise to go with its ride quality. In this vein of ride/ handling compromise, I’d argue that Lucerne is best-in-class.

    On the Lucerne’s interior: my point was that the “forgiveness of polymers,” a metric you used as a litmus test, can well have little to do with the quality of the plastic used. I’d cite texture and sheen as more indicative of polymer quality, as would many a German manufacturer. Audi’s polymers, for instance, are quite stiff to the touch; yet the quality of Audi’s materials has been highly praised.

    The Mitsubishi Endeavor’s dashboard plastics, as noted earlier, are certainly soft to the touch; perhaps the softest in the segment. Perception of the car’s interior quality, however, does not correlate with this aspect of its plastics.

    I respectfully disagree that the Lexus ES’ leather is softer or more aromatic, and I hope you’ll find that Lucerne’s interior fit and finish holds its own against that vehicle. That Buick chooses ergonomic clarity over a more complex design may prove a strike in the perception of its interior execution, but Lucerne’s quality of material and quality of construction are, I’d submit, par with the best in this segment.

    I’m not sure that Camry’s “blend of vanilla (is) more appealing than Buick’s current offerings;” rather, I’d argue that Camry’s reputation for reliability makes it a default choice for many.

    While I would not begrudge Camry that reputation, it bears noting that perception has not always mirrored reality. Buick powertrains have had a better reputation for durability, per several surveys, than has Camry (and Avalon has had some rather un-Toyota-like issues). Perhaps this says more about Buick’s difficulties in equating its reliability with sales, than it says about the appeal of the Camry.

    In general, I’d question whether Camry’s sales figures automatically imply excellence, as an automobile. Recall that the Ford Cortina was Great Britain’s all-time best-selling car for years, despite being a thoroughly mundane vehicle that largely advanced the art of nothing.

    I look forward to your review of the LaCrosse 3.8-liter. The Series III implementation of the 3800, together with Buick’s QuietTuning process, made this (until the Lucerne) the most refined vehicle ever equipped with this engine. With respect to its contemporaries, consider that no less than Ward’s Auto World has found that “Buick’s vault-like interior sound management is absolutely stunning” – Ward’s Auto World, April 1st, 2005.

    That’s no surprise, really. QuietTuning is a process that has no equal in its depth of execution at LaCrosse’s $22.5k starting MSRP. Consider (for instance) that every LaCrosse features standard acoustic laminate within its windshield; Camry does not provide this unless one opts for the niche, $26k hybrid model.

    If a proven overhead-valve engine can be hushed, and if a car equipped with it can hit an EPA-rated 30 mpg on the highway, then does this not make the idea of strong pull at low revs (which befits a driving style that, if not your own, is certainly legitimate) more enjoyable?

    Moreover, just as with Lucerne, the LaCrosse offers an excellent overhead-cam alternative for those who regularly hit high rpms.

    I’ll happily vouch for LaCrosse’s ride quality and poise against Camry’s own (though this, again, is not to imply that either are sports cars). These qualities are more important to me, as a driver, than electroluminescent gauges or other such periphery – yes, including heated windshield washer fluid!

    Thank you again for a stimulating discussion.

  • avatar

    Heterogeneity is back in vogue. With 540 cable channels, 10,000 Internet radio stations, and over 100,000 active blogs, people are engaging in social reinforcement of their differences. If a silent majority every really existed, they’re certainly finding their voice and singing different songs.

    So what does all this mean for a company that throws everything they have at the center of a bell curve that has flattened? SURPLUS!

    It’s time for GM to get radical. Give each brand a clear differentiator and coordinate the marketing so everyone is on the same page. My suggestions:

    Make Buick the female brand
    Make Pontiac the male brand
    Make Cadillac the aspirational brand
    Make Chevrolet the entry-level brand
    Make Saturn the environmental brand

    A couple of things would get GM to the point where they could adopt this branding in their marketing:

    1) Offer a hybrid version of every Saturn model
    2) Make Corvette available through Pontiac dealerships

    Then going forward:
    1) Get the minivans rebranded as Buicks
    2) Get a car that can blow away the new Charger launched as a Pontiac
    3) Find a Chinese partner that can build a car to compete with the Yaris and launch it as a Chevy with a below $10K price point.
    4) Change the 4/4 planning structure (400,000 units of each model for 4 years between revision) to a .5/2 structure (50,000 units of each model for 2 years between revisions). This means retooling factories to build many different models. The assumption has been that product diversity necessarily leads to lower quality, but manufacturers around the world are demonstrating that this is not always the case.

  • avatar

    re SatMan’s point 3)

    The Chevy Epica, Optra, Aveo, and Pontiac Wave are rebadged Daewoo’s

    Also, the Buick LaCrosse is named the Allure in Canada because apparently LaCrosse is Quebecois slang for eh… self-excitement.

  • avatar

    Saturn the environmental brand? Are you also suggesting that GM scuttle its only gay brand?

  • avatar

    Something that was missed in this article was Robert Lutz’ involvement in the shaping of the Lucerne. IIRC, this is not what GM had originally intended to build. In fact, the car was significantly along in development but when Lutz saw what the Buick designers/engineers had in mind, he scrapped the entire idea and had them go back to the drawing board and redo the vehicle in its entirety.

    One would think that the ‘great’ former Chrysler guru Bob Lutz would be able to come with something a bit more inspiring than the Lucerne (or Pontiac Solstice, for that matter).

  • avatar


    I really appreciate your thorough, thoughtful and elegant rebuffs to the highly opinionated pundits who post on this blog.

    While it’s incredibly ‘square’ to like domestic cars right now, particularly GM models, I still do. I read some of the reviews lambasting GM products and then drive foreign models and realize that they share many traits, including the ones that irritate some of the writers. I guess people will see what they want to see.

    However, I will say this: the LaCrosse they sell in China looks like a real winner. If the domestic LaCrosse looked like the Chinese one, people would inundate Buick dealerships to get their hands on one.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Hello again, lucky for us Toyota’s press car arrived just in time.

    I disagree with the use of loosy-goosy? to describe a chassis which in previous incarnations managed a natural frequency rating of 25Hz

    Compared to the Chrysler 300/Grand Marquis/Toyota Camry, the Lucerne is loosy-goosy. All went on the same lousy Houston street, and the Lucerne was the worst in my far-from-scientific test: its chassis simply absorbed more than its fair share of the bumps.

    Side note: the new Camry’s tight chassis (with practical 16″ hoops) rides disturbingly well for a smaller and lighter car.

    I’m subjective: I’m human. So let’s put it this way, the new Camry has standard 2-pt front strut tower braces (strut to firewall) and a rear brace on the Sport model. This is the same old-school wisdom of adding Monte Carlo bars to a 60s Mustang…and it still works.

    The Buick is missing these braces. Its needs them.

    Moreover, why not go the extra mile to offer better ride quality? Why not add a link or two to control geometry, rather than stiffening the struts up and calling it a day?

    The 2007 Camry has a redesigned suspension, longer control arms all around for more suspension travel and a smoother ride. Yeah, its less complicated, but it works.

    I cite texture and sheen as more indicative of polymer quality, as would many a German manufacturer. Audi’s polymers, for instance, are quite stiff to the touch; yet the quality of Audi’s materials has been highly praised.

    True. But that’s because Audi’s never used the thin, hard and unforgiving rubbish on the center of the Lucerne’s dash.

    Here’s the deal: roll the Lucerne’s windows down on a sunny afternoon and the hard plastic dash changes color in the sun…while the very high quality door panels remain the same. The tight panel gaps ensure both panels get plenty of direct light, but one material absorbs and the other reflects. Mix and match plastics in high traffic areas on a $38,000 car?

    We both admire this brand, even if I see the glass half empty. You give valid praise, with quite a lot of press material to boot. The Buick fansite given has more of the same. But when YOU sit in the Lucerne, don’t you see areas for improvement? The floor-shifter seemingly attached with Velcro, hard plastics in a high traffic locations, etc and say to yourself: why are they destroying the brand I love?

    This Lucerne review resonates deeper within my soul as I log more and more miles in this new, $24,000 Toyota Camry. Folks, Detroit is in trouble. They need better Product.

    I look forward to your review of the LaCrosse 3.8-liter.

    As do I await your reply. TTAC’s new format is simply wonderful.

  • avatar
    rick la komy

    Forget all about the plastic interior, and what was left off the suspension for a better ride and better handling around corners, and portholes with real metal screens, and leather that smells like leather (just wear your favorite leather vest) and customer loyalty and what a Lexus, Toyota, BMW has or does’nt have. Why would GM re-introduce that Northstar engine and not address the problem with oil leaks?
    Our new CXS just turned 3000, miles that is. Upon getting ready to change the oil for the first time I found motor oil saturating the oil pan and the adjacent frame. The Dealer where we purchased our CXS said the upper and lower crankcase gaskets were leaking and need to be replaced.
    This car has drawn alot of attention, alot more than my new C-5 ever did. I have a tendancy to think that alot of people wont think it’s such a cool car now.
    Maybe we will see the Buick drift off into oblivian just like the Oldsmobile afterall.

  • avatar

    Very well written article. Chalk me up as another Buick fan that grew up in the era of the Grand National. I need to drive one of these cars to assess Buicks implementation of Magnetic Ride Control, since my own experience with the “Magnetic Select Ride” in my F55 equipped C5 Corvette has been overwhelmingly positive.

    FriendsofBuick, you state that “The LS??? Chief Engineer, Ichiro Suzuki, was fanatical about controlling noise at the source (a basic part of Buick???s QuietTuning process). ”

    Can you imagine the size of Suzuki’s ulcer when he was assigned to “control noise at the source” and then handed an inherently unbalanced 90 degree 3.8L V6 to start with?

    I realize that balance shafts have been utilized since the late 80s on this motor, but that seems like a bandaid solution to me, and certainly not “controlling noise at the source.”

  • avatar
    rick la komy

    I made the mistake of going to the Dealership to check the progress on our CXS today after the Service Manager called me for an update on their progress.
    Our brand new CXS with only 3000 miles on it was seven feet in the air, the front tires off, the transmission out and up against the wall, the oil pan was off, both inside wheel well panels on the floor, the entire bolt on frame that holds the motor in place was on the floor, both the front and back of the engine (or is it left and right on a FWD?) chains,gears,seals all exposed with both axles hanging down like they just had the life yanked out of them. Quite a dis-heartening sight. Something I thought I would never see happen to our new car.
    The mechanic said that it was recomended that he not use the original gasket material, but to use a silicone type of sealer. I can hardly wait to see how well thats going to work.
    I think that GM could have tried these remedies out long before now.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Neither the 3.8 or the Northstar were known for massive oil leaks–Northstars fare well in fleet/livery use, almost as well as Lincoln Town Cars–but looks like something changed for 2006.

    Hopefully it all works out for you. If its any consolation, the current Toyota Avalon’s growing pains seem worse.

  • avatar

    With Ford deep-sixing the Town Car after 2007, and the Lucerne apparently a FWD unibody POS, what can a square dude like me who loves old school American iron buy in the low $30k range OTD? (Not talking about list price when my Lincoln dealer will sell me a new Town Car for $30,000)

    Alas, may have to upgrade my 2002 Grand Marquis to a 2008 Grand Marquis, or go used Town Car after 2007. What a sad state for the American car.

  • avatar
    rick la komy

    Well here we are again, now with 3379 miles on our new Lucerne CXS. And why am I not surprised, our Northstar engine is still leaking oil at even more spots than before the first repair. So I guess it’s back to the dealership we go. I certainly hope they give us something more than a KIA as a loaner car this time.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Thanks for the update. See if you can get a Grand Marquis for a loaner car. :)

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Actually you didn’t mention that OHV motors came out in the late 1940s (1949 Kettering V8) so technically the OHV motor is more modern than a OHC design.


    I want smooth power delivery.

    As doctorv8 pointed out, what Buick has in an inherently unbalanced 90 degree design. Even with balance shafts, the 3.8L rumbles and buzzes.I like OHV rumble in a V8 muscle car, but in a new Buick sedan with two less cylinders?

    No thanks. Give me OHC or a 60-degree OHV motor like the Ford Vulcan 3.0L.

  • avatar
    rick la komy

    AN UPDATE ON OUR NEW CXS……………..Well, it was back to the dealership today with another 1000 plus miles. I met with the Service manager and the local area factory rep. That all so great Northstar engine is still weeping oil but according the rep, thats not a problem as it does not pose a threat to anyones life, so we’ll just let it go for now. OH, I get it now. It’s OK for the Dealership to jerry-rig the engine in our new CXS as long as nobody gets hurt, and as long as we paid cash for the car and the Dealership has our money whats the difference. This is so typical of GM, as this is not the first time we have been dooped by buying an American car. This car has drawn alot of attention and it appears that everyone I tell, yea it’s cool looking alright but it sure leaks alot of oil and I have some real good digital pictures of it and service records they can look at.

  • avatar

    So the 6 speed transmission in in my Z06 is only there to compensate for the 7 liter V8s lackluster 475 ft lbs of torque?

    Ever heard of “performance” and “fuel economy”? You may wanna rethink your last post, Jakkk.

  • avatar

    Where else? How about every Mercedes V6 (268 HP) and V8 (302-380 HP) having a 7 speed auto? Every 400/ 400 ft lb HP GTO, Cadillac CTS-V, Corvette, SSR has 6 speeds. Every 500 HPViper, 390 HP Supercharged 2003-04 Cobra Mustang, V8 Lexus, V8 BMW has 6 speeds…the list is endless. The New Lexus LS460 has a powerful 380 HP V8 and an EIGHT SPEED auto.

    None of these cars are underpowered….in fact, they will all leave the Buick V6 and even V8 sucking wind. Could they get by with less gears? Yes….but performance and economy would suffer.

    True, the rice burners can compensate for narrow powerbands with more gears, but my point is that even powerful cars need more gears to stay competitive with today’s market….if Buick engineers had the luxury of adding a 6 spd auto to their adequate motors, don’t you think they’d be salivating at the opportunity to do so?

    And that’s DocV8 to you. ;-)

  • avatar

    Why don’t you just actually hit the road, jakk, in one of these modern multi speed cars? They don’t go through all the gears unless you’re at WOT. I shift my 6 speed Corvette 1-3-5 in traffic, and that works perfectly until I need max acceleration.

    People like you complained in the 1970s that we were just fine with 2 spd Powerglides and 3 spd Turbo Hydramatics….if you wanted good mileage, you ordered the freeway flyer 3.00 rear end, and if you were a drag racer, you got the 4.30 gears. Why do you need 4 gears in your new Buick when Grandpa’s 1968 Electra did just fine with less?

    I’m not gonna start explaining to you about expoiting torque curves and why more gear ratios give you more flexibility. Just do what I mentioned at the top…go drive a new 6 or 7 speed Lexus, Benz or BMW, put your prejudices aside, look at the acceleration and fuel economy (both of which will exceed any current Buick in a comparably sized car) and get back to us.

  • avatar
    rick la komy

    Well with our V/8 engine the RPM’s go up when you step on the gas pedal then all of a sudden the transmission will shift automatically and then the speed increases from 0 to 10 and 20 and 30 MPH and even more. I dont know about torque but my fuel economy changes all the time. I probably have a multi-speed transmission that really affects how fast I’m going. All this shifting and reving and torque is too modern for me. One good thing though, we can balance 2 nickels, six dimes and seventeen quarters on the tailpipes while at a stop light. Then when the light changes I’ll tell you it sounds like we hit the jackpot with all that change flying around.

  • avatar

    I’m glad you like your 200 HP Buick, Jakk. It was built for exactly your demographic.

    Leave the cars with power to those of us that have anti-social needs to hit 100 mph in 8 seconds, and have the option to shift into 6th and cruise at 1700 rpm at 80 mph, getting 30 mpg on 93 octane….with pushrods too. ;-)

  • avatar
    rick la komy

    UPDATE ON OUR CXS………….WE brought our CXS back to the Dealership, as they agreed to clean up any left over oil residue on and around the upper and lower crankcase gaskets so we can tell where and how much more it may or may not leak. Also the Factory Rep agreed to give us an extended warranty up to 75,000 miles or 5 years which ever occurs first on the entire drive train. They also assured me that the problem has been resolved and hope We will be back to purchase another Buick. Well we’ll see. I’m still getting lots of positive comments on this cars everywhere we go, I guess I’ll try to not be too harsh when mentioning those oil leaks, as it appears that the dealership is actually putting forth an honest effort on resolving this issue.

    One thing that both my wife and I miss is the ability to make tight U-turns. I dont know if this CXS has a longer wheel base than previous car ( Volvo 740 GL with 240,000 miles) or what’s going on. We now drive out of our way occasionally just to get where we are going, as to back up and manuever around in this busy place is out of the question. And with the much less visibility from inside the car that we were used to, our driving and mirror adjustments to compensate for this have really changed.

  • avatar

    The turning radius is largely a function of the fact that the Buick is front wheel drive with a transverse engine layout. Often this results in the front wheels not having the same range of rotation compared to your rear wheel drive Volvo. Also, the Buick’s track is wider than the Volvo. These factors have more effect on turning radius than the wheelbase.

    As for visibility….it may be worse than your Volvo…but it could have been worse…at least you didn’t buy a new Lexus ES350 or Chrysler 300! No one can see out of those things.

  • avatar
    rick la komy

    Yes, your right about the Chrysler and Lexus, as we drove both of them along with the Cadillac DTS which in my opinion did not have as comfortable seats or ride as the CXS plus we had to consider the length of it, the Lincoln Towncar which would have been our second choice if it would’nt have been so long that it would’nt even fit in our garage, the Toyota Avalon which was attractive and comfortable but seemed a bit lacking as far as feeling like, well should I say cheap or less expensive. The Chrysler 300C had plenty of power but I really felt cramped sitting in the drivers seat not something I would want to be in for any length of time. The Lexus was just too pretty inside, to point of almost being a large piece of jewelry and you were afraid of getting it dirty. This actually was our first choice if it wouldn’t have been for that. As I can get pretty picky when it comes to taking care of a car. The CXS was the last car we test drove. From then on, all we had to do was decide on what colors and options to get. We ended up with Black on Black, no sun roof or refrigerated seats. I never realised how much work it is to keep this car looking it’s best all the time. My wife wanted Black, so what are you going to do?

  • avatar

    I rented one. Adequate power. I think it had a V8? Handling so so. Cheap interior. GM is almost there… I am Buick’s target age group, but didn’t hasn’t hit me yet.

  • avatar

    i would do what gm should do… split it up and double hit.

  • avatar
    rick la komy

    We’re still enjoying our CXS and now have 6,316 miles also a Northstar engine that still leaks oil. It’s back to the Dealership again and according to them, this time they are going to replace the engine. Oh boy! As if we did’nt have enough with the oil leak , now they are going to dismantle the cooling circuit, the a/c circuit, all the electrical components for the drive train, pull the entire engine and transmission out along with removing the hood and all the front facia pieces, dismantle the transaxle again. And for our trouble what do we get?
    Guess we should have bought a car with a 3800 v/6 and get 35 mpg so we could balance pennies and nickles and quarters on it and have so much torque that we have to put extra heavy duty engine mounts on it that will last for at least 350,000 miles. And if we go on vacation we can load up as much junk as we can and still have power enough to pull a trailer full of pigs, chickens, goats and enough corn to feed us and Gran Pa.

  • avatar
    rick la komy

    it’s about time to put a drip pan under our new cxs not only is the engine still leaking oil now the power steering components are leaking

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Looks like the dealer messed something up…almost inevitable when they remove so much stuff to get to the engine in a FWD car. Bummer.

  • avatar
    rick la komy

    Well lets see……….after, I forget how many attempts at three different Dealerships they still had trouble fixing that leaking northstar engine. So all my service records went to a Lemon Law Attorney, and in just a few short weeks we received all of our money back from GM.
    So after all the GM Dealerships attempts to aggrivate us and try to make us to stay away, they have finally succeeded.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    What a shame…

  • avatar

    Hello all

    Just bought a new 2006 Cx Lucerne, the dealer had some extra inventory, GM rebates went up for a couple of days, and the price was right, especially compared to other sedans that “might” hold three car seats in the back.

    You all know so much more about cars (especially Buicks) than I do so I hope you don’t mind me asking for some advice.

    Do you think I need the extended warranty? I can get a pretty good price from the web but unless this car has unusual problems, I would rather not spend the money.

    By way of reference, I kept my 1978 Century about 16 years, kept my 1986 Skyhawk for 18 years and will now need to sell my 1992 Century. Never had enough problems with any of those to require the warranty.

    I did get the extended warranty for my Aztek 3 years ago after several folks on the Aztek Fanclub site talked about A/C problems that hit after 3 years. Love the Aztek for what it does, took it to the beach today and filled it full of stuff.

    The Aztek will be my play car and the Buick my “adult” car.

    Any insight on the extended warranty will be appreciated.


  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Stay as far away from the extended warranty as possible. GM currently offers a 5 year / 100,000 mile warranty on their vehicles and besides that, the overall quality of your Buick should be exceptional.

    On a more personal note I do have to congratulate you on keeping your vehicles for a long time. There is a constant desire in this industry to make consumers trade their late model vehicles for the newest piece of metal. The drive to make the new things seem old in a matter of a few years used to be called planned obsolesence. Now it’s just a healthy combination of spin and lies.

    Fact is, most folks should be more concerned about their footware and their mattress than the type of car they drive.

    One other thing… my in-law’s bought a 1996 Century with 29,000 miles on it for $3,000 a few months back. It’s the perfect vehicle for them because they simply do not care about cars. So long as it has good safety, the seats comfortable, and it’ll get from point A to point B in a relatively efficient manner. there’s really little else that matters.

    Enjoy the Lucerne. Hopefully you’ll sell the Buick to someone who will take good care of it.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Personally, I would skip the warranty too…but I paused for moment because of the expense and complexity of all Northstar-powered vehicles.

    Just don’t expect the Lucerne to be as bullet proof as your ’92 Century and you’ll do fine.

  • avatar

    I know I am a day late and a dollar short, but great writeup! I love how you nailed what I call the “GM name game” in the opening paragraph. The post 2005 Buick lineup is more proof of Buick becoming the new Olds, and we know where that finished out at. GM needs to pass the crackpipe around for peddling yet another 30K+ FWD econoturd.

    I’ll keep enjoying my 1994 Roadmaster whilest GM continues to try and make my next purchase a Panther assuming Ford hasn’t deepsixed those at that time.

  • avatar
    Jose from Miami

    The Buick is WRONG WHEEL DRIVE.The bulk of you here don’t get it and never will in a million years!

    I have a large family and we own Grand Marquis,Town Cars and Crown Victorias.We get over 300k miles on them and even after 300k miles they still ride good and everything still works fine.

    Drove a Buick Lucerne the other day a neighbor bought and it did not handle as well as the Panther Cars.

    LONG LIVE THE CROWN VICTORIA,GRAND MARQUIS AND TOWN CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • avatar

    Interesting write up but I have to take exception to the following:

    Quote:The Lucerne certainly outclasses its clueless Park Avenue predecessor, but what does this sub-$40k whip do that a fresher-looking Camry can’t?

    Well I can come up with 10 things actually
    1)Considerably better exterior styling
    3)4 link rear suspension vs Camry/Avalon 2 link
    4)Available V8 engine that actually sounds great and has some soul vs Toyotas put you to sleep boring sounding V6 only Avalon
    5)Far more reliable and smoother shifting 4 speed automatic vs Toyotas unreliable indecisive 6 speed.
    6)Bodyside moldings with chrome inserts, port holes and some actual exterior trim vs Toyotas….
    well they do put pig like grilles on there cars these days so that says something
    7)A 100% better optional sound system in the Harmon Kardon
    8)Better customer satisfaction according to JD Power
    9)A 17.0 cu. ft. trunk vs Avalons stunningly huge 14.4
    10)A dual personality. V6 and softer suspension for the conservative folks and heartier V8 and firmer suspension for the grand tourer vs Toyota Avalon one suspension for all.

  • avatar

    ponchoman49 : I applaud your comments, but some of them are actually detrimental to GM and Buick in particular.

    1. That’s your opinion, and people actually seem to like the new Camry. (for some reason)

    2. I have yet to see anyone outside of GM PR events get excited about OnStar.

    3. Tough sell when you consider this market’s driving habits and the Toyota’s super plush ride.

    4. Tough sell to most folks these days. And the Northstar isn’t exactly the pillar of long term durability.

    5. Agreed, but I still like the 6-speed better when you mash the gas.

    6. That’s not gonna swipe any market share from the imports, sorry.

    7. The Camry’s JBL system isn’t much far behind, seriously.

    8. If you believe in JD Power’s short term results, I think you should buy some GM stock juding by their Q3 report in 2005. It’s a GREAT buy!!!

    9. And it has longer overhangs that are (tragically) out of fashion these days. Just ask people with Panther Chassis cars.

    10. The base line Lucerne is an abomination. It never did and never will appeal to Toyota buyers and spits in the face of the V8 CXS. Pure rental car.

  • avatar
    rick la komy

    Well I guess it’s been a couple of years now since GM had to buy back our Lucerne CXS and I have to say I don’t miss it and all of it’s problems one bit. We ended up buying a Lincoln Towncar Signiture L series. I’ll tell you, we both really like it. And it’s bullet proof. Just get in and drive.

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  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber