By on February 27, 2018

Public domain

About 20 years ago, I was working on the technical staff of a small hospital under the theoretical supervision of a nice old woman whose name escapes me. When I say “old” I mean about the same age I am now, by the way. She had a 1991 Buick LeSabre and she was having some sort of problem with it that required a long stay in the indifferent care of our local Buick dealership. Around day eight she lost her patience and called the dealership for a good old-fashioned screaming fit.

At some point in said fit, she yelled, “I EXPECT MORE FROM A BUICK THAN THIS!” Then she turned around and froze me with a furious glare, because I was laughing my proverbial ass off. What kind of idiot expected anything special from a Buick in 1999?

Yet there was a time when the tri-shield badge conveyed some real prestige and excellence. My friend Thomas Klockau just wrote something neat about the Electra 225 that has me itching to buy one of those old boats. And while Buick’s current lineup is a mish-mash of Asian hatchbacks and anonymous sedans, there have been a few decent cars in the lineup from time to time. Which happens to be topic of today’s “Ask Jack.”


Michael writes,

Jack, I’m in my thirties, no kids or wife, with an office job and a half-hour commute that makes me really crazy. I want to get something that is cheapish to drive and I don’t have to worry about it. My budget is $10,000 or less. I was thinking about a comfortable Buick sedan. What’s the difference between a Lucerne and a LaCrosse of the same years and should I look at the Super versions? They’re more expensive. Thanks.

Alright, let’s get into the meat of these undistinguished but surprisingly competent Buicks. For now, let’s confine the discussion to the first-generation LaCrosse, sold for model years 2005 through 2009, and the only Lucerne, sold for model years 2006-2011. There was a two-year period where you could buy the second-generation LaCrosse and the Lucerne in showrooms, but even though I have some outrageously fond memories of that second-gen car, I don’t think Michael is really looking at them since he discusses the “Super,” which was limited to the first-gen car.

The LaCrosse is a W-body, kin to the Impala and the Grand Prix. The Lucerne is a G-body, kin to the second-generation Aurora and the Cadillac DTS. About five inches in both wheelbase and overall length separate the cars. Both platforms were basically two decades old by the time they were discontinued. I’m partial to the G over the W because it is extremely stiff and remarkably quiet in most applications. So I’d say the Lucerne is worth the extra money over a LaCrosse — except there isn’t much difference in pricing. CarGurus shows me solid, 60,000-mile Lucernes for well under $10,000 all across the country. You wouldn’t pay much less for a LaCrosse.

In 2009, the Lucerne switched to the so-called “High Value” V6, ditching the almighty 3800. From what I can tell, the reliability of the High Value has been pretty good — but of course the last 3800 variants were pretty much legendary. It’s your choice. I’d feel good about buying a 3.9-liter Lucerne.

The story is a little different when we consider the “Super” variants. The LaCrosse Super was powered by the 5.3-liter LT4 Chevrolet V8, basically the same thing you got in an Impala SS or Grand Prix GTP. It’s a hell of an engine with very few issues and a very low cost of operation. It’s easy to increase the power as well; your primary limitation is the transaxle. I’ve heard of quite a few 12-second LT4-powered cars.

The Lucerne Super, on the other hand, was powered by the 4.6-liter Northstar Cadillac V8. Opinions on the Northstar vary, and there are some aftermarket fixes available now for the engine’s most common issues. Still, I’d be a little wary. My old pal “Sanjeev” Mehta gave it a good review when it was new, however. Just be aware that you’re buying more potential problems that you would be with a V6 Lucerne or a LaCrosse Super.

I think the right move here is to buy the nicest, newest V6 Lucerne you can afford. Get one with 50,000 miles and a little-old-lady ownership history. Then enjoy a decade’s worth of quiet, trouble-free motoring at an extremely low cost. It’s no Electra 225. It’s not even a 1980 Buick Century Sport 5.0 Estate. Compared to the modern Envision, however, it might as well be an S-Class. When all is said and done, I think you’ll be able to expect plenty from your Buick.

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84 Comments on “Ask Jack: Thirty-four With an “L”?...”


  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    The LT4 cars may have a relatively solid engine, but the transaxle could barely handle it. I agree with Jack, find the nicest V-6 Lucurne you can, and enjoy your new pillow on wheels.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Yeah, Lucerne with 3800. I worked in a Buick store and the 3800 is as good as it gets for reliability, mileage, longevity.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m about the asker’s age and in a similar lifestyle situation.

    In addition to a bevy of Pontiacs I’ve owned an ’89 Electra, ’07 Lucerne, ’87 LeSabre, ’96 Century, ’98 Park Avenue, ’93 Regal, and ’94 Roadmaster.

    Anyway, here’s my thoughts:

    0. There is no reason to go for a “Super”. Even if the N* doesn’t blow up on you, it’s a still a diva engine to work with and it isn’t really powerful enough compared to a 300C to justify that. The LT4 engine is stout and reliable once you turn off cylinder deactivation, but it 100% will shred its transmission.

    1. I like the 3900, but if you’re getting a Buick, get one with the 3800 or a pushrod V8.

    2. The Lucerne really doesn’t bring much to the table over the earlier LeSabre and Park Avenue. In fact, my Lucerne was arguably *worse* than my ’89 Electra in a few areas. The biggest improvement over the old cars is likely safety, but you are single and childless, so you’ll have to decide how much that matters to you.

    My suggestion is to test out the most well-kept LeSabre you can find. It should be well under your budget and you won’t really be giving much up versus the Lucerne.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      May the Lord of Eternal Torque bless you forever and ever. Amen.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      In a recent post here about Guilty Pleasures, I mentioned the ’94 LeSabre Mom gave to me in 2008, and that it was a genuine low-mileage grandma car. Torquey, smooth, up to 30 mpg in reasonable interstate driving, terrific GM HVAC, quite decent handling for a big softie, and just about any mechanic could fix it. I finally let it go in 2016 when the transmission died and it would have been more than the car was worth to fix it. In the interim eight years, the only real problems I had were a bad crankcase positioning sensor and a failed engine computer. overall, a pretty great car. 3800s forever.

    • 0 avatar
      The ultimate family-friendly hybrid vehicle is finally here.

      Being single and childless is very conducive to the accumulation of wealth.
      Driving a Buick will actually help to maintain that status.

      My advice to Michael is to buy the Buick that he likes, and with the rest of his budgeted dollars, buy a good manual shift Miata. The Mazda will reinject into his soul the life that a GM automatic transmission sucks out.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    As an owner of a LeSabre, I totally agree with ajla.

    I have a 2003 which I bought used in 2010 with about 70,000 miles. Goes without saying that the previous owner was a duffer.

    It’s pushing 140,000 miles now, and aside from wear related stuff, a wheel bearing, and a couple of broken window regulators, it’s been dead reliable. My oldest daughter drives it now. It may well be the best car I’ve ever owned.

    Creampuffs are out there for VERY reasonable money. Here’s a couple:

    https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/726703634/overview/
    https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/725830537/overview/

    Get your heiny to the Church of 3800, and worship the Lord of Eternal Torque. Amen.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The torque converter used to blow on the 4T65-Es of the LT4 W-body, not sure which transaxle is used on the V6 G-body (my guess is the same, I can confirm W-body used 4T65-E in 3800 applications). The Northstar *did not* use the 4T65-E, but instead the 4T80-E throughout it’s life, which could handle its torque rating. Tranny shops who did custom work used to mount low mileage junkyard 4T80-Es somehow to souped up 3800s, use a search engine to learn more. In Series I, the L67 equivalent which I cannot recall was mounted to the same transaxle as the N/A. MY95 S/C Rivs used to be a steal to rebuild the 4t60. I will also add in police use, the 3900 chewed through transmissions in general on the W-bopy Impy (I believe again, 4T65-E).

    I recommend confirming the transaxles on the 3.9 G-body and 5.3 W-body, then do research on normal civilian use of those models. I think in the end you will only find one choice, and He grants believers Eternal Torque.

  • avatar
    Featherston

    A good friend travels a lot for work, and the Lucerne was by far his favorite rental of its era. His family’s fleet is one German and one Japanese vehicle, so his love of the Lucerne is pretty objective. Also, he’s about 6’5″ or 6’6″ – worth noting if the OP is tall.

    I also know a dentist who used to have one. He’s a very successful guy and could afford any sedan up to and including an S-Class. He lives in a medium-sized college town, however, and is old-school enough to subscribe to the traditional “doctor’s car” philosophy. His patients are his neighbors, and he doesn’t want them to infer that he overcharges them. Irrespective of image, he also plain liked the Lucerne for what it was: comfortable, quiet, and reliable. He replaced it with a ’15 or ’16 LaCrosse. The LaCrosse is fine but doesn’t hold as many golf bags.

    I’d lean towards an ’08, last of the 3800-powered ones. Jack’s right, though: there doesn’t seem to be much negative internet chatter on the less famous 3.9. Properly serviced, either probably is a solid choice. (I’m also intrigued that the 3.9 had VVT, a la some later LS V8s. Pretty interesting for OHV engines, especially since it apparently is reliable.)

  • avatar
    dal20402

    If what you want is trouble-free motoring, neither Super is a good choice. The LaCrosse Super’s transaxle will fail no matter how religiously you change the fluid. The Lucerne Super will have Northstar maintenance expenses even if you replace the head bolts.

    I drove both of these cars as rental cars a lot when they were in their prime. I preferred the LaCrosse, because it felt more agile and less ponderous without much if any tradeoff in comfort. Just avoid CXS versions with the first-generation 3.6.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    My grandmother (who was born in 1921) always associated Buick with Mercedes and BMW and I had the same reaction. Just goes to show how poorly managed that brand was to lose such rich history it had.

  • avatar
    ixim

    Any Regal from 1999 on. 3800 [stay away from the premium-fuel supercharged version], lotsa goodies [Monsoon stereo!], good looking, fast enough and 30+ hwy mpg. Or a similar LeSabre. You’ll get tired of it before it wears out.

  • avatar
    TwoBelugas

    Honestly if I were the guy, I would just get a W body Impala. Any Lucerne or Lacrosse at this age will likely have deferred maintenance and that’s partially why Ethel traded it in for her Chinese made Envision. You might as well get the one that is the cheapest of the W platform and put the savings toward replacing shocks, and maintenance.

    I used to drive Impalas quite a bit on the road and they are pretty comfortable cars.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I think it is more likely that Ethel had deferred maintenance and has gone to a home.

      The Impala is just rental grade nastiness on four wheels. Get the Buick, you can at least kind of pretend it is nice inside.

  • avatar

    For under $10,000 I think I’d rather have a nice used Lexus ES, which is large, comfortable, and better made than these cheap trim Buicks.

    Yes it’ll have higher miles, but it will also not be an embarrassment in build quality. I even wanted to like the DTS – but it was just not made well, and the cheapness is very apparent.

    You may also get into a third generation GS330/350 for this money.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I can’t agree here. My business partner, prior to his BMW 650i and Volt had an ES350. It was awful in all respects. The interior was cheap, it was loud and the seats were outrageously uncomfortable.

      I honestly believe the Buick is a better car, I know I am in the minority and am wrong….but mid 00′ Lexus are not comfortable cars.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        The 2008-2012 ES350s were not impressive cars. The Great Interior Cheapening of Toyota hit hard. The soft-touch materials were subpar, the hard plastics were *very* sub-par and were everywhere, the seat was too high and put your head close to the ceiling, and they couldn’t even scratch together decent interior storage bins out of a fairly large car. Nice powertrain, though, and it drove as expected–soft, numb, isolated, and a size bigger than it was, but that was the target so mission accomplished. We considered a used one last year until we tried it.

        People have long bagged on the ES as being a Camry with leather, and this was the generation where that could truly be considered an insult.

        • 0 avatar

          Fair enough RE: that generation’s interior. I wasn’t considering that fact, and it is a fact.

          My parents’ 11 Highlander has a God awful interior.

          How bout an Avalon?

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Avalon’s nicer inside but that geriatric bathtub exterior…

            In fairness to the ES, it’s cheap inside considering the market position and Lexus badge, but I’m not sure the GM offerings are any better.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            2nd gen Highlander – and what sucks is that hard plastic scratches too easily. I can scratch it with my fingers. At least the god awful Rubber Maid interior of the 2009 Journey that the district once loaned me was impervious to damage.

            Avalon is nicer than it has a right to be – like the “good ol’ days” when you’d sit in a Buick and say: “Cadillac? What Cadillac? This is perfectly fine.”

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Corey hasn’t followed the facts that LaCrosse always wins the comparison tests and was documented here a last fall.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      We will have to agree to disagree…

      ES350 = Camry with nicer interior bits, but still a bit cheap. Not comfortable over the long haul.

      GS330/350 – A real Lexus

  • avatar

    And since it was linked:

    Dear Tom K,

    I encourage that you might work on some self-editing after you’ve written things. Sentences are often short and choppy or overly long, with copious comma contortions to fit everything you want to say in a single sentence. This has been the case for a very long time, and I think some self-reflection might do the trick. You have interesting brougham topics which I refuse to read because of the grammar.

    Regards,

    CL

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I put a lot of trouble free miles on an 08 Lucerne 3800. Extremely low running costs and easy to find with low, well kept miles. The larger size and better ride over a W body was noticeable to me.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Back in the ‘70s and early ‘80s the Electra 225, the “Deuce and a Quarter” was extremely popular with the African American community here. There were hundreds of them on the south side of the city. Waxed and polished, white wall tires, curb feelers, and sometimes even “V” shaped antennas on the trunk lid. That model put up a valiant fight against the Eldorado and Continental for supremacy on the streets.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yep. Back in the ’80s I had a job working for a vocational school with locations all over the north side of St. Louis, which is most definitely the ‘hood. Tons of 225s were trawling the streets up there.

      Curiously enough, the Olds 98 wasn’t “a thing” up there. Could never figure out why.

  • avatar
    Aron9000

    Go for the Lucerne over the LaCrossee, bigger is better on sedans, especially boaty/cushy type ones. And as others have said, avoid the V8’s.

    I’d also recommend you drive some big Toyotas as well. 2002-2006 Lexus ES300/ES330, 2002-2006 Camry(yeah very boring), 2000-2004 Avalon, 2005-2012ish Avalon if you can tolerate the styling, silver plastic crap on the inside, and steeper price.

    But the one you really want is a 2001-2006 Lexus LS430, its on a whole different planet compared to the Buicks or those Camry based cars I mentioned.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    As a Lacrosse owner, for the money (used) they are hard to beat.

    I have a 14′, so it has the newer non 3800 motor. Thus far it has been great. I had a CEL that was for a cam sensor, which was replaced under warranty. 47k miles or so, darn near expiration. According to the service writer it is a $125 repair had I needed to pay for it. I can live with that.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Lucerne 3.9 V6 – hp was within spitting distance of the Northstar without all the Northstar issues.

    The dealer loaned me a Lucerne once. I was instantly a well behaved courteous driver – as if I was taking my test again and the instructor was sitting next to me.

  • avatar
    TW5

    I owned a 2002 Park Avenue for a couple of years. It was bequeathed to me by my grandparents (for reasons unknown since I had two vehicles at the time) so I didn’t have any due diligence to perform on the ownership history. It was a true grandparents car.

    Anyway, the 2002 Park Avenue is a G-body with a Series II, and I vouch for the combination. True, the vehicle wallowed all over the road. Chassis rigidity was non-existent and the suspension didn’t inspire confidence, but the engine was superb. Plus it had a front bench seat so it felt like driving around in your living room. I’m not sure if the W-platform is superior because I’ve never owned one, but I didn’t mind having a vague feeling from the G.

    However, if the budget is $10,000 I’d be looking at a decade old Lexus ES. The ES350’s can be had with about 100K on the clock for under $10,000, plus many are grandparent cars. Some of these sub-$10K cars will have ventilated seats and Mark Levinson sound systems, too. The ride is plush and the 2GR-FE is good for at least 200,000 miles. The major strike against the VX40 ES350’s, though, is that they required premium fuel through 2010.

    There are also still some one-owner VX30 ES330’s floating around, and those are substantially cheaper than the VX40s.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I’ll also fly in the face of most of the B&B and suggest a fullsize ‘yota sedan with a V6. They literally do everything that we associate with rose-tinted-nostalgia about old Buicks…better than modern Buicks.

      W Lacrosses quite frankly aren’t screwed together particularly well. Less familiar with Lucernes but I can’t imagine they’re too different.

      ’05-’12 Avalons don’t have the highest quality interiors (relative to the generation that preceded it), but ride and drive great. 2GR-FE will shame any GM V6 for smoothness, reliability, power, mpg might be close though.

      My vote: creampuff ’99-’03 Avalon with low miles for way under $10k. You lose the excellent 2GR but gain a better interior and a totally creamy smooth driving expereince. Take a fraction of the balance and spend it on a t-belt/waterpump service and a fresh set of Michelins. Enjoy.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        That generation of Avalon is a good pick, but it just reminds me so much of bombing around in high school in my friends Camry’s which used the same engine and same transmission. The Avalon does have the VVTi version, which makes things much smoother, but something about it.

        I’m probably just being a whiner, though.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Isn’t LaCrosse a sport? Buick sold an Allure in Canada.

    Otherwise cannot even nit pick regarding this post and the comments. Seems that even GM bashers can agree that the 3800 is an excellent engine.

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    What the others are saying – look for Lexus ES3x0 instead. There are lots of these that were driven by seniors and never driven hard. The post 2008 model was not as nice COMPARED to the previous model but it is plenty nice and reliable compared to anything GM.

    If you must go GM look at Impalas – there are lots more of these available than Buicks.

    I would take low mileage over a vehicle that is a year or two younger with higher miles. Again for these types of cars there are a lot of senior driver cars that have low miles on the clock.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      Jack, correct me if I’m wrong but the Lexi will not get anywhere near the fuel mileage of a 3800 Buick.

      I recently sold my ’09 DTS which I loved and was trouble free for 70,000 miles and replaced it with a ’15 Lexus RX350……boy was I surprised after our first road trip. The Lexus is great but 21 MPG hwy sucks IMO(note-I did not research it before buying). My bad. The Caddy got 28-30 Mpg hwy depending on how hard I pushed it.

      I would look for a 3800 Buick over a Lexus…..it will be far cheaper to operated over a 5-10 year period. Regular gas and better mileage vs premium fuel and poorer gas mileage.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        As a sedan with the same engine as the RX350, the ES will return better highway fuel economy. 30mpg highway is likely very attainable–Car and Driver returned 25mpg mixed doing whatever they do during their evaluations. I know the 3800 is God around here but the 2GR-FE will blow the socks off a 3800 Buick and require minimal sacrifices for doing so.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I’m with 30 mile. 2GR-FE eats our “lord and savior” alive in just about any imaginable metric except “can roach along in the hood on 20k mile Jiffy lube intervals.”

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I’m glad you enjoy your Lexus. Not for me though. That Buick engine is damn near a family member at this point.

            Forever and ever amen.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            FWIW, comparing the 3800 to the 2GR-FE is kind of like “Joe Louis vs Marciano” anyway.

            When the transverse Toyota 3.5L GR was introduced the “3800” branded V6 had already been in production for 16 years and the transverse bones on the Buick V6 had been in production over 20 years.

            There was some overlap with the start of the GR and the end of the 3.8L but really they are not of the same era.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “When the transverse Toyota 3.5L GR was introduced the “3800” branded V6 had already been in production for 16 years”

            Important point. It’s impressive that the 3800 is as livable as it seems to be, and as efficient as it is given that age. Overlap between the two engines in the used car market isn’t exactly fair either, it looks like you need you’ll need to be OK with a higher odometer to get a Lexus at the same price.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            is kind of like “Joe Louis vs Marciano”

            One of my favorite movie scenes ever:

            youtu.be/0LPddiQXD9c

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        A 3800 vehicle is pure comfort food and I’d go for a 3800 H/G car over a FWD Lexus of the same era.

        But some people want the Relentless Pursuit of Perfection and some people want egg custard pie.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        FWIW My folks get 24-25mpg consistently on highway roadtrips in their ’09 RX350. Premium fuel using cruise control set to 75-ish mpg. I’d imagine an ES350 could crack 30mpg under the same circumstances.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Denver

        There’s no totally free lunch. A 2GR-FE in Lexus tune has 270+HP – you have to pay a small penalty is gas mileage for that. But, to me at least, part of the luxury car experience is getting a car that is well powered. You want good mileage – get a 4 cyl. Camry. Gas is cheap anyway. Losing 5 MPG will cost you what – $5 per week? One less latte at Starbucks.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          @ Jack

          The 2GR penalty is more like $10/week because Lexus required premium fuel in early examples. Still not a big hit to the budget, but if you’re buying a car to lap the miles, it makes a big difference over time, especially if fuel prices start to rise.

          Plus, as good as the 2GR is, it’s still not a 3800. The Toyota engine is vastly superior on paper, but if you drive them back to back, the 3800 mated with a slow-shifting 4T65 American slush box will cement itself as king of the open road. The Lucerne 3800 is the same powertrain as my 2002 Park Avenue, and it really is something great.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “Plus, as good as the 2GR is, it’s still not a 3800. The Toyota engine is vastly superior on paper, but if you drive them back to back, the 3800 mated with a slow-shifting 4T65 American slush box will cement itself as king of the open road. The Lucerne 3800 is the same powertrain as my 2002 Park Avenue, and it really is something great.”

            Aside from nostalgia and ability to withstand abuse, I guess I still haven’t grasped the 3800 thing. Undoubtedly compared to most other domestic powertrain/drivetrain combos from the 90s (and even 2000s) it shines in terms of reliability, and bested most Asian V6s of the 90s for torque/power and real world MPG. But how is it a better highway cruising setup than a 2GR+Aisin 6spd? I’ve taken my folks’ RX350 on some long (9 hour) drives and that engine/trans combo is just about the most relaxing, smooth, and effortless highway cruising experience ever. I’ve had more limited exposure to the 3800 and in higher mileage cars at that, but it’s generally a pretty gravely sounding thing, and the 150k+ mile 4T65Es I’ve driven generally are starting to show signs of poor shifting, beyond just the super sloppy and soft nature of them in general.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            @gtem

            The 3800 Series II and the 4T65 does not make a good all-purpose powertrain. That’s its weakness. If you try to make it hustle or you rush the transmission with a stab of throttle and then lift to induce a shift, it will deliver subpar driving dynamics. Furthermore, GM didn’t do themselves any favors by putting the L36 and 4T65 in “sporty” Pontiacs and Chevrolets were it didn’t belong, imo.

            But, if drive the Series II with 4T65 in a relaxed Buick or Oldsmobile, and you drive like an old person, the powertrain will impress. The Park Avenue is particularly awesome because the engine bay is huge and sound proofing is generally excellent. Therefore, the 3800 makes no noise when you press the throttle pedal, it just sends a very slight V6 thrum through the cabin so you can feel it working. All of the power is down low so you really don’t need to push the engine above 3,000rpm unless it’s life or death.

            Anyway, what you realize is that American manufacturers never stopped making awesome powertrains. People forgot how to drive.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Okay so the caveat to making the 3800 perform acceptably is to only use it in a sedate steady state cruise? The issue with that argument is that the 2GR V6 will beat the 3800 in NVH even under those narrow circumstances, and really wallop it everywhere else. If you just like the “feel” of the old cast iron 3800 and the cheap and available parts, good highway mpg, etc hey good on ya. I just don’t see where it practically outperforms a vastly more modern powerplant from the big “T.” I’m frankly just being pedantic at this point lol

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          You’re not giving up 5mpg in the Lexus or Avalon. You’re gaining 3mpg combined and 2mpg highway compared to a 3.8L Lucerne. You’ll only save fuel costs in a 3.8L LaCrosse due to the fuel grade, but then you’re giving up about 2 generations of advancement, 70hp, 24lb-ft of torque, and 2 transmission ratios.

          To me, the only advantage the Buicks have are the wider availability of low-mileage gently-used examples in his price range. That might result in notably lower running costs over the years.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Denver

            I was too lazy to look up the actual numbers but I believe you – others were saying that the Buick got better MPG but it’s not surprising that the Lexus/Toyota would given that they have a far more advanced powertrain which potentially gives you BOTH more power and better efficiency. It’s almost not a fair fight because the Japanese design is literally decades newer and more sophisticated. I understand the nostalgia that some have for Detroit iron and in particular the 3.8 but fandom will only get you so far. The 3.8 is said to possess magical mystical qualities that can’t be captured on paper – give me a break.

            On further consideration, the main thing would be the age/condition of what $10K would get you in a Lexus vs. a Buick and it’s true I think that you could get a newer/lower mileage example of a Buick but again I’m too lazy to actually look to see what is available in the market or how big the hit would be.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            I can’t deny others their affinity for an old low-tech galoot of an engine. They can be charming when done well. I always loved my 5 cylinder VW despite it being objectively inferior to something newer like the Honda K24W of the same displacement. And in a world of twin-turbo 100mph trap speed Ecoboost pickups I still love my old port-injected Bronze Age 1GR-FE 4Runner.

            But if I can get a 3.5L Lexus 6 for the price of a 3800…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Blasphemy. There are few Detroit Three branded cars which can be bought used and depended on despite previous abuse. There are even fewer which boast the running costs and TCO offered by our Lord of Eternal Torque, and fewer so one could comfortably own out of warranty. In its earlier time, no OHV FWD drivetrain offered the torque, horsepower, fuel efficiency, and reliability, with *no timing belt to boot* (add $800 to your long term TCO right there). Later the motor was bested in some fields, c’est la vie.

            If GM knew how to build cars, 3800 powered platforms could go up against and stomp these pathetic turboz alum engines in TCO and still meet SULEV to appease the zealots. No high pressure fuel pump. No direct injection. No alum heads or block. No turbo. No timing belt. None of that garbage was needed. Our Lord is the AKM of the automotive engine world.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Brother 28, spare the heathens such as Jack and myself, and forgive us seventy times seven. We may not worship at the altar of 3800, but we respect the God of the Old Torque-tament. I pray that you will consider the 2GR-FE as a fitting apocrypha to the Church, though, as it shuns turbo, shuns DI-only, shuns belt, embraces reliability and smooth, smooth power. Perhaps the New Testament is upon us.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Haha let us bring the OHV cast iron and all aluminum DOHC sects together under one banner of reliable, naturally aspirated smooth torquey power!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @30-mile

            *golfclap*

            2GR-FE may in fact be a strange prophet of our Lord, we shall hear his wisdom.

            @gtem

            If thy Lord of Eternal Torque wills it, it shall be so.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Panther?

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Which Buick dealer did she scream at? Bob Daniels? Len Immke?

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Our shop car is a 2005 Buick LaCrosse CXL with 3800 and 160,000 miles.

    It is uncomfortable, the clock spring triggers the airbag lamp on occasion. The steering column creaks and feels like it may let go. It always needs rotors, motor mounts and little pieces.

    Also, it has strange handling characteristics where lateral movements and axial movements are both happening at the same time, at different rates– and which influence eachother. I’ve never experienced a ride this concerning.

    I drive my personal car on shop errands.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      This sounds like something in the suspension is broken. I’ve driven many LaCrosses of that vintage that were newer and less abused, and they drove like any other W-Body, except quieter.

  • avatar
    pdq

    If I’m looking at a Buick, it’s going to be a much older one. I’m thinking:

    1960, 1961 or 1969 Electra 225 convertible
    1963-65 or a 1966-67 Riviera

  • avatar
    backtees

    I’ve posted before and it was regarding my prized 2000 LeSabre. Picked it up as an estate car and that 3800 hummed for 100k plus miles. Bench front seat – which you can get in early Avalons. Owned it in my mid 30s with kids and have threatened the family with buying a Buick again. Even the pre teens think it’s an elderly mobile.

    I’d go Lacurne with 3800. I still find cream puffs on atrader that will no doubt serve faithfully. It’s simply just larger and more comfortable.

  • avatar
    Kratos

    3.8. V6. Enough said. I have owned over 15 cars with that motor between my wife and I over the past 25 yrs.
    By a LeSabre, 2005 Limited, low mile gem. You will love the comfort. I just picked one up to offset my rwd N* STS.
    The STS eats premium fuel like candy, but loads of power.
    LeSabre is the incognito Grampy car no one will see or care about.
    The Lucerne will not be comfortable. Owned one new, 3hrs, the seats were never great al all.
    New LaCrosse with the 3.8 is nice, but again, comfort will be compromised.

  • avatar
    DownUnder2014

    I don’t know about the car itself (it was never sold here).

    As for the engine, the 3800 is just one of those engines that just keeps on running and running. I still see 3800-powered Commodores rather frequently. They are excellent cruisers, and the 4L60E does the job.

    I would choose the Lucerne with a 3800 if I was in this situation.

    As for alternatives, as others have mentioned: Toyota Avalon, Toyota Camry, Lexus ES.


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