Junkyard Find: 2006 Buick Lucerne CXS

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2006 buick lucerne cxs

Remember, not many years ago, when American car shoppers could choose among dozens of new Detroit sedans? For the 2006 model year alone, General Motors offered 12 different four-door sedans, and that’s ignoring sub-models plus the sedans bearing the badges of (GM-owned) Saab and Suzuki. Today, there are three new GM sedans available here, and both of the Cadillacs are built on the same platform as the Camaro. The Buick Division got out of the US-market sedan game when the final 2020 Regal rolled off Opel’s line in Rüsselsheim, but the very last proper full-sized Buick sedan was Hamtramck’s own Lucerne. I found this Northstar-equipped first-year Lucurne in a Colorado Springs yard last month.

Apparently because all the cool place names in Spain and Italy had been taken for other car models, Buick selected a Swiss city for this car’s namesake. The closest relative of the Lucerne was the Cadillac DTS.

Not only was the Lucerne the last of the big Buick sedans, it was one of the very last GM vehicles to get the Northstar V8 engine. This one was rated at 275 horsepower.

The Northstar was a smooth and powerful DOHC engine, high-tech stuff when it debuted in the 1993 Cadillac Allanté, but it proved nearly impossible to do a head gasket job on one. The Northstar was standard equipment in the top-trim-level CXS and optional in the mid-grade CXL for 2006. Lesser Lucernes got the good old “gallon” Buick 3.8-liter V6, a pushrod engine with a complex ancestry stretching back to the early 1960s and rated at 197 horses in the ’06 Lucerne. For the 2009-2011 model years, the El Cheapo engine in the Lucerne became the 3.9-liter LZ9 V6 (still a pushrod engine but making a respectable 227 horsepower). All Lucernes had four-speed automatic transmissions, period.

It’s a safe bet that today’s Junkyard Find met its fate due to a failed head gasket. As we’ve learned with Northstars in the 24 Hours of Lemons, Head Gasket In a Can™ doesn’t work so well under racing conditions.

The CXS interior would have felt comfortingly familiar to lifelong Buick buyers who still remembered their ’76 Electras and ’79 LeSabres with great fondness.

In a nod to Lucerne owners’ grandchildren bearing iPods and Zunes, the ’06 Lucerne CXS came with an eight-speaker sound system with an AUX input jack. As someone who regularly scours junkyards for AUX-equipped factory head units to use in car-parts boomboxes, I can tell you that very few vehicles had such jacks prior to the late-2000s smartphone boom (though you could buy Mitsubishis in the middle 1990s with 3.5mm stereo input jacks, because of the minidisc craze in Japan at the time).

If you want to be really picky about it, the last true octogenarian-grade big Buick was the 1996 Roadmaster, because the 1949 Buick had rear-wheel-drive and that’s that. At least the ’49 Roadmaster, the ’96 Roadmaster, and the ’06 Lucerne were all built in Michigan (albeit in different plants). I keep trying to peel off one of these Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly stickers for my junkyard toolbox, but they never come off in one piece (strangely, stickers from cars built at Wilmington and Orion are easily removed from junkyard cars).

It appears that one of this car’s final trips may have been to the grandbaby’s prom, and I hope the head gasket didn’t pop on the way to the venue. I also drove a big GM luxury sedan to my prom, though it was a mere Pontiac.

You can tell the V6 Lucernes from the V8 versions by counting the VentiPort holes on the front fenders. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the VentiPorts on the hood and decklid for Buicks with transverse-mounted engines, so they could line up with the cylinder banks?

Americans want trucks now, or at least truck-shaped tall hatchbacks, and so the Lucerne got the axe after the 2011 model year. At least it outlasted the Oldsmobile, Saturn, and Pontiac Divisions, while earning a tie with Saab.

You’ll find one in every car. You’ll see.

The press went crazy for it… or at least its lease terms.

OnStar will ensure that you don’t get lost in the hedge maze. Well, until 3G gets shut down, anyway.

For links to more than 2,200 additional Junkyard Finds, please visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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3 of 79 comments
  • Theresa Theresa on Oct 15, 2022

    I am now owning my 2nd 2007 Buick lucerne CXL Special Edition.

    1st 2007 bought in 2008 sold in 2019 with 318,596 miles. I travel alot. This one I still running I see in my neighborhood.

    Bought my second 2007 Buick Lucerne CXL Special Edition 2019 until current. It had only 82,000 miles on it. Currently has 155,835 miles. Reason why I knew the maintenance on the up keep off the car. Only sad thing weather and salt has put a rusty hole in the frame.

    Looking now but dealing with pricing issues. Peeps wants 3k more now than what I paid 3 years ago for 2007.

    Great car, very reliable top luxury

  • Chuck Chuck on Aug 05, 2023

    I have one of the last of these...a 2011 CXL, garaged since new with only 38,000 miles. Heck, it still smells new! I've always been pleased with the 3.9, properly serviced and lubricated with Mobil 1, but I haven't babied the accelerator. I've toyed with the idea of performance mods, especially anything related to intake or exhaust. Any advice?

    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Aug 05, 2023

      The 3800 has some N/A mods you can do (but aren't worth doing) but I doubt the 3900 has much of an aftermarket due to its more limited use and lifespan. Even if you find something, the 4T65-E doesn't do well with power output above the 3800's 235 ft-tq but in your case that would be less of an issue with such a cherry example. I can tell you second hand, the 3900 chewed through W-Impala torque converters in police use similar to how the LS4 chewed through the same in the V8 equipped Ws (patrol cars went though 2-3 transaxles in their lifetime).

  • Analoggrotto Not a single Telluride, give me a break.
  • Tassos https://carsandbids.com/auctions/rj5Blq50/2001-volkswagen-eurovan-mv-weekenderNote the seller's name: "My VW Sucks" (!!!)WHy am I not in the very least surprised.
  • George Who’s winning the UAW strike? Nobody.Who’s losing the UAW strike? Everybody.
  • Zznalg Now, a slam of Subaru. I own an Outback Wilderness. Subaru has capitulated to lawyers and the regulatory environment to render life with their vehicles quite unpleasant. A few cases in point: The vehicles won't allow you to drive one MPH without ALL the seatbelts fastened. You cannot pull a Subaru out of a garage or parking space with no seatbelt without the car screaming at you. First there is the annoying beeping. After a few seconds Subaru ups its game and raised the volume ridiculously. To get it to shut up, I've even had to turn off the car and open a door. It is not enough to put it into park. The beeping continues. I am Not talking about driving without a seatbelt. I'm talking about 1 MPH maneuvers in one's own driveway. Next, the car's auto-breaking is tuned to slow you down or even slam on your brakes at every possible opportunity. The other day, my Wilderness decided to do just that almost resulting in my being rear ended. For NO reason. Next, the Outback Wilderness' transmission is tuned to prevent forward motion. It does its best to NOT GIVE POWER in nearly every situation unless you keep the accelerator depressed for more than 1-3 seconds. This is actually unsafe. In fact at highway speeds, when one presses the gas, the car momentarily reduces power and slows down. The paddle shifters help. But overall, Subaru has so neutered the Outback Wilderness to make a potentially great vehicle quite a drag to own and actually unsafe, in the service seemingly of preventing lawsuits and satisfying the EPA. I know not all of this may apply to the Crosstrek Wilderness but if you test drive one, you would be advised to look for these flaws.
  • Undead Zed I'm not particularly interested in the truck, but do look forward to the puns that the marketing department may try to work into the adverts."Visit your local dealership for a Flash drive today."