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If we said 32-valve V-8, 18-inch wheels and tires, heated/cooled leather seats, 245-watt Harman Kardon nine-speaker system, adaptive ride control, stability control, heated windshield washer fluid system and remote starter your first reaction would be a Buick, right? Didn't think so. The 2006 Buick Lucerne may be the first car from Buick in a long time that may have you thinking differently about the division. Continue reading about the Lucerne at the link.

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Last time we had a V-8 in a Buick car (in 2004 the Rainier brought the V-8 back to Buick in an SUV) it was 10 years ago in the aging Roadmaster sedan, just about the most stereotypical American highway cruiser ever built. The Lucerne wants to break that thought from your mind. The optional V-8 has a familiar family name, Northstar, and it is the same found in numerous Caddies over the years, including the new 2006 DTS. The powerplant is estimated at 275 hp and 300 lbs-ft or torque. The standard engine is GM?s venerable 3800 Series III V-6 rated at 195 hp and 225 lbs-ft of torque. Both engines feature a new Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) system that helps control engine response, shift smoothness and integrates traction control and cruise control.

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The CSX is Lucerne?s top model designation and it gets additional tech like a Magnetic Ride Control system mated to the StabiliTrak stability control system. New to StabiliTrak is a brake assist feature that senses emergency braking situations and boosts the power as needed.

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Other safety features include air bags all-around (six to be exact) including a dual-stage driver, side impact, roof-rail mounted and an industry-first dual depth front passenger air bag. The air bag deploys at two different depths depending on seat position and severity of impact. The air bag will also disable if the weight of the passenger seat occupant is too low.
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Some interesting features include a remote start system that starts the car from the key fob from up to 200 feet and can automatically adjust settings such as vehicle tempurature, heating of seats and window defrosters and a heated washer fluid system which heats washer fluid to approximately 176 degrees F in 40 seconds.

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A lot of engineering has been performed in the name of QuietTuning, Buick?s initiative to eliminate noise from the passenger compartment. Some of the more innovative materials/applications include: double-isolated powertrain mounting system, multi-layer laminated steel dash panel with sound damping mats on both the passenger and engine sides, nylon baffles in the roof pillars and rocker panels to eliminate noise paths, melt-on sound deadener on the floorpan, composite wheel housing liners to eliminate rain, gravel and tire sound and laminated glass in all four side windows. We?d say they thought this area out.

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A piece of Buick history that survives on the Lucerne are the portholes. And to keep with tradition, V-6 powered cars will have three on each side and V-8?s will get four.
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Outside the Lucerne doesn?t look the part of a LeSabre replacement, which is one of the reasons the LeSabre name does not live on. The ?face? is influenced by Buick?s Velite concept car from last year with a ?waterfall? grille and split lower air intakes.

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The Lucerne is available in five or six passenger seating configurations and premium materials are used throughout, including wood and chrome finishes and French seams and stitching. Buick tightened the tolerances of interior seams and gaps to less than one millimeter. A long wheelbase of more than 115 inches gives the Lucerne some of the most generous head, leg elbow and hip room in its class. A DVD navigation system is available with a 6.5 inch screen, dedicated DVD map drive and is integrated into the radio and audio system.

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The rear is much tauter, the rear window angle steeper and body-to-tire relationship tighter than any recent Buick in memory.  The taillights are clean and have ?floating? inner lenses for the brake and turn signals. The CSX models finish off the package with dual chrome-tipped exhaust pipes.

Can the 2006 Buick Lucerne ?out-Buick? the 2005 Toyota Avalon? We can?t tell until we get behind the wheel, but this tri-shield from Detroit is going to put up one heck of a fight.

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