The new 2006 Buick Lucerne is a very large car, which is a good thing considering it has mighty large shoes to fill. It not only replaces the LeSabre in Buick’s lineup but also pinch hits for the now defunct Park Avenue. This means that the Lucerne’s price cuts a wide swath, with the entry level CX beginning at $25,990 and our range topping CXS tester starting at $34,990. From this it’s apparent that the Lucerne was designed to compete on many different levels. Where the LeSabre fought tooth and nail for the middle class family sedan dollar, the Park Avenue went after luxo-cruiser cash. The Lucerne must attract attention from both types of clientele if it’s to be considered a successful replacement. We were handed the keys to an executive class CXS and plan to find out over the next week whether the Lucerne can fill both of Buick’s vacant shoes. As we said earlier, the Lucerne CXS starts at $34,990 and comes out of the box with the venerable Northstar V8 that produces 275 hp and 295 ft-lbs. of torque. Our tester was fitted with a few upscale options like premium paint (Sharkskin, $995); a Driver Confidence package with remote start, theft deterrent and parking assist ($595); heated and cooled front seats ($500); a 6-disc CD changer ($300) and heated washer fluid ($100). With those niceties checked off the price of our Lucerne went up to the not insignificant sum of $36,755. The first thought we had was wondering how a sedan that starts around $26K could compete in the clouds with such FWD entry-level luxury cars as the Lexus ES330 and Toyota Avalon. Toyota’s power players are the two vehicles most often mentioned in the same breath as the Lucerne, and rightly so as all three compete for a curious group of consumers that values aesthetics over acceleration, plushness over performance and cushiness over captivating handling. The Lucerne at once arrests its audience with exterior styling that is elegant in form and restrained in execution. Cladding of any form has been banished from this Buick’s skin, leaving a tightly wrapped layer of Sharkskin-colored sheetmetal around this large sedan’s body. It’s an austere shape that looks as if it could swap silhouettes with an Infiniti Q45. The rear end from dead on reminds us of the last generation Audi A8. The Lucerne’s design would be well received regardless of which automaker’s badge it was wearing, but the fact it sprung from GM’s No. 2 pencils makes it more impressive. This is not to say that Buicks of the recent past have been ugly (save the Skylark), just forgettable. In our eyes the Lucerne, however, would easily garner more glances on the street than the new edge Avalon and swollen ES330. Devoid of any visual frivolity the Lucerne’s design impresses with details like the smart looking halogen projection fog lamps embedded in the two lower intakes, the 18-inch 10-spoke aluminum wheels, the conservative use of chrome trim to frame …
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|MPG||17 City / 25 Hwy|
|Transmission||4-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||275 @ 6000 rpm|
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