2008 Lucerne New Car Test Drive
The Buick Lucerne is an attractive car, with clean lines suggestive of a fine European import while maintaining Buick traditions. Inside, the Lucerne is elegant, comfortable and easy. Underway, it's smooth and quiet, but with precise steering and a chassis that handles winding roads with aplomb. We find the Lucerne to be a plush, highly competent full-size sedan at a compelling price. It's Buick's flagship sedan and we recommend it.
The Buick Lucerne is a full-size, front-wheel-drive, four-door luxury sedan, and it comes in several models. The Lucerne CX is tuned as a traditional Buick, with the Premium Ride Suspension. The Lucerne CXL comes with a firmer Ride and Handling Suspension, and is positioned to compete with the Toyota Avalon and Lexus ES 350. It's a very enjoyable car to drive, with agile handling and plenty of performance. The CXL Special Edition is even quicker with its optional V8.
The Super is a new model with an old Buick name, dating back to 1940 and last seen in 1958. The V8-powered Super, which replaces last year's CXS, delivers even more horsepower and features Magnetic Ride Control, an adaptive sports suspension developed for the Corvette.
New for 2008 are two safety systems, Side Blind Zone Alert and Lane Departure Warning, available on all models. Side Blind Zone Alert uses radar to provide drivers with more information about vehicles in hard-to-see areas around the car. Lane Departure Warning uses a camera to warn drivers of inadvertent lane changes. StabiliTrak with Brake Assist is now available on CX and CXL. Also for 2008, XM Satellite Radio is standard equipment in all models, and some options and equipment packages have been revised.
Launched as a 2006 model to replace the LeSabre and Park Avenue, the Lucerne benefits from the structure and chassis hardware it shares with the Cadillac DTS. In this, Lucerne is not breaking tradition but confirming it. The biggest Buicks have shared body structure with Cadillacs since the 1930s, if not before; and they have shared significant chassis pieces since 1965.
Buick has a long history of innovative engineering, handsomely conservative styling, and premium luxury at below-premium prices. Lucerne follows these Buick traditions.
The 2008 Buick Lucerne comes in four trim levels with three engines available.
Lucerne CX ($27,275) is motivated by a 197-horsepower 3.8-liter V6. Standard equipment includes cloth upholstery; air conditioning; seats for five people with a power driver's seat; power windows; power door locks; leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel; AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with six speakers and steering wheel audio controls; XM Satellite Radio; cruise control; electrochromic rearview mirror; remote keyless entry; and 16-inch aluminum wheels. A Comfort and Convenience package ($950) adds heated outside mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a universal remote, a trunk cargo net, and a six-way power-adjustable passenger seat.
Lucerne CXL ($29,920) upgrades with leather seats, all items from the Comfort and Convenience package, and 17-inch bright aluminum wheels. The suspension is tuned a little tighter and includes Airlift rear shocks for automatic level control.
The CXL Special Edition is available with the V6 ($31,735) or with a 275-hp 4.6-liter V8 ($33,435). Special Edition adds perforated leather seat inserts with contrasting stitching on the seats, console, armrest and door trim. Outside, the Special Edition is distinguished by a chrome grille, unique rear fascia, and chrome-clad wheels.
A Luxury Package ($995) for the CXL and Special Edition adds eight-way power driver and front passenger seats, four-way power lumbar support, heated front outboard seats, and memory for driver seat and outside mirrors. A heated wood steering wheel ($100-$150) and heated and cooled seats ($895) are options with the package.
Lucerne Super ($38,980) is powered by a 292-hp 4.6-liter V8 and comes with Magnasteer power steering, Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension, StabiliTrak stability control with Brake Assist, and P245/50R18 all-season radials on 18-inch bright-silver-painted aluminum wheels. Inside, Super features a leather-wrapped upper instrument panel with French-seam stitching; leather seats with suede fabric inserts; Harman-Kardon audio; heated, wood-accented steering wheel on a power tilt-and-telescope steering column; wood shift knob; and other upgraded finishes and trims. The Driver Confidence, Luxury, and Comfort and Convenience packages are standard. Outside, front and rear fascias, extended rocker panels, and integrated dual exhaust tips are unique to the Super. Chrome wheels are optional ($750).
Options include the Driver Confidence Package ($995) with remote start, Ultrasonic Rear Park Assist, a theft-deterrent system, heated washer fluid, RainSense automatic windshield wipers and StabiliTrak electronic stability control. The new Side Blind Zone Alert ($395) and Lane Departure Warning ($295) systems are optional. The Ultra Confidence Package ($1,185) combines all of these features. Touch-screen navigation ($1,945) is optional on Super, CXL, and the Special Edition. The Harman Kardon stereo is available ($495) on the Special Edition. A 6CD changer is optional ($300) on all models. So is a power tilt-and-slide sunroof ($900), and an engine block heater ($75). Six-passenger seating is available on CX and CXL by ordering front bench seats ($295). Some paint colors are extra-cost options.
Safety features on all models include six airbags: a dual-stage driver's front airbag and a dual-depth front passenger bag, front-seat side-impact airbags, and full-coverage side-impact curtain airbags. The front seatbelts come with pretensioners, so be sure to wear them. Traction control, anti-lock brakes, and a tire pressure monitor are standard on all models. OnStar comes standard and includes the first year of Safe and Sound service; OnStar operators will dispatch rescue crews if your airbag deploys and you don't respond to calls, a great feature for you and the rest of your family. The first-ever application of a dual-depth passenger airbag has two sections; a smaller section deploys in a less severe crash or if the passenger is small or seated nearer the dashboard. In a bad crash or if the passenger is not wearing their seat belt the full bag deploys for maximum effect.