2008 Buick Lucerne Super: Luxury, Quietness and Portholes
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The “Super” badge has been returned to the Buick stable for the first time in 50 years and it has been placed on the body of the 2008 Lucerne. Buick brought the Lucerne into the automotive world in 2006 as a replacement for the LeSabre and Park Avenue and it became the fourth Buick vehicle to begin with the letter “L”, joining LeSabre (1959-2005), Limited (1936-1942, 1958) and LaCrosse (2005 - Current). The Lucerne Super represents the third version of Lucerne in only three years.
Assembled in Detroit, Lucerne is a two-ton (4004-lb. curb weight) luxury sedan that lives up to the Buick credo of a quiet, smooth ride with superior fit and finish. Others may have coined the phrase: “entry luxury”, but at $43,775, this is one luxurious automobile at an entry-level price for the genre.
Looking lavish all the way, the exterior is pure Buick, from its White Diamond TriCoat paint to its chrome portholes—V-6 models get three portholes on each side and V-8 versions get four per side — which hearken back to 1949 and the Roadmaster.
The V-8-powered Super is also facelifted with a new grille that borrows from earlier north-south bar grillework of ‘30s and ‘40s Buicks, Super badge on the decklid, aluminum wheels and premium all-season tires.
Lucerne is sturdy and steady on a 115.6-inch wheelbase that attractively handles a vehicle length of 203.2 inches, height of 58 inches and width of 73.8 inches.
A hallmark of Buick is its quiet ride, and Lucerne lives up to that reputation as my test ride exhibited a quiet cabin that felt no vibration from the 4.6-liter V-8 dual overhead cam engine with sequential fuel-injection. The front-drive, front-engine V-8 quietly gallops out 292 horses and 288 lbs.-ft. of torque in a set-up that was EPA rated at 15mpg in city driving and 22mpg on the highway. After 490 miles of road tests with this vehicle, of which Interstate miles made up about two-thirds of the test (township, borough and city driving accounted for the rest), the Lucerne averaged 20.7 mpg.
The two-ton luxury car is not a speed-burner, but I was able to quietly move from zero to 60mph in under 7 seconds, en route to a hushed quarter-mile in about 14 seconds.
During my tests on autocross tracks, Pennsylvania highways, township streets and country roads, Lucerne handled confidently, hugging the road with little sway and better-than-average response. Magnetic Ride Control provides instant response and tire stickiness while the traction control system, Stabilitrak stability control and specific suspension calibration provide a sporty and secure ride. Independent MacPherson strut coil-over front suspension with stabilizer bar and a multi-link rear with stabilizer bar make for the smooth experience one would expect from a luxury automobile.
Lucerne safety features include front and side impact air bags for driver and front passenger, head curtain side airbags front and rear, tire pressure monitor, content theft alarm, rain-sensing wipers, rear park assist, heated windshield washer fluid and one-year On-Star with turn-by-turn directions.
The turn-by-turn service allows OnStar customers to talk to an advisor, who can then download complete step-by-step directions to the vehicle through the OnStar system. Audio directions are then automatically played through the vehicle’s stereo as they are needed, triggered by the OnStar system’s GPS capabilities. Turn-by-turn navigation allows drivers to be led to their destination while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
Inside the roomy Ebony cabin (headroom: 39.5 inches in front and 37.6 in the rear; leg room of 42.5 and 41.0 and shoulder room of 58.0 and 57.0) are lavish appointments including suede-appointed heated/cooled front seats, eight-way power driver and front passenger seats, four-way power lumbar, memory for driver seat and outside mirrors, heated wood steering wheel, power tilt and telescoping steering column; dual-zone automatic air conditioning, factory-installed remote start, 9-speaker, 280-watt Harman Kardon audio system, and six-disc in-dash CD, XM Satellite radio and air particulate filter.
Base-priced at $38,630, my test Lucerne stickered out at $43,775, including a destination charge of $765.
The Super trim was standard, but add-ons included a touchscreen navigation system ($1995), White Diamond Tricoat exterior pant ($995), 18-inch aluminum chrome wheels ($750) and two “Must-have” safety options – side blind zone alert ($395) and Lane Departure Warning system ($295). The Lane Departure Warning uses a camera-based lane detection system to warn drivers of inadvertent lane changes and can raise the alertness of slightly drowsy drivers.
Rumors persist that the Lucerne marque might be replaced in 2010 by a rear-wheel-drive Buick – the Tri-Shield’s first rear-wheeler since Roadmaster in 1996. If this occurs, it appears as though the Lucerne name will be eliminated from the line-up. In the meantime, Lucerne enjoys its status as a quiet, good-handling entry-luxury car that combines 21st century technology, with interior comfort and old-school design cues, including those Buick portholes.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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