2008 Buick Lucerne Review

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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

It rides like a classic Cadillac, but the 2008 Buick Lucerne has a slightly more modern spin on the full-size sedan.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Buick Lucerne to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove the Buick Lucerne and offer driving impressions and opinions where they help you make a better buying decision.

The 2008 Buick Lucerne full-size sedan is stately and traditional. It shares space at Buick dealerships with the LaCrosse mid-size sedan and the Enclave full-size crossover.

For Buick, 2008 is a carryover year, which with the Lucerne means that not much has changed since 2007. Here are the basics: In its base CX form, the Lucerne comes with the 3.8-liter V-6 engine. Anyone familiar with engine history at GM can tell you that the roots of the current 3.8-liter run deep, back to the late 1950s. On one hand, GM has had plenty of time to get this engine right, and this engine does have an excellent record of reliability and longevity. The engine is a cam-in-block design, and favors the production of torque over horsepower. Frankly, this is just fine for the kind of people who drive Buicks. On the other hand, compared to more modern engines, the venerable 3.8-liter V-6 sounds a bit coarse and gets noisy when pushed hard. (Buick drivers, however, aren't known for their hard driving.)

Should a buyer want his or her 2008 Buick Lucerne fitted with a thoroughly modern engine, they are available. A 279-horsepower version of Cadillac's 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 is standard on the CXL Special Edition. Both engines (V-6 and V-8) are matched to four-speed automatic transmissions, a feature that dates these powertrains.

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The Buick Lucerne Super, meanwhile, comes equipped with a version of the 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 that produces 292 horsepower. The Super also has an enhanced chassis with GM's magnetic ride control system and comes with four signature portholes in each fender (four per side signify a V-8 under the hood), a new bright chrome waterfall grille, new front and rear fascias, integrated dual exhaust tips, rocker panels, and a special Super badge on the decklid.

Inside the Lucerne Super is no less special, as this model features a leather-wrapped instrument panel, leather seats with perforated suede fabric inserts for the outboard seating positions, and suede door-trim inserts, as well as a heated steering wheel.

The interior of non-Super 2008 Lucerne models is still tastefully trimmed, and features wide, comfortable seats, large dials and switchgear, and rich-looking materials that are just right for the older crowd this car targets. The instrument panel and controls are especially clear, readable, and easy to operate, a character trait we recognized and appreciated straight away. The blue-green readouts of most displays provide excellent contrast and visibility in any light.

Six airbags come standard, including the industry's first dual-depth front-passenger airbag. Four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes and all-speed traction control are included across the line, and the CXS adds StabiliTrak stability control, Magnetic Ride Control, and brake assist. Five- and six-seat versions are offered.

Standard features also include rain-sensing windshield wipers, XM Satellite Radio, and the OnStar communications/safety system, while the options list offers heated windshield washers, heated and cooled leather seats, rear parking assist warnings, a satellite navigation system, and a remote starting function. A lane-departure warning system and a blind-spot alert are offered for 2008.

The front-wheel-drive chassis of the 2008 Buick Lucerne is tuned for comfort, not speed. You might expect this as the Lucerne is based on the Cadillac DeVille. In some cases, the ride is so smooth that you have absolutely no sensation of being connected to the road. We think this is fine for the traditional American luxury car buyers that Buick targets, but it's not our cup of tea. Handling in the manner that enthusiasts define the word isn't on the Lucerne's feature list, and with a turning circle of around 40 feet, parking lot maneuverability isn't very spry.

For Buick, 2008 offerings include only the Lucerne, LaCrosse (a mid-size sedan), and Enclave (full-size crossover).

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