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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
renowned for balancing performance and fuel economy
adequate around-town power
automatic transmission shifts smoothly enough
The 2008 Buick Lucerne has unexciting power in all but the Super version, and loose, comfort-oriented handling—again, in all but the Super version.
In its base CX form, the Lucerne comes with a 197-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine. A 279-horsepower version of Cadillac's 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 is standard on the CXL Special Edition. The Buick Lucerne Super, meanwhile, comes equipped with a version of the 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 that produces 292 horsepower. Even with the 275-horsepower V-8 engine, Edmunds finds power somewhat lacking: “Our test of a Lucerne with the 275-hp V8 yielded a 0-60-mph time of 7.7 seconds, which is slightly slower than some V6 competitors like the [Toyota] Avalon and [Hyundai] Azera.” However, they add “V8 models are more competitive.” ConsumerGuide finds that "All Lucerne engines provide adequate around-town power."
All Lucernes shift through a four-speed automatic. ConsumerGuide calls it “smooth-shifting,” but Edmunds notes that while the Buick Lucerne 2008 transmission "shifts smoothly enough," its "tall, widely spaced gear ratios hurt both performance and mileage"--which is "not a good thing in a class where competitors' transmissions offer five or even six forward gears."
Edmunds also notes "real-world fuel economy often falls well below the 20-mpg mark." This is true of in-town driving, although the Buick Lucerne does better on the open road. ConsumerGuide reports that "CXS models average 15.4 mpg in mostly city driving, 22.4 with more highway use, and just 14.5 in a test that included gas-eating performance runs," and remarks that while "V6 models use regular-grade gas, Buick recommends premium for the V8." The EPA rates the Lucerne at 16/25 mpg for the V-6 version, 15/23 mpg for the mid-line V-8 and 15/22 mpg for the Super.
Opinions on handling were varied. On one hand, Autoblog reports "an enhanced chassis with a specially tuned version of Lucerne's Magnetic Ride Control system, for a refined, premium ride that simultaneously enables crisp, responsive handling." Kelley Blue Book praises the Super edition’s "outstanding ride and handling," noting that "its magnetic power steering also struck us as a bit light and devoid of feel."
On the other hand, ConsumerGuide complains "unwanted body motions abound, including float at higher speeds and bobbing over broken surfaces around town" in other models. Edmunds reports that "handling is mediocre on the softly tuned Lucerne CX and CXL models, which exhibit considerable body roll during cornering," but acknowledges that "high-line CXS and Super models are somewhat firmer and more controlled, due largely to their magnetic shocks and 18-inch wheels." This source also contends that the 2008 Buick Lucerne's "steering is problematic...slow and wobbly on V6 models, yet overly quick on V8 models" and "brakes are disappointing...panic-stop distances are the longest of any full-size sedan in this price range."
The 2008 Buick Lucerne takes a lax approach to acceleration and handling, and its four-speed transmission is simply outdated.