2009 Buick Lucerne Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
February 21, 2009

A soft ride and roomy interior still form the solid base for the 2009 Buick Lucerne’s appeal.

TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Buick Lucerne in order to give you an expert opinion on the 2009 Buick Lucerne. That’s on top of extensive research conducted by TheCarConnection.com, in which experts have selected the most useful observations from available road tests on the new Lucerne to help produce this conclusive review.

Built on Buick’s traditional emphases—at least in recent years—of conservative styling and interior comfort, the 2009 Buick Lucerne follows form as a distinguished full-size sedan. Ample seating and storage space, along with one of the quietest cabins in its class, along with a choice of V-6 and V-8 engines, make it the epitome of classic American-made luxury.

The 2009 Buick Lucerne is available in three model types: the CX, CXL, and Super. Standard in the CX and CXL models is a more powerful 3.9-liter V-6 engine delivering 227 horsepower—a 30-hp improvement over the last year’s 3.8-liter V-6. Despite the horsepower increase, Buick claims the new engine gets one mile per gallon better fuel economy than the old engine. The new engine is also FlexFuel capable, the first Buick offered with an E85-capable powerplant. The engine is a pushrod design with variable cam timing, and it produces more torque than horsepower, which is perfect for people who drive Buicks.

Powering the Super is a fully modern 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 engine with 292 horsepower and 288 lb-ft of torque. Paired to the V-8 is an electronically controlled Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic transmission. Both Lucerne engines feature electronic throttle control that matches driver input with engine response and maximizes fuel efficiency.

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The Super's chassis features GM's magnetic ride control technology that was recalibrated for 2009 to further reduce body roll when cornering and enhance performance and driver control. Handling is also benefited by the use of premium steering components and eighteen-inch aluminum wheels shod with P245/50R18 all-season radials. All of these changes amount to a Buick that still rides as soft as customers will expect yet has decent handling prowess.

Setting the Lucerne Super apart from the standard models are integrated exhaust tips as well as “Super” badges on the decklid. A unique grille and front and rear fascias and rocker panels also denote this Lucerne as special. The Super's interior features a heated real walnut wood-accented steering wheel, a leather-wrapped instrument panel upper with French seam stitching, suede trim on the doors and on the front seats, model-specific sill plates, and premium floor mats.

Additional options for the 2009 Lucerne Super include a 280-watt, nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, touch-screen navigation, sunroof, Side Blind Zone and Lane Departure Warning safety-enhancing technologies.

For 2009 the Lucerne CX and CXL models feature an expanded list of standard equipment. The CXL model now includes leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a heated leather steering wheel. Six-passenger seating is available on both the CX and CXL models, and in either configuration the Lucerne has plenty of plush seating space front and back.

Buick reduced the Lucerne's options packages to two for 2009: the Comfort & Convenience package and the Driver Confidence Package. The latter is includes several high-tech features such as StabiliTrak, rear parking assist, remote start, a theft-deterrent system, and RainSense wipers. The Driver Confidence package is standard on Lucerne Supers and optional on CX and CXL models, and a Bluetooth hands-free interface is newly standard on all Lucernes. Heated and cooled front seats also come with Super models.

Additional features available for the 2009 Buick Lucerne CXL and Super models include a touch-screen navigation system, and XM NavTraffic.

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2009 Buick Lucerne

Styling

The 2009 Buick Lucerne is no show-stopper but it will please those who want a luxurious but conservative and understated big sedan.

The 2009 Buick Lucerne blends modern yet conservative sheetmetal with a few design cues from Buick’s past, and an understated interior.

“The sleek roofline holds a distinctively-shaped rear pillar,” says Kelley Blue Book. “The wheels fill their wells for a muscular stance, and the portholes are set at a slight angle to accentuate the body's wedgy profile.” Cars.com describes the styling cues in more detail: "a waterfall-style grille that uses thin vertical vanes and includes a chrome Buick tri-shield emblem.” They also note “Chrome portholes—machined and set high in each front fender—are reminiscent of those on historic Buicks...models with V-6 power have three portholes on each side, while V-8 sedans get four portholes per side—a differentiating feature that reaches as far back as 1949."

The Super gets a differently shaped grille that doesn’t impress Autoblog; it "comes to a point pretty far down the Lucerne's face. It looks like a beak to us, which takes away from the Lucerne's otherwise classy styling." Car and Driver is unimpressed as well: “Apart from the reinterpreted portholes, the wedgy shape seems familiar and tired, a repeat of a '90s Camry; only the big-eye look in front saves it from being a complete cliché.”

Automobile describes the 2009 Buick Lucerne's interior as having "quiet taste and subtle style." Car and Driver says it’s “fresh and appealingly minimal” and “very luxurious, especially in Super form, which features niceties such as a leather-finished dashboard and a heated wood steering wheel.”

Edmunds says that “the Lucerne's cabin is handsome and cleanly styled, and boasts simple, friendly controls.” Autoblog likes the Super version’s "interior wraps occupants in luxury including a leather-wrapped upper instrument panel with French-seam stitching, unique finish on the instrument panel center stack, leather seats with perforated suede fabric inserts for the outboard seating positions, and suede door trim inserts." The reviewer at the

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2009 Buick Lucerne

Performance

The 2009 Buick Lucerne Super is a strong albeit thirsty performer, while the CX and CXL model's new V-6 isn't so impressive.

While the 2009 Buick Lucerne Super offers exciting acceleration and power, the new 3.9-liter V-6 in the CX and CXL is no improvement over last year's 3.9-liter engine.

The new V-6 engine delivers 227 horsepower—a 30 hp improvement over the last year’s 3.8-liter V-6. Powering the Super is a 4.6L Northstar V-8 engine with 292 horsepower and 288 lb-ft of torque. Paired to either engine is an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission.

“Despite its additional 30 horsepower, the new V6 doesn't feel much more responsive than the previous one, still providing only adequate around-town power. The Super's V8 is noticeably stronger, particularly in highway merging and passing power, but neither matches the rival Chrysler 300's V-6 and V-8 engines for outright muscle,” says  ConsumerGuide. All Lucernes shift through a four-speed automatic. ConsumerGuide calls it “smooth-shifting,” but Edmunds notes that while the 2009 Buick Lucerne 's 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."

Kelley Blue Book says, “The standard car allows relatively spirited driving (more aggressive than its buyers will likely attempt) with adequate power, good control and solid braking.” The EPA rates the Lucerne at 16 mpg city, 25 highway for the V-6 version, while the Super at the top of the line gets 15 mpg city, 22 highway. 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.

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 the Super is somewhat firmer and more controlled, due largely to its magnetic shocks and 18-inch wheels." Autoblog says "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."

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2009 Buick Lucerne

Comfort & Quality

Barring the use of some lesser materials, the 2009 Buick Lucerne's meets the definition of a luxury vehicle.

The spacious Buick Lucerne is comfortable for all but the tallest of passengers, while offering rich interior materials and a luxury-car feel.

“Compared with the previous generation Park Avenue known to so many Buick loyalists, the Lucerne offers an inch more rear legroom as well as more supportive seating,” says Kelly Blue Book. “Only taller riders might wish for more head clearance,” reports Consumer Guide. “Legroom is good, but foot space is tight. Some testers say the seat is too low for best support. Three-across travel is complicated by an uneven floor and cushion shape. Large door openings make entry and exit a breeze.”

According to Cars.com, "seating for either five or six occupants is available," depending on the style of front seat. Edmunds reports that "the Buick Lucerne comes standard with seats for five, but a split front bench seat can be ordered on the lower-level for six-passenger capacity...room is abundant in any position, though seat comfort is only average."

Consumer Guide notes that Buick Lucerne "[trunk] lid hinges intrude into the cargo area," and a "small rear-seat pass-through is a poor substitute for folding seatbacks." Meanwhile, the Lucerne’s "interior storage is subpar due to a small glovebox and door map pockets." Cars.com states that "the trunk holds 17 cubic feet of cargo."

The Lucerne's luxurious interior is marred by the use of cheap plastics. “Cabin materials are mostly of high quality, but a few lightweight plastic panels seem out of place given Lucerne's pricing,” says Consumer Guide. “The Super benefits from a leather-covered dashtop and upgraded trim more befitting the car's near-luxury status.” Edmunds comments that "there are still a few low-grade plastic pieces thrown into the mix, and fit and finish needs improvement."

Consumer Guide says that 2009 Buick Lucerne vehicles "were impressively quiet."  Autoblog reports that all 2009 Buick Lucerne models are "are built with an exclusive engineering process called QuietTuning to reduce, block and absorb noise from entering the interior.”

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2009 Buick Lucerne

Safety

The 2009 Buick Lucerne doesn’t hit all the right bases here, but it’s still a safe choice.

The 2009 Buick Lucerne has crash-test scores that are decent—though not noteworthy in a positive sense—for such a large, overtly secure-feeling sedan. Feature-wise, to the editors of TheCarConnection.com, the Lucerne is hit and miss with respect to safety features. The base CX model, which stickers at more than $30,000, doesn’t include electronic stability control, an active safety feature that helps avoid accidents. However there are several high-tech active-safety options that help redeem top-of-the-line Lucernes.

Crash-test ratings are strictly middle-of-the-road for a big sedan. The 2009 Buick Lucerne got four- and five-star results in crash tests administered by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and “good" and "acceptable" ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for frontal and side crash protection, respectively.

The Buick Lucerne's "Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist and an electronic stability system are optional," reports Cars.com. "Six airbags are standard in all Buick Lucernes, including side-impact and side curtain airbags," along with "all-disc antilock brakes."

"Lane-departure warning and blind-spot detection systems" are "mildly useful,” says  AutoWeek, also noting that "unlike the lane-departure system offered by Infiniti, the one Buick uses is not nearly as intrusive."

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2009 Buick Lucerne

Features

If you’re willing to pay extra, most of the latest high-tech luxury features are offered on the 2009 Buick Lucerne.

All 2009 Buick Lucernes come with an enhanced list of standard features, with uplevel CXL and Super models piling on additional equipment.

According to Kelley Blue Book, 2009 Lucernes have been given a host of new standard features including: "cornering lamps, a six-way power passenger seat, heated power outside rearview mirrors, an extended-range key fob, leather-appointed, five-passenger seating, eight-way heated driver and front-passenger seats, power lumbar adjustments, memory settings, heated leather steering wheel and outside rearview mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators.”

Edmunds reports that the 2009 Buick Lucerne can also be equipped with "a CD changer [and] a sunroof," while the CX and CXL "can be equipped with a front bench seat that increases capacity to six people." Options are also abundant; Cars.com details the options, including "rain-sensing windshield wipers and heated washer fluid [and] a touch-screen navigation system."

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Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 7
Features 8
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