KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
With its huge cabin, lavish appointments and all-new Super trim, the 2008 Buick Lucerne increases its potential to lure back the coveted import buyer, and more importantly, to attract a younger following. Although not quite an image breaker like the legendary Grand National, the Lucerne is nevertheless changing people's mind about the Buick brand. Gone from the company flagship is the stereotypical cushy ride, soft seats and numb steering, replaced by a Cadillac-derived chassis outfitted with two potent engine options and a sophisticated sense of style. Although classified as a "near-luxury" car, the Lucerne's combination of affordable pricing and rich content offers those considering a Lincoln, Acura or Volvo a legitimate alternative with some serious cost savings.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're a current or former Buick large sedan lover, or have been away from roomy, comfy big American sedans for a while and would like a good reason to return, Lucerne is easily the best full-size Buick ever and one of the best full-size American cars of any brand.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you can't get comfortable with the idea of picking a domestic brand versus a higher-image import, you may not care for the new Lucerne. This cleanly-crafted four-door looks good enough to earn more youthful (read fiftyish) buyers than the previous Park Avenue, but it's still no kids' cool cruiser.
What's New for 2008
The big news for 2008 is the rekindling of the Super name, which accompanies a more powerful version of the CXS trim's Northstar V8 engine, revised suspension tuning and unique interior design themes. New options include a Side Blind Zone Alert system that warns of vehicles in the driver's blind spot and a Lane Departure Warning system.
We spent quality time on freeways, around town and on challenging two-lanes in both base V6 and top-line V8 CXS Lucernes and found much to like and little to criticize. The standard car allows relatively spirited driving (more aggressive than its buyers will likely attempt) with adequate power, good control and solid braking. Only its ultra-light power steering disappointed us, yet it might please typical buyers. The V8-powered CXS would be our choice for its full complement of features and outstanding ride and handling -- although its magnetic power steering also struck us as a bit light and devoid of feel. Especially impressive were the unusually low noise levels inside both cabins, thanks to Buick's standard QuietTuning.
Magnetic Ride Control (with StabiliTrak and Brake Assist)
Using magnetically charged particles suspended in a synthetic fluid, the Lucerne's shocks continually adjust to varying road surfaces and driving conditions, this remarkable feature responds far faster than conventional valve-damping systems to provide the rare combination of exceptional twisty-road handling and silky smooth highway ride.
Remote Vehicle Start
GM's remote start lets you start the engine and warm or cool the cabin (while the car stays securely locked) well in advance of departing. Once you've tried it you won't want to live without it.
The Lucerne's 203.2-inch overall length gives Buick engineers plenty of leeway in designing a roomy, spacious interior. Compared with the old Park Avenue, the Lucerne offers an inch more rear legroom as well as more supportive seating. This compares well to Chrysler's 300C and Ford's Taurus, and substantially out-spaces Toyota's Avalon and the much pricier Lexus GS. The highly refined interior fits are tight -- materials and finishes are premium with excellent attention to detail -- and Buick's "QuietTuning" substantially reduces most road, wind and powertrain noise.
Unlike the demure LaCrosse, the Lucerne sets the styling theme for the next generation of Buick passenger cars. With a shapely new interpretation of the marque's signature waterfall grille between jewel-like projector-beam headlamps, its look is athletic, graceful and upscale American with a touch of Lexus. Twin under-the-bumper front air intakes sport a single horizontal chrome rib apiece, which are echoed by a slim bright accent along the decklid's lower edge. The sleek roofline holds a distinctively-shaped rear pillar. 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.
Notable Standard Equipment
Lucerne's six standard airbags include side-impact thorax and roof-rail air-curtain bags, a dual-stage driver bag and a GM-patented dual-depth front passenger bag. Also standard are power rack-and-pinion steering, power driver's seat, windows, mirrors and door locks with remote keyless entry, six-speaker AM/FM/CD with auxiliary input jack, XM Satellite Radio, four-spoke tilt steering wheel with speed and audio controls, PASS-Key III theft-deterrent system, 16-inch alloy wheels and tires with tire pressure monitoring, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), traction control, Buick's QuietTuning (which includes laminated steel and laminated windshield and side glass) and GM's OnStar convenience and security system.
Notable Optional Equipment
The mid-range CXL adds automatic climate control, heated outside mirrors and power front passenger seat. The top-level CXS and Super boast the Northstar V8, 18-inch wheels and tires, Magnetic Ride Control with StabiliTrak, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, heated windshield wiper fluid, rear park assist and power lumbar support. Beyond the trim-level equipment, options include heated/cooled eight-way adjustable power front seats, Harman/Kardon audio, a Driver Confidence Package with ultrasonic rear park assist and heated windshield washer fluid (standard on CXS and Super), six-passenger seating (with a 40/20/40 split front seat), power sunroof, touch-screen navigation and Side Blind Zone Alert and Land Departure Warning (available in conjunction with the Driver's Confidence package.
Under the Hood
GM's reliable workhorse, the 3.8-liter overhead-valve V6, has been developed and refined through many years to provide a surprisingly pleasing balance of performance and economy. In a rare appearance outside of a Cadillac, the smooth and powerful 275-horsepower (292 in the Super) dual-overhead cam Northstar V8 offers substantially stronger performance at a one- to two-mile-per-gallon sacrifice in fuel economy. The standard four-speed automatic could use another ratio or two to better compete with the five- and six-speed automatics found in upper-level imports and some domestics.
197 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
227 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/25
275 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
295 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23
4.6-liter V8 (Exclusive to Super)
292 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
288 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22
The 2008 Lucerne has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) ranging from just over $27,500 for the base CX, about $30,000 for a CXL, and nearly $43,000 for a CXS with all the bells and whistles. Given its features and options, the Lucerne more than matches a similarly-equipped Chrysler 300, Acura RL and even Volvo S80. To ensure you make your best deal, be sure to click on Fair Purchase Prices to see what consumers are actually paying and click the Incentives tab for information on promotional offers. In terms of resale value, the Lucerne is projected to fare about as well as its domestic competitors, but do considerably worse than its more expensive import-brand competitors.