Buick suffers the taint of microwaved leftovers. Every model found at a Buick dealership looks and smells like it's ready for consumption, but possesses the shelf life of leftover lasagna. LaCrosse, Rainier, Rendezvous, Terraza, and now, the 2006 Buick Lucerne, are band-aids designed to shore up sales until the real Buick renaissance begins with the reintroduction of rear-wheel-drive to this formerly proud premium General Motors division.
We're not drinking the corporate Kool-Aid, but of this rag-tag group, the 2006 Lucerne has clearly benefited from the revitalization currently sweeping GM and, more than any other vehicle found in a Buick showroom, serves to support the brand's positioning of attainable elegance. This is no dream car, but it strikes us as an interesting alternative to the equally cushy Lexus ES 330.
Replacing the LeSabre and Park Avenue in Buick's lineup, the 2006 Lucerne is a large, front-wheel-drive sedan based on an extensively re-engineered version of the existing LeSabre platform. GM's familiar 3.8-liter, 195-horsepower V6 engine is standard, but a 4.6-liter V8 estimated to make 275 horsepower is available, making the Lucerne the first Buick passenger car in a decade to be equipped with an eight-cylinder engine. Either engine is matched to a four-speed automatic transmission.
Design and Safety
Inside, a new dashboard features tighter seams and flush surfaces, helping to impart a quality, upscale look and feel. The Buick Lucerne includes QuietTuning, body insulation designed to reduce wind, road, and engine noise in the cabin. The Lucerne also features plenty of room for five passengers.
Standard safety equipment includes a dual-stage driver airbag, a new dual-depth front passenger airbag, side-impact airbags, and side-curtain airbags. The dual-depth airbag design takes occupant seatbelt usage, seating position, and crash severity into account to deploy the front passenger airbag at a shallow depth or a deeper depth to protect the passenger. The 2006 Buick Lucerne is also equipped with OnStar telematics, which includes a notification system that alerts rescue personnel in the event that the airbags deploy. StabiliTrak stability control also comes standard.
Arriving in the fall of 2005, the 2006 Buick Lucerne is yet to be priced. We'd guess that base models with the V6 engine would overlap with higher-end versions of the Buick LaCrosse, with loaded Lucerne CXS models closing in on $40,000.
Though Buick still has a ways to go before it truly represents attainable elegance, the 2006 Lucerne is a clear step in the right direction, if not the final piece of the puzzle.
Photos courtesy of General Motors