2008 Buick Lucerne Super Preview – New York Auto Show: Buick, GM’s premium division that has been fighting to attract a broader demographic, announces a new addition to the Lucerne family for 2008 – the Super. Thing is, the company is reintroducing the Super name after a 50-year hiatus, now used to represent added style, features, and power. Great, but when you’re aiming for a younger crowd, why choose a heritage name that resonates with folks in their 70s, or those who were cruising in their big bad Buicks five decades ago? And if this Super sedan represents the best your brand has to offer, why is it less powerful than the smaller LaCrosse? Yeah, we’re not sure either.
Buick offers a nice package in the Lucerne, one with plenty of room, inoffensive styling, competent powertrains, and a reasonable price. The addition of the Super trim adds a bit more flavor to the current lineup of budget-minded V6 variants and more luxurious V8-powered editions. Changes are minor, but might be just enough to attract shoppers looking for a sense of premium exclusivity, and may provide the edge needed for those on the fence regarding the purchase of a Buick or one of the brand’s competitors. The Northstar engine sourced from Cadillac also lends some esteem, though it seems odd that the smaller LaCrosse Super hits the streets with more power.
Interestingly (surprisingly?), Buick decided to outfit the larger of its two front-wheel-drive Super sedans with a less powerful engine. Whereas the midsize LaCrosse gets a 5.3-liter V8 pushing 300 horses, the full-size Lucerne Super features a 4.6-liter Northstar V8 which ponies up only 292 horsepower. Not only that, the Lucerne’s 288 lb.-ft. of torque also comes up short compared to the LaCrosse’s 323. Both share a four-speed automatic transmission; the Lucerne rides on a MacPherson strut up front and a multi-link assembly keeps the tail on track, all of it reigned in by a Super-tuned version of GM’s Magnetic Ride Control system. Filling the wheel wells are standard 18-inch alloys, with chrome rims available on the options list.
If you can visualize today’s Buick Lucerne, mix in a few minor visual tweaks, and presto, you’ve got the new Super model. The most obvious of the changes is a larger chrome grille, and a keen eye will pick up on the reworked fascias and special alloy wheels. Portholes on the front fenders, four on each side to represent eight cylinders under the hood, have been carried over from lesser CXS model. Inside, the Super has its own interior upgrades including special stitching, suede seat inserts, and chrome accents.
Buick’s General Manager, Steve Shannon, says “We’re bringing back the Super badge to represent our most premium models. Our Supers are not just about increased horsepower; they represent an elevation in design, premium content and ride characteristics that are exclusive to the Super badge.” Officials also claim that the Lucerne Super, along with the new LaCrosse Super, will be followed by other Buick Supers. Can you say Enclave Super? If not, start working on it. However, you should probably feel safe in permanently erasing any nightmarish images of a Rendezvous Super from your mind.
What we think of the 2008 Buick Lucerne Super depends largely on pricing, which has yet to be announced. Sure, 17 extra horsepower, some upgrades to the underpinnings, and a few visual enhancements are fine, but it’s only attractive as a package if the price is right. And, to be quite frank, there’s nothing really super about a full-size, front-wheel-drive premium sedan that tops out at 292 horsepower, especially when it’s mixed in with news about an upcoming rear-drive Hyundai sedan pushing an estimated 300+ horsepower and likely packed with features not available from Buick. Super? Maybe to brand loyalists.
Photos courtesy of Thom Blackett and General Motors