Buicks full-size LeSabre sedan still rides the same front-wheel-drive platform and is powered by the same 3.8-liter V-6 engine as the Pontiac Bonneville, though Pontiac also offers a supercharged V-6. Some 10,000 LeSabre examples of a new Celebration Edition will be built and will feature blacked-out grille bars, body-colored lower fascias and rocker moldings, 16-inch chromed-aluminum wheels, two-tone leather seating and Black Cherry woodgrain interior trim. GMs OnStar communication system, the StabiliTrak electronic stability system and a head-up windshield display are standard. Turn-signal indicators are incorporated into the side mirrors.
Side-impact airbags have left the Custom versions standard-equipment list. An XM Satellite Radio is optional in the Celebration Edition and Limited models. Redesigned for the 2000 model year, the LeSabre has been the top-selling model in its class, but its due for a face-lift soon.
The LeSabre is conservative in styling and is distinguished by its familiar wide, oval, vertical-bar grille. Riding a 112.2-inch wheelbase, the sedan measures 200 inches long overall. A Gran Touring Package features 16-inch touring tires and a specially tuned suspension with a rear stabilizer bar.
A standard front bench seat gives the LeSabre full six-passenger capacity. Front bucket seats are optional but are installed in only a small number of LeSabre models. The Limited sedan has a rear center armrest with a pass-thru to the spacious trunk, which holds 18 cubic feet of cargo.
Buick calls the front seat a catchers mitt style because of its operation. In a rear-end collision, each head restraint moves up and forward, close to the occupants head, to reduce the risk of whiplash injury. The OnStar system is standard in the Limited model and comes as a factory-installed option in the base Custom sedan.
Under the Hood
Buicks familiar 3.8-liter V-6 engine produces 205 horsepower and drives the front wheels via a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes are standard on all LeSabre models. Side-impact airbags are standard in the Limited and an option in the Custom sedan. Dual-stage front airbags inflate at one of two levels depending on crash severity. LATCH child-safety seat tethers are installed.
Nothing like the big Buicks of old, the modern LeSabre offers plenty of passenger space, a satisfying ride experience, reasonable fuel economy and a moderate price. Not only is performance smooth, but this sedan is also more satisfying than many shoppers may expect. The LeSabre accelerates eagerly practically lunging ahead when the gas pedal hits the floor and takes full advantage of its excellent powertrain. Downshifts are quick and easy, which helps give the sensation of a lighter automobile.
Its handling is passable, and the LeSabre feels more secure in corners and curves than some smaller, sportier models. Its soft suspension permits too much body lean and tire squealing to allow spirited driving when the road gets seriously twisty.
In terms of comfort, the suspension cushions small bumps neatly. The seat bottoms are short, nicely cushioned and supportive, but they lack side bolstering. The gauges are easy to read, but green lights on the dashboard at night can be annoying. Despite its old-fashioned personality, the LeSabre runs quietly and is more enjoyable to drive than most big cars.