Despite periodic rumors that the Buick badge could disappear someday soon, the long-lived General Motors division is introducing yet another new product for 2006 following the debut of the LaCrosse sedan and Terraza minivan a year ago. Considered an entry-luxury front-wheel-drive full-size sedan, the Lucerne was introduced at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show. Buick expects the three new models to account for three-fourths of the company's sales.
This is the first Buick passenger car with available V-8 power in the past decade. The 4.6-liter 32-valve dual-overhead-cam V-8 produces an estimated 275 horsepower. Lucernes can also be equipped with a 195-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 that meets Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle standards. Both engines feature electronic throttle control.
Six airbags, including a new dual-depth front passenger airbag, are installed. To enhance ride and handling qualities, the Lucerne is the first Buick to offer Magnetic Ride Control, and GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability system is available. Lucernes can be equipped with a DVD-based navigation system, XM Satellite Radio, a 245-watt nine-speaker audio system, a remote starter, heated windshield-washer fluid and rain-sensing wipers.
Buick emphasizes the QuietTuning of the Lucerne and other models, which the automaker claims will reduce or tune out unwanted wind, road and powertrain noise. Three trim levels are available: CX, CXL and CXS. Sales begin in fall 2005.
Design cues stem from Buick's most recent concept car, the Velite, which appeared at the 2004 New York International Auto Show. Front-end styling of the Lucerne features a new waterfall-style grille that uses thin vertical vanes and includes a chrome Buick tri-shield emblem. Polycarbonate headlight modules that taper into the front fenders flank the grille. The front fascia features split air intakes.
Freshly designed chrome portholes — they're machined and set high in each front fender — are reminiscent of those on historic Buicks. Lucerne CX and CXL models with V-6 power have three portholes on each side, while V-8 sedans get four portholes per side — a differentiating idea that reaches as far back as 1949.
A steep, 60-degree windshield leads into a roofline that flows into a 70-degree rear window. Horizontal taillamps with floating inner lenses wrap into the deck lid and are separated by a Buick tri-shield emblem. CXS models with V-8 power feature chrome-tipped dual exhaust pipes.
Buick promotes the Lucerne's snug body gaps and tight wheel-to-wheel well relationships. Chrome wheels are optional, and painted aluminum wheels hold 18-inch tires on the CXS sedan. The CX gets 16-inch aluminum wheels, and CXL models wear 17-inch rubber.
Built on a 115.5-inch wheelbase, the Lucerne measures 204 inches long overall, stands 58 inches tall and is 74 inches wide.
Seating for either five or six occupants is available. The upholstery features French seams and stitching. Second-row legroom can be as much as 41 inches, courtesy of the Lucerne's long wheelbase. Second-row knee clearance is 5.5 inches, and the trunk holds 17 cubic feet of cargo.
Under the Hood
The Lucerne is available with one of two engines. In the CX or CXL, the 3.8-liter V-6 produces an estimated 195 hp at 5,200 rpm. Standard in the CXS and optional in the CXL, the 4.6-liter V-8 delivers an estimated 275 hp at 5,600 rpm and 300 pounds-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Both engines work with a four-speed-automatic transmission and run on regular-grade gasoline.
Six airbags are standard in all Lucernes: a dual-stage driver's airbag, a dual-depth front passenger airbag, and side-impact and side curtain-type devices.