Versus the competiton:
No worries, no cares.
Trading baseball cards with friends until the new model year Chevrolet or Ford zipped by, starting an argument about which looked better and moved faster and which each of us would tool around in when the time came.
If memory serves, no one in the group stood up to defend the Buick LeSabre. And no one, even the guy who eagerly collected Washington Senators cards, admitted to aspiring to own a LeSabre.
Though that was then and this is now, we still don’t hear anyone say that they can’t wait for the mortgage to be paid off and the kids to be out of school so they can sit back, relax and purchase a Buick LeSabre.
Not that it isn’t a fine car–it’s one of the best on the market and the top-selling full-size sedan for a gazillion years–but LeSabre is a machine for OFs–or Old Folks (perhaps you thought something else?).
Maybe you don’t aspire to a LeSabre, but if you find yourself in one, there aren’t a lot of reasons to complain.
We test drove the 2001 LeSabre Limited. Perhaps old in terms of conservative styling even after its 2000 model-year remake, but certainly reliable. Usually LeSabre returns to the dealership only for oil changes before making the final trek years later to a trade-in on a new one.
LeSabre has more room than one couple can possibly use, even if both bring their luggage and golf clubs.
And it has more than enough power to get you going from the light, up the hill, down the merger lane and along the interstate–while getting 19 m.p.g. city/30 m.p.g. highway in a full-size sedan powered by a quiet 3.8-liter, 205-horsepower V-6 with 4-speed automatic.
Comfort galore front seat and back. Wide supportive seats so you can relax on short- or long-distance trips.
Plenty of amenities, such as dual-zone climate control that allows separate settings for Ma and Pa upfront; AM/FM stereo with cassette and CD player; 10-way power, heated seats, though if you aren’t comfy and cozy after about the third way, you should seek medical help; dual-stage air bags that base deployment speed on severity of impact; side-impact air bags; four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock and traction control; rain-sensing wipers that go to work on their own without a wake-up call; and an OnStar emergency communications system.
But then there’s the styling, phoned in by the same outfit that does most full-size General Motors sedans–Bland & Boring. In fairness, B&B must be doing a satisfactory job, because you’ll see the same influence in just about every Japanese family sedan today.
The LeSabre Limited we tested starts at $28,796. The gamut of comfort and convenience items is standard (including, for some reason, the trunk cargo net designed to help motorists part with buttons, pens and sometimes fingers when trying to load/unload packages). Only a few options are offered because few are needed.
We’d advise just two–the $235 Gran Touring suspension that’s tuned for smooth ride with very little sacrifice in handling (you have to expect some body lean in a sedan this long and wide) and that comes with 16-inch, all-season radial tires designed to resist road harshness; and the $730 driver confidence package that includes StabiliTrak, the advanced vehicle stability control system that uses engine management and/or ABS to help maintain control in a skid or slide in corners or turns.
Forget the $190 optional memory seats/mirrors with power lumbar driver seat unless you switch drivers daily.
Auto Intelligence, an automotive Web site being set up and still not available to the public, says LeSabre, along with Century and Park Avenue, is in for dramatic change in the ’04-’05 time frame. The Century name is slated to be dropped with the car joining the Regal fold, and LeSabre might be renamed Signia; and Park Avenue, LaCrosse. Buick wouldn’t comment, but Ron Zarrella, president of GM’s North American Operations, told us “LeSabre is a name we’ll never walk away from. We have too loyal of a customer base for that car.”