Buick seems to be turning a corner with the new Lucerne, a pretty sweet luxury ride for a reasonable price that moves away from Buick's geriatric image.

Lucerne is a full-size, front-wheel-drive sedan from the upmarket General Motors division. That might sound stone boring, with visions of bland looks and mushy suspensions, but the top-end CXS tested here proved to be an interesting car with attractive styling that performed with confidence.

And in the CXS, a Northstar V-8 sourced from Cadillac is the icing on the cake. This potent V-8 provides power and refinement, and boosts Lucerne's level of sophistication. But remember, a big car with a V-8 engine equates to mediocre gas mileage.

Lucerne CXS borrows something else from Cadillac, a unique piece of technology called Magnetic Ride Control that continuously varies the suspension firmness according to road conditions and driver demands. The result varies from a soft boulevard ride that soaks up bumps and irregularities to a firmer performance feel to control body sway and suspension rebound.

The system's technology is fascinating. It uses a metallic fluid in the shock absorbers that thickens in response to magnetic inputs from electronic sensors. The more magnetism, the denser the fluid and the stiffer the suspension. Simple and effective.

For a Buick, the Lucerne hits the mark against the imports, especially with prices starting at $25,000 for a V-6 model. For the price, it's a lot of luxury car that's good-looking and performing, and if Buick's quality reputation holds up, reliable.

Vehicle type: Five-passenger, four-door sedan, front-wheel drive.

Engine: 4.6-liter V-8, 275 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, 295 pound-feet torque at 4,400 rpm.

Transmission: Four-speed automatic.

Wheelbase: 115.6 inches.

Overall length: 203.2 inches.

Curb weight: 4,013 pounds.

EPA rating: 17 city, 25 highway.

Highs: Engine refinement, slick suspension, attractive styling.

Lows: Numb steering, big turning circle, modest gas mileage.