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SEMissourian.com
Friday, January 02, 2004
Steve Robertson

A better-built Buick

Celebration model LeSabre offers large car comfort at a reasonable price

The old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," certainly applies to the current edition of the Buick LeSabre. For years it has been the best-selling full-size car on the road, and one test drive will show you why. I recently picked up a LeSabre Celebration Edition from VanMatre Buick and headed across the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge for a test drive.

To celebrate Buick's 75th birthday a new Celebration Edition model with a blacked-out grille, integrated turn-signal indicators on the outside rearview mirrors, special interior trim and 16-inch chrome-plated wheels was introduced in 2003. About 15,000 units will be built for 2004, out of LeSabre's normal production run of more than 100,000 per year. Since its introduction in 1959, more than 6 million Buick LeSabres have been sold. The LeSabre's main competition is Mercury Grand Marquis, Ford Crown Victoria, Toyota Avalon and Chrysler Concorde.

The LeSabre has graceful, flowing lines. Edges are rounded, like an aircraft, rather than angular. The traditional oval Buick grill has a tasteful chrome bezel, and the wheels, the Buick emblem, the headlights and a fender badge are the only chrome you see in a three-quarter frontal view. The tasteful design is aimed squarely at the LeSabre's target audience: adults -- particularly women over 50 years of age.

Inside, more flowing lines grace the elegant instrument panel, the doors and seats. Everything is beautifully integrated and well thought out. I liked the front passenger's dual climate control and seat heater switches that are mounted on the doors near the power window switches, which, incidentally, have the express down feature for the driver and passenger windows. The Celebration Edition features two-tone leather seats with embroidered logos, embroidered floor mats and Black Cherry wood grain on the instrument panel and doors. The steering wheel holds buttons for the cruise control, climate control and the sound system. The seats are nicely bolstered and are power adjustable in all directions. The rear seating area has air conditioning vents, a center armrest, and behind that, a small door for access to the huge trunk.

Extra attention has been paid to safety issues, as Buick owners are family-centered people who want peace of mind on the road. LeSabre received high marks in crashworthiness from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. The National Highway Transportation Safety Association gave the LeSabre a perfect five stars for frontal impacts and four stars for side impacts. There are dual-stage front and side impact airbags; shoulder harnesses that are attached to the seats, rather than the B-pillars; self-aligning head restraints that rotate forward to help reduce neck injury; and StabiliTrak, which helps the driver maintain control through a corner in slippery conditions by gently applying the brakes on one or more wheels. To help you keep your eyes on the road the Celebration Edition features a head-up display that projects a digital readout of the speedometer, turn signals, high beam and check gauges on the lower part of the windshield right in front of the driver. You also get electrochromic (auto dimming) outside rearview mirrors that are also heated and contain turn signal indicators, which help signal your intentions to drivers alongside or in your blind spot; anti-lock brakes; a theft-deterrent system and OnStar lockout protection.

Under the hood is Buick's time-tested 3.8-liter V-6 engine producing 205 horsepower and driving the front wheels via a four-speed-automatic transmission.

Out on the road

The Buick LeSabre Celebration Edition makes long distance travel a very pleasant experience. For one thing, it is equipped with an auto-leveling air suspension ride system at the rear, and coil spring suspension up front. Buicks of yesteryear had a pillowy, floating sensation on the highway, but not today's versions.

My Buick had a well-controlled ride, precise steering and subdued wind noise. You couldn't hear the engine running unless you floored the accelerator, which brought about an immediate downshift and impressive acceleration for passing. The power is well matched for the car -- I appreciated how the engine could pull the vehicle up most hills without having to shift out of overdrive. It has an idle so silky I couldn't tell if it was running unless I checked the engine instruments. The LeSabre earned an EPA mileage rating of 20-mpg city and 29-mpg highway ... impressive for a vehicle this size! Braking is excellent. The brake pedal is easy to modulate in city traffic, and at highway speed a quick stab hauls the big Buick down to a stop without fuss, thanks to the anti-lock braking.

My test drive with the LeSabre ended too soon, and I regretted returning it to the dealer. It would have been the perfect vehicle to haul my family on our annual winter migration to warmer climes. As my wife commented when she took it for a test drive, "It's a totally nonthreatening, woman's type car. You don't have to be a techno-head to be able to figure out how to unlock the doors."

More Here

 

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Ming: Thank you for posting this.

I'm very happy that the LeSabre got such a good review. The car is, to me, way ahead of the competition mentioned; the others ARE old fuddy-duddy, LeSabre has at least a little style, tweaked a little more for this Celebration Edition. But I've never considered it a lady's car at all. (My Dad had a '62 and a '68 LeSabre.)
 

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Pretty good article...it's good to see a LeSabre road test that understands that the car is not a Ferrari or a Civic. You know most mainstream magazines complain about "floaty ride" or the big size that makes the car hard to park etc. etc...

Though like most journalists, this guy has some trouble with the facts..Buicks 75th anniversary was celebrated in 1978, he must ge confused with the 100th anniversary.
 

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i have a 94 buick lesabre and i'm 19...so much for stereotypes :rolleyes: seriously though, the lesabre is a good car for what it is. mines got 145,000 on it and still runs great even though i just spent $580 getting a bunch of minor problems fixed this week. it makes a good college car and it's quite perfect for older people who just need something nice and reliable as well. the fact that i drive an old person's car really doesn't bother me though.
 

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Good review, now how about a picture. Full size buicks have been getting good reviews for a few years now. Eventually people will figure out that American companies CAN build good vehicles. With the release of the new Vette and Cobalt, it's easy to miss a car like this. That's a shame. For many of us, this would be a better choice as a daily driver. The version with the blown 3.8 is even nicer.
 

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The LeSabre is not available with the Supercharged V6, only the Park Avenue Ultra and the Regal GS have the blown 3800.


Though I would not mind if they did add the supercharged engine to the LeSabre.

Hopefully you will be seeing a new product rush at Buick, with the Regal, Park Avenue and LeSabre replacements that should be comming out in the next 24 months, also there is a convertible Buick in the works too...
 

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Originally posted by MCGARRETT@Jan 2 2004, 04:39 PM
The LeSabre is not available with the Supercharged V6, only the Park Avenue Ultra and the Regal GS have the blown 3800.


Though I would not mind if they did add the supercharged engine to the LeSabre.

Hopefully you will be seeing a new product rush at Buick, with the Regal, Park Avenue and LeSabre replacements that should be comming out in the next 24 months, also there is a convertible Buick in the works too...
look at the people who buy these cars. I doubt many or even any of them say "gee I wish I had that supercharger in here because it would sure help me get to church, bingo, and shoprite faster".

They can barely maintain the speed limit and some people want this car to have a s/c? :wacko:
 

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Originally posted by LegendNH@Jan 2 2004, 09:51 PM

look at the people who buy these cars. I doubt many or even any of them say "gee I wish I had that supercharger in here because it would sure help me get to church, bingo, and shoprite faster".

They can barely maintain the speed limit and some people want this car to have a s/c? :wacko:
they don't offer the s/c on the le sabre because it would be a threat for the park avenue. if you configure one you'll see that it's better to get a full options ultra than a base park massively optioned to match the ultra minus the s/c

old guys like to pass everyone on the highway too, and with an ulra with the touring suspension... you will do just that all day!
 

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Terrible... they make an effort to 'update' it without a cent in the interior dash... still looks cheapo.. they would rather spend money on holes in the front fender and LED turn lamps on the mirror rather than fixing what is wrong....another Lexus beater apparently :rolleyes:
 

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Originally posted by SilverZ@Jan 3 2004, 04:37 AM
Terrible... they make an effort to 'update' it without a cent in the interior dash... still looks cheapo.. they would rather spend money on holes in the front fender and LED turn lamps on the mirror rather than fixing what is wrong....another Lexus beater apparently :rolleyes:
Its an option package, not an refresh.

Crack head.... :zippy:
 

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The LeSabre is a still a great car. But it needs true bucket seats with a console to bring younger buyers on board. They eliminated this option two years ago. I love this car and its engine and I am only 39-years young. Too late since they are killing it anyway.
 

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Originally posted by LegendNH@Jan 2 2004, 09:51 PM
look at the people who buy these cars. I doubt many or even any of them say "gee I wish I had that supercharger in here because it would sure help me get to church, bingo, and shoprite faster".

They can barely maintain the speed limit and some people want this car to have a s/c? :wacko:
Yeah, that must be why all those GN's, T-types, GS's and Rivieras sold so badly back in the day. Buick has always had a strong, upscale performer in their ranks. I personally love the current GS, aspecially the SLP offering, it does need a slightly more menacing look though.
 

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Originally posted by johnd89@Jan 3 2004, 12:03 AM



they don't offer the s/c on the le sabre because it would be a threat for the park avenue. if you configure one you'll see that it's better to get a full options ultra than a base park massively optioned to match the ultra minus the s/c

old guys like to pass everyone on the highway too, and with an ulra with the touring suspension... you will do just that all day!
[/quote]
It's already a threat to the Park Ave. I sold 1 last year to a customer that traded a 98 Park, the only thing he lost was the S/C and some trunk space.

I think the Celebration is a way to test the waters, if Buick really needs a C body replacement or not. Maybe something from the G body Olds
 

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I think the Buick is going to keep both the LeSabre and the Park Avenue in the lineup, the Park Avenue is bigger, and does give Buick a flagship car that can compete against the DeVille and Town Car, though I have heard that the replacement for the Park Avenue will be rear drive and hopefully V8 powered.

The LeSabre streches all the way from the $24,000 base model to the loaded $34,000 Limited models, so it would be tough strech all the way to the $40,000 Ultra. Though it true that the top of the line Limited LeSabre is in the same range a the base Park Avenue, though in my opinion, the Park Avenue is classier.

What I was reffering too was offering the Supercharger in the LeSabre, blacking out the chrome, add bucket seats with a console, a handling package with 17 inch wheels, dual exhaust. it's sort of a " Mercury Marauder" version of the LeSabre, but we all know how well the Marauder did, :pain:

I would have called the Buick version the "Buick Wildcat"

Why not?
 

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I love the Lesabre it is big and beautiful, but it needs to die. Its old
and front drive. I also love the Park Ave., But at at 8 model years, it also needs to
die. In my mind the P/A is one of the nicest looking cars .period. ever.
It would be hard to replace a shape so nice. Thats why the Electra needs to come back. It can replace both models. GM can have a 17 foot long base model. And an 18 foot long '225' version. The name is stong and luxurious. They could even use Greek super models to promote it.(I'm a twenty year old with odd fantasies) The top of the line verision could be the small version with a Northstar v12 . It will be called the wildcat and it will probably not sell that well, but I'm dreaming so thats ok. Think about those six veniports all laden in chrome in a strait line. MMMMM chrome...
 
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