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2008 Buick Lucerne CXL - Autoweek

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2008 Buick Lucerne CXL
AT A GLANCE
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Link to Original Article @ AutoWeek | Published 07/06/07, 9:03 am et


AS-TESTED PRICE: $37,950
DRIVETRAIN: 3.8-liter V6; fwd, four-speed automatic
OUTPUT: 197 hp @ 5200 rpm, 227 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 3969 lb
FUEL ECONOMY (EPA): 20 mpg
OPTIONS: Audio system, including CD and MP3 playback, DVD-based touch-screen navigation ($1,945); luxury package, including power and heated front seats with memory, heated steering wheel ($995); driver-confidence package, including remote start, rear park assist, heated washer fluid, StabiliTrak, RainSense wipers ($995); sunroof ($900); heated and cooled seats ($895); 17-inch chrome wheels ($750); Harmon/Kardon premium audio ($495); crystal red tint premium paint ($495); side blind-zone alert ($395); lane-departure warning system ($295); chrome grille ($195)

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OUR TAKE: The Lucerne is a big car in today’s world, a smooth, quiet and comfortable big car. Settle into its soft, flat bucket seat, flip on the XM satellite radio and just cruise.

The standard six-cylinder is nicely matched with the chassis; if driven like an enthusiast, the 3.8 definitely feels underpowered. But the majority of Lucerne buyers are likely not in as big a hurry as most auto journalists. Hot-rod grandpas can always opt for the V8—or wait for the even more powerful Super trim that bows next year.

The Lucerne rides exactly as you’d expect of a Buick. Bumps and potholes are easily soaked up by the car’s soft suspension and, as expected, body roll is plentiful. Again, most buyers probably wouldn’t have it any other way. As for the Lucerne’s lane-departure warning and blind-spot detection systems, we found them mildly useful. Unlike the lane-departure system offered by Infiniti, the one Buick uses is not nearly as intrusive.

Fun to drive? Not necessarily. Near perfect at the end of a grueling day? Absolutely.
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38k for that tested Lucerne? Yikes. Dump the high tech toys and buy the damn CXS. If I had the money I would be interested in getting this car, why? "Near perfect at the end of a grueling day? Absolutely." If I have to have one car and can't afford the sports car that I desire, then at least give me a nice comfy vehicle that won't make my day worse as I'm commuting home.

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When's the MCE for the Lucerne? 2009?

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GM needs to get that dog 3800 out of a $25k sedan. Just offer the N* across the board and be done with it.

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GM needs to get that dog 3800 out of a $25k sedan. Just offer the N* across the board and be done with it.

I'd be happy if they got it out of this $38k (!) sedan. I just can't see this vehicle being worth more than a TL, G or even a 300C, if you want to go apples to apples.

Buick needs to consolidate these option packages and get the pricing within shouting distance of transaction prices. I can honestly think of 50 vehicles I'd sooner drop $38k (or less) on.

(anyone notice that's a N* vehicle in the pic?)

Edited by enzl
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I'd be happy if they got it out of this $38k (!) sedan. I just can't see this vehicle being worth more than a TL, G or even a 300C, if you want to go apples to apples.

Buick needs to consolidate these option packages and get the pricing within shouting distance of transaction prices. I can honestly think of 50 vehicles I'd sooner drop $38k (or less) on.

(anyone notice that's a N* vehicle in the pic?)

The 3800 doesn't need to be in anything. Neither does the 3500, 3400 or 3900.

For $38k there's a slew of vehicles I'd buy without even batting an eye.

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Not everyone paying $38k want a sports sedan (compact, midsize, or whatever.) :rolleyes:

The article is actually objective unlike some reponses who fail to recognize there are preferences in this world that are different from their own. The Lucerne is a great place to "de-stress" after a busy day and is comfortable for 99% of every day driving and 100% on long trips. I'd prefer the V8 also, but the 3800 is reliable and better on gas than the Northstar.

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Not everyone paying $38k want a sports sedan (compact, midsize, or whatever.) :rolleyes:

The article is actually objective unlike some reponses who fail to recognize there are preferences in this world that are different from their own. The Lucerne is a great place to "de-stress" after a busy day and is comfortable for 99% of every day driving and 100% on long trips. I'd prefer the V8 also, but the 3800 is reliable and better on gas than the Northstar.

There are engines that are just as reliable and efficient as the 3800 (3.4, 3.5, 3.9) that are more refined, sound better and just plain BETTER. GM is the only company I know of putting the same engine in its new cars that it was putting into them 10-15 years ago. Sure, the 2007 Lucerne looks better, rides better, and has better fit'n'finish than a 1995 Lesabre but its still powered by the same worthless 3800 Series II OHV V6.

Edited by bowtie_dude
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Not everyone paying $38k want a sports sedan (compact, midsize, or whatever.) :rolleyes:

The article is actually objective unlike some reponses who fail to recognize there are preferences in this world that are different from their own. The Lucerne is a great place to "de-stress" after a busy day and is comfortable for 99% of every day driving and 100% on long trips. I'd prefer the V8 also, but the 3800 is reliable and better on gas than the Northstar.

There are literally dozens of non-compact, non-sport sedans, wagons & CUV s which would get my dollar. My preference, clearly, but also, judging from objective #s like sales figures, I'd say this vehicle, which replaced both Park Ave and LeSabre, is not resonating with the masses as it should have.

IMO, the V6 doesn't help matters. And $38k for that vehicle ---especially when it shares a showroom floor with the modern, stylish & more useful Enclave at the same price---is a joke.

For $28-30k, I might look the other way. For $38k, I can't give the General a free pass---its an example of how they have left Buick to the wolves and it's myopic, old GM BS, IMO.

Even old persons who don't like to drive (or the people who feel similarly but are further from the cold hand of death) know value when they see it.

*And please refrain from 'de-stressing' while sharing the roads with me and my family---go to the gym or get a massage for that :)...

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While I would personally prefer the 3.6 be in there... I've been behind the wheel of a Lucerne V6 a few times and have no issues with the 3800. It's a completely different beast than my CTS.... and I drive it accordingly.

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I drove my father's V-6 Lucerne once and I thought it was a fine, quiet, composed, comfortable ride- no complaints. Not for me, but no complaints.

Oh, and my 'Atomic Engine Refinement-O-Meter' was on the fritz, so I couldn't get a reading vs. another car that I also wouldn't be buying on that singular deciding factor.

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Seriously though, I understand people who purchase the 3800 aren't the crowd to want to slam the pedal and get a roar and a ton of power, but I feel there should be more available. I'm the type of person that would generally be satisfied by the 3800, and be really disappointed in the few times I want to punch the gas and get a nice response. It'd be nice to see the 3.6L in there, and I hope it finds it's home there. I mean, something has to--this is it for the 3800. If they keep it on past 2008, I just don't know what to say--nor would I understand how they'd ever do it since they're not making it anymore after this year!

I say chuck it because we're giving Buick the image of a premium car company. DOHC engines seem to be flooding the other brands... why not Buick as well? The public has been brainwashed to want DOHC engines, so give it to them. It's not like they have to create them from scratch. Hell, there are tons of new ecotecs and 3.6s in Chevy and Saturn already--two brands sub-Buick.

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The 3800 had no business in the 2006 Lucerne CXL models let alone the 2008 models! And Buick discontinued the lower priced CXL V8 so that you are now stuck with 40K CXS's which sit languishing on the lots for ages. The only model the 3800 should be in is the value leader 25K base version(now 27K for 2008) and it has no business in a 38K sedan. Lutz and crew screwed up hard on this one. Just think how much more seriously magazine editors and consumers would take this car with the 3.6 and 6 speed automatic, which is already available in the 24K Saturn Aura but not this 38K Buick. And GM wonders why it's in it's current predicament

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The 3800 had no business in the 2006 Lucerne CXL models let alone the 2008 models! And Buick discontinued the lower priced CXL V8 so that you are now stuck with 40K CXS's which sit languishing on the lots for ages. The only model the 3800 should be in is the value leader 25K base version(now 27K for 2008) and it has no business in a 38K sedan. Lutz and crew screwed up hard on this one. Just think how much more seriously magazine editors and consumers would take this car with the 3.6 and 6 speed automatic, which is already available in the 24K Saturn Aura but not this 38K Buick. And GM wonders why it's in it's current predicament

....or could they be hampered by union contracts and commitments to keep the engine plant where the 3.8 is made open? Just wondering. I am sure a lot of GM's plans are tainted by the prospect of antagonizing contract commitments. I was surprised to see the 3.8 in the Buick and not the Impala, but how many fires can Lutz & Co. put out at once?

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....or could they be hampered by union contracts and commitments to keep the engine plant where the 3.8 is made open? Just wondering. I am sure a lot of GM's plans are tainted by the prospect of antagonizing contract commitments. I was surprised to see the 3.8 in the Buick and not the Impala, but how many fires can Lutz & Co. put out at once?

I've actually been wasting my time, okay, maybe not totally wasting my time, just right now trying to determine whether GM was going to go ahead and put the 3.6L / 6 spd. automatic combo that's in their Aura in the Lucerne to compete with the Avalon. But it looks like they haven't, and I think this post is probably why. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it has something to do with satisfying a prior commitment to some sort of UAW nonsense. Trying to fend off Toyota must be the most frustrating job for GM's management right now!

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GM is the only company I know of putting the same engine in its new cars that it was putting into them 10-15 years ago.

nissan VQ

Ford 3.0 Duratec and 4.6

Chrysler 2.7 and 3.5

Toyota 2.5-3.0 litre V6s only recently replaced

Not defending GM on this one, I think the 3.6 should be in there as the base engine.... but I have driven a Lucerne with the 3800 multiple times and it is a perfectly pleasing engine for the purpose of this car. If you want more power, get the N*.

Show of hands... how many of you who are bashing the Lucerne with the 3800 have actually spent more than a round the block test drive behind the wheel?

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nissan VQ

Ford 3.0 Duratec and 4.6

Chrysler 2.7 and 3.5

Toyota 2.5-3.0 litre V6s only recently replaced

Not defending GM on this one, I think the 3.6 should be in there as the base engine.... but I have driven a Lucerne with the 3800 multiple times and it is a perfectly pleasing engine for the purpose of this car. If you want more power, get the N*.

Show of hands... how many of you who are bashing the Lucerne with the 3800 have actually spent more than a round the block test drive behind the wheel?

Well, not that I disagree with you, but I've rolled my eyes at the Ford 3.0 being around, and the Chrysler 2.7 is not something I like seeing in existence. The VQ has been continually updated in many ways, including power increases. It makes a substantial amount more power than the larger GM 3.8L does.

The 3.8 just shouldn't be in a car of this price range, not to mention it's supposed to be premium?!

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the 3800 is buick. It's a buick engine and any owner of the 3800 will want another car w/ it, because it is so great.

Stop with the 3800 hatin', it's a great engine.

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the 3800 is buick. It's a buick engine and any owner of the 3800 will want another car w/ it, because it is so great.

Stop with the 3800 hatin', it's a great engine.

:yes: - A lot of people here still don't understand this. I've owned two Buicks with this engine and grew up in three Buicks with this engine. Is that sad? Should I be ashamed? My parents and I are a testament to the reputation of reliability this engine has. Do I think Buick could benefit from a new DOHC V6 providing it has similar reliability with better performance and fuel economy? Yes, but GM didn’t have anything of the such until recently. There are still tens of thousands of loyal LeSabre owners out there that look for this engine when they come in to trade. The 3800 will be dead in a few years, but it was not out of place in the Park Avenue or LeSabre, nor is it in the Lucerne.

It's near time for this engine to be put to rest, but it has served GM and Buick well. It's reliable, inexpensive to maintain, and powerful enough to move two tons with little rev or effort. GM is making a wise move in how it phases out this engine. Many Buick loyalists would only give up the 3800 for originally Cadillac sourced/engineered engines like the 3.6l and Northstar. Not a bad concession as far as they are concerned.

As a side note, I never personally bought a Buick for this engine, but it never inhibited me from my decision either.

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Not getting into the debate here, but when you think long term or used:

1. Cadillacs are expensive to fix period.

2. That Northstar engine is expensive to fix and not as reliable either. I know. You have to get past the horsepower thing.

3. The Aurora V8 and Shortstar V6 are from the Northstar family of engines. The only place they got used was Oldsmobiles. When Intrigue and Aurora died, the Shortstar died too. Why? It was not severing GM in any other applications.

4. Aurora owners that go to Cadillac dealerships get treated like dirt by Cadillac dealers because they are the only ones that can repair the engine. They know it. I have seen cases where they will not fix it either.

5. The last time Cadillac had a reliable engine was the 4.9 Liter V8.

6. That Northstar engine is high maintenance too. I do not trust that engine.

Cars are like buying small houses and making an investment. You cannot just drop and engine in a car. I know as I finding this out with my Toronado. I wanted to put the 3800 Series II in my car, but because of the pcm, bcm, ecm and a few other items, I cannot. I have to go with the the factory 3800 Series I. Buick cannot just drop the 3.6 liter V6 in that car. It is a matter of economics when switching engines in a model life cycle.

I like the 3800 as it has been reliable, efficient, and nicely powered. Yes, it is getting old. Wished GM would have redesigned it.

Edited by NINETY EIGHT REGENCY
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You basically said the same thing 6 times.

Cadillac has the 3.6 which so far is proving to be quite reliable.

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I will rebutt that the Northstar has proven to be extremely reliable and dependable if - like all modern engines - proper maintenance is done. I cannot argue with the lack of attentiveness or service given by Cadillac dealers to Olds owners, but that's more a condition of the dealer, not the engine.

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You basically said the same thing 6 times.

Cadillac has the 3.6 which so far is proving to be quite reliable.

I did not say anything about the 3.6. I was talking about the Northstar. I said Buick cannot just drop the engine in the car.

I will rebutt that the Northstar has proven to be extremely reliable and dependable if - like all modern engines - proper maintenance is done. I cannot argue with the lack of attentiveness or service given by Cadillac dealers to Olds owners, but that's more a condition of the dealer, not the engine.

I repeat, I do not trust that engine. I used to be a fan of it, until I used to go to the dealership with my first Ninety Eight all the time and the repair bills I saw for people who had the Northstar V8. My own mechanic charges more to fix that engine and he is independent. He even said he would not buy a car with that engine.

Information on trouble areas on the STS with the Northstar V8 ( 1998-2004)

Engine knock: The engine makes ticking noises and knocking noises that sound like main bearing knock, often due to cylinder carbon buildup. (1998-99)

Engine knock: Engine knock, especially when cold, may be due to carbon buildup in combustion chambers. (2000-01)

Engine temperature: Overheating and coolant loss may be due to rough surface on radiator filler neck. Neck should be sanded smooth and cap replaced. (1999-2000)

Fuel gauge: The fuel gauge reads empty or swings between empty and full due to problem with the in-tank sending unit. (1998)

Oil leak: Beware rear main seal leaks on Northstar engine. (1996-99)

Information on trouble areas on STS with Northstar V8 (2005-2006)

Fuel gauge: The engine may not start or may stall because the tank is empty yet the gauge shows fuel remaining, or the fuel gauge will not show full after refilling due to sulfur corrosion of the fuel level sender and if after treating with Fuel System Cleaner PLUS the problem remains, the sender may need to be replaced. (2005-06)

Oil leak: Oil leaks at the timing cover on 4.6L engines may require a gasket or a new timing cover. (2004-05)

Years later, and that whole oil leak and head gasket issue is still a problem. Fuel gauge still a problem.

To repair the timing chain?? Over a thousand dollars... That is before labor. The price? $1,090

Real reliable huh?? I do not trust that engine.

Notice that the CTS does not use the Northstar engine. It could have. It does not. The new one 2008 does not use it either.

Repair costs:

Cadillac with a Northstar V8:

Item Name Repair Cost

A/C Compressor $730

Alternator $735

Automatic Transmission or Transaxle $1,350

Brakes $570

Constant Velocity Joints $1,050

Exhaust System $595

Radiator $520

Shocks and/or Struts $1,350

Timing Chain or Belt $1,090

Buick with a 3800 V6:

Item Name Repair Cost

A/C Compressor $500

Alternator $265

Automatic Transmission or Transaxle $850

Brakes $365

Constant Velocity Joints $750

Exhaust System $475

Radiator $450

Shocks and/or Struts $900

Timing Chain or Belt $325

Edited by NINETY EIGHT REGENCY
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As a side note, I never personally bought a Buick for this engine, but it never inhibited me from my decision either.

Actually after owning my 3100 Skylark and having two separate blown head gaskets, I made my next decision deliberately a 3800. Hoping it would last as long as my first LeSabre which had 294,006 miles on it when it died (without me giving it oil for a few months). I've owned 3 3800s to date and I have never even had a slight problem with any of them.

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