Buick is overhauling its lineup and the Lucerne is the second new car, following last year's introduction of the LaCrosse. In keeping with tradition, the 2006 Buick Lucerne is positioned as an affordable entry-level full-size luxury car. The Lucerne replaces the LeSabre and the Park Avenue, which are no longer being made.
Buick says the V6 models compete with the Toyota Avalon and Lexus ES 330, and likes to compare the V8 models with the Infiniti M and Lexus GS, which cost much more than the top of the line Lucerne CXS. In any case, we found the new Lucerne to be a plush, highly competent full-size sedan at a compelling price.
Buick's new flagship sedan boasts clean lines suggestive of fine German sedans, while maintaining Buick traditions. Inside, it's elegant and comfortable and easy. Underway, the Lucerne is smooth and quiet, but its steering is precise and it handles winding roads with aplomb. These are benefits of a new chassis and structure the Lucerne shares with the all-new 2006 Cadillac DTS. The DTS and Lucerne represent GM's new, full-size, front-wheel-drive luxury sedans.
The most enjoyable of the new Buicks is the Lucerne CXS with its Magnetic Ride Control, a sports suspension developed for the Corvette and Cadillac XLR that further improves handling. Yet we might opt for the Lucerne CXL V6, a very enjoyable car to drive, with agile handling and plenty of performance.
The 2006 Buick Lucerne is offered in three trim levels. All come standard with a comprehensive list of safety features including six airbags that include a dual-stage driver's bag and a dual depth front passenger bag. Traction control, anti-lock brakes, and a tire pressure monitor are standard on all models. OnStar comes standard with the first year of Safe and Sound service; OnStar operators will dispatch rescue crews if your airbag deploys and you don't respond to calls.
The CX ($26,265) comes standard with the V6 engine cloth seats for five people, a power driver's seat, power windows, power door locks, manually operated heating and air conditioning, AM/FM/CD with six speakers and steering wheel audio controls, cruise control, remote keyless entry, 16-inch aluminum wheels. Six-passenger seating is available by ordering the front bench seat ($250). The optional Comfort and Convenience package ($450) includes features an electrochromic rearview mirror, Universal Home Remote, illuminated visors with vanity mirrors, intermittent front wipers with RainSense, and body-colored outside power, heated, mirrors. The Driver Confidence Package ($595) includes rear park assist, remote vehicle start and theft alarm.
The CXL upgrades with leather seats (for five or six passengers), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power passenger's seat, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The Comfort and Convenience package comes standard. The CXL also comes with 17-inch painted aluminum wheels and slightly firmer suspension tuning. The CXL is available with the V6 ($28,265) or V8 ($30,265). The CXL V8 comes with firmer suspension damping and GM's magnetic assist steering system. To help maintain better control in adverse conditions GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control system is available as an option on the CXL V8 model ($495).
The CXS ($35,265) comes standard with the V8, 18-inch wheels, StabiliTrak, and Magnetic Ride Control for sportier handling. CXS also has upgraded leather seats with eight-way power seats with memory for driver and front passenger. The CXS also features a nine-speaker, 280-watt Harman Kardon audio system with XM Satellite Radio.
Options for the Lucerne include heated/cooled front seats; factory-installed remote start; Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist; rain-sensing windshield wiper system; the first heated windshield washer fluid application in its class; six-disc in-dash CD changer with MP3 capability; and a DVD-based navigation system.