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#3

in 2009 Affordable Large Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $9,822 - $15,390
Original MSRP: $29,265 - $40,205
MPG: 17 City / 26 Hwy
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2009 Buick Lucerne Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The Lucerne offers a smooth ride, and the option of V8 power. Its handling, however, is too loose for many reviewers, and though the power of its base V6 has improved, it's still not up to class standards.

  • "A plush, serene ride is clearly every Lucerne's top priority and its highest achievement -- even on the more sporting Super version." -- Edmunds
  • "Decent performance with a smooth ride...attractive attributes for those who must endure a grueling daily commute or travel long distances." -- Forbes
  • "CXL models are compliant over bumps, but suffer some unwanted body motions, including float at higher speeds and bobbing over broken surfaces around town. Supers, with their standard Magnetic Ride Control suspension, are nearly as compliant and better composed." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Lucerne is available with a 3.9-liter V6 engine making 227 horsepower or a Northstar V8 making 275. Both are weak engines for their size -- competitors offer more powerful, more fuel-efficient options in both V6 and V8 powerplants. Both are available only with an antiquated four-speed automatic transmission, while most competitors offer five- or six-speeds even in base models. Reviewers say the V8 is enough power for the car's weight, but the V6 isn't. The EPA estimates that V6-powered Lucernes should get 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, while V8 models are rated for just 15/22 mpg.

  • "Acceleration is merely adequate with the V6, while the Lucerne Super with its V8 provides brisk performance. But even when paired with the V8, the outdated four-speed automatic transmission sucks some of the spirit out of the husky engine." -- Edmunds
  • "Despite its additional 30 horsepower, the new V6 doesn't feel much more responsive than the previous one, still providing only adequate around-town power." -- Consumer Guide
  • With the V8, "The straight-ahead thrust of the horsepower was sufficient." -- Boston Globe
  • The Northstar V8 "doesn't provide the kind of low-rpm torque typically associated with eight-cylinder engine, but hits its stride as the revs rise, and it belts out a pleasing roar when pushed hard." -- Cars.com
  • The V8 "has plenty of spirit to stay ahead of the pack on the interstate." --Chicago Tribune
  • The transmission is "responsive, but a modern five-speed automatic should be used in such a new car." -- MSN
  • "Five speeds are routine even in Hyundais and Kias, while six and seven speeds are offered by several upscale brands." -- Forbes

Handling and Braking

The Lucerne is unquestionably tuned for a soft, gentle ride. While reviewers appreciate the floaty sensation in highway cruising, it hurts the car in the corners, where handling can suffer. The steering is light, but the turning radius is the worst in its class, and the brakes elicit many reviewer complaints.

  • "Handling is mediocre on all Lucernes save the Super, which is somewhat firmer and more controlled thanks to its automatically adjustable suspension and 18-inch wheels. Steering is a weak spot on all Lucernes -- it's slow and wobbly on V6 models, yet overly quick on the Super, which has magnetic variable-assist technology. Finally, the brakes are disappointing as well." -- Edmunds
  • "Agile but hardly athletic." -- Car and Driver
  • "I was hoping for a little more firmness in the steering wheel and a little less body sway on gentle, high-speed Interstate corners." -- Sacramento Bee
  • "Steering is nicely weighted and moderately communicative."-- Forbes

Next Steps: 2009 Buick Lucerne

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