Buick LeSabre Review

Buick LeSabre Review

When it comes to longevity, few models could touch the Buick LeSabre. The car was born in 1959 and, depending on the year, was offered as a coupe, convertible, sedan and wagon. But by the early 1990s, the LeSabre's lineup had been trimmed to include just a full-size sedan. This strategy was a successful one. In the years preceding its retirement in 2005, the LeSabre frequently took top honors as the most popular full-size sedan on the market.

The latter-day Buick LeSabre owed much of its success to a demographic frequently overlooked by automakers: senior citizens. The sedan was a natural fit for these buyers with its roomy, comfortable cabin, serene ride and large trunk that easily accommodated road trip luggage as well as a walker or a mobility scooter. And everyone could appreciate the LeSabre's stellar crash test scores and the outstanding fuel-efficiency of its V6.

There were a few shortcomings, such as an old-fashioned cabin fitted with some cheap plastics, and performance that could become sluggish while carrying a full load. But these negatives were likely non-issues for the older buyers who had made the LeSabre a consistent hit. If you're looking for a used car that places ride comfort and spaciousness above all else, a late-model Buick LeSabre should prove satisfactory.

Most Recent Buick LeSabre
The eighth-generation Buick LeSabre existed from model year 2000 until the sedan's demise in 2005. Though this Buick's sheet metal looked a lot like that of the previous-generation LeSabre, it was, in fact, quite different under the skin. Built at General Motors' Detroit/Hamtramck facility in Hamtramck, Michigan, it rode on a new platform. Its cabin was revised to improve ergonomics and overall aesthetics. Ride quality and steering feel saw noticeable improvement, and side airbags were added to the standard features list.

Two trims were offered. The base Custom offered standard features like keyless entry, full power features and cruise control. The Limited trim added amenities like a power-adjustable driver seat, dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels and an electrochromatic rearview mirror. Options included a CD player, heated front seats, leather upholstery and OnStar. Both trims were powered by a 3.8-liter V6 that sent its power to the front wheels through a standard four-speed automatic transmission. With 205 horsepower and 230 pound-feet of torque, the V6 provided adequate performance and reasonable fuel-efficiency.

Over the years, this generation of the Buick LeSabre benefited from a few tweaks. In 2001, dual-stage airbags were added, and OnStar became a standard feature on Limited models; a head-up display also became available with the Limited trim. The following year, all LeSabres got new audio systems and manual trunk release latches; the LATCH system for keeping child safety seats in place was also added. In 2003, satellite radio was added to the options list on Limited models, and side-impact airbags -- which had been standard on all LeSabres since model year 2000 -- became optional on Custom models. LeSabre Limited models were also given a new trim option to celebrate the LeSabre's 10-year run as the best-selling full-size sedan in the nation. Dubbed the Celebration Edition, these Buicks featured a new monochrome emblem, a blacked-out grille and signal mirrors. Rain-sensing wipers were added to the options list in 2004.

In reviews, our editors gave the Buick LeSabre high marks when it came to comfort and versatility. Positive qualities included cushy seats, an abundance of useful storage nooks and crannies and a mammoth 18-cubic-foot trunk. However, we were disappointed with its cabin's unattractive styling cues. If you are considering a Buick LeSabre from this generation, our suggestion is to choose one offered in model year 2002 or later, to take advantage of the upgraded audio systems (and LATCH system, if you're traveling with children) that became available that year.

Past Buick LeSabre Models
Produced from 1992-'99, the seventh-generation Buick LeSabre offered a powerful engine and a smooth ride, much like the models that followed it. Sadly, it also offered an interior that left much to be desired. Cabin design was uninspired and ergonomics were poor. Many controls were unintuitive, and seat comfort was mediocre at best. Still, the car offered notable improvements over the previous-generation model. A driver-side airbag had been added to the standard features list, and the car's 3.8-liter V6 had been given an upgrade in power to 170 hp and 220 lb-ft of torque (up from 165 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque) relative to previous models. The coupe version of the LeSabre was killed off with this generation; from 1992 onward, the car was available only as a sedan. This LeSabre was preceded by the sixth generation, which was built from 1986-'91.