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CarGurus Expert ReviewThe Good
An incredibly smooth and quiet ride provided by Magnetic Ride Control and QuietTuning is matched to a powerful V8 and smooth transmission in the 2009 Buick Lucerne Super to create everything a luxury full-size should be.The Bad
The base suspension and engine that come in the CX and CXL trims are very simply inadequate in the 2009 Buick Lucerne.
The CarGurus View
The Buick Lucerne is an often overlooked entry in the luxury full-size class. While the CX and CXL trims perhaps deserve this, the Super corrects all their shortcomings, and quite well. While options are available to upgrade both the CX and CXL significantly, it’s the upgraded suspension, steering, and engine of the Super that really make the difference.
At a Glance
With the deletion of the LeSabre and the Park Avenue in 2006, the Lucerne took the lead as Buick’s full-size entry. Riding on a revised version of GM’s G-body platform, utilized previously by the Pontiac Bonneville, the Lucerne has done well since its introduction, representing a full quarter of the full-size sedan sales in the U.S. This four-door, front-wheel-drive vehicle seats up to six passengers in the base CX and midlevel CXL trims, and five in the top-tier Super.
For 2009, the CX and CXL get a host of new standard features, but most significant is the new V6 they both receive, which not only provides 30 additional horsepower, but actually increases gas mileage by 1 mpg in both city and highway driving.
CX and CXL Lucernes receive a new 3.9-liter, 227-hp V6, which replaces the 197-hp, 3.8-liter V6 of previous model years. In addition to the power increase, the new engine is E85 friendly. Many previous owners complained about a lack of adequate power with the old 3.8, and unfortunately some testers have said the same about the 3.9, despite the power increase. The Super’s 4.6-liter, 292-hp V8, on the other hand, provides ample power for all situations. EPA estimates are 17/26 mpg for the V6 and 15/22 for the V8, for which Buick recommends premium grade fuel.
Both engines are mated to a four-speed automatic transmission, which has been noted to be particularly smooth and responsive with either engine. That said, it should be noted that the V8’s extra power is much more noticeable in the higher end of the RPM range, rather than the lower, making for much better passing and merging at highway speeds. Either engine is quite quiet, as would be expected in this class.
Ride & Handling
No matter what, you can’t expect a sporty ride from the Lucerne. Even the Super, with its upgraded steering and Magnetic Ride Control suspension, is still just capable and never aggressive. The CX and CXL ride a bit sloppily, with a lot of float and wallow, but the Super rides as a full-size luxury sedan should, positives and negatives included, with slightly vague steering that becomes progressively heavier at lower speeds. A very wide turning radius makes parking-lot maneuvers difficult across all trims, but brakes are strong despite a less-than-firm pedal feel.
Cabin & Comfort
As with other aspects, the interior of the Lucerne feels much more appropriate to its price and class in Super rather than CX or CXL trim. With its upgraded leather dash and steering wheel as well as added trim elements, the Super provides a feel that is in concert with its luxury aspirations. CX and CXL trims, while of sufficient quality and build, suffer from some cheap plastic that seems out of place.
Controls and gauges are refreshingly intuitive, simple and well-placed, especially considering the trend in recent years of shoehorning as much technology as possible into luxury cars at the usual expense of actual function. Comfort and room in the front are ample, and the seats have the right mixture of support and comfort for long-distance travel. In the rear, the Lucerne is touted as fitting three abreast, but with a slight lack of foot space, an uneven floor and seat cushion, this isn't quite realistic. Some taller riders might have issues, but otherwise adults will find plenty of space.
Of particular note is Buick’s QuietTuning, an engineering initiative with the goal of reducing wind, road, and powertrain noise throughout the build process. This includes a stiffened body structure, mirrors and windshield wipers designed to reduce wind turbulence, and an acoustically tuned engine cover and pistons coated with a special polymer to quiet the powertrain.
Standard safety features include dual front, front side, and curtain side airbags, antilock four-wheel disc brakes, a tire-pressure monitor and daytime running lights. Supers additionally benefit from brake assist, anti-skid, and a rear obstacle detection system, although these are available as options on the CX and CXL.
NHTSA ratings showed top scores of five stars for all categories except side impacts, which received four stars.
What Owners Think
Owners find that for the price, the base CX trim offers far too little value and performance. A well-equipped CXL seems to come closer to the mark, but the improved suspension, steering, and increased power of the Super are really needed to fulfill the model's aspirations. Its long list of options has also garnered praise.
by Michael Perkins
Talk about the 2009 Buick Lucerne
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