Buick tries to get back to its roots in 2008 by adding luxury and more than a few options to the Lucerne, its flagship full-size sedan. It aims to compete with more refined foreign luxury sedans like the Toyota Avalon. The company also tries to recapture some of its past with a new Super variation of the CXS that draws inspiration from the Buick Supers of the 1940s. In addition to retro styling, Buick tries to attract more buyers with new options.
Despite all of these additions, the 2008 Buick Lucerne is still an oversized American sedan. It actually marks one of the largest cars on the road this year. Reviewers report that it feels cumbersome to drive because of poor handling and subpar braking. The V-6 in the CX, CXL, and CXL Special Edition feels slightly underpowered for a car of this size. As always, the 2008 Buick Lucerne emphasizes driver comfort rather than performance.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 3.8-liter V-6, 4.6-liter V-8
Transmission: four-speed automatic
Models: Buick Lucerne CX, Buick Lucerne CXL, Buick Lucerne CXL Special Edition, Buick Lucerne CXS, Buick Lucerne Super
The Lucerne now has optional stability control. A blindside alert system that warns drivers of vehicles in their blind spots also becomes available in all models. An electronic system that warns drivers when they drift out of their lanes provides another optional feature. The 2008 Buick Lucerne CXS and Super have been redesigned with a retro look.
Despite the attempts at refinement, the Lucerne is still a Buick. It looks big, basic, and boring. The Lucerne lacks the style and flair seen in other large sedans in recent years, like the Chrysler 300. Compared to the recent Japanese and German offerings, the Lucerne looks just plain dull. Drivers who want people to take a second look at their cars at stoplights do not want the Lucerne.
Buick tries to up the luxury and comfort level in the Lucerne to compete with the Japanese, but it doesn’t quite make it. The CX features a power driver’s seat, a stereo system with MP3 compatibility, and On Star telemetry, but it lacks common offerings like Bluetooth. The CXL has a power passenger seat, heated seats, driver-seat memory, a heated steering wheel, a Harmon Kardon audio system, and dual-zone climate control. The CXS offers a leather-wrapped instrument panel and a heated, wood steering wheel. The best thing about the interior is the size: it comfortably seats five adults. The CX and CXL also have an optional bench front seat that increases the seating capacity to six. Unfortunately that also sacrifices some of the comfort.
Performance & Handling
The biggest disappointment about the Lucerne concerns the handling: despite the adaptive suspension, its steering still seems clunky. The V-6 in the CX and CXL does not provide the acceleration one would expect from a big sedan. Most other six-cylinder sedans provide better driving performance than the 2008 Buick Lucerne. The V-8 in the CXS delivers more acceleration and better performance.
Anti-lock brakes, traction control, front-seat airbags, and curtain airbags come standard on the Lucerne. Stability control and brake assist remain available options on all models and come standard on the CXS. The 2008 Buick Lucerne earns five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Lucerne a “Good"" rating in front crash tests and an “Acceptable"" rating in side crash tests. The Lucerne’s braking makes it one of the hardest large sedans to stop.
EPA Fuel Economy
Buick Lucerne V-6: 16/25 mpg city/highway
Buick Lucerne V-8: 15/23 mpg city/highway
- Plush interior
- Lots of room for passengers and drivers
- Very comfortable ride
- 17-square-foot trunk
- Special pass-through lets drivers put skis in the trunk
- Size provides a feeling of safety
You Won't Like
- Boring, conventional exterior
- Lack of power in the CX and CXL
- Clunky steering and poor handling
- Old-fashioned four-speed transmission
- Lousy fuel economy
- CSX and Super lack amenities
For drivers who simply want a big car and do not care about handling, performance, or power.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Chrysler 300
- Hyundai Azera
- Toyota Avalon
- Ford Taurus
- Mercury Sable