New Car/Review

Buick

Buick LeSabre LTD (2001)

SEE ALSO: Buick Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 28,796
     Price As Tested                                    $ 31,456
     Engine Type               OHV 12-valve 3.8 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 231 cid/3791 cc
     Horsepower                                   205 @ 5200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               230 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  112.2"/73.5"/200.0"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3766 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                              225/60R16 touring
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 85 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            19/30/25
     0-60 MPH                                        9.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          16.5 seconds @ 90.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           125 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(The new Buick LeSabre Limited isn't exactly a young person's car, says Matt Hagin. His dad, Bob, says that the younger buyers are missing out on a lot of traditional American comfort and reliability.)

BOB - This new Buick LeSabre isn't really so new, Matt. It was redesigned last year and it lost a lot of it's "gee-gaw" look when some of the exterior creases and folds were jettisoned and the lines were smoothed out. It isn't a trend-setting sparkler in design and it certainly isn't a street scorcher at those stoplight drag races but it's has a lot going for it. If it didn't, it couldn't hold the title of the best-selling full-sized car in the United States for the last eight straight years. It isn't a spectacular performer either. Its 0-to-60 mph times are mediocre at best, but it has no problem keeping up with traffic around town and on the highway. At 30 mpg, its given highway fuel consumption is either optimistic or the test driver at Buick was gong downhill most of the time.

MATT - It's luxurious middle-class family transportation and in this "enlightened" era, these big GM sedans come as close as possible to returning to those days of big domestic land-barges. In a pinch, there is room for three abreast up front and in the rear, but it was in the rear seat that we found a slight disappointment. The foot room is rather tight unless the front seats are pulled pretty far forward. Those seats are quite low too, but in deference to those "mature" buyers who still get out on the slopes, the LeSabre rear seatback has a has a pass-through from its huge trunk so that a couple of sets of skis can been carried inside. The average age of a LeSabre driver is 67-years old, which in many cases puts them in the ski-in-winter, golf in summer category.

BOB - That's not me. Matt, but just in case we wanted to take up golf, that big trunk can carry several large pieces of luggage as well as a couple of sets of clubs. Buick is big into golfing and it sponsors three big-time professional golf events. Its press information points out that last year after each of them, sales of Buicks noticeably increased. It also points up that its selection of Tiger Woods as its spokesman had been instrumental in pumping up its sales.

MATT - Repeat sales has a lot to do with it too, Dad. A great number of new Buick sales are to former owners who are loyal to the brand. Our LeSabre had traction control to negate icy weather conditions and it also had an electronic system called Stabilitrak that senses when the car is getting into trouble and the front wheels aren't quite going in the right direction. When this happens, the device applies the brakes on a wheel that needs to be slowed down enough for the driver to regain control. It works with the anti-lock braking system and it makes it hard, but not impossible, for Buick drivers to get into more trouble than they can get out of. And our Limited version comes standard with an on-demand navigational system that includes and assistance service.

BOB - Our tester was equipped with an optional sports suspension system which tightens up the suspension settings somewhat and includes 16-inch wheels and tires. But the car carries a small "emergency" spare tire and wheel which I don't like. A full-sized one could be included in a five-way tire-saving rotation. And I still have trouble reconciling extending oil changes and services to 30,000 miles. No matter how good a car is, I think a technician should check out the car much more frequently than that.

MATT - The instrumentation is pretty well laid-out, but it would take some time behind the wheel to get used to the "ghost-like" appearance of the speedometer reading on the windshield in front of the driver's seat. The hypothesis is that drivers have better control and are more cognizant of what's going on if they don't have to look down to check how fast the car is going.

BOB - I never have to worry about how fast I'm going, Matt. First of all, it's never very fast and besides, your Mother always keeps me well informed of my speed.

 

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