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Buick LeSabre (2001)

SEE ALSO: Buick Buyer's Guide

by John Heilig


MODEL:  2001 Buick LeSabre 
ENGINE:  3.8-liter V-6 
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 205 hp @ 5200 rpm/230 lb-ft @ 4000  rpm 
TRANSMISSION:  Four-speed automatic 
WHEELBASE: 112.2 in. 
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 200.0 x 73.5 x 57.0 in. 
STICKER PRICE:  $31,500 

Buick has created what may be one of the best American cars on the market in the 2001 LeSabre. This is a car with conservative style, more than adequate performance, comfort and handling. I believe I have used the analogy before, but the LeSabre is as close to the ideal of what a Jaguar should be as any car on the market today, including Jaguar.

What leads me to this conclusion? Well, we took the LeSabre on a 600-mile round trip that we accomplished in great comfort. We also broke the existing world's record for a trip from our home to our daughter's home in Virginia. Our tour route takes us on Interstates as well as two-lane winding roads in the back country of Virginia. The LeSabre didn't handle like a traditional Buick, or at least the way a traditional Buick is supposed to handle. That image leads one to believe that all Buicks are land barges that wallow from left to right on roads that aren't straight.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The LeSabre was able to negotiate any type of curve in the road with great aplomb. We hit hard corners and gradual corners with the same directness. We didn't have a rock-hard suspension in the LeSabre, which is usually necessary for a decent ride. We had a comfortable suspension that transmitted some of the road surface irregularities back to the driver, but didn't make it impossible to drive.

A long trip can sometimes be a pain in the back, especially for us senior citizens. We had no such problems with the LeSabre, but if we had, there were heated seats for both driver and passenger to ease any minor aches. These were two-level heated affairs that allowed us to run them on "high" when it was cool outside, and on "low" when we just wanted a gentle heat.

Speaking of heat, the LeSabre had dual-zone heating for the driver and passenger. This is important in our family because my wife and I constantly disagree as to what temperature we should have the heater set. Dual-zone heaters are marriage savers.

Power for the LeSabre comes from the 3800 Series II 3.8-liter V6 that pumps out 205 horsepower and 230 lb-ft of torque. The engine is connected to a smooth four-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. But you may recall that I compared the LeSabre with the rear-wheel drive Jaguar, and it's true. There is no indication of which are the driving wheels when you're behind the wheel. So the LeSabre is a front-wheel drive car that thinks it's rear-wheel drive.

We had all the comfort amenities in the LeSabre, including power windows, power seats, power windows, an excellent entertainment system that included an AM/FM radio, cassette player and CD changer.

We also took advantage of an enormous trunk. Buick lists the official trunk volume as 18 cubic feet, which is enormous in today's shrinking trunk market. This size allowed us to bring early Christmas presents down for the grandson, as well as some general large-size packages that wouldn't have made it in any other car.

When we had the opportunity to take extra passengers along, they sat comfortably in the back seat that offered excellent leg and head room. This is also a six-passenger car with a flip-over center console in the front that doubles as the seat back when it's needed. This console offered excellent CD carrying capacity as well as a couple of cupholders. I particularly liked the way the cell phone sat flat next to the driver if it was needed, and the power cord slid into the console to the outlet jack. The console/seat back also offered a clip board for quick on-the-road notes.

Buick has appropriated the heads-up-display (HUD) for the LeSabre. Once the exclusive property of Pontiac, the HUD projects the car's speed onto the windshield at the base so there's no need to keep lowering your eyes from the road to check your speed. The HUD also tells you if your turn signals are on, a distinct advantage.

LeSabre also comes with the OnStar advantage, borrowed from Cadillac. We've extolled the virtues of OnStar before, but suffice it to say I'm impressed with this General Motors service option.

All-in-all, the Buick LeSabre has all the requirements to make it one of the premier sedans in America, bar none. It has power, comfort, handling and style, and after all, what more could you ask for?