Buick is General Motors’ most misunderstood division. Not as posh as Cadillac or as sporty as Pontiac, Buick has sometimes struggled to find its place in the modern GM. But the 21st century has seen a re-energized Buick with an all-new lineup, and the latest addition is this 2006 Lucerne sedan. It offers full-size American luxury, technology, and power, a combination sure to raise Buick’s attraction.

You would never guess it from the pictures, but the 2006 Buick Lucerne is big; a premium-class full size car in the truest of terms.  Its 115.6-inch wheelbase is an inch and a half longer than the last Park Avenue and a full three inches longer than the fabled LeSabre.  Its stiff, unitized chassis is actually based on a highly modified General Motors G-Body platform, which is shared with Cadillac’s DTS.

The Lucerne chassis rides on a MacPherson Strut Front and multi-link rear suspension design on the CX, with mono-tube airlift rear suspension on CXL and CXS trim. Standard CX wheels are 16 inch. The sportier CXS has 18 inchers, and our luxury-grade CXL test car has 17-inch alloy rims with the optional chrome finish. 

Sheet metal is all new with the CXL’s Buick waterfall grill reflecting the influence of the Velite concept car. The distinctive fascia leads a clean, flowing body, complete with stylized port holes, that rises to a wide, smooth tail. It’s a subtle yet aggressive shape, and makes Lucerne the most contemporary Buick car design yet.

Like the chassis, the drive-train draws upon proven technology, led by GM’s 197 horsepower 3.8-liter pushrod V6. But our test CXL was fitted with the optional 4.6 liter dual overhead cam 32 valve NorthStar V8 also borrowed from the Cadillac DTS. It produces 275- horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission and electronic traction control. This combination delivers EPA mileage ratings of 17 city/25 highway, which we confirmed with a 23 mile-per-gallon mixed test loop.

The Lucerne V8 may be big, but it can still manage 0-60 in only 7.2 seconds, with quarter mile runs at 15.4 seconds and 94 miles per hour. The NorthStar V-8 is eager with good mid and upper range power. The 4-speed transmission is refined with surprisingly firm shifts.

Our CXL V-8 has Buick’s Mid level Ride and Handling suspension with Monotube shocks and speed sensitive Magnetic Variable Assist Steering. While suspension tuning is soft and there is a moderate amount of front push and plenty of body roll, the car remains very controllable for a big front-driver.

At high speeds, the big Buick is pretty quick and agile thanks to the optional StabiliTrak electronic stability control system.

Despite a soft pedal and some nose dive, braking was secure and stable, with reasonable 133 foot stops delivered by standard 4-wheel discs, ABS, and optional Brake Assist

As expected of a premium brand, highway ride is refined and controlled, with the Lucerne feeling very upscale. This is further enhanced by Buick’s “Quiet Tuning” system which utilizes multiple sound-deadening packages to produce what is one of the quietest interiors on the American highway.

And that roomy interior is a bit of a departure for Buick; airier and more contemporary with a higher level of elegance. The wide, 3-segment dash is clean and simple, with most near flush controls blended seamlessly into the panel. The well laid out center stack in our CXL includes standard automatic dual-zone climate controls, and communications equipment that includes an optional high-end 9-speaker audio system with XM Satellite Radio and standard OnStar with Advanced Automatic Crash Notification that calls for help in a crash regardless of airbag deployment.

Front seats are supportive leather clad buckets with 8-way power adjust for the driver. A traditional Buick bench seat is available, while seat heating and cooling is an option.

Occupant protection includes a dual depth front passenger airbag, front side-impact airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags.

As for those in back, they’ll find a big comfortable bench with plenty of head and leg room. Golfers will appreciate a deep trunk that offers a cavernous 17 cubic feet of luggage space.

Lucerne pricing starts at only $25,990 for the CX. Our CXL test car carries a base price of $29,990. Add in our test car’s generous options, and the sticker totals $35,090. This is a lot of full size premium sedan for a very competitive price.

As General Motors struggles to redefine its role in the American auto market, Buick is a name-plate with much to win or lose in this restructuring. Rather than being just another GM brand, Buick seeks to become more focused, offering elegant premium sedans with competitive pricing. And the value-laden 2006 Buick Lucerne should go a long way toward solidifying that affordable luxury image for the future.



  • Engine: 4.6 Liter Dual Overhead Cam 32 Valve Northstar V8
  • Horsepower: 275
  • Torque: 295 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 7.2 Seconds
  • 60-0 MPH: 133 Feet
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.4 Seconds @ 94 MPH
  • EPA: 17 MPG City/25 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 23 MPG

Long Term Updates

Mileage: 3,500

One of GM’s current success stories is the 2006 Buick Lucerne. Some 10,000 are rolling out the door each month. This full-size, front-wheel drive replacement for the LeSabre and Park Avenue has not only caught the attention of Buick faithful, but its sleek lines are also bringing younger buyers to GM’s oldest brand.

We’ve been enjoying our long term Lucerne CXS for two months. Mileage has quickly climbed to about 3,500, as it’s Northstar V-8 power, and stretch-out room for six, are perfect for long distance getaways. While 20.6 miles per gallon may not sound stellar, that is about 20% better than a typical mid-size SUV.

Mileage: 7,200

Maybe we’re showing our age. But, while it is wonderful to carve up back roads in the latest sport sedan or roadster, when you’ve got lots of Interstate miles to travel, you just can’t beat a full-size sedan. And, no one has ever made a better roadmaster than Buick.

Our 2006 Buick Lucerne CXS makes hypnotic highways very pleasurable. From its wide, supportive, heated and cooled seats, quality trimmed and uncomplicated dash, to its utterly quiet interior, our long term Lucerne is a freeway gem. And, with XM satellite radio on board, you never get bored.

We’ve enjoyed our long term Lucerne for 5 months and 7,200 miles. With its smooth and effortless 275-horsepower Northstar V-8, we’ve recorded 18.8 miles per gallon of premium in mostly heavy traffic. And, if we have to be stuck in traffic, we mind it less in the Buick Lucerne.

Mileage: 12,000

This 2006 Buick Lucerne CXS full-size premium sedan is a wonderful vehicle for extended vacations where generous seating room for 5 or 6 is what you need most.

We love its great ride, precise for a big-car handling, and the ultra-willing 275-horsepower NorthStar V8. Which at 7 months and 12,000 miles, returns good 19.1 mile per gallon fuel economy on premium grade gas.

Interior fit-and-finish is excellent, and the seats, while wide and flat, have comfortable support.

Last time we praised its easy-to-operate climate controls. But a viewer felt otherwise, and we have to admit the markings for temperature adjustment are very hard to see in daylight. Still, as Buick’s latest roadmaster, the Lucerne wears the title well.

Mileage: 19,000

When it comes to day-long trips for our staff, this 2006 Buick Lucerne CXS full-size sedan is a clear favorite. With generous seating, a great front-wheel drive power train, and plenty of comfort and convenience, it really is the modern road master.

And, compared to the typical mid-to-full-size utility vehicle, it’s quite efficient. After 10 months and almost 19,000 miles, the 275-horsepower NorthStar V8 is returning a solid 19.7 miles-per-gallon on premium gas.

We love the premium style of its well thought-out cabin. On cold mornings, the remote start feature is a big plus.

While we’ve had no mechanical faults, a charging system indicator light sent us scurrying to the dealer. After a software hot shot, it went out.

One staffer noted that he was glad he didn’t have to be old enough to retire to fall for the Buick Lucerne.

Mileage: 21,000

We really were not prepared to think of ourselves as “Buick” kind of folk, but this long-term Lucerne changed all that.

Lucerne, and the new Enclave crossover, are clearly Buicks with a younger attitude. So, as our year with this full-size 2006 Buick Lucerne CXS comes to a close, we can say we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Besides the obvious long distance comfort, the Lucerne showed itself to be both agile and very spirited, thanks to its 275-horsepower Northstar V8. After nearly 21,000 miles of very mixed driving, economy stands at 19.6 miles-per-gallon on premium gas. That’s about the norm for a big luxury sedan.

Our Lucerne did make two unscheduled trips to the dealer to douse warning lights. And, despite big interior improvements, some staff still found hard dash plastics to be anything but premium.

But, we still grew very fond of this modern Roadmaster and feel that if future Buicks stay this course, you won’t have to be overly mature to want one.

Mileage: 22,000+

Our time is up with this 2006 Buick Lucerne CXS. After over a year, and over 22,000 miles, we bid adieu to a most contemporary full-size family sedan.

Besides long distance comfort, the Lucerne is sure footed, and very spirited with its 275-horsepower twin-cam Northstar V8.

Given such power, we also can’t complain about its 19.6 miles-per-gallon economy on premium gas.

Our only problems involved two trips to the dealer for errant warning lights. And, for a luxury sedan, the big grain lower dash plastics failed to make the grade.

But the Lucerne left us convinced that the Buick Brand is on the right, progressive track. Building premium cars and crossovers for buyers that will be forever young at heart.