Buick's full-size LeSabre sedan uses the same front-wheel-drive platform and 3.8-liter V-6 as the Pontiac Bonneville. Redesigned for 2000, the LeSabre has been the top-selling model in its class, but will be replaced for the 2006 model year by Buick's new Lucerne.
A Celebration Edition was introduced in 2003 and continues into 2005, along with Custom and Limited models. All 2005 LeSabres have GM's OnStar communication system that features upgraded hands-free capabilities. Four new option discount packages and new machine-faced 16-inch aluminum wheels are available. All LeSabres have GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability system.
LeSabres are known for conservative styling, led by a distinctive, wide, oval vertical-bar grille. Riding a 112.2-inch wheelbase, the sedan measures 200 inches long overall and 57 inches tall. A Gran Touring Suspension Package features 16-inch touring tires and a specially tuned suspension with a rear stabilizer bar.
The Celebration Edition features a blacked-out grille, body-colored lower fascias and rocker moldings, integrated turn-signal indicators on the outside mirrors and 16-inch chrome-plated wheels.
A standard front bench seat lets the LeSabre seat six occupants. Optional front bucket seats are generally installed in only a small number of LeSabre models. The Limited sedan has a rear center armrest with a pass-thru to the spacious trunk, which holds 18 cubic feet of cargo.
Buick describes the front seat as "catcher's mitt" style because of its operation. In a rear-end collision, each head restraint moves up and forward, close to the occupant's head, as a means of reducing the risk of whiplash injury. Power windows and locks, cruise control, lockout protection and a theft-deterrent system are standard.
The Leather & Sound Group of options includes CD and cassette players and XM Satellite Radio. The Leather & Comfort Group adds heated front leather seats and mirrors, moisture-sensing wipers and side-impact airbags.
Buick's familiar 3.8-liter V-6 produces 205 horsepower and 230 pounds-feet of torque and drives the front wheels via a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes are standard on all models. Side-impact airbags are standard in the Limited model and optional in the Custom.
Far removed from the big Buicks of old, the modern LeSabre offers plenty of passenger space, a satisfying ride experience, reasonable fuel economy and a moderate price. Not only is its performance smooth, but this sedan is also more satisfying than many shoppers may expect. The LeSabre accelerates eagerly — practically lunging ahead when the gas pedal hits the floor — and takes full advantage of its excellent powertrain. Downshifts are quick and easy.
Handling is passable, and this car feels more secure in corners and curves than some smaller, sportier models. The soft suspension permits too much body lean and the tires squeal too often to allow spirited driving, but it cushions small bumps effectively.
The front seat bottoms are short, nicely cushioned and supportive, but they lack side bolstering. The gauges are easy to read, but green lights on the dashboard can be annoying at night.