Not That You Care: Buick Lucerne Discontinued

At 109 years, Buick is the oldest surviving American car brand. Likewise, Buick owners are the oldest surviving Americans.

The Buick Lucerne, however, was short-lived, debuting in 2006 and disappearing earlier this year in June. Reviews were mostly positive, with most of the motoring press praising the Lucerne’s ride comfort, ergonomics, refinement, and build quality (winner of three JD Power awards). Most were indifferent to its styling and driving dynamics, though Car and Driver managed to use the word “agile” before immediately following with “hardly athletic.”

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A fully optioned Lucerne Super came with a 292-hp version of GM’s Northstar V8 and magnetic ride control, the same suspension technology used in the Chevy Corvette.

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If the Lucerne is beginning to sound a lot like a Cadillac DTS, its because it basically is.

Lucerne shared an assembly line at GM’s Hamtramck, Michigan plant with the closely related 2006-2011 Cadillac DTS. Buick’s H-body architecture shared its wheelbase and suspension with the K-body platform underpinning the DTS, but the Lucerne was shorter overall by four inches.

Lucerne’s engine cradle was modified to accommodate both a V6 and V8 including Buick’s venerable OHV 3800 Series III V6, a 3.9L OHV V6 (shared with the Impala, G6, and Uplander), and two versions of Cadillac’s Northstar V8. This makes the Lucerne the first eight-cylinder Buick since the 1996 Roadmaster, and it may be the last.

If you didn’t mind the looks, which appear to be inspired by bath soap, the Lucerne offered Cadillac levels of comfort, performance, and refinement for a significant savings.

At $42,220, the Lucerne “Super” comes with a 4-speed automatic, V8, touch screen navigation with XM Navtraffic, magnetic ride control, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, heated and cooled seats, rear park assist, and a sunroof.

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To get all of these features on the Cadillac DTS, particularly magneride, you have to choose the Platinum package which starts at $60,795. That’s a price difference of $18,575. The DTS Platinum comes with a much more attractive body, standard Tuscany leather (Aniline optional), greater prestige, and optional adaptive cruise control, but that hardly makes up for the canyon-wide price difference (Platinums are, thanks to depreciation, outstanding bargains as used cars).

In addition to low MSRPs, Lucernes often came with heavy rebates and enticing lease offers, putting bargain-priced V6 versions in the garages of thousands of middle class Americans. For those of us who endure the midwest’s four distinct seasons, Lucernes offer outstanding traction in heavy snow, pleasingly effective heat and air conditioning, and sufficient power to run from a tornado.

Unfortunately, the retirees who favor soft American sedans are dying off due to age and the Lucerne always lacked the Cadillac DTS’s wider, younger, and more aspirational audience. As a result, Buick brand managers were forced to discontinue the car, replacing it with a youthful lineup of upscale sport sedans, compacts, and crossovers.

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And the brand itself may have been discontinued entirely if not for China’s historic reverence for Buick.

Goodbye, Lucerne. We hardly knew you. We hardly noticed.

5 Responses to Not That You Care: Buick Lucerne Discontinued

  1. The article claims that the Buick Lucerne is being discontinued due to retirees dying off, and Buick focusing on a more youthful lineup. This contradicts and flies in the face of the demographic facts that the baby boom generation is either just now in their retirement years, or still approaching retirement in the coming years. It also contradicts the fact that Americans are living longer, and that the percentage of older people in the population of the U.S. is projected to increase, because of the baby boomers who will be living longer than previous generations. I am 51, but have actually always liked full size sedans, from even before I was old enough to drive. The reason given for the discontinuation of models like the Lucerne and Impala, just do not agree with the demographic facts in the U.S. I also believe that Buick hurt itself by discontinuing the “Lesabre” name. Although the Lucerne was introduced as a replacement for both the “Lesabre” and “Park Avenue”, the fact is up to the moment it was discontinued, the “Lesabre” had been on a streak of being the best selling car in America for a number of years. I believe the new model would have sold better, if Buick had not made the move to drop the “Lesabre” name. It made no sense at all to do this. It was comparable to the move made by the “Chicago Bulls” to not resign Michael Jordan, and break up the team that won six NBA championships, in favor or rebuilding the team.

    • jesda says:

      Baby boomers are indeed living longer, but they also buy imports. The older segment of your generation popularized Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW beginning in the 1970s, though it isn’t necessarily without good reason.

      The customers for large comfort cars aren’t necessarily dying off, but sales volume for Buick certainly did. Consider also that baby boomers are far more inclined to buy imports than the “Greatest Generation” who preceded them. Those who lived through the Great Depression were a significant part of Buick’s customer base, and they’ve been quietly disappearing.

      I do agree that replacing respected models with innocuous names like “Lacrosse” and “Lucerne” was a major detriment to Buick’s brand loyalty.

  2. Don Miatello says:

    Buick is going to regret replacing the Lucerne. It has all the qualities of a Cadalac at a fraction of the price. As a baby boomer I love a full size car. Too bad it’s not going to be a Buick.

  3. William Egan says:

    Big mistake. I’m looking to replace my 2011 Buick Lucerne and definitely won’t be buying a Lacrosse. Too small. Bring back the Lucerene

  4. David Clark says:

    We love our ’08 Lucerne: it rides beautifully. It handles the road with agility, but without all of the road noise and bumpiness of the sportier versions. We would never buy them as daily drivers.

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