LeSabre Reviews

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LeSabre Reviews

Post by custom88 » Fri Apr 18, 2003 4:00 pm

By Jim Mateja
Chicago Tribune
July 24, 1988

How do you get them out of orthopedic shoes and into Nikes?

Put another way, how does Buick alert potential buyers that it builds a performance version of what traditionally had been known as a stodgy full-size 4-door LeSabre?

We test-drove a LeSabre Limited sedan that proved to be a worthy rival to the Pontiac Bonneville SE. Perhaps that`s what Buick needs. Rather than simply call it LeSabre, Buick should add an SE or GS or SE II or Gran Sport designation behind the name-along with a healthy dose of cosmetics to spruce up the staid styling.

What elevates the LeSabre Limited from an ordinary 4-door family sedan is the teaming of the peppy 165-h.p. 3800 V-6 engine with a lively Gran Touring suspension. With the 3800, hit the pedal and go; with the Gran Touring suspension, hit the corner or turn or twist in the road and keep going without swerve or sway.

The suspension is part of a $548 option package that includes 15-inch wheels, Eagle GT+4 steel-belted radials and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The package is highly recommended.

A word of advice: Forget the optional ($425) leather seats. Even with the safety belts fastened you`ll slip and slide unless you stick with the standard cloth seats-which are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter anyway.

The front-wheel-drive LeSabre is built on a 110.8-inch wheelbase and is 196.5 inches long.

Standard equipment includes 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, air conditioning, power brakes and steering, AM/FM stereo radio, tinted glass and color-keyed bodyside moldings. Power seats run $240, power windows $285, power door locks $195. A driver`s arm rest with hidden cup and coin holder inside is a $50 option. Base price is $15,745 excluding options.

There are some annoyances. The major one is the hood, the front hinged lift-up, pull-forward, swing-back unit inherited from Electra. It`s a pain. Another is location of the so-called PRNDL in the upper far right corner of the instrument panel. It`s blocked by the steering wheel, and it`s difficult to see what gear you`re in.

By Leonard Kucinski
Morning Call
January 2, 1988

Big cars are no longer what they used to be; nor have they been that way for several years. The combined forces of higher gasoline prices and government mandated fuel mileage have produced a smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient car.

There are still several conventional rear-drive big cars around but even those have been changed considerably. Today, though, the modern big car is likely to be front-wheel drive and powered by a four-cylinder or V-6 engine. An example of such a car is the Buick LeSabre, an old name in the Buick lineup but as up-to-date as any car on the market.

The test car, a four-door model supplied by Kelly Buick, State Road, Emmaus, proved that big is not necessarily better. Or, at least, it is tough to judge an interior of a car by its exterior.

The four-door LeSabre is a cleanly styled car but one that is not likely to turn heads. It has that familiar General Motors linear theme that can be seen in many of the corporation's cars. Nothing really wrong with it but various models can tend to be a little confusing.

The LeSabre manages to hold on to some semblance of individuality with a bold grille that is spread from fender to fender. Otherwise, it has the sloping hood, high trunk deck and large greenhouse that is sort of expected from GM. (The coupe version of the LeSabre, on the other hand, has a much more interesting and attractive design that sort of looks like a Mercedes-Benz or BMW coupe.)

When all is said and done, the body - whether it be functional-looking or a work of art - is there to house the interior. And, in the case of the LeSabre, quite an attractive and roomy one at that. The LeSabre four-door with a combined volume index of 123 cubic feet (107 interior, 16 trunk) is classed by EPA as a large car (an index of over 120 cubic feet).

It is not the large Buick, or for that matter the large car in general, of the past but, as mentioned, the modern big car. If it were parked next to one of the older rear-drive Buicks, the 1988 LeSabre would look small. But front- wheel drive and closer attention paid to interior layout have provided more useable passenger room.

The test car had a split bench front seat and thus room for six persons. It perhaps wouldn't be wise to attempt to seat six big men but any other sort of mix will do. The front seat will, of course, provide all kinds of leg room since it is adjustable. Even fully extended aft, there is still decent back seat leg room. Also plenty of head room, both front and back, because of the car's height of 54.7 inches.

One of the big differences between the old big car and the new big car is in trunk room. The LeSabre is rated at 16 cubic feet, which isn't bad but somewhat smaller than the previous rear-drive LeSabre. However, because of the flat floor, made possible by the front-wheel drive configuration, trunk space can be better utilized. Perhaps there is no way to bring back the real big trunk.

Driving the LeSabre is not one of life's great chores. With a wheelbase of 110.8 inches, length of 196.5 inches and width of 72.4 inches, the car is very manageable with no blind spots or any great distances to the front or rear of the driver. The car's exterior will be appreciated when parking.

Like many of today's cars, the LeSabre handles very well. The four-wheel independent suspension features struts all around and for this year there is a revised suspension as standard equipment. According to Buick, this concept eliminates the need for heavy-duty suspensions. Also the base suspension is tuned to provide the same ride and handling characteristics for coupes and sedans.

The test car was taken through the usual twists, turns and other tortuous situations and managed to survive it all with little pain or strain. The revised suspension is really not firm so it is somewhat deceptive. The test car had the standardsize P205/ 7514R tires and no doubt a little more can be squeezed from this suspension with optional bigger performance tires and wheels.

(For those who are more interested in a sporty sedan rather than a large family type car, the LeSabre is available in a T Type model that features ''Gran Touring'' suspension, P215/65R15 Eagle GT+4 tires and 15-inch aluminum wheels. The T Type also features a slightly different image through the use of black moldings, front air dam and deck lid spoiler.)

As it is though, the base suspension will probably be enough for most drivers. The base suspension and tires also made for a smooth and quiet ride.

What will probably surprise most first-time drivers of the LeSabre is the response and smoothness of the V-6 engine. This engine measures 3.8 liter/231 cubic inches and has been in the General Motors lineup for a number of years and just keeps getting more and more refined. The engine was originally developed by Buick for its small car, which goes to show you how far things have changed in the automotive world.

This version of the engine features sequential port fuel-injection and roller cam and is rated at a respectable 150 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 200- foot pounds torque at 2,000 rpm. Just tromp on that accelerator and the LeSabre moves out. Performance is also helped by the four-speed automatic transmission, which allows for a little lower gearing at the bottom and a little higher gearing at the top. The result is good performance along with good fuel mileage.

The test car averaged 16 miles per gallon for city driving and 27 miles per gallon over the highways. Premium unleaded fuel was used. Not too many years ago, this would be almost unbelievable fuel mileage for a big car; even if the big car is not what it used to be.

For even more performance, another version of this engine is being offered this year. Known as the 3800, it is rated at 165 horsepowerat 5,200 rpm and 210 foot pounds torque at 2,000 rpm. This version features a redesigned cylinder block, on-center cylinder bores, balance shaft and new pistons and fuel injectors. The engine is standard in the T Type and optional on all other LeSabre models.

Base price for the LeSabre Custom Sedan is $15,745. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power brakes and steering, tinted glass and a long list of trim and convenience items. The test car had a bottom line of $17,766, which included a destination charge of $480.

Options totaled $1,541 and include driver's power seat, $240; power windows, $285; electric door locks, $195; rear window defogger, $145; tilt steering, $125; wire wheel covers, $199, and ETC AM-FM stereo/cassette with clock, $350. There is also a value option group discount of $350 reflected in the price.

The LeSabre is covered by a basic 12-month/12,000-mile warranty; a 6-year/ 60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and a 6-year/100,000-mile rust perforation warranty.


By Tom Incantalupo
March 23, 1990

Buick's best-selling model is available with an optional case of schizophrenia. Our test car had it.

Buick calls the option a "Grand Touring package." It transforms the LeSabre into a car that can't decide whether it wants to be a sporty car or a Buick in the traditional sense - conservatively styled, comfortable, spacious, quiet, with average handling.

The boxy shape and the chrome trim around the headlights and the side glass say "Buick." But the blackwall tires on aluminum wheels (not shown in the accompanying photo) hint at sportiness.

So does the leather upholstery and the thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel; the engine, which delivers strong acceleration; and the Grand Touring suspension, which provides a firm ride and capable cornering. The steering requires moderate effort, but, in return, provides some feel of the road. It seems made for people who take driving seriously enough to do it with two hands and leave their coffee drinking to when they aren't guiding a 3,000-pound projectile.

But, except for the steering wheel, the interior says - no, it screams - traditional Buick. Fake wood paneling is everywhere, and imitation chrome strips streak along the doors and zoom back and forth across the dash, whizzing around the array of gleaming levers and buttons and the touch-sensitive climate control pad, never giving themselves - or your eyes - a rest.

The optional split bench seat, though highly adjustable, offers almost no lateral support to hold one in place in the spirited driving of which this car is capable.

So, depending on your point of view, the LeSabre with the Grand Touring package is either a perfect compromise for those seeking American-style luxury with a sporty flair or a car that tries to serve two purposes and serves neither.

Credit that to - or blame it on - a change in direction several years ago at Buick, an effort to go back to its conservative roots and end the confusion in its showrooms. That confusion was created by the sameness that had developed among General Motors cars and was intensified by the presence in Buick stores of muscle cars like the Regal Grand National.

In basic dress, the LeSabre adheres to the new order. But the new order apparently mandates that real sporty cars offered by General Motors will be Chevrolets, Pontiacs or Oldsmobiles.

Whether in basic or Grand Touring form, the LeSabre has another strength and a couple of weaknesses worth noting. A survey last June by the market-research firm J.D. Power and Associates found the LeSabre the second most trouble-free car sold in this country in its first three months of ownership. (The Nissan Maxima came in first.)

On the negative side: Instruments are small and, at times, nearly unreadable in sunlight because of severe glare from their covering lens. The doors are very heavy and long, a nuisance in tight parking spots. They also make GM's "automatic" door-mounted seatbelt system even more difficult to use automatically. There rarely is room in a parking lot or garage to open the doors far enough for the belt to completely release the passengers. We used the belts manually, and we suspect most owners will do the same.

The LeSabre also is available as a four-door.

The price at left is for the least-expensive Coupe. The "Limited" starts at $17,805 with destination charge. The Grand Touring option costs between $447 and $738, depending upon whether it is ordered by itself or with either of two option packages. ***

At a Glance

Engine: 3.8-liter V-6, 165 hp.
Transmission: Four-speed automatic, front wheel drive
Length: 196.5 inches
Weight: 3,270 pounds
Trunk Capacity: 15.7 cubic feet
Base Price: $16,650, incl. destination charge
EPA: 18 city, 27 highway

By Richard Truett
Orlando Sentinel Online
March 15, 1990

Before I spent a week behind the wheel of a 1990 Buick LeSabre Limited, I never imagined myself in a Buick sedan. After all, that's an old man's car, isn't it? You know, column shifter and all.

Now, I'd buy one in a heartbeat.

I've driven scads of cars, and rarely have I been won over so quickly. Halfway around the block, I knew this car was a keeper. You feel the LeSabre's quality in the way it's built and in the way it handles; you see it in the paint job and you notice it the way the interior parts fit together neatly.

The blueprint for General Motors' revival is built into the Buick LeSabre. If all of GM's cars had the uniform quality of the LeSabre, the world's largest automaker could easily put the brakes to its declining market share.

There is no one thing that stands out about the LeSabre. The styling is conservative. The performance is adequate, and the interior is tasteful, stylish and comfortable. It's the car as a whole that's impressive.

To start with, the ride has a nearly perfect balance of softness and firmness. The suspension easily dispenses with speed bumps, minor potholes and other inconsistencies in the pavement without transmitting much of the noise and vibration to the interior.

For a car weighing 3,297 pounds, the LeSabre Limited has a very athletic feel. It can take a sharp corner on short notice with little trauma. The LeSabre just goes where you point it effortlessly.

The test car had power adjustable light gray leather seats that were comfortable, though not supportive in the thigh and lumbar areas. The rear seats also were comfortable, and there was ample foot and head room.

The 165-horsepower fuel-injected 3.8-liter V-6 is the essence of smooth. So is the four-speed overdrive transmission that drives the front wheels. The car is geared so that at 65 mph, the engine is turning only at about 1,800 rpm. That computes, Buick says, to 28 miles per gallon on the highway. With the air conditioning running, I got slightly less, about 26.5 mpg. In Central Florida's stop and start city driving, the LeSabre returned 18 mpg.

The LeSabre Limited comes with a long list of standard items: anti-lock brakes, leather seats, AM/FM stereo with cassette player, electric antenna, rear window defroster and power everything. But I especially liked Buick's automatic climate control system.

A digital readout on the dash lets you choose the temperature. With the fan and temperature on ''auto,'' the system does the rest. Or you can set the fan speed and temperature manually. Either way, it's a simple, efficient and easy-to-use system.

After the rebates, trades and obligatory haggling, the admission price on a LeSabre Limited is about $19,000, according to a local dealer.

For that price you get a trunk large enough for several sets of golf clubs or pieces of luggage, and enough room for six adults to travel comfortably in a car that is built well from the ground up.

Since a survey last year of new car owners placed the LeSabre at No. 2 on the list of the world's most trouble free cars and No. 1 among domestic cars, LeSabre sales have skyrocketed. It's a success that is well-deserved.

If you are considering a midsize car, take a hard look at the LeSabre. Take it for a ride. You'll probably end up taking it home after you compare the LeSabre with the imports. It's an excellent value for the money.

- UPDATE: At the Detroit Auto Show in January I tested the 1990 Buick Reatta convertible, with the same 3.8-liter V-6 as the LeSabre Limited. I liked the car's styling but was stunned by its anemic performance. It turns out there was something wrong with the car, said Buick's Gary Witzenburg. The Reatta convertible I drove had been flogged around Detroit by automotive journalists for three days. Witzenburg said technicians examined the car after the show and found the throttle linkage had worked loose, preventing the engine from perorming properly. According to several magazine road tests, Buick's 3.8-liter 165-horsepower V-6 is a smooth, powerful engine that can motivate the Reatta convertible from 0-60 in under 10 seconds.
<b>2001 Oldsmobile Aurora 3.5 Twin Cam V6</b>

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Post by T » Fri Apr 18, 2003 10:10 pm

Great finds Custom. I may want to steal some of that for the site. :D

'87 Lesabre T-type
L67 swap, CAI, STB, 180deg stat, Walbro 307 fuel pump, tranny cooler, Michelin XGT H4s, ZZP 3.4 MPS, AC 41-601 plugs.
PB: 14.447@95.08 (2.299 60ft.)

'88 Lesabre T-type

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Post by Caesar » Sat Apr 19, 2003 2:37 am

ding ding ding... and winner for longest post ever by knockout is Custom88.

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

good post too...just had to add my 2¢
A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.

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Post by custom88 » Sat Apr 19, 2003 3:42 am

T wrote:Great finds Custom. I may want to steal some of that for the site. :D
No problem T. I'm going to do the same thing. :lol: I have had longer posts but they are now gone. :( It was the post with the automotive abbreviations. :)
<b>2001 Oldsmobile Aurora 3.5 Twin Cam V6</b>

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