Northwest NEWS

August 16, 1999

Features

Buick LeSabre 2000

Test Drive: Buick LeSabre 2000

   The 1999 Buick LeSabre test model we drove was part of GMC's Seafair sponsorship promotion fleet that was in the Northwest the past few weeks. You couldn't miss the car with "Buick" emblazoned on the windshield and Seafair promotions on the driver and passenger doors.

   The LeSabre is a good looking full-size car and one of the best-selling models on the market. It is has a Buick look, but also some definite LeSabre distinctions, such as wall-to-wall tail lamps, license plate with integrated back-up lights, and a unified front end. The side mirrors are larger and hinged.

   Driving the LeSabre is easy, steady, and comfortable. The cabin is roomy and the center console has a large storage area.

   The test model was the five-passenger model with the large center console. It was the Limited Series model, which meant a leather and dark walnut look in the cabin, dual controls for the climate system, auto dimming exterior mirrors, a center rear armrest, pass-through to the trunk, and other features not available in the Custom series.

   The 3800 Series II V-6 engine has been improved to reduce noise and enhance the smoothness of the ride. The engine design has won several technological awards after an interesting tooling history.

   In 1962, the V-6 was launched using major parts from the Buick V-8. In 1967, the muscle car era warranted the sale of Buick's tooling and rights to Kaiser Jeep (which sold to American Motors 1970). In 1974, Buick wanted their engine back, and an agreement was signed between Buick and American Motors. The engine production resumed in Flint, Michigan.

   After modifications, turbo-charging, then supercharging and redesigning, the 3800 Series II gets 205hp at 5200rpm. The 230 lb.-ft. torque is at 3700rpm. The engine is lighter and gets good mileage on regular gasoline.

   The four-speed transmission is electronically controlled. The torque converter clutch can be engaged in second through fourth gears. When engaged, it maintains a controlled degree of slippage to avoid transmitting engine torsional vibrations at low speeds. Buick states that in normal service, no transmission fluid changes are necessary throughout the life of the car. Four-channel anti-lock brakes come standard. Traction control is optional.

   Daytime running lights automatically switch to full headlamp and tail lamp operation at dusk. The headlights remain on for a short time after you lock the car.

   The door automatically locks when the gear shift moves from the park position. The lock and unlock functions are programmable with several choices about having the horn beep and/or lights flash.

   If you buy a Limited Series, you can pre-select settings for the seats, mirrors, radio controls, and climate controls. Actually, both driver and passenger can select their personal preferences for temperature, fan, and passenger controls (you can get this feature on the Custom as an option).

   A nice feature is that any lights left on inadvertantly will automatically shut off after 10 minutes after locking the car. Electrical power continues to be supplied for 10 minutes for the audio, windows, and sunroof (we didn't have one) after you switch off the key or until a door is opened.

   The seat belts are integrated into the front seats adds to the comfort, and there are front and side air bags.

2000 Buick LeSabre