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Introduced as a replacement for the Park Avenue and LeSabre in 2006, the Buick Lucerne is part of a dying breed in the American auto industry — front-drive, full-size luxury sedans with available V-8 power. But while newer offerings like the Pontiac G8 GT or even Buick‘s own Enclave CUV get most of the attention in GM’s $28,000-$40,000 price range, the Lucerne continues to be a solid, if sometimes overlooked, player.

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For 2009, the General is giving its top-end Buick sedan a host of small but significant updates including an extra helping of technology, creature comforts, and a boost in power and fuel-economy for V-6 models to help them stand out in the marketplace.

Available in V-6 and V-8 form, the 2009 Buick Lucerne comes in three trim levels: base CX, upscale CXL, and high-end Super. And while horsepower junkies will no doubt opt for the Super’s standard 4.6L Northstar V-8 and four-speed Hydra-matic transmission, which channels 292 hp and 288 lb-ft of torque through the front wheels, for 2009 Buick has upgraded the Lucerne’s base engine to one with considerably more power. Standard on CX and CXL models is a 3.9L V-6 rated at 227 hp and 237 lb-ft of torque (compared with 197 and 227 in last year’s 3.8L unit), which when teamed with the Lucerne’s four-speed 4T65 automatic also actually manages a 1-mpg improvement in city and highway gas mileage. This now gives the Lucerne CX and CXL an estimated fuel-economy of 17 city/26 highway, while the V-8-powered Super rates at 15/22. In addition, the 3.9L V-6 is also FlexFuel capable, meaning it can run on eco-friendly E85 ethanol where the fuel is available.

Along with the new V-6 powertrain, for 2009 Buick is adding a list of creature comforts to the Lucerne CX and CXL, raising the level of standard equipment across both models. The base CX now comes with cornering lamps, a six-way power passenger seat, heated side mirrors, and an extended-range key fob, though it still can be had only with cloth seats (available in either five or six-passenger configurations). Stepping up to CXL trim brings more goodies, including standard eight-way heated driver and front-passenger seats with power lumbar and memory settings, a heated leather steering wheel, and side mirrors with integrated turn-signal indicators. CXL owners will also enjoy standard leather seating (again for five or six) as well as an upgraded chrome grille replacing the black one found on the CX. For 2009, the CX and CXL also include 17-in. wheels with silver premium paint and a chrome-plated finish.

Besides V-8 power, the range-topping Lucerne Super includes several adjustments designed to improve handling, such as premium steering components for more feedback and an adjustable Magnetic Ride Control suspension. The Super steps up to 18-in. aluminum wheels and sports extras like a unique waterfall grille, new front and rear fascias, integrated exhaust tips, and new rocker panels. Inside the big sedan offers a leather-wrapped instrument panel with French seam stitching, suede door trim, and heated real walnut-wood accents on the steering wheel, as well as a walnut-wood shifter. The model’s standard leather seats are also heated and cooled, while the center stack features a unique, Nova Silver finish.

Buick additionally wants to make sure that for 2009 the Lucerne keeps up with competitors in the technology game. While the Lucerne Super currently comes with a 280-watt, nine-speaker harman/kardon sound system and optional touch-screen navigation system (also available on the CXL), for 2009 both models include XM NavTraffic, a subscription service that displays real-time traffic information on-screen, including crashes and road construction. OnStar subscribers now have access to Destination Download, which allows destinations to be downloaded to the nav system at the touch of a button, as well as an eNav feature that sends destinations from MapQuest to OnStar’s turn-by-turn service — useful for owners who choose not to add touch-screen GPS. All 2009 Lucerne models also include a new Bluetooth hands-free phone interface as well as an enhanced XM Radio display with more channel and artist information.

Since its introduction the Lucerne has placed an emphasis on safety, with six standard airbags, standard traction control and StabiliTrak ESC, and an auto-leveling rear suspension that adjusts for heavy loads. In addition, the big sedan can be had with Buick’s blind-spot alert system, which uses radar sensors to monitor vehicles in adjacent traffic lanes, and a Lane Departure Warning option that warns drivers of accidental lane changes. Both features are available as an upgrade to the Lucerne’s Driver Confidence Package, which is standard on Super models and optional on the CX and CXL.

Most luxury sedans in the Lucerne’s price range are smaller, sporty models like the Audi A4 and Infiniti G37, while sedan shoppers in the market for big American iron may think of vehicles from Pontiac and Chrysler first. But with an array of improvements, including significantly more V-6 power and competitive new tech, the 2009 Buick Lucerne’s smooth and quiet front-drive package should help it continue to find buyers who place a little more value in space and driving comfort than canyon carving and smoky-burnout capability.

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Below is the official press release from Buick for the 2009 Buick Lucerne.

NEW V-6 FLEXFUEL ENGINE AND MORE STANDARD CONTENT HIGHLIGHT 2009 BUICK LUCERNE LINEUP ENHANCEMENTS

The Buick Lucerne has consistently delivered more of what customers demand from a premium full-size sedan: more technology as well as more comfort, convenience and safety and security features. Enhancements for 2009 include more standard content and a more powerful V-6 engine in CX and CXL models that can operate on E85 ethanol.

Lucerne models for 2009 are the CX, CXL and the top-of-the-line Super, introduced mid-year 2008.

“For premium and near-luxury passenger cars, the Lucerne lineup exemplifies Buick’s ongoing commitment to meeting or exceeding buyer expectations,” said Buick-Pontiac-GMC vice president Susan Docherty. “Their flowing design, luxurious appointments, technical sophistication and on-road performance are right on the mark.”

Engine performance
Powering Lucerne CX and CXL models is a more powerful 3.9L V-6 engine. It delivers an SAE-certified 227 horsepower (169 kW) and 237 lb.-ft. of torque (321 Nm). By comparison, the 3.8L V-6 it replaces delivered 197 horsepower (147 kW) and 227 lb.-ft. of torque (308 Nm). Even with the increase in available horsepower, the new engine offers an estimated one-mile-per-gallon fuel economy improvement in both city and highway driving.

The 3.9L V-6 engine is also FlexFuel capable, meaning it can run on 100 percent gasoline, up to 85 percent ethanol or any variation of the two. This marks the first time that the Buick Lucerne is available with an E85-capable powerplant.

The ultimate Lucerne model carries Buick’s historic “Super” designation and is powered by a 4.6L Northstar V-8 engine that is rated at 292 horsepower (218 kW) and 288 lb.-ft. of torque (390 Nm).

The 4.6L V-8 is paired with GM’s electronically controlled Hydra-Matic 4T80 four-speed automatic transaxle, while the 3.9L V-6 is mated to the 4T65 four-speed automatic transaxle.

All Lucerne engines feature electronic throttle control to seamlessly match driver input with engine response while maximizing overall fuel efficiency.

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More standard equipment
Buick Lucerne delivers an expanded list of standard equipment for 2009. Lucerne CX models now include cornering lamps; six-way power passenger seat; heated power outside rearview mirrors; an extended-range key fob and 17-inch premium painted wheels. CX models are available with cloth seating in five-passenger configurations. Six-passenger seating is available.

More standard luxury features are also found on the 2009 CXL model: eight-way heated driver and front-passenger seats; power lumbar adjustments; memory settings; heated leather steering wheel; outside rearview mirrors with integrated turn signal indicator and 17-inch premium painted wheels. Leather-appointed, five-passenger seating is standard on Lucerne CXL models; six-passenger seating is available.

Befitting its sporty character, Lucerne Super models feature:

Premium steering components for more precise steering and a higher level of responsiveness
Magnetic Ride Control technology – recalibrated for even more driver control and performance, while further reducing body roll in cornering and lane changes
Eighteen-inch aluminum wheels shod with P245/50R18 all-season radials Exterior Lucerne Super enhancements include a unique grille, front and rear fascias, and rocker panels. Also setting Lucerne Super apart are integrated exhaust tips and a “Super” badge on the decklid. Inside, Lucerne Super features a leather-wrapped instrument panel upper with French seam stitching; suede trim on the doors and on the standard heated and cooled front seats; heated real walnut wood-accented steering wheel; walnut wood shifter; a Nova Silver finish for the center stack; model-specific sill plates and premium floor mats.

Additional Lucerne Super premium amenities include a 280-watt, nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system that includes a six-disc CD changer and MP3 player. Lucerne Super customers may also opt for touch-screen navigation; sunroof; Side Blind Zone and Lane Departure Warning safety-enhancing technologies; and 18-inch chrome wheels. Lucerne Super is available exclusively in Cocoa/Shale or Ebony interior trim.

Simplified packages
Only two option packages are available on 2009 Lucerne models: the Comfort & Convenience package and the Driver Confidence Package. The Comfort & Convenience package adds dual-zone, automatic climate control, universal home remote and a cargo net. This package is standard on Lucerne CXL and Super models and is available on Lucerne CX.

The Driver Confidence package adds StabiliTrak, rear parking assist, remote start, theft-deterrent system, RainSense wipers and heated washer fluid. It’s standard on Lucerne Super models and available on CX and CXL models.

Additional 2009 Buick Lucerne enhancements include:

XM NavTraffic delivers real-time traffic information right to the vehicle’s touch-screen navigation system. XM NavTraffic is available in 80 major North American markets and delivers comprehensive road condition data – such as crashes, traffic backups and road construction – to the subscriber’s navigation screen. XM NavTraffic is available on Lucerne CXL and Super models
OnStar Destination Download, which enables OnStar subscribers with screen-based navigation systems to quickly input their destination via the press of a button
OnStar eNav allows subscribers with Turn-by-Turn Navigation service to find and save destinations on Media and have those destinations sent to their vehicle’s OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation system
Bluetooth for Phone is now standard on all models and enables true hands-free calling. It uses OnStar’s voice recognition to interpret voice commands to dial phone numbers and name tags and the phone conversations are played through the vehicle’s audio system
Enhanced XM Satellite Radio display delivers more channel and artist information. All XM-equipped Lucerne models feature a three-month complimentary XM Satellite Radio subscription
Outside rearview mirrors with integrated turn signal included as standard equipment on Lucerne CXL and Super models
Chrome grille replaces black painted grille on CXL models
Body-color roof antenna included on all models
Three new exterior colors: Mystic Sapphire Tricoat, Quicksilver Metallic (replacing Platinum Metallic) and Cyber Gray Metallic (replacing Sharkskin). Lucerne Super also adds Crystal Red Tintcoat and Black Onyx to its palette.

QuietTuning
Every Lucerne model, from the well-equipped base CX to the Super, receives Buick’s unique, all-encompassing engineering initiative called QuietTuning. QuietTuning is designed to significantly reduce, block and absorb unwanted road, wind and powertrain noise with the goal of providing leading levels of interior cabin quietness.

It starts with a stiff body structure, extremely tight body gap tolerances and an extensive wind-sealing system. Buick then adds notable QuietTuning features, including laminated side glass in all four moving passenger door windows; noise-reducing outside rearview mirrors; lower profile “structureless” windshield wipers with a flexible airfoil surface; a “double-isolated” powertrain mounting system; laminated steel and composite nylon baffles in the roof pillars, rocker panels and cross-car structures; composite wheel housing liners, and more.

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Engines receive QuietTuning attention, too. For example, the 4.6L V-8 features an acoustically tuned engine cover, special cam chain tensioner, camshaft cover isolator mounts, and pistons coated with a Grafal polymer. All contribute to quiet operation.

Safety
Lucerne ‘s body structure is engineered to provide maximum occupant protection under a wide range of impact conditions. Active safety and handling features offered on Lucerne include a four-channel anti-lock braking system and traction control; an auto-leveling rear suspension that automatically adjusts the vehicle height for heavy loads; and four-channel StabiliTrak electronic stability control with brake assist, which senses emergency braking situations and boosts the power as needed.

All Lucerne models have six standard air bags: a dual-stage driver front air bag, side-impact thorax air bags, roof-rail curtain air bags and the segment’s only dual depth front passenger air bag. The dual depth air bag can deploy in two different shapes and pressures – depending upon crash impact, seat belt usage and seat position. Working with other front passenger safety features, such as a weight-based occupant detection system, the dual depth air bag deploys in one of two different sizes from behind the instrument panel within milliseconds to provide optimal restraint for the front passenger.

In addition, the standard OnStar service includes General Motors’ Advanced Crash Response System. It makes crash data available to the participating 911 centers to help them dispatch the appropriate life-saving personnel and equipment to crash scenes faster. OnStar features enhanced hands-free voice recognition capabilities to provide more intuitive continuous digit dialing and improved voice recognition accuracy. Using the GPS satellite network and wireless technology, OnStar features core safety services and OnStar Hands-Free Calling that allows drivers to make and receive voice-activated phone calls using an externally mounted antenna for greater reception.

Side Blind Zone Alert and Lane Departure Warning
Available on only a few high-end luxury cars worldwide, Buick’s new Side Blind Zone Alert system and Lane Departure Warning systems are leading technologies that add to Lucerne’s safety story and enhance the feeling of confidence behind the wheel.

The Side Blind Zone Alert system uses radar sensors on both sides of the vehicle (mounted behind the rear fascia) to scan a 150-degree field of view within a 3.5-meter range – alternating radar beams sweep the adjacent traffic lanes to “look” for other cars. Vehicles entering one of seven zones identified by the system will illuminate an LED symbol in the outside rearview mirror. The system ignores stationary objects, such as fire hydrants or parked cars.

The Lane Departure Warning system is a camera-based lane detection system that warns driver of inadvertent lane changes. The camera, mounted near the inside rearview mirror, identifies traffic lane markings and provides audible alerts.

Lane Departure Warning and Side Blind Zone Alert systems are available together as an optional upgrade to Lucerne’s Driver Confidence Package, which includes remote start, theft-deterrence system, Ultrasonic Rear Park Assist, heated washer fluid, StabiliTrak and RainSense windshield wiper system. Both technologies are available in the United States and Canada.

Lucerne is manufactured at GM’s award-winning Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center.

SAE certified.

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