Junkyard Gem: 2006 Buick Lucerne CXL

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When The General’s Buick division dropped the LeSabre and Park Avenue names in 2005 (after 46 and 30 years, respectively, although Park Avenue returned to China a few years later), the replacement premium Buick sedan was become the new Alfalfa. It wasn’t the Buick with the highest price tag that year – those honors went to the Terraza minivan and the Rainier SUV – but it became the flagship of a lineage of prestigious and plush Buick sedans that date back to the early days of the American auto industry. Lucerne sales for the 2006 and 2007 model years went pretty well, and now enough time has passed for some of these cars to show up at the self-service car cemeteries I frequent. Here’s a first-year example with the optional Northstar V8 engine, found at a northern California job site last summer.

Many American cars have been named after cities in Italy, France and Spain, but Lucerne is the only one I can think of that is named after a Swiss city ​​(to be fair, the entire Chevrolet division is named after a Swiss, so Switzerland hasn’t really been cheated by the general in the naming department). CXL was the Lucerne’s mid-trim level, sandwiched between the CX and the CSX.

The high-zoom Lucerne CSX received the Northstar 4.6-liter as standard equipment, but that four-cam V8 and its 279 horsepower cost more on the CXL. The base engine for the CXs and CXLs was the good old Buick 3.8L rod V6 with 197 horsepower. No 2006 Buick in the US market could be purchased new with a manual transmission; this car has a four-speed automatic transmission.

In a Buick tradition dating back to the late 1940s, this car sports flashy “Ventiports” on the fenders. In years past, the number of ports on each side denoted the car’s expected level of chick; starting with Lucerne, they indicated the number of cylinders in the engine. So when you’re crawling around your local sheep chick and looking for Northstars, look for Lucernes with the four-hole Ventiports.

Power “leather-trimmed” bucket seats and “woodsy” accents were standard on the CXL, along with an MP3-compatible CD player with six speakers. In 2006, most American vehicle buyers looking for something big and luxurious chose truck-like trucks and machinery, but the market still supported a number of sedan models such as the Lucerne.

Most GM vehicles in the US market got these little square “Mark of Excellence” fender badges in the late 2000s. Shortly after the General filed Chapter 11 in 2009, they were gone.

The car the press keeps talking about.

Heated windshield washer fluid. Watch out, snowflakes!


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