During what the division’s general manager Steve Shannon calls “a transition year for Buick,” they’re working at “revitalizing the brand” through a strategy that is in one regard going back to the future. That is, Shannon has unveiled versions of the Lucerne and LaCrosse sedans that have been engineered by the GM Performance Division: both vehicles have the word “Super” appended, a word that resonates with Buicks of yore. There hasn’t been a Super in the Buick lineup for 50 years.
Ed Zellner, chief engineer, Premium Midsize Cars, says that the faces of the new vehicles harken to the Velite concept car that made its appearance in the spring of 2004. So both the LaCrosse Super and the Lucerne Super have new front fascias, although in the case of the Lucerne Super there is a grille that is specific to that product, while all models in the LaCrosse lineup have the new front fascia and shortened hood as part of a midcycle refresh for the nameplate.
However, the LaCrosse Super has something under its hood that the other LaCrosses don’t: a small-block 5.3-liter V8 that produces 300 hp @ 5,600 rpm and 323 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400. According to Jeff Boike, engineering manager for the vehicle (he actually works for GM Performance Div.), this means the car can go 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds—but then he emphasizes, “This is not a track car.” Presumably, not too many Buick owners are the types that would be hammering the accelerator. In addition to visual cues including a new rocker molding, a lower, more squared rear fascia, Eurostyle spoiler, dual exhaust outlets (the exhaust, Boike notes, is “tuned to be Buick quiet”), and 18-in. wheels and tires, there are the four portholes on each of the front fenders, signifying the V8. What’s not visible are such things as Bilstein monotube struts, a Delphi premium steering gear, active fuel management, larger brakes, and a Hydra-Matic 4T65 four-speed. Inside, the front seats have what Zellner says is a “more aggressive side bolster.” There are embossed leather inserts. The center stack has a distinctive silver finish and the gauge cluster graphics are unique to the Super.
Karen Nicklin is the engineering manager for the Lucerne Super. She says that the Lucerne CXS was the starting point for the Super, and notes that while the 4.6-liter Northstar V8 packaged well in the engine compartment. That’s because the CXS also has a 4.6-liter Northstar. But the Super has 17 more horsepower: 292 hp. The Magnet Ride Control system, she explains, is tuned to be “more responsive—but not hard.” Visually, in addition to the unique front end, the Lucerne Super features a more vertical rocker, and a different rear fascia, which has a lowered valance with a diamond-pattern wire-mesh look. There are dual-wall stainless tips for the exhaust.
A word about “Super.” Buick introduced the term in 1939 for the 1940 model year. Buick began changing the names of its cars from letters and numbers to actual words (e.g., the 60 Series became the Century; the Model 81 became the Roadmaster). The 50 Series cars for model year 1940 took the Super moniker.—GSV