What's New for 1999
Buick has made some emissions system improvements for '99, and added two exterior metallic paint choices, Sterling Silver and Dark Bronze Mist.
LeSabre is the most popular full-size car sold to American consumers today, and has been for the last six years. It isn't hard to understand why many large-car buyers prefer this big front-driver. This award-winning Buick has a long-running reputation for trouble-free motoring with comfy accommodations for six passengers and a torquey V6 engine providing a healthy 205 horsepower underfoot.
LeSabre is available in nicely equipped Custom or gussied-up Limited trim, both available with the Gran Touring Package, which we highly recommend. That's because it includes handsome 16-inch alloy wheels wearing Goodyear Eagle GA 215/60 performance rubber, a more competent suspension, magnetic variable effort steering and automatic level control. What's more, you get a leather-wrapped steering wheel, as well as a more responsive 3.05:1 axle ratio (2.86 is standard), which helps the beefy Buick get rolling a bit better from a standing start. Unfortunately, more supportive seats aren't part of this option, and nothing short of a complete redesign can erase the nightmarish interior ergonomics.Pathetically, two reminder chimes are standard. One tells the driver that the parking brake has been engaged for more than 50 feet. The other reminds the driver that the turn signal has been blinking for nearly a mile. These come from the same company that came up with "Starter Protection,'' a starter grind avoidance feature that renders the starter motor inoperative while the engine is running. That Buick feels it needs these kinds of features to offer its buyers is either a poor reflection on the typical owner of big Buicks or a scary commentary on the abilities of the average driver in America.
Like last year, LeSabre buyers can have the dealer install an OnStar Mobile Communications system, which is activated using a cellular phone in concert with a Global Positioning Satellite to get you help when you need it, and directions when you're lost. OnStar operators can even recommend a restaurant that features Indian cuisine, and get you reservations. The Limited model boasts all the usual premium bits like upgraded audio system, rear armrests and floor mats. It also gets something called Personal Choice Features: security, comfort and luxury features such as security feedback, perimeter lighting and delayed locking with lock-out protection that are all controlled and programmed by the remote keyless entry system.
LeSabre is a nice car for transporting adults from point A to point B in reasonable comfort. Although it is screwed together well and offers good value, there is little more to enjoy about this Buick, unless you thrill to the notion of being able to jam six bags of golf clubs into the trunk of your car. Priced in the upper 20's, LeSabre competes with such big domestics as the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis, both of which offer equally comfortable accommodations but with V8 power and rear-wheel drive. We can appreciate the Gran Touring model of the LeSabre, but make no apologies for preferring the bigger rear-drive Crown Vic or Grand Marquis.