What's New for 2002
Buick's LeSabre receives only minor trim changes for 2002. Limited models get additional standard features and new 16-inch wheels, while all models get new radios, manual trunk release latches and the LATCH system for securing child safety seats.
Evolutionary in style outside, and revolutionary in style inside, the Buick LeSabre appears to have met its designers' goals: keep the good stuff and improve the rest. Give Buick credit for acting on customer input and coming up with a surprisingly competent overall package.
Fans of the previous-generation LeSabre will not be put off by the current iteration, which uses an aircraft fuselage styling theme to achieve a look familiar to loyalists. Buick's signature "waterfall" chrome grille is in blatant evidence, and the clean-looking front and rear fascias set off the clear-lens headlamps and large tail lamps. This year, Limited models get revised 15-inch aluminum wheels (also available on the base Custom), as well as new optional 16-inch seven-spoke chrome-plated aluminum wheels.
Safety has also been a LeSabre hallmark, and the 2002 LeSabre doesn't disappoint. In addition to incorporating side airbags, the comfortable and supportive front seats have built-in "self-aligning" head restraints, reducing the risk of whiplash. Front seatbelts are integrated into the seat frames, and all five seating positions come equipped with shoulder and lap belts. The LeSabre's interior meets the government's latest head-impact requirements ahead of the federal deadline.
Buick buyers place a priority on comfort, and the LeSabre delivers. Front seats are wide, soft and flat, accommodating a large range of body types. Six-passenger seating is standard, while front buckets are available. The LeSabre gets an improved center convenience console for 2002 when the buckets are ordered. Rear-seat occupants aren't forgotten, with rear headroom proving as good as the Ford Crown Victoria's or Mercury Grand Marquis'. And even though legroom back there isn't best-in-class, it is still comfortable for adults. Trunk room is a solid 18 cubic feet, bettering the 17 cubic feet found in the Chrysler Concorde.
Two kinds of LeSabre are available: Custom and Limited. Custom includes the usual round of sedan basics, like power windows/doors/mirrors, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, cruise control, tilt wheel, power driver seat and cassette stereo. This is the rental car special. If you want to feel special, select the Limited, which adds traction control, alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, OnStar GPS communications, CD player and heated seats. We'd opt for the LeSabre Limited with the Gran Touring Package, despite the fact that the top-of-the-line P225/60R16 touring radials are not super handlers. Four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS are standard on both trim levels.
The only available powertrain in the LeSabre remains the trusty 3.8-liter Series II V6, mated to a smooth four-speed automatic transmission. This motor makes a healthy 205 horsepower and still manages to earn an EPA mileage rating of 19 city/30 highway. What's more, GM's V6 meets federal low-emission-vehicle (LEV) standards.
LeSabres have consistently ranked better than average in ownership ratings over the years, and the 2002 will no doubt continue that trend. While the median age of most LeSabre buyers has long been in the 60s, more family-oriented buyers are finding themselves in Buick showrooms than ever before. That should help the Buick brand shake some of its fuddy-duddy image and keep the LeSabre at the top of the full-size sales charts for yet another year.