- The Washington Times - Friday, September 13, 2002

The Buick LeSabre returns for 2003 basically unchanged, but who's going to complain? It's been the No. 1 selling full-size sedan for a decade and seems to be doing just fine the way it is. Once again LeSabre comes in basic Custom or up-level Limited trim.
What is new is the Celebration Edition option package available on the Limited version. It adds $1,885 to the bottom line, but with only 10,000 of the 2003 LeSabres being so equipped, it provides some exclusivity for a nameplate that has such a prolific presence on our highways.
Among the Celebration Edition upgrades are two-tone leather-trimmed seats, memory seats and outboard mirrors, head-up display and a trunk convenience net. Mechanical and exterior enhancements include 16-inch chrome wheels, turn-signal indicators in the outboard mirrors, Stabilitrak that helps a driver maintain control in a skid or slide, and body-color lower fascias and rocker moldings.
Adding the Celebration Edition package to your Limited won't have people rushing up for a closer look-see when it is parked at the mall, but short of painting flames on its flanks, it's one way to separate your LeSabre from the herd.
LeSabre power still comes from the seasoned 3.8-liter V-6 that has been a fixture in the General Motors engine stable for years. It makes 205 horsepower and 230 foot-pounds of peak torque. This may not sound like a lot for a sedan tipping the scales at 3,600 pounds, but sticking a foot into the accelerator is answered with a satisfying burst of power. Arriving at 60 mph from a standstill takes about eight seconds. An electronic four-speed automatic transmission turns the front wheels. This V-6 feels strong with plenty of punch for open-highway maneuvers. Fuel economy is decent too with an Environmental Protection Agency miles-per-gallon rating of 20 in the city and 29 on the highway.
You won't confuse the LeSabre's suspension with that of a sports car; however, it feels solid and stable. A Gran Touring suspension option is offered for those wanting a firmer undercarriage. The 16-inch all-season tires provide serious grip.
Inside, the LeSabre comfortably seats five adults. This includes sufficient head-, leg- and hip room both front and back. The doors open wide for easy entry and exit. Up front the LeSabre features what Buick calls "catcher mitt" seats. This is really a clever way of saying they don't offer much in the way of lateral support. Then again, the average LeSabre owner probably isn't going to take it racing, so the need to be held upright while taking hairpin turns at speed probably isn't a big deal.
Otherwise the seats are firm and comfortable. They also have self-aligning head restraints for added protection from rear-end collisions.
Black cherry accents give the cabin a rich ambience. Nothing is out of the ordinary about the instrument panel's basic design. Everything is easy to spot and use. Most functions from opening the windows to adjusting the front seats are electronically powered. Automatic dual-zone climate control is standard as is the analog gauge package with driver information center. Front side-impact air bags supplement the dual-stage front-impact air bags.
The Limited comes with a full year of OnStar navigation and assistance service. All things considered, the LeSabre cabin is a wonderful place to spend a few hours on the road.
A couple of options are particularly noteworthy. The head-up display projects a miles-per-hour readout onto the windshield.
This permits the driver to monitor speed without taking his eyes off the road. Although GM has offered this feature on a few select models for years, curiously it hasn't really caught on.
One option hardly unique to GM, but probably eventually destined to be standard gear in most vehicles, is the satellite radio. GM is using XM as its satellite-radio. My test LeSabre had the $325 receiver upgrade.
Satellite radio provides 100 channels of clear, crisp signal encompassing virtually every genre of music and talk. Better yet for those who regularly travel more than 60 or 70 miles from home, these signals are maintained from Maine to California. This eliminates the need to find a new station every 100 miles or so.
LeSabre represents a solid big-car value. The Limited's base price is $30,650. The only two options on my test LeSabre were the Celebration package and the XM receiver. Adding the $710 delivery charge brought the total to $32,820.


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