Not as fancy as a Cadillac, but a significant step up from a Chevy, it's a Buick
Lower intake gaskets leaking coolant when purchased. Replaced the lower intake gaskets with updated Fel-Pro gaskets.
Plastic upper intake manifold cracked, caused engine to ingest coolant at 160k, but caught the problem before it caused damage. Dorman redesigned upper intake plenum is supposed to fix this issue, so I installed this when I put the lower intake gaskets on.
Transmission pressure control solenoid malfunctioning when purchased, causing erratic shifting and shudder under heavy acceleration. Fixed this problem for under 200 bucks including new fluid and filter, but required removing the transaxle case cover, which is an in-depth repair that could have easily cost $1000 bucks at the dealer (I know, because I used to be a mechanic at a Buick dealer).
The Buick LeSabre is a very competent machine. The best feature of this car is the 205 horsepower 3800 Series II V6, which produces a fairly impressive 235 ft/lbs of torque. While you aren't going to win any races on the drag strip with this 2.5 ton boat, passing on the highway requires only a quick snap of the throttle to leave annoying drivers quickly disappearing in your rear-view mirror. The large displacement(for a V6) and OHV design of the engine produce a throaty snarl from the exhaust when maximum acceleration is demanded.
The only place the powertrain comes up short is the 4t65e 4 speed slush-box automatic transmission. Shift feel is similar to that of slicing through warm butter with a paring knife, which does little to enhance the driving experience. Some may appreciate the ultra smooth shifting of the transmission, but anybody that is used to a performance-oriented automobile will wonder why the shifts are so sloppy and slow.
Cornering performance is hampered by a soft suspension and tires with large sidewalls, even when equipped with the supposedly sportier Gran Touring Package. Trying to throw your LeSabre into a corner much above the posted speed limit sends the 16 all season tires squalling while the direction of the nose follows slowly. The main purpose of this car, though, is not to be an impressive track demon. The Gran Touring suspension absorbs most bumps very well with minimal float, making highway cruising a dream. The Dynaride suspension (on models not equipped with the Gran Touring package) is much softer, rides on 15 inch tires, and is more reminiscent of 1980's Fleetwood Brougham in terms of cornering ability.
When cruising around town or on the highway, the engine and suspension noise are generally very muted. The interior is trimmed in soft leather that wears very well over time. Support from the wide and flat 60/40 split front bench is good, except when cornering. Both the driver and passenger receive 8 way power adjustable seats, which annoyingly enough, have manual recline adjustment and do not offer seat heaters as an option. Rear seat passengers are treated to ultra plush leather seats in the back, which are most comparable to a big puffy couch.
The "Comfortemp II" automatic climate control works very well, and even gives the passenger their own separate set of controls on the door. Rear passengers get their own vents in the limited models. The vertical black plastic clad dashboard is designed to look formal, but ends up looking dated in a 99 model. Use of faux wood is tasteful, and interior materials are of above average quality. Visibility is excellent out the front, but large rear roof pillars compromise rearward visibility. The large trunk is great for big shopping trips or weekend getaways.
The standard "Concert sound II" stereo system from Delco produces crisp, clear sound from the front mid-range and tweeters, with deep bass from the rear deck 6x9's. Steering wheel controls are optional, and are completely worth it. The volume control even energizes a motor behind the volume knob on the stereo, so it actually moves when you adjust the volume (imagine my surprise when I found this out while I was on a road trip; I thought I was seeing things!).
In my opinion, the LeSabre was one of the best full size cars of its time, and thus continues to be a great value today. Repair costs are comparably low, and generally infrequent. It is not uncommon for these vehicles to achieve in the 250-300k mile range, while still getting 30 MPG on the highway. Not as fancy as a Cadillac, but a significant step up from a Chevy, it's a Buick. For a reliable, efficient, large family sedan, the LeSabre is hard to beat.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th December, 2013