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2003 Buick LeSabre and Celebration Trim Package

MSRP Range: $25,570 - $31,320

Invoice Range: $23,397 - $28,65
Price Quote

MSRP As Tested: $31,320

Vehicle Category: Full-size Sedan

Enigne Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels: Front-Wheel Drive

Engine As Tested: 3.8-liter, Overhead Cam, V6, 205-hp at 5,200 rpm and 230 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm

Transmission As Tested: 4-Speed Automatic

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 20/29

Standard Safety Features: Driver and front passenger front and side airbags, power 4-wheed disc brakes, Antilock Braking System

Competition: 2003 Chevrolet Impala Large Sedan, 2004 Chrysler 300M Large Sedan, 2004 Chrysler Concorde Large Sedan, 2004 Dodge Intrepid Large Sedan, 2003 Ford Crown Victoria Large Sedan, 2003 Mercury Grand Marquis Large Sedan, 2003 Pontiac Bonneville Large Sedan, 2003 Toyota Avalon.

MILAN, Mich. -- On rural routes tracing through Michigan farmlands to the southwest of Detroit, a big LeSabre sedan in new Celebration trim marking the 2003 centennial anniversary of Buick scoots along a narrow two-lane section road at legal speed with scant sounds from engine or wind intruding to the plush passenger compartment.

A driver, strapped securely in a leather-lined bucket with contoured bolsters supporting hips and spine, faces an instrument panel containing elegantly designed white-faced analog gauges rimmed in beads of chrome.

Peering directly through the windshield above the instrument panel, we see a display in neon-green numbers of the vehicle's speed and critical engine data projected magically on glass in the driver's line of sight.

Gripping a padded steering wheel, we turn it to match the right-angle turns at mile-length sections and the crisp rack and pinion steering mechanism -- aided by a magnetic variable-effort power boost -- complies. With engine power directed to the front wheels, LeSabre turns in deft zig and zag maneuvers that demonstrate its agility on pavement.

Step on the accelerator after rounding one of these corners and the forceful engine reacts quickly to build momentum again.

Despite large-car dimensions and the inevitable bulk, our LeSabre surges forward, thanks to inherent strength of the General Motors 3800 series 3.8-liter V6, which produces 205-hp at 5,200 rpm and 230 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

The pushrod V6 links to a smooth and responsive automatic transaxle with electronic controls, four forward gears and the shifter lever mounted conventionally on the steering column.

Press the brake pedal and this elegant mass of metal and glass and plastic and rubber tracks an unwavering line to stop in rapid time. There are disc brakes for all four wheels and a computerized connection to anti-lock controls.

Also aboard is a complex computer-based stability control program called StabiliTrak that integrates throttle response, steering force, anti-lock brakes and input from sensors designed to detect lateral as well as linear slippage of the vehicle.

The unobtrusive equipment seems dormant under normal driving conditions, yet it will act automatically to correct potentially dangerous car movements should they occur.

Now feel what happens when LeSabre's tires encounter Michigan's inevitable pavement potholes: The independent suspension system absorbs all bumps and leaves the car body and passenger cabin alone to move forward smoothly in an uninterrupted horizontal plane.

Buick's Gran Touring suspension package, which tunes shocks and springs firmly to a sporty mode, is optional with the Celebration edition and includes a stabilizer bar at the rear plus 16-inch all-season touring tires.

Side mirrors contain a clever safety feature, as bright chevrons appear on the surface of the mirrors and blink on and off each time the turn signal indicator is activated. Although these arrows are transparent to the driver, they become quite apparent to other drivers trailing the car and convey the message that LeSabre is about to turn.

Many more safety features come with this car, such as four air bags, safety belts attached directly to the frame of front seats, shoulder and lap belts for three rear seat positions, plus energy-absorbing interior surfaces.

Even LeSabre's seats and headrests become active safety assets: If the vehicle should be hit from behind, which can inflict a neck whiplash to the rider, each headrest on front seats quickly pushes forward and upward slightly to meet the neck and head thrust backward. This movement cradles the head and prevents a painful whiplash effect.

At the same time, LeSabre's front seats can absorb energy from a rear impact and catch the rider's pelvis and low back in the manner a catcher's mitt cradles a baseball.

LeSabre's safety cage ensures a strong passenger cell protected by side door beams and energy absorbing front and rear crush zones. Also, a crush-resistant roof can withstand 7,000 pounds of pressure before deforming significantly.

The conservative exterior design of LeSabre looks familiar with Buick hallmarks of a slinking prow and oval chrome grille, yet there are subtle styling curves like at the muscular shoulders or graceful roof pillars.

Fenders flank LeSabre's central oval form like shoulder epaulets, with creases extending back to the rear bumper, trimmed low in the center section to drop the lift-over height for ease in loading the large trunk.

LeSabre's Celebration edition supports body-color lower fascias and rocker moldings, a monochrome badge up front with the oval grille displaying blacked-out bars inside a chrome ring.

Celebration shows up in two new premium paint choices -- Crimson Pearl (a deep and robust red) and White Diamond -- plus a standard shade called Light Bronzemist.

Inside, LeSabre's wrap-around instrument panel ties to side door panels in a continuous structural sweep.

LeSabre segments into two trim designations, Custom and Limited, with the latter used as foundation for the exclusive Celebration issue.

Standard seating arrangement brings a 55/45 split bench in front, but a 45/45 design with console is optional. Cloth and leather upholstery may be applied to each series.

Special refinements with Celebration extend to two-tone leather seats, woodgrain trim in Black Cherry lining the instrument panel and door panels, shiny chrome finish on door handles and floor mats embroidered with the tri-shield symbol of Buick.

Optional equipment ranges from a sunroof and the Gran Touring suspension to XM Satellite Radio. New XM, a subscription radio service, promotes superior sound quality and coast-to-coast reception through a hundred digital channels that include 71 for music and 29 with entertainment and news programming.

Another package of equipment adds convenience features such as power windows and door locks, cruise control, lockout protection and delayed locking, delayed dimming for ingress and egress plus theatrical dimming, an auxiliary power outlet and theft-deterrent system.

Buick will produce approximately 10,000 of LeSabre's Celebration editions during the 2003 model-year, with actual celebration of Buick's centennial anniversary slated for the summer of 2003.

For the past decade, LeSabre has scored as the best-selling full-size sedan in the country. Further, the 2002 Initial Quality Study by J. D. Power and Associates put LeSabre atop the Full-Size Sedan category.