Junkyard Gem: 2006 Buick Lucerne CXL

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When The General's Buick Division axed the LeSabre and Park Avenue names in 2005 (after 46 and 30 years, respectively, though the Park Avenue returned a few years later in China), the replacement top-of-the-line Buick sedan became the new Lucerne. It wasn't the Buick with the biggest price tag that year— those honors went to the Terraza minivan and Rainier SUV— but it became the flag-bearer for a bloodline of cushy, prestigious Buick sedans that stretched all the way back to the early days of the American auto industry. Lucerne sales for the 2006 and 2007 model years went pretty well, and now enough time has passed that some of these cars are showing up in the self-service car boneyards I frequent. Here's a first-year example with the optional Northstar V8 engine, found in a Northern California yard last summer.

Plenty of American cars have been named after cities in Italy, France, and Spain, but the Lucerne is the only one I can think of that bears the name of a Swiss city (to be fair, the entire Chevrolet Division is named after a Swiss man, so Switzerland didn't really get shortchanged by The General in the naming department). CXL was the Lucerne's mid-grade trim level, sandwiched between the CX and CSX.

The high-zoot Lucerne CSX got the 4.6-liter Northstar as standard equipment, but this quad-cam V8 and its 279 horses cost extra on the CXL. The base engine for the CX and CXL was the good old 3.8-liter pushrod Buick V6, rated at 197 horsepower. No US-market 2006 Buick could be purchased new with a manual transmission; this car has a four-speed automatic.

In a Buick tradition stretching back to the late 1940s, this car boasts flashy "Ventiports" on the fenders. In past years, the number of ports on each side designated the car's intended swank level; starting with the Lucerne, they indicated the number of engine cylinders. So, when you're crawling around your local Ewe Pullet and looking for Northstars, seek out the Lucernes with the four-hole Ventiports.

"Leather-appointed" power bucket seats and "wood-toned" trim were standard on the CXL, as well as an MP3-capable CD player with six speakers. By 2006, most American vehicle shoppers seeking something big and luxurious chose trucks and truck-like machines, but the market still supported quite a few sedan models such as the Lucerne.

Most US-market GM vehicles got these little square "Mark of Excellence" fender badges during the late 2000s. Soon after The General filed for Chapter 11 in 2009, though, they disappeared.

The car the press can't stop talking about.

Heated washer fluid. Look out, snowflakes!

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