Continuing as Buick's top-seller by far, the full-size H-body LeSabre drew well over 150,000 orders each model year in 1992-94. Its stellar second-place finish in J.D. Power's 1989 quality survey prompted Buick to bill itself as "the new symbol for quality in America." LeSabre also earned "best family car" honors from Family Circle magazine and a string of yearly Best Buy endorsements from Consumer Guide®.
Helping the cause was a thorough 1992 redesign featuring a more rounded and contemporary look, a smoother 3800 V-6, standard driver-side airbag, and useful no-cost extras like power windows and GM's "PASS-Key" antitheft ignition.
Coupes disappeared, but Custom and Limited sedans kept moving out the door on the strength of appealing high-teens starting prices and considered yearly feature upgrades like standard power door locks ('93), passenger airbag and heat-reflecting "solar control" glass ('94) and high-value "Select Series" models ('95). Though LeSabre had no more allure for enthusiasts than a Century or Regal, it offered solid family transport with a modicum of luxury at a fair price, a combination many folks found hard to resist.
Buick's flagship C-body line received a similar makeover for 1991, gaining more-fulsome lines inspired by the '89 Essence show car, plus plastic front fenders and eight inches in overall length (wheelbase was unchanged).
Models thinned to a $24,385 Park Avenue sedan and a posh new $27,420 Park Avenue Ultra. Both carried 3800 V-6s with tuned-port injection and 170 bhp, plus four-speed automatic transaxles with electronic shift control newly integrated with the engine computer. Also on hand: standard driver-side airbag, ABS, solar-control windshield glass, and full power assists.
Befitting its name, the Ultra came with a leather-trimmed interior and a few unique styling touches. Come 1992, it added a supercharged V-6, the only such engine in U.S. production other than Ford's Thunderbird SC unit. Unlike Buick turbos of the '70s and '80s, Ultra's supercharged engine was tuned for low-speed torque, not high-end power. Still, its 205 bhp wasn't exactly puny, so neither was performance. Where the regular Park Avenue took 9.2 seconds 0-60, the Ultra needed about eight.
Also new for '92 was optional traction control for both models (later extended to LeSabre as well). This praiseworthy feature was appreciated even more when the Ultra went to 225 bhp for 1994 -- good for seven seconds flat in the benchmark sprint to 60.
The 1995 base model got a reengineered "Series II" 3800 with vibration-quelling "balance shafts." The blown V-6 followed suit for '96 and muscled up to 240 bhp -- not bad for a lowly pushrod engine then over 20 years old.
Like their linemates, Park Avenue/Ultra added a few standard features each year. While that necessarily pushed up prices, customers seemed willing to go along. That was especially true for '91, when the series doubled its model-year production to over 100,000. Annual volume then settled to between 55,000 and 68,000 through mid-decade.
For more on the amazing Buick, old and new, see:
- Buick New Car Reviews and Prices
- Buick Used Car Reviews and Prices
- 2008 Buick Lacrosse
- 2008 Buick Lucerne