With the Park Avenue and the LeSabre, some of the "target" cars they
used were the LHS and Concorde (respectively) plus various Ford/L-M and
imports. The fact that Buick considers these Chrysler LH cars worthy of
being "targets" should speak volumes about how well-regarded these LH
cars are as competitors.
The 2000 LeSabre I drove did not have the suspension upgrade of the C/D
test car, but that upgrade consists of alum whls, better tires, and a
rear sway bar--same springs and struts as best I can document from the
GM parts list. Nevertheless, the car did not float as the previous
version did (meaning that they finally caught up with Chrysler in this
area). But it did feel pretty good on rough country roads in comparison
to the LH cars I've driven. Still with the GM isolated feel.
As for the C/D handling results, it should be pointed out that many
years ago, they did a comparison between the WS-6 Firebird and a similar
Z-28 of late 70s vintage. The Firebird was slower in the slalom because
it had less understeer than the Z-28 although it out-skid-padded the
Z-28. Their explanation was that the understeering Z-28 kept the tires
generating cornerning forces more of the time than the Firebird did (the
Fbird's transition from low to high cornering force took longer to build
up whereas the Z-28's tires were already there). If that is still the
case, that's why the Buick did better in the slalom and was bested by
the Chrysler on the skidpad.
When I finished the drive, I looked the car over and discovered many
rough edges that typically don't exist on Chryslers of any type. Some
were assembly and others were design. And the 3.8V-6 still makes the
I was pretty impressed with the Buick, overall, until a rented a 1999
LHS the next weekend. It had 16000 miles and was put in service back in
September. That put everything back into perspective.
Buick (and other GM divisions) play catch-up with Chrysler and others.
When they finally do get an equivalent product out, they shout about how
much improved it is over the previous model (which it usually is), but
their target in design and performance was a now three year old Chrysler
or Ford or Toyota. Result, they get caught up just in time to be behind
The acceleration performance differences might tend to be in the basic
orientations of the engines. The 3800 GM V-6 is an excellent design in
many aspects, but Buick motors of late are definitely low and mid-range
motors whose power starts to flatten out about 4000 rpm. The old 3.5L
Chry V-6 tends to lack the low end torque feel, but typically will lay
as much rubber as the Buick 3800 while making neater sounds as the tach
needle makes a smooth swing to the red line.
If the new 3.2L Chry runs similar to the 253 horse new 3.5L, it will
probably show the Buick its taillights in the higher speed ranges. I
really liked the way the new 3.5L Chry ran and the fact that I clocked
30mpg on the trip computer at 71 mph (with the cruise on a flat stretch
of road with no tail wind--the next day on the same stretch of road,
with a tail wind, it clocked 33mpg at the same speed).
Yes, the 2000 LeSabre is a much better car than the old one, more like a
budget Park Avenue. No doubt about that, but I still prefer the way the
Chrysler LH cars "feel" and respond to driver inputs over any similar GM
or Ford or Toyota.
As for the handling tests, the Chrysler needs better tires than the new
Goodyears they are using. Goodyear builds better touring tires than the
Concorde comes equipped with. The chassis dynamics are there, they just
can't get through the "ride" tires.
But I did like the C/D test better than the one Motor Trend did against
a 1999 Bonneville. The 2000 LeSabre is not "10 Best" material yet.