For the last several years enthusiasts had been awaiting GM's new round of rear-wheel drive large sedans with bated breath, and as late as a few months ago, those hopes looked like they would be fulfilled. The advent of new and strict CAFE standard, rising fuel prices and GM's corporate restructuring project spelled the death for the company's big RWD cars, however, and both the Impala and Lucerne were thought to be casualties of the move.
It turns out that may not be the case. As we reported earlier this year, Cadillac and Buick are apparently exempt from the RWD cutbacks
at GM. The Impala will remain a large FWD sedan to continue competing with the Ford Taurus and its ilk, reports MotorTrend
, but the Lucerne (current model pictured) will move forward as a RWD sedan - just on a slightly smaller platform. Rather than being built on the planned 118.5-inch wheelbase large Zeta platform the car will be shifted to the midsize Zeta platform at 114.8-inches axle-to-axle - the same platform shared by the Pontiac G8. The reason for the switch is speculated to have been influenced in part by GM's desire to keep the Cadillac STS/DTS replacement
large sedan in its own category on the large Sigma/Zeta merged platform
Buicks aren't known for their sporting demeanor or sexy lines, but the Lucerne may change that - to a degree. The new car will likely benefit from the current model's 197hp 3.8L V6 that is thought to be somewhat underrated on power. No V8 models are expected, and that fits with the more sedate and orderly style of the average Buick buyer. Fuel efficiency still won't be particulary impressive at an estimated 16mpg city and 25mpg highway, but trickle-down of improvements like direct-injection and possible hybrid elements, the Lucerne could creep closer to 20mpg in town and 30mpg on the highway.