The Buick LeSabre was last redesigned in 2000, and GM’s not messing with a proven formula; changes are mostly cosmetic, with new available 16-inch wheels, three new exterior colours, the latest generation of OnStar, and a Celebration Edition, optional on the Limited model, which adds a blacked-out grille, body-coloured lower fascias, 16-inch blackwall touring tires and special interior trim.

The LeSabre comes in Custom or Limited trim; both use a 3.8-litre V6 mated to a four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission.

Both models come very well equipped: the Custom includes automatic headlights, power locks with keyless entry, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, power mirrors, 15-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, air conditioning, cruise control, floor mats, wheel-mounted audio controls, power windows, eight-way power driver’s seat and CD player with four speakers.

The Limited adds side airbags, traction control, heated mirrors, 15-inch aluminum wheels, leather interior, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear-seat armrest with trunk pass-through, integrated garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped wheel, 10-way power driver’s seat and CD/cassette system with six speakers.

Extremely popular (it has been the best-selling full-size car in the United States for 12 consecutive years) the LeSabre provides exactly what its target older audience wants, and that’s "no surprises". There are no gimmicks or white-hot styling cues, just solid, dependable performance and a spacious interior. Front- and rear-seat room is stretch-out comfortable with seating for six, the trunk will swallow all the luggage you’ll need, and the seats are supportive enough for a full day’s driving with no cramps or backache. The engine is smooth and very able, the brakes bring it down quickly and without fuss, and Stabilitrack, GM’s dynamic vehicle control, is optional on the Limited model.

Still, the LeSabre faces worthy competition: the V6-powered, rear-wheel-drive Chrysler 300 has a lower base price and offers up comfortable seating as well, while the Ford Five Hundred has a command-of-the-road seating position and also starts at a lower tag.

But possibly the strongest contender comes from within the same family. The new-for-2005, Canadian-built Buick Allure is only slightly smaller, it’s available in six-passenger seating, its low-end engine is only five horsepower less than the LeSabre and its upper-end model is 35 more. To top it all, its feature-packed top-of-the-line CXS is $1,355 less than the base LeSabre Custom. Perhaps Year 13 won’t be so good for LeSabre’s industry-leading sales.

The LeSabre is built in Detroit, Michigan.

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