2001 Buick LeSabre
2001 Buick LeSabre. Click image to enlarge

By Chris Chase

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Buick’s big LeSabre has always been a no-apologies car, aimed squarely at those who prefer a more, ah, relaxed vehicle to get them from A to B. Er, let’s not mince words – this is a car built for older folks. Nothing wrong with that, of course; everyone needs wheels, and the LeSabre is pretty much perfect for the bridge-and-bingo crowd.

The LeSabre was redesigned for the 2000 model year with slightly curvier lines that were a relief from the painfully plain looks of the two previous generations of LeSabre. While the new body was an improvement, General Motors knew enough not to mess with what worked, namely the big 3.8-litre V6 that has powered LeSabres – and many other GM vehicles – since fedoras were still in style. By 2000, this engine, known as the 3800 series, was up to 205 horsepower and 230 lb.-ft. of torque. Shifting duties were still handled by a four-speed automatic.
hioned engine even by the standards of the day, but it worked well and has proven itself as one of GM’s most reliable powerplants. It was great on gas too, for a big engine in a big car: Natural Resources Canada gave the 2000 LeSabre ratings of 12.3 L/100 km in the city and 7.3 L/100 km highway. That didn’t change too much over the years, though by 2005, the LeSabre’s city rating had been upgraded to 11.9 L/100 km. For comparison’s sake, a 2005 Toyota Camry V6 is rated at 11.5 L/100 km city and 7.5 L/100 km highway. Those kind of numbers make the LeSabre one of the most efficient big cars around.

Then take a look at the LeSabre’s reliability. While many GM products suffer from below-average reliability, Buick seems to do better than the General’s other divisions in this regard, and the LeSabre doesn’t stray from that trend. As mentioned, the 3800 V6 is a tough motor and GM’s automatic transmissions have a good reputation for holding up over time, so mechanical issues shouldn’t be a worry.

2001 Buick LeSabre
2001 Buick LeSabre. Click image to enlarge

Watch for problems with electrical components such as power windows and the like, but given the demographic who buys these cars, you’d be hard-pressed to find a used LeSabre that’s been mistreated, which helps your chances of getting a trouble-free vehicle.

Typically for a domestic car, resale values are low, making a used LeSabre a terrific used car value for the buyer who wants a cushy ride. Year 2000 models go for around $10,000, according to Canadian Red Book ($9,675 for base Custom models and $10,125 for the uplevel Limited trim) and values don’t break the $20,000 threshold until you start looking at 2003s ($20,475 for the Limited, $18,500 for the Custom model). Even a 2005 Limited is worth a little less than $30,000, less than three-quarters of its $40,385 M.S.R.P.

2002 Buick LeSabre
2002 Buick LeSabre. Click image to enlarge

Both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) agree that the LeSabre is a very safe car in the event of an accident. All LeSabres built since 2000 were equipped with side airbags, and helped this big car to earn four stars each for front and rear seat occupant protection in side impact tests, while earning four and five stars for driver and front passenger protection respectively in frontal impact testing. The IIHS gave the 2000-2005 LeSabre its “good” rating in its frontal offset crash test, but didn’t conduct side impact testing.

Sure, most people younger than 60 think the LeSabre is about as cool as polyester slacks in summer (or any time of year for that matter) but other than that, there’s not a lot to say about this big car that’s not positive. If a large, comfortable conveyance at a good price is what you’re after, this is definitely a used car worth considering.

Online Resources

www.BuickForums.com – not that many octogenarians tend to surf the web, so its no surprise that the forums on this Buick website don’t see too much action and that membership is less than 2,000. However, the LeSabre section is the busiest by far, which makes this a decent place to stop in with questions about your big Buick. In fact, it may be your only choice, as most other Buick websites focus on classic models.


Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003283; Units affected: 40,397

1998-2000: On certain vehicles, a combination of a low battery condition and fuel in the upper intake manifold while the ignition key is activated at engine start could cause an elevated rate of manifold over-pressurization events. The operator may experience a loud bang / intake backfire that could rupture the intake manifold, resulting in emitting dust from under the hood and a no-start condition. If this event were to occur, and if an ignition source were present, an engine compartment fire could occur. Correction: Dealer will replace the fuel pressure regulator.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000001; Units affected: 1,594

2000: Certain vehicles do not comply with the requirements of CMVSS 108 – Lighting Equipment and Retroreflective Devices. The vehicle headlamp adjustment device (VHAD) horizontal adjuster may not move the headlamp reflector when the shaft is rotated in a normal manner during aiming, and the owner’s manual does not contain any instructions for visual/optical aiming of the headlamps. Correction: Dealers will install an insert in the owner’s manual insert containing the correct information.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000104; Units affected: 588

2000: Certain vehicles may have internal fluid leaks in the brake hydraulic control unit. When the rear brake proportioning, antilock brake, traction control, or stability control feature is activated in some driving situations, the feature may not perform as designed and the driver could lose vehicle control. Correction: ABS hydraulic modulator unit will be inspected and replaced if necessary.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1999213; Units affected: 62

2000: On certain vehicles, the inner tie rod nuts may be loose, which could result in separation of a tie rod. Separation of a tie rod could cause unexpected steering input in some manoeuvres and could cause a crash without prior warning. Correction: Dealers will check the torque of the inner tie rod nuts and if necessary, adjust the vehicle toe-in and tighten the inner tie rod nuts to the specified torque.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2001272; Units affected: 11,337

2001-2002: Certain vehicles have an improperly programmed vehicle theft deterrent system. Correction: dealers will reprogram the system.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2002042; Units affected: 5

2002: Certain passenger vehicles were built with missing or under-torqued steering gear attachment bolts. If a bolt is missing, the driver may notice uneven steering response or unusual noises during turns. If the left bolt is missing and the right mounting strap fails, steering control is lost and a vehicle crash could result. Correction: Dealers will inspect the vehicles for presence and proper torque of both steering gear bolts.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2002151; Units affected: 14,654

2002-2003: Certain vehicles may have a driver’s side airbag inflator that could fracture at a weld during a deployment. Pieces of the inflator could strike and injure vehicle occupants and the airbag cushion would not inflate fully, reducing the capacity of the bag to protect the driver. Correction: Dealers are to inspect and if necessary replace the driver side airbag module assembly.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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