Fifty years have passed since a Buick wore the Super nameplate, a top-of-the-line designation that was abandoned when Buicks sported tail fins and perhaps because Buicks sported tail fins. Nobody needed a badge to tell him a car was Super when foot-high tail fins plastered in chrome had already said so.
Buick needs to tell people today that it thinks its cars are better than good, and so returns the Super. For 2008, Buick’s LaCrosse gets Super with a V-8 and less radical upgrades throughout. That V-8—the first to power a LaCrosse—is the same aluminum 5.3-liter currently torque-steering Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo SSs and Pontiac Grand Prix GXPs toward ditches and road signs near you, but inexplicably down three horsepower from those cars. With 323 pound-feet of torque, Buick figures the small-block will hustle the LaCrosse to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, a 1.3-second improvement over a 240-hp V-6 LaCrosse CXS we tested. Being a Buick with a V-8, the LaCrosse gets those fender ports that 14-year-olds used to lust after as they doodled cars in study hall. Funny, not many 14-year-olds have study hall anymore.
For 2008, all LaCrosses get a face lift with front-end styling more closely tied to Buick’s new flagship, the Enclave. But the Super is further differentiated with those portholes; new, eighteen-inch wheels; and unique rocker moldings. A new rear fascia with dual exhaust outlets and a Super-exclusive spoiler identify the car as being better than a 200-hp CX or CXL or a 240-hp CXS.
It’s too bad the LaCrosse Super doesn’t get an interior copied from the prewar Supers. Unique plastic wood looks classier than the equally fake wood in lesser LaCrosses, and the center stack gets a matte silver finish to look more like a Chrysler. Oh, and “woven embossed” leather inserts add some texture to the seats and promise to leave a unique pattern on the backs of bare legs, not that many passengers in the LaCrosse Super will be wearing short shorts (we hope). We’d consider these changes more “moderate” than Super, but Moderate holds no prestige in Buick history. Which leads us to one more question: In 10 years, what nostalgic name will Buick resurrect?