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Don't be confused by the Buick LeSabre's conservative look. Its traditional design has undergone subtle changes for 1990, but the most important changes in the car are those you can't see.

LeSabres now have reinforcement under their sheet metal that improves their structural rigidity. That means fewer rattles and a tighter ride, especially on bad roads.The red test car had the Gran Touring package, which includes fat black tires and alloy wheels. It made it look like a car that would appeal to yup-pies instead of an older crowd.

In the 1980s, jelly-doughnut handling in most cars, even full-size sedans, has gone the way of tail fins and fender skirts. It has been replaced by a firm ride and responsive handling but not so firm or responsive as to be detrimental.

The LeSabre T Type, Buick's performance model, has been discontinued this year. Now, if you want a slightly more aggressive ride and firmer handling in a Buick, the Gran Touring package coded option Y56 provides nearly the same equipment.

It is a $3,328 option group, but it gives the Le-Sabre less wallow and more precise handling than the standard suspension. Mind you, it's not a sports sedan, but the Y56 suspension should be the choice for anyone who wants to feel more secure on undulating, bumpy highways or twisting back roads.

The LeSabre is one of Buick's two interpretations of a traditional full-size sedan. The other is the Electra/Park Avenue. Both share the same 110.8-inch wheelbase.

When J.D. Power and Associates surveyed buyers of 1989 import and domestic models about their cars' initial quality after three months of ownership, the LeSabre was ranked second among 154 vehicles. The Nissan Maxima was first, so that means the LeSabre was the highest-rank