By The Car Family Photo courtesy of CARICOS
A 303 horsepower Buick? Yep, and the Buick LaCrosse also comes adorned with a comforting interior, relaxing ride, an abundance of electronics and a fuel consumption average over 24 mpg. You can stretch that gallon of petrol even more by ordering the Buick LaCrosse e Assist with a 25/36 rating thanks to electric motors. What is most remarkable about this Buick is how far it has come from its roots as one of the nation’s oldest manufacturers famous for fender portholes and innovations such as turn signals.
General Motors has loaded this flagship of the Buick line with a plethora of options including all-wheel drive, a rearview camera, heated and ventilated front seats, 20-inch wheels, navigation system, heads-up display, and the valuable blind-spot, lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems. Our well-featured test model listed for $45,000 highlighted by the Driver Confidence Package, an absolute must as it has an abundance of safety features such as cross-traffic alerts. This package works well with the backup camera to provide the driver with another set of eyes when reversing out of tight spots.
The LaCrosse’s appearance has been smoothed and does not look like earlier generations. Indeed, without the Buick badge the LaCrosse could easily be mistaken for an upscale foreign sedan. Of course, it does not have the sporty handling as it is geared for those who enjoy a quiet and comfortable ride surrounded by an attractive interior with spacious seating and enough spunk to make passing and freeway merging less worrisome. With passenger comfort and safety being the primary emphasis of the LaCrosse, the cost is a less spacious trunk.
Equipped with optional all-wheel drive, this would be a fine choice for those who drive in inclement weather or just want to enjoy the security such a feature provides. The dual-zone automatic climate control and remote start make weather extremes easier to face with OnStar personal service at the ready. An excellent all around sedan for both city and country driving, the LaCrosse presents an American alternative for those who might be drawn to foreign luxury vehicles. Safety wise the Buick has good crash scores and airbags everywhere, as well as traction control and electronic stability control to lend an electronic hand when needed.
Mom’s view: There is little doubt that the designers of the LaCrosse have done their homework to make this a most livable five-seater. There are sound deadeners, acoustical laminate on the windshield and Buick’s QuietTuning to keep the outside world at bay. Even the heavy winds are neutralized by its smooth skin. This is a very elegant car with no edges to ruffle the ride of the occupants. Entry and exit are simple, and driving the LaCrosse is as close to sitting in your family room as it gets. The steering is very light and the brakes quick to react. This is a fairly large car and it feels that way providing a sense of security. Overall, a daring reach for Buick that should appeal to those willing to accept the styling changes of a new era.
Young working man’s view: The eight inch-touch screen, Bluetooth, OnStar with Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, make this an unusual vehicle as it brings the LaCrosse into the electronic era in dramatic fashion. Indeed, the system may be overwhelming at first, so I highly recommend spending time with the salesperson for a full explanation. You can get an optional 11-speaker Bose surround-sound audio and even a head-up display, push-button start and a myriad of buttons, knobs and voice commands to explore. There are four trim levels so do your homework as each offers just a little bit more to the mix. Buick’s Intellilink electronics work fairly quickly, but entering data into the GPS takes time to master. The LaCrosse option packages are like eating at an upscale restaurant where there is something special for every taste, but I am more a fast food guy.
Working woman’s view: You can order some intriguing options on this Buick including articulating HID headlamps and some surprising stock items such as grill shutters that close at speeds to help with the car’s aerodynamics. The seats are comfortable with the driver getting an eight-way power feature, but the weakness is the lack of storage spaces and that includes the trunk. I like the ride and handling of the all-wheel drive model. I found entry and exit easy, but the most intriguing aspect was how quiet it was on the road. A four-hour ride left all of us feeling relaxed going over some fairly steep mountain passes, but I would opt for the e-Assist model for the additional fuel savings.
Dad’s view: The six-speed transmission, as with all General Motors’ automatics, works seamlessly and Buick even offers a Sport mode to hold the car in a lower gear longer. Very un-Buick like. Selecting the Sport mode also impacts the steering and throttle response and is perfect when additional acceleration is needed for passing. This Buick should appeal to those with a yen for a larger sedan that provides an old-fashioned sense of value as well as a history of proven reliability.
Family conference: Buick has received attention for earning top spots in numerous quality studies over competing brands. The LaCrosse’s modern styling and relaxed fit driving style provide an excellent reason to test drive one. However, make sure you get a good tutorial before you drive off as some of the most intriguing functions are the numerous electronic offerings.
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