2005 LaCrosse New Car Test Drive
The 2005 Buick LaCrosse replaces both the Regal and the Century as Buick's midsize sedan, representing 50 percent of Buick's annual car sales. Buick says it has the competition, specifically the Ford Five Hundred, Dodge Intrepid, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry, beat on a number of fronts, including quietness and overall refinement. This is a car that was well on its way to completion when GM vice-chairman and product guru Bob Lutz joined the company, and charged the Buick team to delay the program one year, get the car right, and then introduce it. It's pretty clear that the wait, and the extra effort and money invested into the program, were worth it.
LaCrosse is not an all-new car by any means. It's built in Canada on GM's W-car intermediate platform, one of the oldest in the GM chassis inventory. But about 80 percent of the parts and systems underneath are new, along with new interior and exterior designs.
The LaCrosse has a rich, high-quality looking interior with attractive woodgrain trim, nicely presented instruments and controls and available leather seats with nice-looking gathered stitching. Buick's Quiet Tuning has made the new LaCrosse one of the quietest, most pleasant cars to ride and drive in among the entire class.
The LaCrosse rides smoothly and quietly, but its steering is much more precise than previous models and it turns into corners crisply with little body lean. The V6 engines offer good power, growling under acceleration, but smooth and quiet when motoring along, and the transmissions work flawlessly.
New features make a well-equipped LaCrosse a safe, all-weather family car with nice conveniences. Among them: a remote starting system that will work from up to 500 feet away, great on cold winter mornings; OnStar, which will dispatch emergency crews to your precise location if you have a wreck and don't respond to operators' calls; XM Satellite Radio to pick up FoxNews, CNN, ESPN and other broadcasts; and StabiliTrak, which can help keep you from skidding off a slippery road.
The LaCrosse comes in three models. The CX ($22,835) is the base model and it comes with cloth upholstery and manually operated air conditioning. The LaCrosse CX is powered by a cast-iron 3.8-liter overhead-valve V6 engine that was first introduced in Buicks back in 1979, the continuously improved and now rated at a modest 200 horsepower. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are optional.
The middle model, the CXL ($25,335), comes with leather upholstery, automatic climate control, ABS, and quite a list of additional standard equipment. The CXL also uses the 3.8-liter engine.
The CXS ($28,335) is the performance car of the family, with GM's new high-feature 3.6-liter V6 with modern double overhead cams and variable valve timing develops about 240 horsepower. The CXS gets its own suspension and steering system, 17-inch tires and wheels, and a raft of additional touches like driving lights under the front bumper.
The LaCrosse is available with five- or six-passenger seating: either bucket seats with a center console and shifter or a 40/20/40 bench seat with the shifter on the steering column. Standard features include tilt wheel, remote keyless entry, power driver's seat, programmable power locks, power windows, and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD system. All models come standard with OnStar including a one-year subscription.
Options include side curtain air bags ($395), StabiliTrak chassis control on the CXS model only ($495), XM Satellite Radio ($325 with one-year free subscription), power sunroof ($900), remote starting ($150), heated front seats ($295), 17-inch chrome wheels ($695), and a chrome package ($295). A Gold Convenience option package ($1,150) is offered with a leather steering wheel with redundant climate and audio controls, a universal transmitter, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated outside mirrors, six-way power passenger seat, rear park assist, and rear reading lamps. Two cast aluminum wheels are available, one 16-inch and one 17-inch.