2012 Buick LaCrosse dropping trim levels, V6 available as no-cost option

Buick LaCrosse – Click above for high-res image gallery

In addition to having eAssist added to its four-cylinder powertrain, the 2012 Buick LaCrosse is undergoing a few other changes. We aren't talking about styling or content tweaks – instead, General Motors is revising its packaging strategy for the LaCrosse. Buick will be ditching the CX, CXL and CXS trim level designations and simply offer large option packages that encompass all of the available amenities.

For 2012, the 2.4-liter Ecotec engine with eAssist technology will be offered as the "standard" powertrain. We recently had some very limited drive time with an eAssist-equipped LaCrosse (stay tuned for our full impressions), and found the four-cylinder with 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque to be pleasantly adequate and its highway rating of 37 miles per gallon downright remarkable. eAssist-equipped cars will look no different than other LaCrosses, save the addition of model-specific 17-inch wheels on efficiency-optimized tires and other fuel-saving upgrades not visible from outside the car.

The General's 280-horsepower direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 will still be made available, complete with the new HiPer Strut front suspension that helps keep torque steer to a minimum, but buyers can now select it as a no-cost option, and also opt for all-wheel drive.

Final pricing information has not been released, but Buick tells us that the entry level LaCrosse will start around $30,000. Currently, the LaCrosse has a base MSRP of $26,995, which suggests the addition of eAssist and its associated fuel-saving parts isn't cheap. What Buick has effectively done is ditched the "base" LaCrosse model and left two identically priced models for buyers to choose from: one focused on exceptional fuel economy and the other on power.

Production on the 2012 LaCrosse will start this summer with the first round of cars hitting dealerships this Fall.

Photos copyright ©2011 Drew Phillips / AOL

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