2009 LaCrosse New Car Test Drive
The Buick LaCrosse is a quiet, pleasant-mannered mid-size sedan that handles winding roads better than you might expect. Its styling is sophisticated and modern, yet conservative. Inside is a rich, high-quality cabin with eye-catching woodgrain trim, nicely presented instruments and controls, and available leather seats with attractive gathered stitching.
For 2008, the Buick LaCrosse has been updated with fresh styling, including a new hood, grille, and front fascia.
The LaCrosse lineup offers a choice of two V6 engines, but for 2008 a powerful V8 joins the line as well: The 2008 Buick LaCrosse Super is powered by a V8 and delivers the quickest 0-60 mph time since the famed Buick Grand National of the 1980s. Buick dug into its past for the Super model name, last used in 1958. The Super is distinguished by Buick's trademark portholes and other styling cues.
The LaCrosse CX and CXL offer a soft ride, the kind traditionally associated with Buick, but drivers may be surprised by the sportiness of the CXS and Super, which offer precise steering and a relatively firm suspension with little body lean. A LaCrosse CXS handles quite impressively on winding mountain roads and can carve through a canyon with the best of the midsize sedans.
We found the V6 engines motor along smoothly and quietly on the freeway yet offer good power, growling enthusiastically under hard acceleration. The 3.8-liter V6 that comes in the CXL is a reliable, cast-iron, overhead-valve engine that gets an EPA-rated 17/28 mpg and delivers strong low-rpm torque for good acceleration in on crowded, low-revving American roads. The sportier CXS features a double overhead-cam engine that revs more freely and produces more horsepower, making the LaCrosse more fun to drive while rating 17/25 mpg. The new Super V8 turns this Buick into a modern muscle car but is refined and quiet when cruising. The Super is EPA rated at 16/24 mpg.
Electronic features abound, making the 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 CNN, Fox News, ESPN, or your favorite music; and StabiliTrak, which can help keep you from skidding off a slippery road. ABS and side-curtain airbags come standard.
The 2008 Buick LaCrosse is offered in four models. The base CX and the more luxurious CXL are powered by a 3.8-liter overhead-valve V6 rated at 200 horsepower. The sportier CXS comes with a 3.6-liter V6 with modern double overhead camshafts and variable valve timing that develops 240 horsepower. The LaCrosse Super is powered by a 5.3-liter V8 that makes 300 horsepower and features GM's Active Fuel Management system, which deactivates four cylinders at light engine loads to increase fuel economy. All LaCrosses have a four-speed automatic transmission.
CX ($23,310) comes with cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, interior air filter, six-way power driver's seat, power locks with remote keyless entry, power windows and mirrors, theater-style interior light dimming, leather-wrapped shift knob, six-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system with XM satellite radio, remote engine starting, automatic headlights, alarm, and P225/60R16 tires on steel wheels with hubcaps. All models come standard with OnStar hardware and a one-year subscription to OnStar service. A Comfort and Convenience package for CX ($495) adds heated front seats, power driver seat lumbar adjustment, and a split folding rear seat. Also available for CX are alloy wheels ($350), chrome alloy wheels ($650), a power sunroof ($900), nine-speaker AM/FM radio stereo with in-dash six-disc CD player ($695), and a six-way power passenger seat ($250). Five-passenger seating is standard, but six-passenger seating is available for CX and CXL ($250).
CXL ($25,310) features leather upholstery, power lumbar adjustment for the driver's seat, and alloy wheels. Options for CXL include a split folding rear seat ($275) and P225/55R17 tires on chrome alloy wheels ($750).
CXS ($27,310) comes with thicker anti-roll bars front and rear, split folding rear seat, fog lights, and P225/55R17 tires to go with the more powerful V6. The Driver's Confidence package ($950) for CXL and CXS includes rear obstacle detection, heated power mirrors, six-way power passenger seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener and rear map lights.
Super ($31,310) has the V8, as well as rear obstacle detection, six-way power passenger seat, heated power mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, rear spoiler, performance suspension, and P235/50R18 tires.
Safety features on all models include dual front airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags, tire-pressure monitor, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and traction control. Rear obstacle detection is available on some models and we recommend it because it could alert the driver to someone behind the car when backing up. StabiliTrak electronic stability control is standard on CXS and Super and optional on CXL and we recommend it because it can help the driver maintain control.