2015 LaCrosse New Car Test Drive
With its attractive design, quality materials, solid driving dynamics, available all-wheel drive, comfort, and array of electronic and safety features, the Buick LaCrosse is a good choice for a luxury sedan.
The 2014 Buick LaCrosse gets sweetened with a prettier face and more shapely interior. The suspension is upgraded with active dampening on the two top models with the V6 engine. LaCrosse was last redesigned for the 2010 model year.
This full-sized sedan is built on the same platform as the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala. The chassis was initially developed in Germany for Opel.
Engine choices include GM's 3.6-liter V6 that makes 304 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque and returns an EPA-rated 18/28 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel drive, and the 2.4-liter inline-4 with eAssist that makes 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque while achieving an EPA-rated 25/36 mpg, impressive numbers for a luxury sedan. We got less when we drove the 2.4-liter, with an average of 25.1 miles per gallon a four-day road trip with mostly freeway driving.
Both engines use a 6-speed automatic transmission, the V6 version being stronger and sportier. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is available with the V6.
The 2014 LaCrosse facelift includes a handsome new waterfall grille, sculpted hood, and wing-shaped LED headlamps. In back is a new rear fascia, integrated spoiler, and wing-shaped LED taillamps. Aerodynamics are improved for 2014 with the addition of active front grille shutters, which close at highway speeds to reduce drag. This technology is used on other cars, such as the Cadillac ATS.
The cabin offers redesigned seats and more space. A new sloped center stack comes with an 8-inch color touch screen and Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system, which shares many features with Chevrolet's MyLink and Cadillac's CUE interfaces. Features include smartphone integration with apps like Pandora, and voice recognition that controls navigation and audio functions. A new seven-speaker audio system comes standard; an 11-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround system is optional. A new Ultra Luxury interior package uses semi-aniline leather upholstery and ash wood trim.
New electronic safety features include lane change alert, which goes a step beyond blind zone alert in that it can detect moving vehicles in the next line that are up to 230 feet behind. This and other features are bundled into packages, most notably the Driver Confidence 1 package, including forward collision alert, lane departure warning, lane change alert, side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, head-up display and HID headlights. The Driver Confidence 2 package adds active safety features including radar-based forward collision alert, collision preparation with collision mitigation braking (which will automatically brake if a collision is imminent), full-speed-range adaptive cruise control and a safety alert seat, which can vibrate the driver's seat cushion in lieu of an audible alert.
The 2.4-liter eAssist is a mild hybrid system designed for boosting acceleration, with its 15-horsepower liquid-cooled induction motor that becomes a 20-horsepower generator. It's like a turbo, only electric. It picks up the pace on freeway on-ramps, long grades, and two-lane passing. It boosts the fuel mileage by 6 or 7 mpg, while costing less than the non-hybrid V6. That's a rarity, definitely not the case with the Lexus ES, which offers similar powertrains, V6 and I4 hybrid. LaCrosse eAssist models use a front spoiler and underbody panels to improve aerodynamics, along with Michelin P235/50R17 low-rolling-resistance tires. It's not available with all-wheel drive.
Buick LaCrosse competes with the impressive Hyundai Genesis, the luxurious Lexus ES 350, and sporty Acura TLX. The LaCrosse eAssist model goes up against the Lincoln MKZ hybrid and Lexus ES 300h.
Buick doesn't give actual names to LaCrosse models. There are several combinations of powertrains and options available. The LaCrosse Base ($33,135) and Leather ($35,210) models come standard with the eAssist powertrain, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder GM Ecotec engine with an 11-kilowatt electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. The 3.6-liter V6 is optional. All models come with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
LaCrosse Premium I ($38,810), and Premium II ($39,355) models come standard with the 3.6-liter V6. All-wheel drive ($2175) is available with the V6 in Leather and Premium I.
LaCrosse comes standard with cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls, power driver seat, split-folding rear seats, adjustable head rests, full power accessories, cruise control, eight-inch display screen, OnStar, Bluetooth, seven-speaker sound system with Buick IntelliLink radio, CD player, auxiliary jack and USB connector, keyless entry, remote start, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 17-inch painted aluminum wheels with P235/50 tires.
LaCrosse Leather models feature leather upholstery with French-seam stitching, heated front seats with more adjustment, memory seat and mirrors, rearview camera, rear park assist, and push-button start. An Ultra Luxury Package has suede headliners, Tamo Ash trim, and softer leather.
LaCrosse Premium I gets perforated leather heated and air-cooled front seats, power rear sunshade, 19-inch chrome-plated wheels, HiPer Strut front suspension, Real Time Dampening with Sport Mode, and Bose Centerpoint 5.1 Surround Sound 11-speaker system.
Premium II adds 20-inch alloy wheels, and the Buick IntelliLink Infotainment System and 8-inch diagonal color touch screen with navigation.
Many features found on the upper trim levels can be added to lower trims. For example there's an Entertainment Package ($600) and two safety packages called Driver Confidence I ($2125) and II ($1745). Stand-alone options include sunroof with second-row skylight ($2295), rear side airbags, and rear seat video with headrest-mounted screens.
Safety features on all models include eight airbags, antilock disc brakes (ABS) with brake assist, traction control, stability control and the OnStar telematics system. Options include a blind-spot alert system, rearview camera, rear-seat side-impact airbags, as well as the costly Driver Confidence packages. The standard headlamps are halogen with flash-to-pass, while articulating HID lights come in the Driver Confidence 1 package. All-wheel drive can improve handling stability on slippery surfaces.