I have heard the “New GM” say over and over again that any product launch can not be just a launch, it has to be a success. The new LaCrosse for Buick is no exception, and in fact, this is the car that is helping to “reinvent” the Buick brand. The Enclave that debuted two years ago went in the reinvention direction, it was however, less reinvention and more a new segment for the brand. The Enclave was the vehicle that started generating younger foot traffic into Buick showrooms. That is a good start, and this new LaCrosse looks to keep that momentum going. So how is the car? Well this is not your grandpa’s Buick.
The last generation LaCrosse was a curvy affair that had four headlights and the bland styling of white bread. Buick has set its sights upon some new comers and some industry leaders ranging from the new Lincoln MKZ and Acura TL to the recently updated Lexus ES350 and let’s not forget the aging, and not gracefully I might add, Toyota Avalon. These are the “main competitors” in GM’s view. The list makes sense to me, although I believe, the main direct competitor is the Lexus ES350. The advertising is poking at Lexus and the Buick is actually better looking.
The exterior design of the new LaCrosse has a very strong sweep spear line down the side. The character line goes continuously from the headlights all the way down the side to the tail lights, creating a long and flowing line that helps to give the sides character. This, along with curves toward the bottom of the doors, keep the car from appearing slab sided. The front has a new modernized interpretation on the Buick waterfall grille. Following the current trend, this car has a high belt line and the result is down right good looking. No yawn inducing smoothed out jelly bean here. The bland styling from the previous generation LaCrosse has been kicked to the curb for LED tail lights and that bold character line down the side. With dual exhaust and finishers, the whole outside screams “I have style”.
Everyone that got in the interior commented on how nice the Lexus was. That is until I told them it was the new Buick. It took their breath away. Once you get past that you are in a Buick, you have to stop yourself because suddenly you want to admit you like this Buick. It is ok, someday it will be the cool thing, and this is the big first step toward that day. The interior was designed with input from the Chinese division within GM. Why would they do that you ask? The answer is because Buick is a smash hit over in China, so they decided to have the market where Buick sells best design the interior. Lets just say, bravo. The gauge cluster looks great, probably one of the best in any GM vehicle. The whole entire dash is covered in soft material which is how it should be. The bottom, by your knees and where the glove box is, continues to be made of hard plastic. It does look good, and you will rarely touch it. The steering wheel both tilts and telescopes to help find the perfect driving position.
The car I had was a top tier CXS model with no additional options other then special paint for $195. The sticker price was $33,960. Equipped with an auxiliary jack and a USB port you could listen to your music from your iPhone or iPod through the Harmon Kardon branded sound system which sounded great. I would even venture to say it rivals the Mark Levinson sound system in the Lexus ES350. The wheels were 18″ with chrome plating. I really liked the CXS standard heated steering wheel.
The car comes with three different engines. The top shelf CXS I had came with a one choice 3.6 liter V6 featuring direct injection putting out 280 hp and 259 lb-ft to the front wheels. Rated at 17/27 mpg, the car averaged 21.5 mpg with a mix of city/highway driving. If you step down one trim level to the CXL you can get all wheel drive as a option, but you can not get the 3.6 V6, you have one choice, a 3.0 liter with 255 hp and 217 lb-ft. The base CX model comes in front wheel drive with the 3.0 V6 standard though a 2.4 liter four cylinder with 182 hp and 172 lb-ft is optional. I was surprised with how well the torque steer was in check with front wheel drive and the larger 3.6 liter V6.
So it seems all cheers here right? Buick hit a home run with no flaws. Well not exactly. The car uses old goose neck hinges for the trunk which significantly eat into the trunk room. Though the arms are covered so they can not crush luggage, that does not stop them from eating trunk space in a large way. Yes the Lexus ES350 uses them too, but that is not an excuse. Also, the seat tracks in the front have a very open design that, in theory, could easily devour a long evening gown while moving back or forth. Also, as I have mentioned, I am not a huge fan of this high belt line trend. Sure I am being nit picky I will admit that, but they did that good of a job. My biggest complaint is simple. You can not see the rear end when backing up. This thing needs a back up camera stat! The only way to get the back up camera is to have the optional navigation package. When the back up camera is standard on the GMC Terrain, which has a base price less then this CXS, something is not right.
The new LaCrosse certainly is not your grandpa’s Buick anymore. This cars main target are the people shopping for a Lexus ES350. It hits that target while being a better value, having more character, and is overall better looking. Certainly a few things I mentioned could use tweaking, but overall this is a nice execution on General Motors part. Buick’s new marketing slogan is “The new class of world class”, and for the first time this brand has a car that is world class.