I know; trucks, SUVs and crossovers are all the rage right now but don’t forget about the car, especially a large sedan like this one from Buick…where quiet luxury rolls along in an elegantly conceived package.
Buick’s bold move to discontinue their best-selling car opens the door for their largest sedan to take the spotlight. The all-new 2017 LaCrosse taps into the brand’s past with the return of the three-color tri-shield insignia and a grille inspired by their 1954 concept car. Longer, lower and wider; there’s a sexiness to this design that the LaCrosse has been missing, beautifully blending Buick history with modern technique. The extra charge White Frost Tricoat and optional 20” wheels elevate the look even further. It would have been nice though if Buick had matched the HID headlamps with something other than these yellowish fog lamps. The LaCrosse may still entice a more mature audience but it no longer repels a youthful one either.
Always a quiet customer with a pillow-soft ride, this LaCrosse advances those characteristics while also adding a layer of drivability that improves the car and driver connection. A new 5-link rear geometry imbues more vivacious handling with flatter cornering and the optional Dynamic Drive Package adds the must-have HiPer Struts and active suspension system with Sport Mode. Priced at $1,625, it includes the 20” all-seasons and is a box you should not leave unchecked. If you appreciate a sophisticated ride quality and heightened level of handling performance, this is the mandatory setup.
Fuel economy improves from 21mpg to 25mpg in combined driving thanks to the confluence of lower weight, a new 8-speed automatic and the 2nd generation of GM’s ubiquitous 3.6-liter V6 featuring cylinder deactivation and Stop/Start technology. It produces 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque providing the LaCrosse with lively acceleration without any tugging of the steering wheel.
The LaCrosse harkens back to a time when driving a big Buick was emblematic of a lifetime worth of success. As such, its simplistic cabin layout is both refreshing and necessary considering the older demographic it attracts. But while it drives with all of the pleasing softness and hushed quietness you could want, GM engineered out the residual floatiness resulting in a car that handles with more precision, steers with more acuity and yet preserves the best luxury sedan attributes of the LaCrosse. So yes, it’s more pleasing to drive. Other than a few ergonomic hiccups this is a stylish Buick you can embrace.
Those missteps include this misfit shifter that tends to resist reverse and a handful of controls hidden by the steering wheel, such as the start/stop button on the right and lighting controls on the left. Otherwise, the IntelliLink system is excellent and includes the oft advertised OnStar with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing a high speed connection to download more apps to the unit. You can use the Buick interface with all of its goodies or project your smartphone onto the touchscreen. Either way, it’s one of the leading infotainment systems for ease of use.
This top trim LaCrosse Premium is loaded with high-end features such as massaging front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a highly configurable driver information display. The front seat bottoms are flatter and wider for easier ingress yet still provide enough lateral support to accompany the upgraded handling. In the back, space is not an issue with its large-midsize dimensions but this trim should include a USB port, heated seats and sunshade back here – it does not. But as a reminder, if you leave something or someone in the back seat the LaCrosse lets you know. Other advanced safety features include adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection and automatic braking – all of which you can visually monitor on the large, bright head-up display. Plus, the vibrating safety seat directionally alerts you to impending dangers. It can park itself in both parallel and perpendicular situations, comes with remote start and wireless phone charging. There’s even a Teen Driver feature allowing parents to set boundaries. The complete package is strong yet the design is a little too rudimentary for me and I think it’s high time for someone to design GM a new steering wheel. It just doesn’t look nor feel quite as premium as a $47,445 luxury car should.
Gently push on this emblem and the trunk lid opens to 15 cubic feet of cargo volume, about the same as in a Honda Accord and it can be expanded into the rear seats.
Starting at around $33,000 and also available with all-wheel drive, the new LaCrosse is a positive advancement for Buick both in terms of styling and drivability. It’s the big American sedan you forgot you ever wanted.