It's no secret that Buick wants to be Lexus when it grows up. Toward that end, the Century and Regal oldies have been reincarnated as the 2005 LaCrosse. Blending carryover architecture with a more attractive exterior and improved safety features yields a mid-size sedan that's bigger on the outside but slightly smaller inside. Chassis and body tuning focused on major strides in ride quality and interior quietness without ignoring agility and road poise. Two engines and three trim levels are available. Larger front rotors provide additional braking capacity. Wheels and tires grew an inch in diameter. Incredibly, Buick's 3800 pushrod V-6 lives on to energize CX and CXL editions. The top-of-the-line LaCrosse CXS is powered by GM's more lively 3.6-liter, 24-valve, DOHC engine, which produces 240 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed automatic is standard across the board. Safety enhancements include optional StabiliTrak and side curtain air bags. A column shift and a flip-fold front-seat design are still offered.
ON SALE: Fall 2004
PRICE: $27,000-$30,000 (est.)
ENGINES: 200-hp, 3.8-liter V-6; 240-hp, 3.6-liter V-6
Bottom line: With Lexus sugar plums dancing in its head, Buick leaves the previous Century and reinvents the Regal.