Last summer, when Buick first brought us a new LaCrosse to drive, we sampled a similar CXS to this one. However, a few important differences actually make me this particular CXS seem like a better deal. First, the price. This CXS lists for $35,760, a good $3500 less than the previous example we tested. The options missing on this model include include the Touring package ($800, which includes 19-inch wheels and a sport mode), head-up display ($350), sunroof ($995), and xenon headlights ($695), among a few others. Were I to purchase this car, I’d likely opt for the xenon headlights and perhaps the head-up display, but would take a pass on the Touring pack and the sunroof. With the smaller wheels, the car seems to ride slightly better (although, I have to admit that the nineteen-inchers are more attractive than the chrome-plated eighteens).
For sure, this Buick is very attractive, shedding most of the old-man image that was a leftover from the days of the Park Avenue and the LeSabre. The exterior styling is quite modern, as is the interior with its nicely upholstered leather chairs, although the center stack is a little busy for my taste.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
It is a bit weird that this comfortable, exceedingly quiet Buick seems so eager to do a one-wheel peel out from a stoplight. I used to drive (and still own) a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP that sent the same amount of torque (280 lb-ft) through sixteen-inch front wheels, and I have to say, it does a better job in this regard.
In every other measurable way, of course, the LaCrosse has blown by the standards General Motors set with my poor old Pontiac and, in the process, has passed a few contemporary competitors as well. It starts with the interior, which exudes a level of solidity that matches Lexus along with some extra panache and style that leaves the Japanese brand behind. Even seemingly small details, like the graphics on the navigation screen, feel especially modern and high-class. I also really like the blue dash piping that lights up at night, although I must wonder, only half-jokingly, if it might be a turnoff for older drivers dealing with cataracts. Another minor complaint would be with the tachometer, which does not indicate car’s redline. I know most drivers won’t be interested in full runs up the tach, but the Buick does have a manual mode that holds gears right up to the rev limiter, so it would be worth knowing when to call for an upshift.
The LaCrosse isn’t a sport sedan, but neither does it fall apart on challenging roads. Body motions are well checked, and the steering, while predictably overboosted, is also very precise. I still wish Buick offered all-wheel drive with this 3.6-liter V-6, as they do with the smaller 3.0-liter engine, but even so this is a strong powertrain. Commendably, little of the ticking noise common to direct-injected engines makes its way into the cabin.
Later this year, the 3.6-liter-equipped LaCrosse will get new struts up front that Buick says will address our torque steer complaints. One could argue that GM should have ironed out this dynamic flaw from the start, but I’ll take the glass-half-full approach and say it’s good to see the company working to improve its cars after launch.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
Like Mr. Zenlea, I was shocked at how poorly this Buick hooked up from a standing start. On my evening with the LaCrosse, the roads were cold and damp but not icy. After I floored the gas at a stoplight, traction control-which I left fully engaged-struggled to keep the front wheels in check up to 50 mph or so. Wow! I hope that GM engineers aren’t blowing smoke when they say that they’re going to fix this issue.
Nonetheless, after a long week, it was very nice to hop into such a comfortable, spacious, and surprisingly quick car. The heated steering wheel and hot heated seats are particular godsends now that winter seems to have set in for good.
I’m still not sold on the LaCrosse’s styling, but at least the car looks more distinctive than most Buicks in recent memory.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Base price (with destination): $33,765
Price as tested: $35,760
Front side airbags
Side curtain airbags
1-year of OnStar
Rear parking sensors
18-inch chrome plated wheels
Heated and ventilated front seats
8-way power front seats
Dual-zone automatic climate control
384-watt Harmon/Kardon 11-speaker sound system
3-month XM satellite radio subscription
Heated wood and leather steering wheel
Auxiliary audio USB input
Power rear sunshade
Options on this vehicle:
Navigation with backup camera – $1995
Key options not on vehicle:
Touring package – $800
-19-in. 9-spoke aluminum alloy wheels
-Continuously variable damping suspension
Heads-up-display – $350
Rear seat entertainment – $1295
Sunroof – $995
Xenon headlights – $695
17 / 27 / 21 mpg
Size: 3.6L DI DOHC V-6
Horsepower: 280 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 259 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Weight: 4045 lb
18-in. chrome plated aluminum alloy wheels