2014 Buick LaCrosse Driven

That's real wood on the dash of the 2014 Buick LaCrosse. As far as we can tell, it's the first real wood that can be found anywhere on a Buick since the 1953 Roadmaster Estate station wagon.

Ditching the plastic woodgrain appliques that have been key in Buick interior design for fifty-some years is more important than you'd think. The brand, revitalized by the China market, got its LaCrosse full-size sedan more or less right when it replaced the AARP staff car, the Lucerne, for the 2010 model year. Since then, Cadillac and Chevrolet have joined Buick in using the long-wheelbase Epsilon II architecture. Cadillac uses it for the XTS (the replacement for the front-wheel-drive DeVille/DTS), and Chevrolet used it to finally put its W-body Impala to rest (except for the fleet-only Impala Limited), a car so old that if it were a consumer, it would fit neatly into the Lucerne buyer demographic.

So the bottom line is that the 2010 LaCrosse interior, and indeed the whole car, was pretty good, a major leap forward for the brand, and the 2014 Buick LaCrosse interior is even better, if a bit '70s-garish in our test car's Sangria leather interior spec. The interior wood even comes in two varieties, Kyoto Maple or Cellini, depending on the interior hue chosen. The real stitched leather is a higher grade, and such features as a standard eight-inch, center dash touchscreen; a safety-alert seat; blind-spot monitors; LED running lights; and the latest generation Intellilink are a sign that Buick once again is a real, dyed-in-the-wool premium brand, a claim that has been under question since the Reagan administration.

The 2014 Buick LaCrosse benefits from the wholesale improvements in American-car chassis dynamics that have raised all boats since the '70s. The LaCrosse doesn't wallow. There's good body control and a firmish ride, although we'd chalk that up to our test car's nineteen-inch wheels (twenties are available). The car was perfectly comfortable on southeastern Michigan roads, and when throttle came to push, push it did. Understeer gets pretty serious when you tackle a turn in a way no Buick buyer, regardless of age, would ever intentionally do. The 3.6-liter V-6 is more than adequate for this car, but with only a mid-cycle refresh, the LaCrosse is saddled with a six-speed automatic transmission. Although it was cutting edge a few years ago, it seems Dynaflow-inadequate compared with the V-6 rear-wheel-drive Chrysler 300's eight-speed automatic.

The 2.4-liter four-cylinder/eAssist light hybrid powertrain remains a no-cost option. The V-6-powered 2014 Buick LaCrosse is available with optional all-wheel-drive. Our tester was a front-wheel-drive model.

Steering is crisp and precise. GM engineers are having pretty good luck developing electronically assisted power steering, although feel and feedback are very much wanting. Just try to slalom the LaCrosse through any of the numerous traffic circles that are finally showing up on American soil, and you'll feel the car's heft; a combo of massive understeer and notable body roll.

That's okay. This is not a Verano or a Regal.

Buick's problem, then, comes down to this: that rather handsome new Chevy Impala that's built off the same architecture pushes GM's value brand into near-premium territory. In fact, if you look past the volume Impala LT to the LTZ model, you'll be hard-pressed to figure out why the Buick version is more premium -- making the Buick's real wood interior trim (which the Chevy doesn't have) that much more important. Our LaCrosse has a bottom line of $47,295 (Impala LTZs can be optioned up well into the $40s).

It's true that the LaCrosse is one of the quietest sedans you can buy. Buick has made a big deal of that for more than half a decade, but GM, understandably, couldn't resist putting the insulation tricks and acoustic glass in the higher-volume Chevy, which must compete head-on with the Ford Taurus and the Toyota Avalon while restoring the brand's reputation for delivering more car than you'd expect for the money.

The solution for Buick seems obvious. Rear-wheel drive. Yes, this is a favorite lost cause of this car critic. Cadillac is reverting to mostly rear-wheel-drive cars (not crossovers, where it matters far less). Chevy uses RWD for its performance cars, including the ultra-low-volume $45,000 Super Sport sedan. Buick should use the Cadillac Omega RWD platform for a halo that would compete against high-spec Chrysler 300Cs and Lexus GS models. Then, perhaps the brand should use a version of the Alpha platform (Cadillac ATS, next-gen Chevy Camaro) to replace the Regal and LaCrosse with something between the two in size. It could make a dandy Opel flagship as well.

All of that is a bit off-subject, true. But the fact is, real wood isn't enough to distinguish a big 2014 Buick LaCrosse premium sedan and a loaded Chevy sedan. For the consumer, the only decisions to make are: which design do you prefer, and which dealers offer better prices?

2014 Buick LaCrosse

Base Price: $39,735 (1SP)
As Tested: $47,295
Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 304 hp @ 6800 rpm
Torque: 264 lb-ft @ 5300 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Front-wheel
L x W x H: 197.0 x 73.1 x 59.2 in
Legroom F/R: 41.7/40.5 in
Headroom F/R: 38.0/37.3 in
Cargo Capacity: 13.3 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3896 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 18/28, 17/26 mpg (FWD/AWD)
Abhinay Kumar
nice car
Ivan Clark Bellezas Igar
Akshat Jain
the best sedan i've seen which has this much ground clearance....
For anyone who hasn't purchased an american car for several decades ( like me ), getting into a new LaCrosse was a very pleasant surprise. The quality of materials along with the fit and finish astounded me. If the update even improved upon that - great for GM and US car buyers!
Jake Chapman
Love the height! Bring on winter.
Erik Sveum Erstad
It's way too tall. Looks like a chromed AWD Subaru sedan.
Nestle Salcedo
It is an interesting refresh...looks good and clean...and current Buick vehicles are good alternative to Acura and Lincoln vehicles
TC Mustafa Anakli
Citröen??!!! :))))
This car is again for the 60 and up crowd, and desperately needs GM's new 8 spd transmission. It might have some nice elements, but not enough to lure a younger crowd. At least the 2014 GS is a nice option for the 35 to 50 crowd. The ES and 300s are better options in my opinion.
Kanav Gupta
Looks great in an Avis lot or at grandpa's house
Alsson Mata
Great info thanks.
Brian Michael
Kyree S. Williams
Buick is getting squeezed from both ends with the LaCrosse.  Perhaps if Cadillac didn't make the XTS, the LaCrosse could be pushed further upmarket...just as the fact that there is no Cadillac car on the Lambda platform, thereby making the Buick Enclave the nicest that GM has to offer in that arena.  Or maybe if the Impala wasn't so nice, the LaCrosse could relax a bit.  But as nice as the Impala is, it's only competitive--not exceptional--and dumbing it down would only send it back toward W-body undesirability.  The problem is that no other company has a mid-tier brand like Buick (except for Ford's Lincoln, which arguably competes with Buick rather than Cadillac).  I think the solution is for Buick to ditch the LaCrosse and lower the price on the XTS some.  But the Enclave, Verano, Regal and Encore are arguably keepers.  Then Buick should start bringing over more Opel models to give us that undiluted European experience.  And maybe they could build another Riviera off of the Epsilon architecture (since GM's only coupes are RWD and performance-oriented).  I understand that a lot of the LaCrosse's buyers buy it because they've always bought Buick, but if the LaCrosse was no longer available and the Cadillac was actually attainable, wouldn't they want to upgrade to the XTS?
Fadil Mazrrekaj
Geil Geil Elgat Autos
Kyree S. Williams
The Epsilon II platform debuted in 2008 and is for mid-sized cars. The long-wheelbase version of that platform (called Super Epsilon) is meant for full-sized cars and was introduced in 2009 with the release of the 2010 LaCrosse. So, no, it really isn't old. Old was the GM W-Body platform that was used up until the 2013 Impala (and which is still used for fleet Impalas)...or the body-on-frame Ford Panther platform that was used up until the Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis and Town Car... Does it need a redesign? Now that the new 2014 Impala (also on the Super Epsilon) platform is stealing the LaCrosse's thunder...it probably *does* need a redesign.
My wife recently got rid of her 2010 Lacrosse after 2 and a half years on a 4 year lease. She is short and no matter how the head rest was adjusted it kept hitting her in the head. She had to use a pillow to get a way from it. She hated it because the pillow kept getting in the way. I could not stand driving it far because my right knee rested on the hard plastic plastic trim on the center consul. I drove it on vacation and had to wrap a thick towel around my leg because the pain got so intense. She says getting her new Ford Fusion Titanium was the smartest thing she ever did even though she had to pay thousands of $ to get out of her lease early. The new Buick looks good, but I bet those problems did not go away.
Jim Hulihan
Buick needs a bigger car than this.
Alsson Mata
Not really. It needs a major redesign. The design is old and probably so is the platform.
Doug Maxwell
Better than fake wood...
Senor Salty
This review is a joke.  The writer, based on the opening paragraphs, already has it in for the car.  I have a Lucerne and is bulletproof mechanically. I bought it new when I was in my 30's.  People who buy Buicks, want a reliable, quiet car that rides comfortably and pay near luxury prices.   It's not meant to compete with the Mustang Shelby.  Rear wheel drive is great as long as you don't live where it snows.  Who cares about the faux wood?  I don't.  This article was meant for Toyota Avalon and Camry, both when in silver, have all the soul of a grocery cart.  
The Lacrosse is a touring car, but the trunk is too small for a week's luggage.  The 13.3 cubes are not much better than a Camaro's.  Strangely, the new Impala's trunk is about the same as the previous model's-- meaning close to 20 cubes.  Another good reason to buy the better looking and more commodious Impala.  Of course, a lot of upscale buyers will not even look at a car named "Impala"-- let alone the bread and butter Chevy name..

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