Phil, I actually did drive a LaCrosse with eighteen-inch wheels, and it did make a slight--but important to Buick--difference in ride comfort. I'd recommend the base eighteens to all LaCrosse buyers, besides perhaps the three Buick buyers who are poseurs. The ride is nice and pillowy, but I was disappointed at how much road noise enters the cabin, particularly when driving over rough roads.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the LaCrosse. The exterior styling isn't groundbreaking but is conservatively attractive. The interior looks quite nice as well, and the car with eighteen-inch wheels seemed to lack some of the preproduction issues we noted on the car with nineteen-inchers. I do agree with others' comments that the center stack looks cluttered; it resembles some recent Acuras with their dashboards that are too busy. Still, the interior materials are quite good overall. Particularly nice are the soft-touch dash, the sideview mirror controls, and the fake wood around the console as well as the large sunroof that further helps create a pleasant driving environment. The center armrest is placed too far back for my comfort and means that access to the bins below it requires excessive stretching. I hit my knee on the dash a few times while exiting the car, too; it seems as though 5'6" shouldn't be too short to comfortably enter/exit a Buick. Another detail that the engineers seemed to miss is that when you put a rear-facing infant seat in the middle of the back row, the center armrest flips down and won't stay in its proper position (SEE PHOTO). This shouldn't create a safety issue, but my seven-month-old daughter couldn't stretch her legs as much as she can in other cars, including her grandmother's last-generation Buick LaCrosse.
I know my baby girl's grandmother will love the new LaCrosse, but Buick now has a product that should also appeal to consumers younger than fifty, consumers the brand clearly needs. So, Buick engineers have to think about the needs of younger families, as well as the brand's traditional customers.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor