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