Quick Take: 2017 Buick LaCrosse Premium AWD
Stylish fullsize sedan is good, but could it be even better?
The 2017 Buick LaCrosse wears the brand's best styling and proportions since the early 1970s. Introduced at the 2015 Los Angeles auto show, the third-generation LaCrosse is built off the P2XX platform, the latest version of the long-wheelbase Epsilon II platform. The 114.4-inch-long wheelbase is 2.7 inches longer than that of the second-generation model, as well as that of the current Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS. However, the '17 Buick is 3.8 inches shorter overall than the Chevy and 4.5 inches shorter than the Caddy.
This allows for a capacious interior, of course. With 102 cubic feet of interior volume, it's a sumptuous space for five, providing front occupants with 42.0 inches of legroom and rear ones with 40.0 even; you'll have to look at the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and their ilk to find much more. Headroom sits at 38.4 inches front and 37.2 inches rear, while trunk space is a spacious-albeit-unremarkable 15 cubic feet.
Fit and finish inside is up to modern standards and while material quality is as good as virtually anything else from General Motors. That last point raises GM's perennial problem, that Chevy, Buick and Cadillac sedans are defined and separated from each other more for their designs than for tangible differences. In fact, Buick cites the LaCrosse's conservative-yet-handsome exterior design - previewed by cues on the spectacular rear-drive-based Avenir concept car - as the number one reason customers choose the model.
The LaCrosse Premium is the only trim available with all-wheel drive. In addition to opening up that option, selecting the range-topping flavor adds a number of features as well. These include a head-up display, forward collision alert, 120-volt outlet, heated steering wheel, massaging front seats, lane keep assist, and more. Options such as adaptive cruise control are also limited to the Premium, which is the only LaCrosse that can be had with the Driver Confidence 2 Package.
Powering the 2017 LaCrosse is GM's reliable and ubiquitous 3.6-liter V-6, which is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Tuned to make 310 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque, it offers decent power for the full-size, AWD car, but it doesn't feel exceptionally quick. Although Buick says a healthy dose of high-strength steel has helped shed 300 pounds from the old LaCrosse, the combo of a V-6 engine and AWD hardware gives the sedan a feeling of heft, with the AWD model weighing in at 3,840 pounds.
The 2017 Buick LaCrosse is well mannered on on- and off-ramps and comfortable on rough Metro Detroit roads. Our AWD Premium came with MacPherson struts up front, but front-wheel-drive versions come with HiPer Strut front suspensions; all variants come with a new five-link setup at rear.
When pushed, the Buick exhibits moderate levels of understeer. It's also one of the quietest cars on the market, probably quieter than its older Cadillac XTS and Chevy Impala cousins, and boasts "new, dissipative sound-deadening materials."
Of course, here's my chance to beat the RWD Buick dead horse, again. After Buick unveiled the RWD, Sigma-based Avista platform at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, I suggested to an executive for the brand that if such sedans are becoming niche models as the vast majority of consumers choose SUVs, anyway, why not make the new models RWD/AWD? Said exec couldn't help but agree, and urged me to suggest this to GM management. So here you go. As good as the new LaCrosse is, it would be that much better, and that much more of a Buick, if it had the balance, responsiveness and look of a RWD car.
2017 Buick LaCrosse Premium AWD Specifications
|PRICE||$44,190/$50,270 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||3.6L DOHC 24-valve V-6/310 hp @ 6,800 rpm, 282 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||20/29 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||197.5 x 73.5 x 57.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.6 sec|