Auto Review: LaCrosse’s dynamic luxury

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Wed., Nov. 20, 2013
- Contributed Photo

You used to be able to define a luxury automobile just by how many creature comforts it was armed with, and often lavish upholstery and a generous supply of features would overshadow the car’s performance shortcomings. But these days, the idea of a luxury car also carries an expectation of solid driving dynamics, so it can’t be an awkward, floating boat of a vehicle and expect to be popular. GM’s Buick division used to be associated with an isolated, excitement-free driving experience, rather than the kind of car that owners who appreciate good handling and acceleration would enjoy driving. But if you haven’t experienced a new Buick, you may not realize how much the brand has changed.

The new midsize LaCrosse sedan is a perfect example of how a new Buick can sacrifice nothing in terms of creature comforts, yet be a much more willing driving companion when the road gets challenging. It also is a fitting platform for GM to offer some of its latest high-tech safety features, thus making the marque an even more attractive choice to a broad variety of potential owners.

The powertrain choices on the new LaCrosse are very interesting, with two available engines, including a 2.4-liter Inline Four teamed with eAssist light Hybrid technology and 182 horsepower, and a 3.6-liter V6 with Direct Injection and 304 horsepower. Front drive is standard with the Four, while the V6 has the option of either front- or all-wheel drive. Both powertrains get six-speed automatic transmissions, and we tested a LaCrosse Premium with the V6 and front-wheel drive. This was a pleasing powerplant with brisk acceleration and what GM calls QuietTuning, which helps keep the car as subdued as possible in terms of noise, vibration and harshness. The ride quality is a bit on the soft side, as you might associate with past Buicks, but what is interesting is how the car stays composed when you pick up the pace. The car does indeed pamper occupants, but the chassis is sharp enough for the driver to enjoy hustling the car around on curvaceous blacktop. Braking performance is also quite good, with short stops and good, powerful feedback at the pedal.

The interior of the LaCrosse Premium is a great mix of quality materials along with a logical control layout for the driver. The optional Driver Confidence Package (and there are two of them – we had both) included things like Adaptive Cruise Control, Rear Cross Traffic Alert (that could be configured to vibrate the seat to get your attention), Adaptive Forward Lighting (that turns with the steering wheel to help you see around corners) and other high-tech goodies. My only gripe involves a touch screen interface that often seemed a bit sluggish in terms of response time. The car may be called a midsize, but the rear seat in particular was very capacious and access was easy.

The 2014 Buick LaCrosse Premium is EPA rated 18 MPG city 28 highway and has a base price of $38,810. With options, our sticker came to $45,595.

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