Lethbridge Herald - - WHEELS & DEALS - Mal­colm Gunn WHEEL­BASE ME­DIA

You might not have heard much about the 2017 Buick LaCrosse, but that doesn’t mean the big sedan shouldn’t be given its due as a mod­ern flag­ship for the coun­tryclub set or for limou­sine fleets.

Gen­eral Mo­tors’ mid-range di­vi­sion — nested be­tween Chevro­let and Cadil­lac — has been do­ing well with its trio of util­ity ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing the big-and-tall En­clave, the com­pact Encore and the re­cently re­leased mid-size En­vi­sion. Still, a re­design of the pre­vi­ous seven-year-old LaCrosse shows that Buick hasn’t aban­doned its full-size-sedan roots.

The LaCrosse has long been pop­u­lar with, shall we say, more ex­pe­ri­enced buy­ers. They and in­creas­ing num­bers of more youth­ful cus­tomers have a pen­chant for spa­cious, well-ap­pointed cars with whis­per-quiet in­te­ri­ors and cav­ernous trunks.

Out­wardly, the new car makes its pre­de­ces­sor, as well as others in the LaCrosse’s league, ap­pear some­what dated. Buick’s iconic wa­ter­fall grille that first ap­peared in 1942 is still some­what ev­i­dent, but has been sig­nif­i­cantly toned down. (The same goes for the 2017 Encore com­pact wagon.)

The car’s rear fend­ers ap­pear sim­i­lar to those of the Chevro­let Im­pala, which isn’t sur­pris­ing as both sedans share the same ba­sic ar­chi­tec­ture.

Only the su­per­flu­ous tail­light trim seems out of place on an oth­er­wise neatly ex­e­cuted de­sign.

Like­wise the in­te­rior presents a note of class and is far re­moved from the bench-seat Buicks of old. In fact, the ex­tra-wide floor con­sole that houses the neat pis­tol-grip shifter places the driver and front pas­sen­ger about as far apart as you can get, although both have a clear view of the avail­able king-size touch-screen.

The fin­ished prod­uct is about the same size as the 2016 LaCrosse, although a slight in­crease in width plus a five-cen­time­tre bump in dis­tance be­tween the front and rear wheels gives rear-seat rid­ers a bit more leg and el­bow­room.

The LaCrosse has dropped its 182-horse­power four-cylin­der base en­gine that was as­sisted by an elec­tric mo­tor. That leaves an up­dated 3.6-litre V-6 that makes 310 horse­power and 282 pound­feet of torque. Im­prove­ments to this en­gine in­clude cylin­der de­ac­ti­va­tion that shuts off two of the six pis­tons un­der light­load con­di­tions. Au­to­matic stop-start switches off the V-6 when the LaCrosse is at rest for brief pe­ri­ods.

An eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion takes care of the shift­ing du­ties and di­rects torque to the front, or op­tion­ally, all four wheels.

The pow­er­train im­prove­ments and an es­ti­mated 135-kilo­gram re­duc­tion in base weight have helped im­prove V-6 fuel econ­omy to 11.2 l/100 km in the city and 7.5 on the high­way (pre­vi­ously 13.7/8.6).

LaCrosse ac­qui­si­tion re­quires $37,200 for the base model, in­clud­ing des­ti­na­tion charges. It comes with all the ba­sics plus power-ad­justable front seats, 20-cen­time­tre touch-screen, 18inch wheels and an eight­s­peaker au­dio sys­tem.

Mov­ing up to the Pre­ferred trim adds a power tilt and tele­scop­ing steer­ing wheel, fancier wheels and other tid­bits, while the Essence trim gets you leather seat cov­er­ings (heated and with me­mory set­tings in front) and ar­tic­u­lated head­lamps that pivot in the di­rec­tion of the turn.

The top-end LaCrosse Pre­mium comes loaded with a mas­sage fea­ture for the front seats and a head-up dis­play with key op­er­a­tional data pro­jected onto the wind­shield. There’s also a full-suite of crashavoid­ing ac­tive-safety tech­nol­ogy, such as emer­gency brak­ing and lane-keep­ing as­sist.

Or­der­ing the Pre­mium is the only way to add all-wheel-drive plus Buick’s Dy­namic Drive Pack­age.

This equip­ment group con­sists of 20-inch wheels and a con­tin­u­ously adap­tive “HyPer Strut” front sus­pen­sion. Buick claims that the HyPer Strut ac­tu­ally elim­i­nates the ten­dency for the front-wheel-drive cars to pull to one side dur­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion (called torque steer) and im­proves steer­ing pre­ci­sion and “feel.”

The world may be ob­sessed with util­ity ve­hi­cles, but, yes, there are still cars

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