New Buick La Crosse a real head turner
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 country-club 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 sevenyear-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 3.6litre V-6 that makes 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet of torque.
Improvements to this engine include cylinder deactivation that shuts off two of the six pistons under light-load conditions. Automatic stopstart 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, 18-inch wheels and an eight-speaker 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 fullsuite of crash-avoiding 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, which, according to Buick, elevates the LaCrosse to a point where it is able to keep up with typical full-size European sedans.
That last point might not appeal to Buick customers, but others will be pleased to know that the LaCrosse can perform as smoothly as it looks.