Monday, December 21, 2009

LaCrosse is a Head-Turner for Buick

Buick's newest version of its LaCrosse sedan has become the talk of the town for those who have seen it, and for those who get to drive it, it becomes pretty hard to shut up about it.

Its gorgeous design and outstanding driving dynamics do a great job of putting to rest the old notion that Buick is a brand for those age 65 and over.
And it shows why, despite having only recently emerged from bankruptcy and having had to shed a few of its brands, General Motors has potentially a very bright future.
Add the LaCrosse to other recent winners from GM, including the Buick Enclave crossover, Cadillac CTS sedan and Chevrolet Malibu sedan.
Each of those models has combined sharp styling with wonderful on-road performance to present a compelling value to consumers.
The LaCrosse also can garner some positive attention from its sticker price.
The base price of around $27,900 gets you a CX model with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine.
Or, if you want even better fuel economy and a lower sticker price, you can check out the CX with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 182 horsepower.

That engine is found in a few Chevy models, such as the Malibu and Cobalt sedans, as well as the HHR and Equinox crossovers, as well as the new GMC Terrain crossover.

Linked to a six-speed automatic transmission, the four-cylinder engine gives the LaCrosse a legitimate claim as one of the fuel-efficiency leaders in this sedan segment, with EPA ratings of 20 mpg city/30 highway.
Many of the LaCrosse's competitors offer only six-cylinder engines.

The LaCrosse offers optional all-wheel drive and a number of new technological options.

There is also a rear-seat entertainment system and remote starting.The V-6 engine makes a very strong 255 horsepower and 217 pounds-feet of torque.

CX models feature premium cloth seats and 17-inch wheels.

The CXL is LaCrosse's midlevel version, with either front- or all-wheel drive.
The front-drive version starts at around $30,400 and has a 3.0-liter V-6, heated leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, fog lights, outside mirrors with LED turn signals and puddle lamps, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The all-wheel-drive model CXL is $33,765.

The CXS is the highest trim LaCrosse, and, as tested, was priced at $33,765. It comes with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine making 280 horsepower and 259 pounds-feet of torque, and 18-inch chrome wheels.

The CXS also has heated-and-cooled perforated leather seats; 19-inch wheels are optional.

The V-6 models also come with a six-speed automatic transmission; no manual is offered.

The LaCrosse has dramatic exterior lines that maintain some of the Buick heritage, but greatly update it.
The familiar waterfall grille and faux portholes are still present, but the portholes move to the hood now, rather than the sides of the front fenders as was previously the case.

We loved the ice blue ambient lighting found throughout the cabin and extending to the door panels.

GM says the car has a European-designed chassis and suspension system with real-time damping, high-intensity-discharge adaptive headlights that turn slightly in the same direction the car is turning, a side blind-zone-alert system and Bluetooth phone connectivity.

GM also says the LaCrosse's QuietTuning feature, is designed to block and absorb noise before it enters the passenger cabin.
We'll buy that, because the interior was silent as a church mouse.

The new LaCrosse gets a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which conducts its own crash tests independent of the federal government's testing program.Other LaCrosse safety features include four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; traction control; front seat-mounted side air bags; and roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for both rows.

GM builds the LaCrosse at its Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas City, Kan., where the Malibu also is built.

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