By on June 9, 2010

Even more than the Cadillac SRX reviewed last week, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse reflects Bob Lutz’s influence at GM. Soon after assuming responsibility for the corporation’s new product development in 2001, Lutz deemed the styling of the original Buick LaCrosse, recently approved for production, unfit for sale. The car was sent back to the designers for late revisions to the front end, delaying its launch by over a year. But not much could be done so late in the process. What would the LaCrosse be like if Lutz could oversee its entire development? With redesigned and re-engineered 2010 Buick LaCrosse we now have an answer.

I previously reviewed the Buick LaCrosse in CXL AWD form. This time around I spent a week with a LaCrosse CXS that differed from the earlier car in two notable ways: a more powerful 3.6-liter V6 (instead of a 3.0) and GM’s new “HiPer Strut” front suspension (a midyear change).

Lutz’s most notable act at GM was to return a high degree of autonomy to the designers, freeing them from the constraints imposed by engineering and manufacturing, the short-sighted meddling of marketing, and the time and budget restraints of product line executives. So the new Buick LaCrosse should look great, and for the most part it does. The designers did very well with the tall, cab forward body structure they were given—even with Lutz they clearly didn’t have an entirely clean sheet of paper to work from. While the front fender line would ideally be a little lower, as executed the curvaceous exterior has presence, catches your eye, and is clearly a Buick from stem to stern. This ain’t no rebadge. The LaCrosse looks special.

The artful curves continue inside the car. The door-mounted armrests and the smooth transition from the door panels to the instrument panel are especially nicely done. Real stitching molded into these panels, sufficiently convincing faux wood, and extensive ambient lighting contribute to an upscale ambiance. Lutz’s push for richer materials has had mixed results. Unlike in some recent Cadillacs, even the lower door panels are padded. But the center console and the switchgear still don’t look or feel quite as nice as those in the Audis Lutz upheld as benchmarks or the Lexus Buick hopes to steal buyers from. It might have Acura beat, though.

Unfortunately, giving designers so much power also has downsides. The thick chrome band around the center stack sometimes reflects bright sunlight directly into the driver’s eyes. The prominent console and curves that look so good detract from perceived roominess—it remains to be seen whether GM can offer an Epsilon-based sedan that feels roomy. The fashionably high beltline and ultra-wide pillars (why?) severely constrict the driver’s sight lines, especially in turns. They also bury preteens in the basement-like back seat. The artful curve of the center stack into the center console looks sharp, but it positions the shifter too far rearward. Driving the LaCrosse with one’s hand on the shifter requires a rightward twist. Design might not have driven the number of buttons, but there are too many that look too much alike.

As in pretty much every GM car in recent memory, the front seats could be better. They provide a fair amount of lateral support, but only after considerable fiddling with the power adjustments, which include four-way lumbar, did I find a setting that was passably comfortable. Even then the ultra-firm head restraint juts too far forward. Other manufacturers manage to combine much less intrusive headrests with good safety scores. This isn’t a good place to opt for the lowest-cost solution. The rear seat, a bit low to the floor in the traditional GM manner, offers plenty of room for legs, but not so much for shoulders. The trunk would be narrow regardless, but fully encapsulating the conventional hinges further constricts it.

Disregard the mere ten-percent difference in the peak horsepower. The Buick LaCrosse CXS’s 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 spins the front wheels all too easily. It feels far stronger and sounds much better than the CXL’s 252-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. The difference in torque is more substantial, 259 vs. 217 pound-feet, and the LaCrosse’s two-ton curb weight is a poor match for the relatively torque-free 3.0. Yet for 2010 all-wheel-drive, which adds another 170 pounds, was only available with the 3.0. With the 2011 car this mistake will be rectified—the 3.0 will be exiled and only the 3.6 will be offered with all-wheel-drive. Better late than never, but how did the 3.0 ever make it out of the gate during Lutz’s watch? Did the car blow through its curb weight targets, and yet no one reconsidered the powertrain plan? Lutz has acknowledged that curb weight became a low priority during his quest to improve the cars, and that his successors must now work hard to take the pounds off. Even so, why not offer all-wheel-drive with the 3.6 from the start? EPA fuel economy ratings? Perhaps, but in general the 3.6 has earned equal or better EPA ratings than the 3.0.

Putting 259 pound-feet of torque through the front wheels is a recipe for torque steer. And, with the MacPherson strut front suspension fitted at intro, it was more than just hypothetical. The tested car was fitted with GM’s oddly named HiPer Strut front suspension, a midyear change. With this suspension design, the upper steering pivot moves from the strut mount to a ball joint located outboard of the strut. This yields a more vertical “kingpin” axis about which the wheel and tire revolve as the steering wheel is turned, a reduced offset between this axis and the tire’s contact patch, and a reduced scrub radius (the distance between where this axis hits the road and the tire’s contact patch). In theory, this should reduce torque steer, improve grip in turns, and improve steering precision but also increase steering effort at low speeds and reduce steering feel.

To study the real-world differences, I dropped by a dealer to test drive a LaCrosse CXS with the old suspension. Steering effort at low speeds isn’t notably affected—no doubt the level of assist has been tweaked to compensate. There’s not much steering feel with HiPer Strut, but there also isn’t much with the old suspension. In either case there’s a slight amount of slop, and you only learn of tire slip from your ears.. Torque steer is all but eliminated, though the nose does continue to feel like it wants to wander this way and that under hard acceleration. This is probably a matter of weight distribution and suspension tuning rather than suspension geometry. Even in CXS trim the LaCrosse’s suspension is relatively soft, so under hard acceleration the car squats and weight transfers off the nose. HiPer Strut does keep the tire’s contact patch more parallel to the road surface as it moves up and down over bumps and in turns. With it the car feels more planted and stable.

Alas, planted and stable are not the same as fun and sporty. I also dropped by dealers to compare the Nissan Maxima and Acura TL. Each has unfortunate exterior styling, and the Nissan’s interior looks and feels much cheaper than the others. But either car provides a much more engaging and entertaining driving experience, the Nissan’s abundant torque steer notwithstanding (the TL avoided the same via SH-AWD). Credit driving positions that provide a clearer view over the hood (sportily bumped up over the wheels in the Nissan’s case) and that seem to place the driver closer to the action. Also credit powertrains and steering systems that react much more quickly and sharply to driver inputs and tauter suspensions. In terms of cornering speeds the HiPer Strut Buick compares well, but the Nissan and Acura feel sportier and are simply much more fun to drive. Buick doesn’t do “visceral.” For mainstream drivers this could well be a plus. But not for driving enthusiasts.

The LaCrosse does gain back some points for ride quality, as it soaks up bumps much better than either the TL or the Maxima. Still there’s some tire clomping (but there’s more of both it and other noise in the other cars) and some fore-aft pitching (generally absent from the other cars, which react to the same bumps with a sharper but quicker and more vertical jolt). The impact of the pitching is magnified by two factors. The Buick’s head-up display is very helpful when manually shifting the six-speed automatic, as it displays not only the vehicle speed but also the engine speed and the current gear. (Bonus: song titles when they change.) But when the car pitches over bumps, the HUD dances up and down, and you’re tracking the bouncing ball. Worse, if you’re built like me then each time the car pitches over a frost heave that overly firm, overly far forward head restraint smacks you in the back of the head. On roads with lumpy surfaces this gets old quickly.

The LaCrosse with the MacPherson strut suspension was also fitted with the optional Touring Package, which includes more attractive, one-inch larger wheels (19s instead of 18s) and auto-adjusting shocks. Theoretically, these shocks should improve both handling and ride quality. Perhaps the lower profile treads were to blame, but while the Touring Package improves the appearance of the car it yields a busier, harsher ride and provides no evident handling benefit to compensate.

The conclusion with the new Buick LaCrosse is much the same as it was for the new Cadillac SRX. In both cases we have attractive styling, a richer interior ambiance, and improved refinement coupled to too many pounds, poor visibility, and an insufficiently visceral driving experience. Design has clearly benefited from Lutz’s influence, but by giving it more power relative to other groups, not by enabling and encouraging all functions to work better together towards the shared goal of an all-around better car. HiPer strut does improve the Buick LaCrosse’s handling, but doesn’t transform the character of the car. For the potential of this innovative suspension to be realized, it must be paired with quicker, sharper steering and a more agile chassis. Lutz has often been heralded as the ultimate car guy, but like the car guys from GM’s glory years seems to have focused more on how cars look than on what they’re like to sit in and drive. Now that GM has fixed the styling, perhaps they can provide more attention to the driving experience.

GM provided the press-fleet vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of vehicle pricing and reliability data.

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67 Comments on “Review: 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS HiPer Strut...”


  • avatar

    I’m waiting to see if BUICK adds the new 2.8Turbo from the Cadillac SRX. Hopefully they will and they’ll offer AWD for this car. Its probably too much to ask for to offer an intelligent AWD system like they have on the Infiniti M37.

    I agree with your observations of the interior. The A pillars take away too much sense of space and the view of the road is much too hard over the hood – something I noticed when I checked out the Buick Regals.
    http://www.epinions.com/content_513739755140

    In fact, the design of the REGAL looked way better. The Navigation computer was nice and high and the wraparound wood band looked better.

    • 0 avatar

      Outward visibility is better in the Regal–suggesting that Europeans with their tight city streets would not react well to the LaCrosse.

      AWD is already available, and will be available with the 3.6 with the 2011 car. It includes an active rear differential–Infiniti’s system does not. The 2.8 turbo would not be as good as the 3.6. It’s a little more powerful, but even though there’s little boost lag it would further soften throttle responses. OTOH, A 3.6 turbo could be interesting.

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for a Buick application of the 2.8T. Buick reps at the Regal launch were pretty clear that the Regal GS wouldn’t be getting it for fear of treading on Cadillac’s toes (something Saab is now free to do). I don’t see the less-driver-oriented LaCrosse getting a pass on this policy.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Still, it’s nice that this Buick actually looks like a Buick.

      Like the previous CTS, this LaCrosse sets the proper direction that the next gen Buicks should build upon.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @Ed:

      So, for GM, a Buick Regal getting the 2.8T is stepping on Cadillac’s toes, but the Lacrosse and $22K Camaro LS getting the LLT V6 from the $42K CTS (remember that’s the CTS’s optional motor) is a-okay?

    • 0 avatar

      ajla: It’s a good point… though the 3.6 is probably much cheaper to build. And Nissan puts its VQ in everything from the Infiniti M to the Altima.
      In the case of the GS, you’d think it would be cheapest to make it as similar to the OPC as possible… but I don’t get the sense that anyone wants Buick stealing Cadillac’s performance thunder. Nor that anyone thinks Buick needs a crazy performance halo. I think the GS is being aimed at a the midway point between a WRX and an S4… and I gotta say, that makes sense to me. As long as the price is right.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2.8T is simply another engine that, like the 3.0, makes no sense. The N/A 3.6 must be much cheaper to build, feels stronger and more responsive, and gets at least as good fuel economy.

      The 3.6 in the LaCrosse feels stronger than its 280-horsepower power rating. This might be GM’s way of keeping it from stepping on Cadillac’s toes.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @MK:

      I don’t really want to see the 2.8T in the Lacrosse.

      However, from a nostalgic POV, I think that the Regal needs to offer a forced induction V6 the same way the Mustang needs to offer a V8 and a Ferrari needs to offer a manual transmission.

      It can be the 2.8T, a new 3.0T, or a supercharged 3900 for all I care.

      _______________________
      @Ed:

      You’ve driven the turbo Regal. Is there really enough magic in the world to make a Regal GS steal a FE3-optioned CTS’s performance thunder?

    • 0 avatar

      you’re probably right. Its just that, when I look at this car I expect it to offer an engine as fast as the MKS. Why doesn’t Cadillac have one of these with a Twin Turbo V6?

    • 0 avatar
      Mr.H

      @ajla: You do make a great point so let me expand on it; I have yet to hear anyone say that they believe a $22k Camaro is an encroachment on Cadillac’s market segment, even if it does have the same 304hp as the CTS. A $31k Buick, that’s another story, which probably explains why the LaCrosse only gets a 280hp version of the same LLT engine. I was looking hard at buying the CTS but I promised a friend I would at least LOOK at the Lacrosse. When I saw that only the LaCrosse had FWD (RWD is suicide in the snow belt), split fold down rear seats, HUD, Blind zone alert, and rear camera (part of NAV) [sadly, only available on CTS Wagon] for thousands less, the decision practically made itself.

      With the LaCrosse, the 3.6 LLT engine already revs to 7,000 and is the noisiest part of the car. Like you, I do not want to see (or more precisely, hear) a smaller, higher revving engine in this car. Maybe someday America will embrace the high-performance, high-economy diesel engines we’ve already seen in European Audis, BMWs, and Mercedes and we’ll see some serious performance. Or maybe that will be mercilously detuned as a further threat to Cadillac.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    The CV boot looks like it is already cracking. GM quality (sarcasm) under a shiny new skin. And interiors built for Circus “little people”. Absolutely no difference from the old GM. “Old GM” is redundant anyway because there is nor will ever be a “New GM”. Always the Mark of Excrement.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny, all of my “old GM” cars were always pleasnant to drive and highly reliable, going hundreds of thousands of miles. The highest mileage one I owned for over 12 years was a Buick. A 1992 LeSabre that had 310,000 original miles on it when I sold it (should have kept it honestly) with nary a squeak or rattle. If the LaCrosse is anywhere near as pleasant as that then it should be a fine car for most people.

    • 0 avatar

      The CV boot isn’t already cracking, and the small amount of data I do have so far through TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey suggests that the new LaCrosse’s reliability will be about average. We might have an initial stat in August.

      About the survey, additional participants always helpful:

      http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

      Overall the new LaCrosse feels quite solid. As it should with those massive pillars.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Kevin,

      Where do you see any cracks?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Ever see the episode of the Simpsons where Bart finds a pair of glasses with the words “Beer Glasses”? He puts them on and a previously fat chick suddenly sports a killer bikini body. I suspect a case of GM goggles here…

  • avatar
    50merc

    The LaCrosse styling is closer to a kayak than a cabin cruiser. In other words, a good reason to buy a crossover or SUV.

  • avatar
    FTGDWolverineEdition'10

    OT but, isn’t that last shot taken at O’Tooles in Waterford? It’s been a while since I’ve been in that neighborhood!

    • 0 avatar

      BINGO. Sadly, it was late in the day and most of the photos I took didn’t turn out well–there’s a lake in the other direction. Might be time for a better camera. The Kodak Z712 I’ve been using deals poorly with varying levels of light, often underexposing or overexposing some part of the shot.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Shold have taken a comparison shot with the Century/Regal at the front of the store…see the changes Buick has made in 10 years.

  • avatar
    thebeelzebubtrigger

    “…sufficiently convincing faux wood…”

    That’s simply disgusting. No-one with any sense is going to buy GM products as long as they insist on making everything out of crappy plastic and charging as if it were freaking unobtanium.

    So sad, what’s happened to the US auto industry since the late 60s. Just so sad…

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I drove a Lexus ES the other day, and the interior ‘wood’ (not sure if it was fake or real to be honest, I would lean towards fake just from appearance, but it could have just been low quality real wood) didn’t look any better than that in this LaCrosse. In fact, it looks like Buick and Lexus might even source their interior woodlike stuff from the same supplier.

      Similarly, after hearing about the quality action and oil-damped feel of Lexus switchgear, I have report that it is all bupkis. The switchgear in the Lexus felt in no way appreciably different from that in a Lincoln, Buick, or Cadillac.

      Finally, there is the myth of Lexus interior quality. The interior of the ES is nicely laid out, and overall very pleasant, but it is no better than a 2010 Taurus, LaCrosse, or Lincoln MKZ. The center console in the Lexus is made of hard plastic towards the bottom (where you will actually come into contact with it) and while the dash and doors were covered in nice soft-touch material, pretty much every other luxury or mainstream premium car does this too.

      Suffice to say, a lot of the reviews and opinions about Lincoln, Buick, and Cadillac as compared to Lexus, Audi, and Acura are affected a good bit by the placebo effect. Reviewers go into an Audi review looking for things to praise, and go into a Buick review looking for things to pick apart. If you slapped a Lexus badge on a current MKZ or LaCrosse and set them side by side the current ES in Lexus showrooms, either one would outsell the ES.

      Blaming things on the perception gap is a bit cliched, but it is real. As long as their are snobs out there who think that only being able to appreciate imports makes them appear as if they have good taste (when in reality it makes them appear like they have their heads stuffed up their asses to anyone with two licks of sense) you will have the false belief perpetuated that imports are always nicer than domestics, even when in reality that is not the case.

    • 0 avatar

      The wood in the Lexus is real.

      I haven’t been in the ES recently, but did drive the HS last fall right after driving the LaCrosse CXS AWD. The materials in the HS were notably better than those in the ES, and I don’t think this is my “perception gap” talking.

      I did drive a Lexus RX last summer and the power lumbar rocker switches stuck out as noticeably cheaper-feeling than the rest of the switchgear.

      An Acura MDX I drove recently had switchgear that seemed cheaper than GM’s.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      NulloModo…..+1
      Well said!

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      NulloModo I think you are right about the ES quality. Lexus’ reputation for interior quality was built on the early LS and GS cars. If you drove any of those they were oh so solid, the leather was thick, the wood was real, and the switch gear did feel good.

      I never drove an ES that compared to that, feels like fancy style Camry grade stuff.

      About this perception gap, you are right on but why re-hash it? Knowing it exists doesn’t change anything. This stuff goes on in every industry, the top players enjoy more mindshare. I’ve no idea why domestic fanbois whine about that like it some great injustice. Buick, or any GM division really, needs to make a car that hits the sweet spot better than the competitors do, and they need to make a real splash on introduction, like Camaro but with a more mainstream product and without the 3 year wait and screwing of pre-order customers. I should be hearing my co-workers asking me about that new Buick.

      Psychological research shows people make choices based on a desire to not make the “wrong” decision. That’s why it easy to buy the established product. To win customers Buick needs to put the fear in potential customers, that they would be missing out not to have bought a Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Last I saw, Buick was saying the wood in the LaCrosse was real poplar.

  • avatar

    you’re a talented writer Michael.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nice review Michael – it looks like GM is catching up with interior quality. However, the GM trend for “high belt line” designs that leave too little glass and visibility is a deal breaker for me. It was in the Camaro and it would be for any other vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      texlovera

      Seconded.

      If I already have problems with the A pillar on a Mazda6 when making left turns on quiet residential streets, what can I expect with these body styles?

  • avatar
    jfranci3

    As everyone else has said, the visibility at the a-pillar + windshield rake + mirror angle is maddening. You’re a horse with blinders on.

    • 0 avatar

      One thing I meant to include is the distance to the IP and to the base of the windshield. Both are extreme. This makes the car feel larger and bulkier than it is.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Last year I rented a Caliber (no it wasn’t a terrible car, just not not a great car) and it was the same thing. It was like tunnel vision. I don’t think it’s GM or the designers in general. I think it’s federal regs, both existing and future that have to do with rollovers and roof strength. If anything it will get worse. So your car will be real safe in a rollover that you could have avoided if you had been able to see out of the damn thing.

  • avatar
    340-4

    Good review.

    I own 2 Buicks already, so I’ve got a soft spot… and I like this car. I should go test drive one.

    Love the black interior – but I gotta say, GM, the exterior color choices are terrible. I imagine this car in some of the classic 60’s colors and think it would work very well with the shape and curves.

    In a dark metallic silver, with a deep red interior, I could own one of these. Yes, I’m one of those ‘red interior’ people. I’d even settle for a deep maroon.

    • 0 avatar

      I actually took photos of all three interior colors. The car I had for the week had the black interior, and it showed off both the stitching and the “wood” to best effect.

      GM does need to get more adventurous with both its exterior and interior color choices. Not that most others are any better.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Wow, I just clicked over to Buick’s site to see what the color options are, and you’re right, between what looks like a nice red and a nice navy blue all the other ‘colors’ are non-colors, just shades of silver, black, grey and tan.

    • 0 avatar

      Welcome to 2010. My wife likes the Infiniti EX35, but they offer it in no colors that aren’t white, nearly black, or a variant of silver. No medium blues, reds, etc. They used to have one medium blue, but they dropped it.

      Ford seems a bit better than most, for exterior colors at least.

  • avatar
    NickR

    The 3.0’s reputation in serious need of burnishing. I haven’t read a review yet that didn’t say a) it is underpowered in real world driving and b) gets worse mileage than advertised.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    I really like this car. But I’m still too young (40) to own a Buick and there are too many other cars I plan to own first. But I do find it a positive thing that Buicks can now be critiqued to this level of detail. The Lexus ES certainly isn’t. And previous Buicks weren’t. There was simply no point in digging into the bones of such fundamentally flawed vehicles. Today, we’re looking closely at suspension design within a very beautiful car. In a Buick for christsake! Rather than look at this as a negative, I see this as a sign of good things to come from this brand.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve come across many people who love the look of this car but cannot yet see themselves in a Buick. I think this will change.

      You do make a very good point. Some cars I have a lot of trouble writing about because so little is interesting about them. This is not a problem with the Buick. If anything, the car’s special appearance simply makes me wish that the driving experience were more special. It also makes me with that the Regal and upcoming compact sedan looked nearly this good.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      If you really like the car, why let marketing people or perceived demographic-focus sway you?

      Granted, certain purchases are strongly tied with certain age groups, no one wants to see a 50 year old woman in hot pants and a bare-midriff top, but a car isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, primarily a fashion statement.

      Now granted, if you just want something more fun still, something sportier, etc, it makes sense, but it seems silly to me to write off a car you like, or indeed an entire brand, just because many of the current owners are older.

    • 0 avatar
      blue adidas

      NulloModo,

      If I had the opportunity to own every vehicle that I like, I’d have a mighty full garage. This is a great one, but for myself I need the sportiness of an Audi or even a CTS-V. Perhaps one day Buick will offer this type of car. But until then, the LaCrosse is a stately and smart choice for a lot of people.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr.H

      @Michael: You say, “I’ve come across many people who love the look of this car but cannot yet see themselves in a Buick. I think this will change.”

      I was one of those who thought Buicks were just an uninspiring, soulless, milquetoast machines, incapable of proper handling or performance. Then I had a car that died and someone made me an offer for a one-owner LeSabre that, for financial reasons alone, I couldn’t pass up.

      Today, I freely admit that I was wrong and I fell in love with that car. A few years later was shopping for a Cadillac and saw a gorgeous Park Avenue Ultra. How can an American boy say no to a supercharger? I am now purchasing my third Buick in a row. (Thanks for the $1,000 customer loyalty discount.)

      If Buick can find a way to put younger people behind the wheel, they won’t be able to pry them back out. But until Buick figures that out you will probably hear many more comments like, “I’m only 40 so I’m too young to be driving a Buick.” With age comes wisdom (sometimes) so maybe the WISE thing is for youth to try to *understand* the wisdom of owning Buicks.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “and is clearly a Buick from stem to stern. This ain’t no rebadge. ”

    I don’t know about that. I think I saw one of these in the parking lot at the grocery store today, and I had to discern the badge on the trunklid to tell it wasn’t a Saturn Aura.

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like you might have seen the new Buick Regal–which was originally going to be the second-gen Saturn Aura.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Sorry bumpy, but maybe you should have yours eyes checked. The two cars look no similar than the any other sedans.

      The new Regal also in my opinion looks very different than the Aura. While it was going to be a Saturn at first, the Opel Insignia now Buick Regal doesn’t look much like the old Aura either.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    > Real stitching molded into these panels

    I assume you meant “Faux stitching molded into these panels”

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    The Lacrosse is a fantastic car. And the best part is…..GM knows exactly where Buick falls in the realm of “near luxury” cars, as a result, it’s priced accordingly.

    It’s not some outrageous rebadge of a Chevy that does nothing very well yet commands a very steep price like the Lincolns.

  • avatar

    When the f*** are car companies going to figure out how to FIRE DESIGNERS WHO HAVE BAD TASTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ford, GM, Chrysler I’m lookin’ at you.

    Otherwise, I hate to say anything positive about an American car company, but I LOVE the HiPer design idea!

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    Interesting you found the front seat to be iffy. Just like the ’01 Lesabre we owned. It was hands down the least comfortable car I ever owned. 6 way adjustment, reclining back, and it still produced pain in one hour of driving no matter what the position. Between that and the fact it ate 7 power window regulators in 4 years, we sold it at a loss just to get rid of the miserable thing. Oh yeah, it’s the last GM car I’ll ever buy.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    I concur about Buick seats – this past weekend I drove an ’05 LeSabre from south Florida up I-95 to Maryland (a friend’s parents ended up flying north for medical reasons and needed it driven back), and although it had all the power adjustments including 4-way lumbar support, I simply couldn’t get comfortable; the seat cushion was too short, among other things. (At least the A-pillars weren’t too difficult to see around, and the side windows weren’t slits either.) I ultimately found an OK position that required the steering wheel to be lowered so that it blocked the gauges; luckily the car was equipped with heads-up display, so I could still see how fast I was going (which was damn fast; most of that stretch of I-95 is marked 70 mph, and traffic tended to go closer to 80).

    Driving that car was enlightening – I hadn’t driven a modern Buick before, and I learned that GM even in the late 1990s could make a big car that could get 27 mpg at 75-80 mph with the a/c running. (The ’05 was the 6th and last year of that design.) But maneuvering that thing in any space smaller than an interstate lane was surprisingly cumbersome, and the floaty ride that felt so nice at high speed was nauseating otherwise. I suppose this isn’t exactly news. Why can’t the good aspects of the car I drove be combined with whatever GM can learn from its European operations in terms of ride and handling, in a car that a driver can see out of without cameras? Doesn’t seem impossible.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    The Lacrosse is a horrible car. And the worst part is…..GM doesn’t know where Buick falls in the realm of “near luxury” cars, as a result, it’s priced outrageously.

    Unlike the Lincolns, it does nothing very well.

    There, I balanced out Z71’s “contribution” to the comments section.

    Great review, Michael. The detailed information on the front end changes was a nice touch.

  • avatar
    windswords

    “I also dropped by dealers to compare the Nissan Maxima and Acura TL. Each has unfortunate exterior styling…”

    You sir, are the master of understatement.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Definitely a great looking car. If I was to go slushbox however, I think I’d still go with the new Taurus (just the SE is fine with me).

  • avatar
    pauldun170

    What if you built a pleasant, unnoffensive, competent car and no one came?

    If I were a non-car person like most Americans and I saw this on the street, I would think “Thats a nice Acura…or is it a Lexus?”
    Maybe I might come across the info that its a Buick.

    Without a proper marketing campaign, Buick is going no where no matter how great the car is. Though the “bastard offspring of a Malibu and Lexus GS that has been raised by Acura” styling looks decent, its not strong enough to sell the car without a good ad campaign.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Every good product needs a good ad campaign. In the eulogies of Mercury that were published recently one of the laments that kept coming to the forefront was that whenever Mercury had unique product, Ford did nothing to promote it.

      The LaCrosse is fairly unique now in GMs line up (we’ll see how closely related the new Impala is to this vehicle when it finally debuts.) And Buick has been promoting it. I applaud GM for working hard to quell torque steer in a car being sold by a division where the customers wouldn’t typically push it hard enough to feel the torque steer. That is good anticipation of a younger crowd of buyers.

  • avatar
    pauldun170

    “If I was to go slushbox however, I think I’d still go with the new Taurus (just the SE is fine with me).”

    Careful,
    From what I hear, once you go slushbox, you don’t go back….

  • avatar
    pauldun170

    Luckily, I have no such experience. Any car thats owned and driven by me has 3 pedals.
    Wifes car on the other hand…is not driven by me despite my name being on the title.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      My wife refuses to drive automatics.

      I have to deal with them on a regular basis with rental cars, but so far I will insist on a clutch pedal for my own car. The new DSG-type gearboxes are technically more capable and faster at shifting than I can do myself, but I still prefer to be more engaged in the driving, with a clutch pedal and gear lever.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    You’ve touched upon two aspects of today’s car designs that make them uncomfortable and unsafe, at least from my point of view. Those thick A-pillars you dislike may be inspired by rollover safety, but they’re made far worse by extreme aero streamlining. Yes, a steep windshield looks ‘fast” and helps boost highway mpg, but that makes the A-pillar twice as long as, say, an old SAAB 900’s, which was upright, thin and wedge-shaped to match a driver’s field of vision. In real life use, I despise these flattened windshields: they allow too much hot sun into a car, promote irritating reflections, and once they’re speckled with dust and rock chips, almost impossible to see through.

    Then there’s the headrest problem. I never resisted these safety devices, but they’ve gradually been tipped farther forward. You probably get better crash test results if a dummy’s head can’t move backwards even an inch or two in collisions, but I don’t care. I don’t want a head REST in my car- if I’m that sleepy, I shouldn’t be driving. I want a head restraint, sitting back there out of mind until I really need it. I know many other folks slouch their heads farther forward than I do, and they deserve protection. I also set my backrest more upright than a race driver’s. But I still have a right to comfort and free head movements. I’ve owned a Subaru Forester for years, but the new models are painful to sit on for this reason.

    maybe there’s a theme for a new essay or two on these topics?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Same problems on the Altima Coupe (my rental car at the moment): steep windshield, hard headrests, big pillars.

      Small windows combined with massive A, B and C pillars make for poor visibility. Checking the blind spot over your left shoulder is pointless since the B-pillar is thick enough to block 90% of the already-small rear side window. Terrible — this would be an absolute show-stopper were I to consider buying this car.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    This car has compromise written all over it. while I don’t care for the bloated whale Lexus GS cribbed styling, it seems to please the foreign loving media so that is certainly one thing bolstering sales. For me the styling dictates reduced visibility, narrow Epsilon body gives a cramped feel in the drivers seat with my right leg smashed up against the center console and the trunk is a sad joke when you can’t even fit a baby stroller in there. The interior is a mixed bag of compromises too. The mentioned overly large obstructing A-pillars make you shake your head and ask why? The numerous look alike buttons, silly slits that substitute for door pull straps, no power trunk release inside the car, mislocated gear shift lever and confining wide center console conspire to make the LaCrosse an annoyance to drive on a daily basis. The curbweight of this car certainly taxed the 217 torque starved 3.0 liter V6 so what does GM do? Why pull out the 3.0 liter V6 and instead make a 2.4 L4 std with 172 LBS FT of torque the new bread and butter base engine. If you buy a 4 cylinder LaCrosse don’t plan on pulling out in front of those pesty 4 cylinder CamCords, Altimas, Malibus, Sonatas or Fusions because they will all run circles around you.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      One should drive it with the 2.4L before making the comments. On paper, the 3.0L should have been a good engine for the vehicle, but has failed miserably. This same 2.4L is in the Equinox and is getting good reviews there. Total torque is not as important as usable torque. Torque at 4k rpms doesn’t matter as much as 2k rpms.

      That being said, the 3.0L makes max torque at 5100 rpms. The 2.4L at 4900 rpms. In my opinion, both numbers mean very little. But, what GM did do was use a different axle ratio. 2.77 for the 3.0L and a 3.23 for the 2.4L. That is a significant change. One worth driving the vehicle for.

      I would also assume that the transmission programming would be different as well. Comparing the torque numbers alone isn’t a significant comparison.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    Although I admire the looks of the car, at least in print, I saw one coming towards me today in the opposing lane, and the Buick LaCrosse is just too damned tall. It’s like the original planners laid out the body for a crossover, but halfway through the design process a group of designers was brought in to clean things up and turn it into a sedan. That high hood just does not work.

    It’s too bad, because Buick seems (seemed?) to be on the right track.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    With New GM comes New Problems: their newest efforts are almost always gorgeous inside and out, but also, to a model, are massively overweight, with poor visibility, and build quality isn’t on the same level as the ambitious designs. Perhaps more distressing is that GM has and will continue to handicap models of one division so that they won’t tread on the toes of another. The only thing keeping Chevy from having a decent Impala is Buick, for instance; while the only thing keeping Buick from having a decent range-topper is, obviously, Cadillac (which doesn’t have a range-topper either…yet)


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