By on August 10, 2016

2017 Buick LaCrosse, Image: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars

I’m going to wager you’ve gorged yourself at a sprawling Chinese buffet at least once. Back in my college days, Emerald Palace was a favourite: big portions, ample choices, reasonable prices. Sometimes, the proprietors would limit choice, holding back the good stuff for busier, higher-profit nights. It was annoying because you knew — knew! — a few scrumptious menu items were locked away in the kitchen walk-in, just out of reach.

The previous-generation Buick LaCrosse debuted in the dark recesses of 2009, when the domestic auto industry — hemorrhaging red ink and tottering towards bankruptcy — cried and shovelled back tub loads of Ben & Jerry’s. Buick was on the minds of Chinese buyers for a few years by this time. This played a large part in the brand escaping the executioner’s axe seven years ago. The second-generation LaCrosse was Buick’s all-in gambit on The Red Dragon.

Domestically, Buick’s been making a splash lately, and some of that swagger is apparent in the team that worked on the LaCrosse. Not content to simply chase its existing customers, the tri-shield brand plans to make the LaCrosse one of its “conquest models,” drawing buyers’ attention out from behind the wheels of competing marques. To this extent, the LaCrosse is actually two very different cars, depending on how you tick the option boxes.

2017 Buick LaCrosse, Image: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars

The 2017 LaCrosse is available in four trims — Base Standard, Preferred, Essence, and Premium — ranging in price from $32,990 up to $41,990 before à la carte options (all wheel drive is a $2,200 option and available only on the Premium trim). On the top two trims, Buick reps were quick to clarify that the LaCrosse’s available 20-inch wheel option is much more than a $1,625 wheel-and-tire package. The larger wheels are packages together with Continuous Damper Control and HiPer struts in front-wheel-drive models. Unfortunately, LaCrosses that power all four corners make do with MacPherson struts, regardless of the wheel size.

Stuffing 310 horsepower through the front wheels of a large sedan is usually a recipe for torque steer — ask anyone who bought a 2006 Impala SS. In the LaCrosse, there’s no need for torque-steer-countering Feats of Strength. Stomping the loud pedal from a standstill on a deserted stretch of road dumped enough power to the 20-inch wheels to break traction, but the trick suspension kept the elevens straight. That same suspension hardware improves cornering grip. Jeff Yanssens, an affable and outspoken guy who serves as the Chief Vehicle Engineer for LaCrosse, pushed for this more aggressive suspension setup. He also likes and has a history of working on superchargers — wink wink, nudge nudge. If a supercharged Buick coupe has any chance of casting shade on GM showroom floors, Jeff is likely the man to make it happen.

Sampling both an 18- and 20-inch wheel equipped LaCrosses over the same stretch of twisty road through Oregon’s densely forested Mist-Clatskanie Highway, the big Buick acquitted itself well, refusing to roll over and wallow in the corners. No one will mistake it for an MX-5, but the five-link rear suspension with hydraulic bushings tucked the rear into the corners and lent the car a generally planted nature. Buick’s two-pronged goal of targeting big car loyalists with the soft-riding 18 incher and going after conquest buyers with the firmer 20 incher is a sound strategy.

All General Motors has to do is get buyers in the showroom.

The new Buick design language might do it.

Taking several cues from the very pretty Avenir and Avista show cars, the LaCrosse does a good job of integrating Buick’s “sweepspear” curved trim line, which is most pronounced on the fullsizer’s rear flanks. Styling is always subjective, but I’d argue with anyone who thinks an uninspired, slab-sided monstrosity looks better than something with an attempt at flair. The entire expanse of metal from the A-pillar to the C-pillar and around to the sculpted rear quarter panel is a single, 168mm deep stamping. That in itself lends to the car’s quiet nature — and how eager GM is to show off its metalworking chops.

2017 Buick LaCrosse, Image: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars

Why’d Buick choose Portland? Well, that area uses some of the biggest aggregate in the country to manufacture its asphalt, with the embedded stones often measuring the size of a quarter. Intending to prove the quietness of its new LaCrosse, Buick engineers encouraged us to seek out the roughest roads and hammer over a few pavement heaves. They proved their point: this thing is quieter than a flea’s hiccup.

Like other luxury car makers (whether you believe Buick is a luxury automaker or not), Buick planned a touch pad for the LaCrosse’s infotainment system. Late in development, the LaCrosse team felt the pad’s surface was too narrow, and yanked it from the car. In its place is a small, oddly shaped cubby to put one’s keyfob or a few coins. This is unfortunate given the Buick team benchmarked the Lexus ES350 in so many other measures.

2017 Buick LaCrosse Interior, Image: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars

Despite the challenges FCA is experiencing with its electronic shifter, a similar one appears in the new LaCrosse. It’s shared with the Cadillac XT5 and will no doubt soon spread across GM’s lineup like so much kudzu. Specifically designed to invoke a deliberate thought process, the shifter forces drivers to push up and left to engage reverse gear. Park has its own button atop the shifter. It’s a gamble, especially given the traditional Buick demographic, but electronic shifters remove mechanical linkages, which reduces NVH and frees up console space for storage — yet, not enough for a touchpad. Hmm …

2017 Buick LaCrosse Shifter, Image: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars

An attractive 8-inch frameless display and fast processor handles infotainment, unlike the sluggish units of the past. For the OCD among us, the touchscreen’s glass surface is engineered to resist fingerprints. Other GM marques currently include a soft cloth for dealing with this issue. However, the new smudge-free screen should make the cloth a thing of the past in other high-end GM machinery in the future.

Additionally and curiously, Buick reps told us that customers were not willing to pay extra for real wood, so the fake trim remains. It is not wholly offensive.

2017 Buick LaCrosse Center Console and Dash, Image: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars

GM’s next-generation, direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 (rated at 21 miles per gallon city and 31 mpg highway in front-wheel-drive models and 20/29 for all-wheel drive) is the only engine offered in North America. The massaged mill boasts 310 horsepower and 282 lbs-ft of twist. LaCrosse tips the scales at a hair under 3,600 pounds in front-wheel-drive guise, about 300 pounds less than the last-generation car — the weight of a Kenmore fridge, the Buick team liked to remind us. All-wheel drive tacks on about 240 pounds. Nearly 150 of that 300-pound weight reduction was taken from the structure of the vehicle.

2017 Buick LaCrosse Portholes, Image: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars

Acceleration should compare well with the Lexus ES350, given their roughly equal curb weights and the Lexus’s 42 hp deficit. Infiniti’s Q50 also weighs about the same, but has 328 hp. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard in the Buick. All-wheel drive is only available in the top-tier Premium trim level, vexing potential customers who may not want their LaCrosses loaded to the gunwales.

Through a twin-clutch torque vectoring differential, the all-wheel-drive system is capable of shunting rear power from left to right as needed. On the return drive, Product Marketing Manager Brian Shipman said the take rate on all-wheel-drive currently hovers around 10 percent for LaCrosse, but he’d like to see that increase to 15 percent with the new model.

Mercifully, the throttle isn’t overly tuned toward fuel economy. Buick engineers instead turned to higher-tech fuel-saving methods, such as active aero shutters hidden behind the grille and an imperceptible cylinder deactivation system. The new 3.6-liter V6 is the first GM engine designed specifically for an automatic stop/start system and it’s the least intrusive system I’ve experienced thus far in stop-and-go traffic. Buick is so confident in the system that it doesn’t even offer an on/off switch for it, although China-bound four-cylinder models have such a button below the passenger side centre air vent.

2017 Buick LaCrosse

Speaking of China, Buick engineer Cathy Turzewski, who recently spent time with Buick overseas, tagged along while I piloted a LaCrosse specced in mid-level trim with 18-inch wheels over the freshly paved Oregon Route 47.

For that market, the 20-inch rims are merely an accessory, she said, while Buick offers 17s and 19s as standard and optional equipment thanks to consumer priorities focused on fuel economy and comfort. It’s here I began to pine for the vast menu of options just out of reach, as she described the available bamboo trim with 3D textures and saddle-colored seats with suede inserts. It’s worth noting here that Lexus offers a very pleasing matte bamboo trim in its ES350.

The last-generation LaCrosse had front seat massagers only in the Chinese market. The new LaCrosse offers this feature to North American customers in its Premium trim, but they offer much less aggressive action than those found in the same car in other markets.

While the rear seat is vast in terms of legroom — thanks to 2.7 extra inches of wheelbase for 2017 — this 6’6” author did find headroom at a premium in examples equipped with the $1,550 panoramic moonroof. The seat is well-shaped, but the centre armrest is short, depositing my elbow squarely in the hard plastic cupholder. Overseas, backseat riders are treated to heated and ventilated seats, which also offer massaging and a power recline. Oddly, the North American market does not get rear seat USB ports in any trim, settling for a 12V port (deemed by focus groups to be more versatile) or a 110V outlet in the Premium model. The Chinese market LaCrosse gets twin USB ports in place of the 12V unit.

2017 Buick LaCrosse

In comparison, then, our buffet is starting to look a little thin. Maddening, since Buick has clearly paid to develop these features and could have leapfrogged its competitors in terms of unique content. People talk about Hyundais with heated rear seats, creating buzz for the entire brand, even if only a small percentage of Elantras are sold with the option. Do you think people would be talking about the Buick with massaging rear seats? Exactly.

Product Marketing Manager Brian Shipman says LaCrosse is a “conquest biggie,” with hopes to draw in customers stepping out of a Chrysler 300, Ford Fusion, and perhaps even an Audi or two.

“I’ll take whatever customer I can get,” said Shipman on the drive back to Portland in a front-wheel-drive, mid-spec LaCrosse rolling on 20s. Right now, the average LaCrosse buyer is about 62 to 64 years of age. Shipman says they’re aiming for customers in their 40s, particularly for the LaCrosse with the 20-inch wheel and suspension package. This is ambitious, but it’s worth noting that in the last seven years, the average age of a Buick customer has dropped from 64 to 59.

By employing a two-pronged approach of offering LaCrosse with two vastly different sets of handling characteristics, Buick stands a reasonable chance of simultaneously placating the Golden Corral demographic while luring new and younger buyers out from behind the wheel of competing brands. The LaCrosse is an excellent effort, with attractive styling touches cribbed from the Avenir concept car and a phenomenally quiet interior.

Still, if Buick wants to sit at the head table, it’s going to have to bring out the full menu.

Disclosure: General Motors provided travel, hotel, and food for the purpose of this review.

[Images: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars]

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148 Comments on “2017 Buick LaCrosse First Drive Review – Portholes Over Potholes in Portland...”


  • avatar
    hreardon

    Handsome car, and frankly, would probably fit the bill for a solid percentage of Lexus, Audi, Mercedes Benz and BMW buyers.

    We’ll see how it sells, but they’re right: getting people into the showroom will be Buick’s biggest challenge.

    It proves: brands matter.

    • 0 avatar
      crtfour

      And on top of that GM seems to be bad at advertising….how many commercials do you see for GM cars? I didn’t even know there was a new Lacrosse. On the flip side you KNOW when a new Accord, Camry, Honda, Nissan, etc comes out even if you watch just a little TV.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “It proves: brands matter.”

      Yep. Pick someone up in your ES350, and to them you’ll look at least reasonably well off.

      Do the same thing in a LaCrosse, and they’ll think you’ve just grabbed something at a rental desk.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        @CoreyDL –

        I get the argument, but in my area, I don’t get the rental vibe from Buicks, I get “prudent-and-older” demographic.

        Either way – it doesn’t get people excited about buying your product, regardless of how good it may be.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      This is a great looking, big car. I wonder if it rides soft enough on the 20’s. Or if 18/16 inch wheels would mess up the handling?

  • avatar
    threeer

    LaCrosse…one of the final holdouts from Buick NOT built somewhere other than the US. Looks nice enough, but hard-pressed to believe that it’ll draw attention away from Lexus, BMW, et al. I guess time will tell.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “drawing buyers’ attention out from behind the wheels of competing marques.”

    *Rubs hands together*

    “Their supply of Mercury is coming to an end! Muhahaha.”

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Hope they fixed the deal-breaker that keeps me from considering an Epsilon II LaCrosse, Impala or XTS: The pedal arrangement that snags my size 15 right foot behind the brake pedal every time I move it from the throttle. These cars are nice, but they aren’t literally to die for.

  • avatar
    tinbad

    Judging by the pictures the fit and finish is nowhere near Audi/Mercedes or even BMW and Lexus. It also looks an awful lot like an Impala. Does it really handle that much better? I’d rather have that and pocket the difference.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      The Impala gives up two gears to this Buick; though I’m sure GM will include the 8sp in an Impala MCE.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        The Impala also rides on the stretched Epsilon II platform (designated Super Epsilon). The LaCrosse had been using that platform since 2010, but will now use the newer P2XX platform, which is a longer version of the C2XX platform seen on the new Malibu.

        Between that, the available AWD (Impalas can only be had with FWD), and the improved suspension on certain variants, it probably *does* ride better than an Impala. Keep in mind that the Impala isn’t that cheap, either, so the Buick could be good value.

        • 0 avatar
          davewg

          Yeah, to bad the AWD nixes the ability to get the better suspension, “sport” mode and other attendant goodies.

          When are they going to figure out that enthusiasts might want all of that and AWD?

          I guess just offering gives differentiates them from some competitors (ES300)

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Perhaps, but a competing Audi/Mercedes/BMW in this size class is going to run around $60,000.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        @FreedMike –

        Precisely. Buick, ironically, could be the value play today, the way Lexus was back in the early ’90s.

        If Hyundai can turn heads with the Genesis (“Hey, it’s 80-90% of a 5 series for $15,000 less!”), Buick, with the right marketing campaign, can as well.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It’s a great looking car, but the only way I see Buick succeeding is if they undercut the imports in terms of price. I just can’t see myself ever buying a new Buick over a new ES350, for the resale value alone unless it was quite a bit cheaper.

    Also, why can’t automakers simply make the “electronic” shifter the traditional

    P
    R
    N
    D
    in a downward motion with notches, in a small package?

    Just seems to me to be an easy solution so you don’t have consumers create a dangerous situation like the actor that was crushed in his Jeep, people instinctively know that pattern.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’ve got a couple complaints.

    -The steering wheel looks like it’s off of an early ’00s Mercedes, and is terrible and ugly. The mimic of the steering wheel cover in the leather pattern is meh.

    -They gave the console a nice sweeping shape as a cutout space for that cup holder there, then put in a 90 degree wood door from Barbie’s Dream House, and it looks stupid and ill-fitting.

    -Leather work is very sloppy, and not something you’d see in a similarly priced ES or Infiniti. Look at the back of the seats for cripes sakes.

    -Shark fin Ventiports look silly, and I wish Buick would just give up this gimmick. The whole idea was ruined by the final version Park Avenue years ago.

    Things I like:

    -Trunk alignment looks excellent, which is not something I can say of the Verano or the old LaCrosse.

    -The back end looks like the upcoming S90, and that’s a good thing (though the sharpness of it all doesn’t quite match up with the mushy character line wrapping around the back, or the almost E-Class sharp front end.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Leather work doesn’t look all that bad…in the ES you get cheap plastic seatbacks.

      http://blog.caranddriver.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/2016-Lexus-ES350-2-1241-876×535.jpg

      Meh.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The steering wheel is better than the one in the Impala, which looks like a knockoff of the one in the W221 S-Class.

      I would have liked to see an athletic-looking three-spoke wheel here, though.

      The chrome eyebrows on the rear light pods are a bit much (though better than what was seen on the Verano).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Oh that Impala one is gross. I agree – the Regal wheel would look just fine in this application.

        Just imagine if they connected the tail lamps together for a nice full-width thing, and spelled out BUICK in script within.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          That would a return to form. Buick did the first full-width taillight back in the ’60s on, I believe, the ’65 Skylark…

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            See, I didn’t even know that about the Skylark. I was just thinking of how I liked the connection and script on the Reatta.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I think Buick needs some styling cues from the N-Body Skylark. Greenhouse for days.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Achieva SCX!

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            There were nine or ten model names on the N-body platform. GM sold millions of those d@mn things.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I have just searched unsuccessfully online for a pic of the Achieva SCX Gold Edition that I’ve seen, which had mixed old and new style Olds logos on it. Old on front and rear, new on sides with special edition badging.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Of course, the Regal still uses GM’s old corporate steering-wheel design language. You can see a newer three-spoke in the Envision. That would have worked well here.

          http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/201408/buick-envision-6_600x0w.jpg

          And yes, a full-width tail-lamp design would have been really cool, and probably would have shown up Lincoln, who’ve been at it for a while.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        But I’m gonna miss the “Angry Birds” Verano taillights.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I disagree with them about the wood.

      In consumer research, the answer you get depends on the question you ask. If you present it in the form of a question: “Would you be willing to pay a $750 higher sticker” (or whatever the cost plus profit is) for real wood instead of this?”, you can expect “No” and “Hell no.” But if you presented the car with wood, got them excited about it, and then said, “Well, for $1,000 we could delete the good suspension, and for $2,000 we could delete the leather, and for $750 we could relegate you to fake wood,” what do you think the answer would be?

      Steve Jobs, lightning rod though he still is, understood this well. You don’t ask people what they want. You give them what excites them and charge them what it costs. This Finance-driven failure of imagination will cost GM insidiously in lost credibility and excitement not generated, as usual. Lexus, even the ES and IS, makes its wood real. If you lack the champion’s proven history of reliability and durability, AND you can’t even be bothered to achieve feature parity with them, what chance do you have to be taken seriously?

      For once I say, cue DW.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        To be fair, Buick’s reliability ratings are pretty solid, especially on the LaCrosse. You are, however, right about Buick going to 9/10ths luxury and then pulling back, so that instead of this car competing with the ES, it rather seems like it goes up against higher trims of mainstream full-sizers.

        I suppose GM has concerns about Buick competing with Cadillac, but with the XTS on its way out, the ATS (which exists in this same price range) being infinitely more cramped, and the CTS being smaller and also a lot more expensive…there’s really no overlap.

        The real threat comes from the Impala, which can look pretty chintzy with certain options (like the chrome mirror skullcaps). Buick had a real opportunity to make the LaCrosse a clear upgrade over the Impala, and while it’s definitely nicer, I don’t think they did enough to distinguish the two.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Some trims of the Impala have a goofy-ass grille as well, which looks like two big staples turned horizontally. ][ Like that. I shall find a pic.

          https://i.ytimg.com/vi/d26Qhhi2gag/maxresdefault.jpg

          Yuck.

          Also, I think the Impala should -not- wear the Gold Bowtie, but rather an independent Impala logo. Just like should be the case on Denali products. GM – logos matter!

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Oh, yeah, I’ve seen it. At first, I thought that grille would be optional for some kind of mild-hybrid system, but evidently not.

            You’re right that it would be cool if GM used its own logo on the Impala, especially since the Impala kind of has its own design language. Me, I’m just glad they retained the logo at all, on the C-pillars.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Oh, so that’s what happened to all the knockout blanks from the machine that stamps Kia grilles.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Bahahahahahaha! It does look like a reverse-Kia grille!

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            I believe that grille comes with adaptive cruise.

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      I agree with your complaints, though I think they’re all relatively minor or merely one man’s opinion (make it two). For me, it seems that Buick should have done more to distinguish the appearance of the base model compared with the high-zoot, better-riding models. I’d have left the chrome wings off the front grill for the 18-inch wheeled versions and made it a sign for the higher end models.

  • avatar
    Bazza

    A swing and a miss. FWD automatically makes it a dud vs. the supposed competition. Who would choose this over a Lexus ES? Confining AWD to the top trim line is just inane, but at least it’s an option so that *may* draw a few buyers in.

    Too many unforced errors I’m afraid…

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “FWD automatically makes it a dud. Who would choose this over a Lexus ES?”

      Which is also FWD.

    • 0 avatar
      Snail Kite

      “Who would choose this over a Lexus ES?” Someone who has had the dealer knock 5k off sticker?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Still not enough, assuming similar MSRP 15-25% off at minimum for the Buick (15% for even depreciation, up to 25% for a real incentive). This also assumes Lexus/Toyota are *not* also offering incentives. Last I calculated, ES350 was about a mean of 73% of msrp in year two, Epi Lacrosse was about 60%.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          People don’t purchase cars with %’s, nor do they buy from auctions in this demographic. You’re going to have to throw up some numbers to make your case.

          In 2010 the ES was $35,000, LaCrosse was $27,000-31,000 V6. Today on cargurus they can be had for $21,000 and $18,000, respectively for top buck averages. Looks like they are within $1,000, give or take before GM’s incentives, which with conquest bonus could be close to 1/3 off before you drove the Buick off the lot.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I got excited and thought you were in Portland Maine. But no, it’s always Portland, Oregon. Oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Buick should sponsor Portlandia.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        They’re trying to abandon the dream of the ’90s.

        http://consumerguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/93121341990602.jpg

        Nobody wants that sh!t!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Um, lots of people want that sh*t esp if it was priced in the reality of an economic depression. Perhaps not a majority though, which is what matters of course. Can i interest you in an Encore? Only $33K for a 15K subcompact, but hey it zips!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            As long as the Encore is available with FWD, I’m interested!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ugh so clean.

            http://www.croninford.com/used/Buick/1996-Buick-Park+Avenue-a62033a90a0e0a171a7ccb069ad147b0.htm?searchDepth=1:1

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Buck thirty miles, kinda steep $$$ for 21yo. They gave $800-1000 on trade, fifteen *might* be a fair buy.

            I can’t remember if the MY96 used the 4T65-E or the one your Cadillac uses. The 4T65-E likes to break in the L67s because the transaxle was not intended for 250bhp usage (I think the previous 4T60 does too but I can’t remember). Plus the supercharger oil has prob never been changed, not to mention the plenum is more than likely leaking as this should be Series II.

            Although build date is 10/95 so this could still be Series I, which is actually kinda good because less power on out of the L67 motor vs Series II. This also more than likely uses R134a refrigerant which is a plus with a leather interior.

            “L67 Supercharged[edit]
            The Series I Supercharged engine went through many internal changes and the horsepower changed rapidly between the time it was introduced and the time that the Series II L36 was introduced. The M62 supercharger was manufactured by Eaton, exclusively for the GM 3800 engine. HP was rated at 205 for 1991-1993 engines (models vary), and 225 for 1994-1995 engines. Some of the additional horsepower for 1994-95 engines was gained by using epoxy (not teflon as commonly believed) coated supercharger rotors to improve efficiency, and a larger supercharger inlet and throttle body. The 1994-1995 utilized a 2.85-inch (72.4 mm) pulley versus the 2.55-inch (64.8 mm) pulley used on the 91-93 supercharger.

            Applications:

            1991–1995:

            Buick Park Avenue Ultra
            1992–1995:

            Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight LS (opt), LSS (opt)
            Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Elite (opt), Touring Sedan
            Pontiac Bonneville SE with H4U RPO, not badged – SLE (opt. SC package), SSE (opt) & SSEi
            1995 Only:

            Buick Riviera(Opt)”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buick_V6_engine

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I just assumed it was a bit overpriced since dealer. Noticed the rear C-pillar headliner needs a redo as well.

            Sounds like SC at this age just adds unneeded complexity. But at least it’s got R134, ha.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            Yes, exactly, Corey.

            There is zero point buying an early Series I supercharged engine, as it has the same power as the Series II normally-aspirated engine.

            Also note: the supercharged engines didn’t have the same intake gasket issues as the NA engines.

            I have worked on several Series I 3800 engines and even have completely rebuilt a supercharger on one, which you should budget for between 150K and 200K miles.

            The rear bearings for the supercharger rotors are sealed needle-bearing cups, exactly like the rear alternator bearing that GM used in the 1960s – ’70s (probably even the same part number), and there is no way to lubricate them without disassembling the entire unit.

            Fun tip: the easiest way to remove these needle bearings from the supercharger housing is to drill into the void space behind the bearing, tap a hole and install a zerk fitting. Then you use your grease gun to fill the cavity with pressurized grease to pop the bearing out – it works awesome!

        • 0 avatar
          CRConrad

          Oh look, a car you can see out of! Want!

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Well, if Buick relocates to Colorado, and starts growing its’ own, then it could sponsor Portlandia.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      Being from Portland, OR, I assume it’s the Oregon Portland and not the Maine Portland until I read otherwise :)

  • avatar

    “Disclosure: General Motors provided travel, hotel, and food for the purpose of this review.”

    Please tell me you went to a buffet :)

    Kidding aside, I’m 37, and I’d take a hard look at one of these used in a few years, so maybe all the hard work on Buick’s part is starting to have an effect. I like the interior of this Buick–very clean, elegant and tastefully minimalistic. It looks like a nice place to be, yet one that won’t put you to sleep, like past Buick interiors.

    My only minor beefs are that the interior font in use for the information display (for fuel econ and such) is past due to be retired, and looks out of place, and I take issue with AWD not being available in lower trim levels.

  • avatar
    make_light

    The rear three-quarters view of this car is especially gorgeous. And the interior looks really nice in that two tone brown/black color that’s hinted at in the photos (I wish there were more images of that color scheme). It’ll be interesting to see how a loaded one of these compares to the new Continental.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “It’ll be interesting to see how a loaded one of these compares to the new Continental.”

      LOL. Fundamentally they’re sort of the same, but the Continental is in a class above on price.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “The rear three-quarters view of this car is especially gorgeous.”

      Mmm… bronto-hips!

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Continental is a closer competitor to the Cadillac CT6.

      In loaded guise, this is more like GM’s answer to a volume-spec MKZ. Of course, the MKZ has a lot more available tech and hotter engines, but you can also spend more on an MKZ

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The styling is far, far better proportioned and tasteful than the sea creature it is replacing. I like the interior design as well; there is something very Hyundai/Kia about that dashboard. The abandoned touchpad story is unfortunate, as is the joystick shifter + change tray that now occupies that real estate. If there’s anything I dislike more than a gated zigzag PRNDL shifter, it’s a joystick.

    Fender portholes still?

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ve read a few reviews of this new Lacrosse now and I’ve read a lot of praise for the 20-inch wheel/suspension but nothing comparative beyond that it is better than the 18s. The Lacrosse isn’t an enthusiast car so I can’t imagine it is *that* good.

    Like, how is it with the 20s compared to a 300S, Genesis 3.8, Maxima Platinum, or GM’s own Impala?

  • avatar
    energetik9

    “Why’d Buick choose Portland? Well, that area uses some of the biggest aggregate in the country to manufacture its asphalt, with the embedded stones often measuring the size of a quarter”

    Having grown up in Portland and who visits frequently, I don’t ever really remember loud or bad roads. I’ve lived in a few places since then to include Northern VA and now Chicago, and I only wish I had as good of roads as Portland and Oregon had.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      They should send them to my relatives’ city next time…

      i.ytimg.com/vi/onoBmNLBQjc/maxresdefault.jpg

      If you look closely, yes those are whole bricks used to fill in potholes.

      10 inches deep!
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIfYcrVmzBs

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Living in the PNW and having spent a lot of time around Portland, I think this whole story about the biggest aggregate is a load of manure. They used gravel in the asphalt just like any other part of the country. Now the concrete interstate panels, OTOH . . .

  • avatar
    northshoreman1

    For me, the elephant in the design room is Cadillac. Buick seems to be afraid (at least in this country) to slather on the extras like real wood, usb/power/12v ports, touchpad controls, nice interior touches, etc., that would truly compete with Lexus/Genesis/et. al. It’s as though there’s a “one-size fits all” mentality for luxury cars here–and as though GM believes it can only be met through Cadillac.
    While I DO like Cadillac–a lot–why not do a dual luxury strategy, and let Cadillac take on the Europeans, while Buick takes on Pacific rim brands?

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Yes to your comment about Cadillac, and to Kyrie’s.

      I get the impression GM has rather formal standards about what cues each division has permission to use. Cadillac has dibs on vertical wedge taillights. If it’s a Buick, it has to have ventiports and a vertical slat grille. Chevys have to have a horizontally divided grille, 2- or 3-part horizontal taillights, obsolete-looking teal numbers on the gauge faces.

      It’s a holdover from the bad old days of shark-fin plastic cladding being the only thing that made a Pontiac a Pontiac. More disciplined product planning would be a better answer, but of course that’s far too much to ask.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, if you wondered where the Avenir went…here it is.

    Nice looking car, if you’re into this kind of thing.

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    I am in the market for a big sedan to replace my 2001 Lexus LS430. Unfortunately, the LaCross’ 15-cubic-foot trunk (smaller than that of a Honda Accord) makes it a non-starter. The much-cheaper Chevy Impala has 19 cubic feet of trunk space (my Lexus has 18 cubic feet). I also don’t want a shifter that I need to study and think about.

    To me, a pure luxury car should offer a wood steering wheel, at least as an option. My Lexus has one, and so does a new Lexus ES. The Buick does not, and neither does the Cadillac CT6.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Kenmore; honestly, 300 pounds? You gotta cut out the carbs and get on the treadmill, buddy!

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    The interior colour scheme is a little too muted even after taking its intended audience into consideration, and that ‘fallen eyelash’ swirl on the rear door and quarter panel I could do without but other than that it looks alright.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Meh.

    I see a net negative vehicle here.

    Expand? Sure.

    The gear selector is just wrong. No one will mess up PRNDL.

    Looks are subjective so no comment. But the front end looks like its trying to emulate the BMW 6 with the droopy snout. Overall profile resembles a cat in heat.

    Auto stop start should be defeatable. I just had a rental with it, and it shuts down while I’m waiting to make a left turn across traffic. Had to train my brain to take foot off the brake a second early to make sure the damn engine was running. Not a fan.

    Holy crap, that beltine starts high and just goes even higher. How long till cars dont have windows at all?

    The current Lacrosse is very small inside for its massive footprint. I hope this one is better in that regard.

    Two positives, I am happy to see two circular physical gauges, and that the HVAC is buttons and knobs.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Pretty bold not even having an off button for the auto stop/start. That’s a deal killer. In all things, let customers decide on the settings they want for the car.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Older people do not like this. I noticed one of the execs here had an ATS with a dealer plate last week, so I asked him in the elevator. He’s 70.

      “I saw you had an ATS last week.”
      “Yeah, while they were doing some things to my car.”
      “Did you like it?”
      “No.”
      “Uh oh, why not?”
      “Well it has this little turbo engine, and it feels like it shuts off when you stop.”
      “It does, stop-start to save fuel.”
      “And then, you go and jerk all over when it kicks on again and the turbo goes!”

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I will say that start/stop is a lot smoother in V6 and I6 engines, IMO than it is in four-cylinder cars.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          You think it’s just a case of not enough engine to work with?

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I do. I think it’s about displacement, cylinder count, aspiration-type and implementation.

            The one in the 428i Gran Coupe I drove was just rough, as was the one in the ATS 2.0T that I drove; I agree with the executive you spoke to there.

            But I sampled the same system in a newer X5 (both loaner cars for my troublesome E70 X5), and it was just great. Naturally, I6 engines are more-balanced than V6 engines. But I also liked the one in the Ford F-150 (2.7-liter twin-turbo V6) and the Cherokee (3.2-liter V6). The Ford 2.7TT seems to perform like a larger naturally-aspirated engine, which helps.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            Not enough engine can be scary. Last week I spent a week in a Hyundai Veloster with the base 1.6l GDI non-turbo engine. That thing came alive at 5K rpm (VTEC just kicked in, yo), but mashing the pedal from a stop, while trying to turn across traffic, did not inspire confidence. It felt like you had to give the hamsters a few seconds on the exercise wheel to wind up the rubber band.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I felt that way in a Cruze I rented. Where is the power!?!?

          • 0 avatar
            CRConrad

            I don’t think so: I recently bought a Tiguan with the puny 1.4-l Turbo petrol engine, and after a day or so of getting used to it, it doesn’t bother me at all. I joke with people who ride with me, “Notice how quiet the idle is?” at red lights; most of them don’t even catch on before I tell them; they’re just amazed that they really can’t hear the engine at all.

            But what do I know, maybe the problem is that you guys (most probably) have automatic transmissions?

  • avatar
    seth1065

    20 inch wheels really, really why do we need this, not a bad looking car but the interior does not confuse anyone with a Audi and that shifter does not look friendly, I will look at one but more than likely it will be to big for what I want.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I’m actually impressed. Exterior looks sleek, actually GOOD. I like the interior too, maybe not super fancy, but comfortable.

    Two gripes with it:

    1. Ground clearance (or therefore lack of). This thing looks like it will scrape on an anthill. The nose is not going to clear a curb or parking lot barrier,

    2. Seating position. While the seats themselves look comfortable, the position looks terrible, like sitting in a backwards tipping bathtub.

  • avatar
    mikein541

    This thing’s uglier than the north end of a southbound mule.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Just look at that clean DLO apex where the fender meets the front corner of the door. Sajeev would be proud, especially since the outgoing LaCrosse had a much messier arrangement.

    What’s not cool is that I went to Buick’s configurator, and every color besides black or white (and not that pretty tri-coat white, either) is at least a $400 upgrade.

    As for the idea of a supercharged coupe, Riviera, is that you?

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It still has the black triangle, doesn’t it? Just smaller and the mirrors were relocated onto the door panel. It’s certainly a better design.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        True. A lot of manufacturers are moving to mounting the mirrors on stalks that are attached to the panel.

        The issue, at the front, isn’t the black triangle, which is pretty standard in most cars that don’t have a fixed window there (like the Volkswagen Touareg, for example). It’s when the DLO and black triangle extend past the door and into the fender area, as is common on a lot of FWD cars. It’s just not a clean look.

        This is the outgoing LaCrosse, for comparison:

        http://st.motortrend.com/uploads/sites/10/2015/11/2013-buick-lacrosse-base-sedan-mirror.png

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      I’m with you on the looks – it’s a handsome car, and the Buick folks should be proud of it.

      Here on the West Coast, though, the Lexus ES and RX are the default cars for those people who really, really don’t care about cars but feel like they should drive something “nice” at their age. Everyone I know who drives an ES350 could easily afford a V-12 S-class if they wanted to, but is on their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th Lexus. They just re-upped for another when their lease was up the last time. No research beyond 30 minutes on the internet and a couple of emails to the dealer. “I liked my last one just fine and the dealer takes care of me.”

      How do you even get one of those people to look at a Buick?

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    No happy ending? ^_^
    “The last-generation LaCrosse had front seat massagers only in the Chinese market. The new LaCrosse offers this feature to North American customers in its Premium trim, but they offer much less aggressive action”

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    The legions of LaCrosse modders will have fun adding the overseas options to domestic specimens. The bamboo trim would be #1 on my list, but wait till you see what’s #6! (It will blow your mind!)

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Design wise, outside of the Corvette, this might be GM’s best looking car. Nice job on the interior except for 2 things mentioned already in the comments: The dashboard font and layout looks just like the last year of Saab’s 9-5 and the leather work looks shoddy on the back of the driver seat.

    Shouldn’t press cars be as perfect as possible?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I think I prefer the styling of the current LaCrosse. Maybe take the new grille and put it on the current car.

    As for that electronic shifter? I think it’s going to be a problem, particularly with Buick’s typical demographic.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    The taillights remind of a 2012 Camry. Not good.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    Grandmas new ride? IMO , Buick is a big zero , maybe it’ll be a hit in China, Buicks new home for sales. At first glance of the articles cover photo I was thinking it was a Subaru Impreza.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    WHERE THE HELL ARE THE HELLCATS…PUT HELLCATS IN IT AND I WILL BUY IT.

  • avatar
    fr88

    It’s infuriating that China gets the good stuff with GM sedans, while America gets the stripped down versions. I remember how beautiful the interiors were in the last generation Chinese Cadillac Seville. Real wood, full leather, chrome, and lots of it:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2006/11/11/more-on-chinas-cadillac-sls/

    while homegrown models got grim generic interiors with fake wood and lots of plastic.

    It appears the LaCrosse is following the same pattern. Every interior feature and upgrade that would make it stand out from its competition got left in Asia. But then if the U.S. LaCrosse got all those cool Asian features it might step on the toes of the lackluster CT6 interior (which is lackluster in design, color palette, detailing – all that black plastic – and is in no way on par with an E-Class or S-Class interior.)

  • avatar

    Nice~ish car. But, why GM persists in the high contrast interiors is beyond me. TO my eye, they are just garish…at least to my eye…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I like it, even the windows appear larger.

    I get it that the LaCrosse is a stretched Malibu – Buick should have added a crease or two to set it apart more.

    All this negative criticism, who cares? After all, none of you are going to buy one, anyway!

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      Whats funny is that folks here act as if the ES350 has been good the entire time. My wife as a 07 that she bought new. Its full of unlined up panel gaps. ITs a nice car but not a great one. The new one is nicer but still has so many shortcomings that most folks say just buy the Avalon.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Typical GM review ;

    Drove car. Interior doesn’t look like a $400,000 Bentley, and the cigarette lighter isn’t as shiny as a Mercedes. FAIL.

    Engine is dual overhead cam and refined, but it’s not made by BMW. FAIL.

    Summary:
    Car is not made in Europe with a European badge .
    FAIL.

    Thanks for subverting that stereotype TTAC.

  • avatar
    spyked

    Love the front, and love the back. But the side and rear quarter is VERY current gen (soon to be discontinued?) Hyundai Azera. And, why can’t GM get their console act together? The last (and painfully short-lived) Saab 9-5 had the same issue. Shifter and cup holder look fine for the price-point, but then all the black plastic up to and around the HVAC controls. I don’t know what the solution actually is…but it looks waaaay cheap and lazy, IMO. Kudos for NA V6 – and a pox on Mercedes – develop the excellent M276 then take it away from us :(

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    3,600lbs for this thing is pretty freaking light. Good job Buick.

    As far as getting younger people in showrooms… the styling of this thing is a big step in the right direction, but they need to make a couple more steps to drop that average purchase age.

    I was going to suggest what I suggested for Cadillac- bring back the hatchback! Not the melted tail mid 80s Seville- something more like the Imaj concept or an American A7. GM doesn’t have the luxury of making premium cars that either aren’t striking or don’t stand out. This thing with a lower shoulder line and Kamm back would definitely pique interest.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Nice car. Over here LaCrosse will be kept side stepped by the current CUV craze.

    In the 1930’s 1 in 6 cars on Shanghai roads was a Buick. There goes the pre-revolutionary exposure/fixation.

    Buick portholes or Farina fins – China’s image of automotive brand luxury.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    The waaay short hood screams “I’m based on a cheap FWD car!” and the interior screams “I’m a last gen Prius”.

    Too bad, because the head on view and the rear 3/4 view look great. The front 3/4 shot looks just awful.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Much better than the last one for sure, but still some issues. You can have the performance suspension OR AWD, but not both. The last car was the same way. Why? That would be like Audi making its RS cars FWD only. Makes no sense.

    The infotainment and HVAC controls are much nicer than those in the new Maxima, which were pulled straight out of a $20K Altima. That’s a real shame, as the prior Maxima borrowed its center stack from the Infiniti G. In every other regard though, the Maxima in Platinum spec at least looks more expensive. I haven’t been inside both cars to see how the materials actually feel in the hand. I’m sure the road noise is MUCH better than the Nissan though, the Maxima has never been a particularly quiet car.

    Ultimately Buick should’ve given us the full fat Chinese version, and not our “I can’t believe its not butter!” version. I can believe it. Buick is too focused on Lexus. The ES is old news. They need to be watching Genesis. The current OG Genesis/G80 is ALREADY nicer and more feature packed than this car, and judging by Hyundai’s rate of improvement, the next car will run right over it, and probably the CT6 as well.

  • avatar

    mine was built 7/27, still sitting at the plant waiting to be released. premium pkg in red. thankfully I have teens who will explain the features to this old Buickman… tho at 58 I will help bring down the average somewhat.

  • avatar
    bswanny

    I feel like the same people GM asked if they would pay extra for real wood trim were the same ones that wanted the new Camaro to maintain its coffin like look. Why does GM poll existing customers if it wishes to obtain new customers? Am I the only one that sees customer surveys as pointless?

  • avatar
    Johnster

    There are still a lot of buyers looking to replace their older Lucernes, and this is the first thing they’ll look at. It really is disappointing that, considering how large it is otherwise, it does not have more rear seat head room. A lot of would-be buyers will probably move over to the Enclave or other crossovers, or to mid-sized cars.

    I can understand why Buick wants to sell this, instead of the Avenir, which would more directly compete with Cadillac. And since the LaCrosse doesn’t have rear-wheel drive, it should at least have better quality of interior materials.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The rear tail lights look like a Camry. Not a bad looking car but it looks more like an Acura. I miss the waterfall grill. I think I prefer the new Impala.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I almost like this car, but the side profile, the rear and the dash design loses me. Still, it’s not as bad as what’s out there.

    I have to say that I may consider a Buick for my next car, but that’s another 10 years off. They may not be around (which is too bad because Buick did step up their game).

    Chrysler has given up on the midsize market and who knows what will come of the 300, or for that matter, FCA as a whole. Mercedes is now putting out Hyundai lookalikes with a bigger price tag, the days of their distinctive, subtle classiness and clean design are over. Honda’s Accord offers only a CVT for an automatic and I don’t really want a Honda all that much.

  • avatar

    I agree with some comments here about the tail lights, not impressed. between that and the shifter I’m having second thoughts… I was willing to eat the $7000 more than I estimated but for this kind of dough, I gotta love it before I buy it.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    ” Not content to simply chase its existing customers “…. I think you meant to say “chase away its existing customers”?

    Example, after only a one generation try they cancel their top volume selling car, the Verano, which additionally is the entrant point for future Lacrosse buyers (the Regal can’t substitute, its well beyond its best buy date). Add no advertising or, when there is any, hopeless advertising, and its obvious GM wants to eliminate Buick cars from North American sales. Either that or management is so inept another bailout is in our short term future.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Buick should have kept the Verano and cancelled the Regal. The Verano is a much better seller and as stated above it was an entry point for future Lacrosse buyers which will be the next generation of Buick buyers. Buick has the potential to do much better.

  • avatar

    saw a Lacrosse today at the YMCA, a manufacturer’s demo. the car is stunning in person. I’m very excited now!

  • avatar

    my Lacrosse was built 7/27 and as of today there still is no invoice to dealer and the car sits at the plant. has anyone heard of any quality concerns or other reason for such a delay? to my knowledge no dealer in the country has received a Lacrosse as yet.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Dear Buick,

    Please don’t farm this out to rental fleets by the thousand. Car dealers here have TONS of ex-rental Buicks on their lots. It’s not good.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    When this first was previewed at the auto shows, I thought “this is an honestly handsome car, inside handout”. The thing that disappoints me is that specs that attract me add put to a $48k sticker price. I’m disappointed that AWD requires the super-duper expensive computer-doo-dads package.

    BTW: I’m father of 3 that loves my 2003 BMW 325i (manual), but realize that I’ll need to trade up to a larger car. Current 3-series are too expensive (and too austere) for their price. I’d like something more luxurious inside, and I’d be willing to trade a bit of sportiness for comfort (but not too much!). I loathe FWD, but in my hilly Virginia neighborhood, RWD will leave you stranded at that slightest hint of snow.

  • avatar

    my Lacrosse was built 7/27 and still sits at Detroit Hamtramck almost a month later. no one can give me an explanation, not the dealer, not 800 Customer Service, not Buick’s Facebook page. the car now scares me and I have turned it down. Buick’s customer service failed miserably. I’ll spend my $40k plus elsewhere.

  • avatar
    Keith Tomas

    It looks like a Hyundai Azera to me. Not that it’s a bad thing.


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