The Truth About Cars » buick lacrosse http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:12:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » buick lacrosse http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Review: 2014 Chevrolet Impala (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/review-2014-chevrolet-impala-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/review-2014-chevrolet-impala-with-video/#comments Mon, 26 Aug 2013 12:30:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=500484
2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-001
I have this feeling that our most impressionable automotive years are our high school years. Maybe it’s because I was so eager to drive that I noticed anything with wheels. Maybe it’s that auto shop class where I got to wrench on a Wankel (that sounds wrong doesn’t it?). Whatever the reason, it seems many of my brand and model name identities were formed in the mid 1990s. For me, “Impala” doesn’t conjure up the W-Body abomination GM has been selling for the past 13 years. Instead “my” Impala has always been the 1994-1996 Caprice Impala SS with the 5.7L Corvette LT1 engine. This is my benchmark on which every Impala must be judged.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Before we dive in, it’s important to know that for 2014 there are two Impalas. Say what? In a stroke of genius (honestly) GM decided to keep selling the old Impala as a fleet only model. This isn’t the first time GM has done this, the Chevrolet Captiva Sport is a fleet only version of the defunct Saturn VUE. By offering a one car to the public and the other to rental and government fleets, one can logically conclude the used market will contain fewer white Impalas with tan cloth interiors over time. This can only be good for resale value.

The fleet-Impala continues on the ancient W-Body first used in 1988 while the new Impala rides on the same Epsilon platform bones as the Cadillac XTS and Buick LaCrosse. If you had hoped the Impala name would be tied to the RWD Caprice like it was in 1994, you aren’t alone.
2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

 

Exterior

If you recall my review of the Cadillac XTS a year ago:

Engineers took the Epsilon II platform (shared with everything from the Opel Insignia to the Roewe 950), stretched it to 202-inches long and hey-presto, the XTS was born. Unfortunately Cadillac wasn’t allowed to change the platform hard points, so the same 111.7-inch wheelbase and 62-inch track as the rest of the Epsilon rabble remains. With the wheelbase staying the same, the cabin had to be pushed as far to the wheels as possible to maximize interior space. The result is a sedan with awkward proportions.

When I first saw photos of the Impala I was worried the same awkwardness would translate to Chevy’s flagship, but it turns out the XTS’s proportion problem is mostly caused by the Art & Science design theme. When you dress the platform in super-sized Camaro clothes, things turn out better than expected. The slot-like grille, wide headlamps and plenty of horizontal chrome make the Impala look wide while the XTS’s grille makes it look narrow.

Chevy penned a side profile with a bit more visual interest than most of the competition (I admit that isn’t saying much) thanks to the “haunches” designed into the rear doors and quarter panel. Sadly the designers opted for roof-line that starts lowering at the front doors making the car look better but reducing rear accommodations. Speaking of the rear, the 2014 backside is more exciting than before, but that’s not saying much. Things change a little if you step up to the LTZ model which gets integrated trapezoidal chrome exhaust tips. Still, nobody seems to be spending much time on their back bumpers and trunk lids these days.

Overall the Impala is attractive but I think it slots behind the Chrysler 300 in terms of style and I don’t think it will age as well as the more “generic luxury” lines of the Kia Cadenza. Parking the new Impala next to a 1996 Impala I ran into at the grocery store, I have to admit my high school memories are rose-colored as the 1996 Impala SS looks frumpy in comparison. I can’t end this section without commenting on the 2014 Chevy SS, AKA the Holden VF Commodore, AKA the Chevy Lumina (Middle East), AKA the refresh of the Pontiac G8. Yes, it’s back. While I have no doubts a rear wheel drive sedan with a 6.2L V8 will be a blast to drive, the SS looks like the fleet Impala with some makeup and loses the Impala v SS aesthetics battle.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

The Impala’s interior elicited more polarized reactions than I had bargained for during my week. While I’m a fan of the overall style, I can see how the flowing shapes may not be everyone’s cup of tea. The Impala’s build quality has certainly improved over the last generation and comparing the Impala to the Toyota Avalon can now be done with a straight face. Sadly in that head-to-head the Impala comes up short. The problem isn’t panel gaps or seams, it’s certain design choices coupled with plastics choices. The air vents you see in the center if the dash and the climate control bank are cast out of hard plastic and look cheap nestled between the attractive stitched upper dash and soft molded lower dash. My cynical side thinks this was deliberate so that Buick could have something to improve on. Test driving the Impala at night reveals the cabin’s party trick, chrome that glows blue/green when darkness falls. It looks a great deal less gimmicky than I assumed it would and the light strip is totally invisible by day. The light-up chrome is part of the $1,140 premium audio and sport wheel package.

Base LS models get cloth seats, LT models start with a leatherette and fabric combo, but most Impalas on the lot will have either the LT’s leather/alcantara combo (*bumping the base price to $32,695) or the LTZ’s “premium” leather seats which swap the faux-suede inserts for real cow. Regardless of the seat covering the Impala’s thrones are big and soft and 12-way power adjustibility. Unlike the seats in the Chrysler 300, you sit in the seats, not on the seats, a considerably more comfortable proposition. GM includes a 4-way adjustable lumbar support in all models and many of the Impalas I sampled had the optional 12-way seats on the passenger side as well, something you won’t find in the Azera or Cadenza.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Night View, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The fleet-only Impala has a wheelbase just one inch shorter than this new consumer model, but due to its 1980s era platform design the space isn’t used efficiently. This is most evident in the back seat where this Impala delivers nearly 6 inches more rear leg room bringing this big boy up to a hair under 40 inches. This make the Impala the largest overall in the segment with front legroom higher than the former winner the Hyundai Azera and legroom nearly tying with the Chrysler 300′s 40.1 inches. At 18.8 cubic feet the Impala’s trunk is four cubes bigger than the Avalon, two cubes bigger than the 300 or the Korean twins and just 1.2 cubes smaller than the Taurus’ cavernous booty. Like the Taurus the Impala’s rear seats fold but it is worth noting that GM’s pass-through is larger and “squarer” than the Ford and the seat backs fold nearly flat with the load floor.

If size is what you demand, the Impala wins the battle with the most overall space. If however quality is more your bag, you’ll find higher quality parts in the Avalon, Azera, Cadenza, LaCrosse and in many ways even the Chrysler 300. The Impala fights back with supremely comfortable seats, but thanks to GM’s parts sharing the same can be said of that Buick.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment

If you’re a regular reader, you will know that I have recently praised GM’s low and mid-range touchscreen systems as some of the best in the business. The IntelliLink/ChevyLink system in the Chevy Volt and Buick Verano ranks second for me below the latest version of BMW’s iDrive. This is not that system. I an odd twist of infotainment badge engineering, the Impala (and the 2014 LaCrosse) uses a modified version of Cadillac’s CUE software. For Chevy duty GM swapped out the expensive capacitive screen (looks like a modern smartphone) for a resistive unit and added a few physical buttons to improve navigation in the system. Sadly all of CUE’s flaws are present including: random crashes, general sluggishness, unintuitive menu layouts and old-school mapping software. Like CUE some multi-touch gestures are supported but the cheaper touchscreen has troubles deciphering your intent. The system is hard to avoid as every Impala I could find had the system and the only way to escape it is to buy an absolutely base Impala LS as it is the only one without the 8-inch system.

On the bright side, some of CUE’s selling points remain. The system’s voice command system recognized more natural speech commands than the Kia/Hyundai or Toyota systems do and the media library functionality is excellent. Instead of treating the three USB ports as separate inputs, the system aggregates them into one large music library allowing you to voice command songs without specifying the device. The base 6-speaker system has an oddly hollow sound, but the up-level 11-speaker Bose branded system would be competitive in any near-luxury sedan. To get that sound system the Impala will set you back $33,835 as you can’t select the $1,140 sound and wheel package without a number of other options packages.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Engine, 3.6L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drivetrain

Under the hood you’ll find the same three engines as the Buick LaCrosse. Things start out with a 2.5L direct-injection four-cylinder engine good for 195 HP and 187 lb-ft of twist. This isn’t the engine you want. Not listed on the Chevy website yet due to its late introduction there is a 2.4L “eAssist” drivetrain that GM has stopped calling a hybrid. Delivering identical performance numbers to the 2.5L four-banger, the mild hybrid system delivered 29.8 MPG average during our week with the nearly identical LaCrosse. If fuel economy is your thing, stop here.

Although my soul is sad there is no Impala SS model for 2014, the 3.6L direct-injection V6 delivered better performance than in every situation except for the 2006 Impala SS which barely beat the 2014 in the 0-30 run but was still slower to 60. The reason isn’t just the V6′s 305 horsepower (2 more than the 2006′s 5.3L V8) or the respectable (for a V6) 264 lb-ft of torque(59 less), it’s the 6-speed automatic. The Ford/GM unit is closely related to the transaxle found in the Taurus but GM’s programming results in shifts that seem slightly faster and a hair firmer. The high revving six, weigh reduction vs the Cadillac XTS AWD and Chevy’s tire selection enabled our Impala tester to wheel-hop its way to 60 in a scant 5.52 seconds. This number was met with some head scratching on our Facebook page but I tested the number three times with the same result. It is worth mentioning that the Acura RLX posted similar numbers and a 5.52 second run isn’t out of the ordinary for a 305HP sedan that weighs around 3800lbs.

Need more performance? There have been persistent rumors about an Impala SS coming at some point and Cadillac has decided to drop their 410HP twin-turbo V6 into the XTS, will they offer a similar powerplant for the 2015 Chevy? It’s hard to say with the 2014 Chevy SS positioned as the performance sedan with a bow-tie.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, 19-inch wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesDrive

The Impala benefits from Buick and Cadillac’s noise reduction efforts and it shows on the road with easily the quietest ride in the bunch. My snazzy new noise meter proved more complicated than I wish to admit and as a result I erased the readings, however the Impala was quieter than the active noise canceled Acura RLX, Kia Cadenza and Lexus ES350 I tested.

The Impala has a unique suspension setup that uses neither the Hi-Per Strut (HPS) suspension from the LaCrosse and XTS, nor the magnetic ride control from the Cadillac. Instead we get a traditional MacPherson strut arrangement with a redesigned strut tower for improved rigidity and rebound springs tuned to keep body-roll from turning into body-wobble. This is important because the Impala is a softly spring sedan in the classic American tradition. The combination works better than it looks on paper despite the loss of the HPS design which was created to vanquish the torque steer demons. Speaking of torque steer, there wasn’t any in the Impala during our tests. So much for that Hi-PerStrut. There’s still plenty of tip, roll and dive on winding mountain roads but the new Impala never felt sloppy or uncontrolled. Broken pavement was a problem for the Cadillac XTS with the suspension paradoxically feeling both too hard and too soft at the same time, the Impala’s traditional setup never exhibited this problem. If you jump up to the 20 inch wheels, be warned they have a negative impact on the serene nature of the Impala’s ride transmitting more road imperfections into the cabin than I thought possible.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

When it comes to the competition, the Cadenza feels slightly unsettled at times but is nearly as competent. The Azera’s chassis and suspension tuning aren’t quite up to snuff. Toyota’s Avalon gives the Impala a run for its money with similar road feel and a slightly sportier tune to the dampers. The Chrysler 300 is a tricky comparison since it’s the only RWD sedan in the bunch, but the 300′s driving dynamics are superior to the Impala despite being slower to 60. The lack of AWD is disappointing in the Impala leaving the Buick LaCrosse to be the better handling twin thanks to its slightly more precise suspension knuckles and available AWD.

Without a doubt the 2014 Impala is the finest Impala ever made and perhaps the finest large sedan to wear the bow tie. The base 2.5L four-cylinder Impala snags a 0-60 time only a few tenths off the 1996 Impala SS with its 5.7L V8 while delivering 31 MPG on the highway. The eAssist delivers a similar experience with a surprising 35MPG highway score and 29MPG combined, a 60% increase in fuel economy vs “my” Impala. The 2014 V6 model may not sound as good as that 1996 LT1 but the numbers can’t be denied, the new Impala is the new Impala benchmark. But is it the best full-size American sedan? Not quite. A fully loaded Impala manages to be $2,000 more than a comparable Taurus Limited and about the same price as a similarly optioned Taurus SHO. I’d take the Taurus SHO. The Chrysler 300 is about the same price, but brings superior dynamics, a ZF 8-speed automatic and you can get the 5.7L V8 for not much more. Even the Avalon, which ends up being slightly more expensive than delivers comparable handling a nicer interior and a nav system that doesn’t crash randomly. The Impala’s biggest problem however is the 2014 Buick LaCrosse. In typical GM fashion, there is little daylight in pricing between the sister-ships and the Buick delivers a nicer interior, a few improved features, slightly better dynamics, optional AWD and a slightly more premium brand. Just like the Impala SS vs Roadmaster debate in 1996, you just have to get past the Buick’s looks.

 

Hit it or Quit It?

Hit it

  • Aggressive styling.
  • Ginormous back seat.
  • Cadillac for Chevy prices.

Quit it

  • Some interior plastics are underwhelming.
  • CUE based infotainment is slow and buggy.
  • The Buick LaCrosse has a better interior for almost the same price.

Chevrolet provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.33 Seconds

0-60: 5.52 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.33 Seconds @ 97.5 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 22.5 MPG over 549 miles

2014 Chevrolet Impala Engine 2014 Chevrolet Impala Engine, 3.6L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-001 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-002 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-003 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, 19-inch wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-005 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-006 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-008 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, Leaping Impala, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-010 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-012 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-001 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-002 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-004 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-006 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-007 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-008 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-009 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-010 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-011 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-012 2014 Chevrolet Impala Trunk 2014 Chevrolet Impala Trunk-001
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Buick Gives Nod To BCAS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/buick-gives-nod-to-bcas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/buick-gives-nod-to-bcas/#comments Tue, 26 Mar 2013 13:11:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=482333

Brown Car Afficionados, Buick has your back. While the 2014 Lacrosse’s updates are either cosmetic or related to safety features, Buick boldly chose brown for the press photos. Because nothing says “would you like to upgrade to Premium Full-Size for just $10 more per day?” like a luxurious mocha-hued Epsilon sedan.

2014-Buick-LaCrosse-main Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2014-Buick-LaCrosse-main 2014-Buick-LaCrosse-002-medium 2014-Buick-LaCrosse-004-medium 2014-Buick-LaCrosse-005-medium 2014-Buick-LaCrosse-007-medium ]]>
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Review: 2013 Cadillac XTS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/review-2013-cadillac-xts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/review-2013-cadillac-xts/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463855

Once upon a time, being the “Cadillac of <insert a noun here>” meant something magical. The problem is: it’s been 60 years since Cadillac was “The Cadillac of cars.” While the phrase lingers inexplicably on, GM is continues to play off-again/on-again with a flagship vehicle for the brand. The latest example is the all-new XTS. Instead of being “the Cadillac of flagships,” the XTS is a place holder until a full-lux Caddy hits. Whenever that may be. In the mean time, Detroit needed to replace the aging STS and the ancient DTS with something, and so it was that the XTS was born of the Buick LaCrosse and Chevy Malibu.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Engineers might have tried stretching the STS, or re-skinning the DTS yet again, but cash was in short supply so Caddy found their platform further down the food chain. Engineers took the Epsilon II platform (shared with everything from the Opel Insignia to the Roewe 950), stretched it to 202-inches long and hey-presto, the XTS was born. Unfortunately Cadillac wasn’t allowed to change the platform hard points, so the same 111.7-inch wheelbase and 62-inch track as the rest of the Epsilon rabble remains. With the wheelbase staying the same, the cabin had to be pushed as far to the wheels as possible to maximize interior space. For some gangsta feel, the belt-line was kept high, and for practical reasons the cabin was extended over the trunk to create a coupe-like profile and more rear headroom. Just for kicks the XTS’s narrow nose was raked to create a “cowcatcheresque” profile. The result is a sedan with awkward proportions, especially when parked next to the CTS, ATS, STS or DTS. (Wow that’s a whole bunch of TSs.)

Of course, style seems to be a problem for American luxury brands lately. Lincoln’s new nose took the recently refreshed MKS from country-farm-girl to tragic-farming-accident and while Chrysler doesn’t pretend to play in this segment, the new 300 is less attractive than its predecessor. (The 300 is unquestionably the most attractive and commanding sedan in this trio however.) What redeems the XTS? It still has plenty of bling and the fin is back. I must admit, I have the fin-love that dare not speak its name. Honestly.

Interior

The problem with an awkward exterior is that first impressions matter. Pity. The XTS has GM’s best interior ever. Aside from the bugaboo of a plastic airbag cover (an ailment many luxury brands suffer from), every  touch point is near perfection. From the tasteful two-tone stitched dash to the microfiber headliner, the XTS’s materials would pass an Audi taste test. Compared to the MKS, the Cadillac is more attractive and assembled with more precision. Compared to the Chrysler 300′s new luxury level interior, the Caddy is the place to be even though the 300′s leather dash is sublime. Unfortunately every silver lining has a cloud, and so it is with the XTS. There was a pleather dash part that was strangely crinkled and the glove box would routinely fall open beyond its stops and crash completely to the floor. (Check out the video for that.)

Thanks to the XTS’s odd profile, rear seat legroom measures out at 40-inches, 1.4 ahead of the MKS while also providing 46-inches of legroom up front (four more than MKS.) In addition, the XTS provides more head room in the rear and much nicer trappings. As proof that more traditional body shape provides more rear room, Chrysler’s 300 bests the XTS by 1/10th in rear legroom and rear headroom but in true-livery fashion leaves less space to the driver. Because the XTS is narrower than the competition, sitting three abreast in the rear is a “cozy” affair.

Infotainment

All XTS models get the new “Cadillac User Experience” or CUE system controlled by a gorgeous 8-inch LCD in the dash. Most navigation systems use a resistive touchscreen with a matte plastic surface that can easily scratch and causes images to look “fuzzy” at times. Cadillac stuck out their neck and used a more expensive capacitive touchscreen with a glass surface that is easy to clean and delivers graphics that are crisper than any system I have seen to date. What was Caddy’s muse? Think iPad.

Powering the LCD is software that gives MyLincoln Touch a run for its money. CUE supports “natural” voice commands to control the majority of system functions from iPod control to destination entry. Cadillac has gone USB crazy with three USB ports that all provide enough power to charge an iPad, something very few systems can do. CUE takes a novel approach to using multiple USB devices, the system indexes them together as if they were one music library so there’s no need to switch from one to the other to look for a song. CUE also sports the best iOS device integration available, for more information, check out the video at the top of the review.

Base XTS models come with an 8-speaker Bose system while upper trim levels of the XTS get a 14 speaker surround system with speakers integrated into the front seat backs. The 8 speaker system is well-balanced but seemed unable to handle moderate volume levels without some distortion. Thankfully the 14 speaker system proved an excellent companion and competes well with the up-level systems from the Germans.

As you would expect with a first generation system, I encountered a few hiccups. Despite the screen being large and high-resolution, CUS uses fairly “chunky” maps that lack detail and aren’t as attractive as iDrive. In addition, the “soft” menu buttons around the map cut the window down to a narrow slot making it difficult to use CUE as a map when navigating around downtown. The ability to “multi-touch” gesture on the screen for zooming sounds cool, but the response time is slow and the process proved more aggravating than useful. Lastly, much like Ford’s Touch system, CUE crashed frequently (four times in a week). While the crashing is a concern, my statement about Ford’s system applies equally to CUE: I can handle occasional crashing as long as the rest of the system is snazzy and does everything I want my car to do. Still, let’s hope Cadillac has a software update pronto.

 

Gadgets

The XTS is a conflicted vehicle. For every awkward exterior angle, there is a tasteful dash seam. For every complaint I have about CUE, there is a 12.3-inch LCD “disco dash” that stole my geeky heart. Sure, the cost of LCD-admission is the $54,505 XTS Premium, but this is the best LCD instrumentation ever. Yes, Jaguar/Land Rover/Mercedes have been toying with large LCDs for a while and even Dodge has a moderately configurable screen in the Dart, but the XTS makes use of the LCD. Huh? In JLR products, the LCD has one “look” (imitating traditional dials) and if you don’t like it that’s just tough. Cadillac gives you four layouts that range from traditional gauges to a modern digital theme and allows sections of the display to be further customized.

In addition to the LCD gauges, the XTS offers available pre-collision warning, lane departure warning, cross traffic detection, blind spot monitoring, heads-up display, adaptive cruise control and a system that will automatically stop you if you try to back over Jimmy on his skateboard. Most of these systems communicate with you through your backside via a seat that vibrates the cheek corresponding to the side of the vehicle that is in danger. Sound strange? It was, yet I found myself changing lanes sans signals so the “Magic Fingers” would feel me up.

Powertrain

Under the stubby hood you’ll find one engine: GM’s 3.6L direct-injection V6. Instead of the 321HP/275lb-ft tune the baby Caddy uses, this mill produces a more sedate 304HP at 6,800RPM and 264lb-ft at 5,200RPM (400RPM higher than the ATS’s peak). While there are rumors of a twin-turbo V6, I will believe it when I see it. Until then, all the power is sent to the front wheels via the GM/Ford 6-speed transaxle, or to all four wheels if you opt for a $2,225 Haldex AWD system.

Our AWD tester hit 60MPH in 6.1 seconds so it’s hard to call the XTS slow, but neither is it fast. The problem is the 260lb-ft versus a 4,200lb curb weight. While the base MKS (3.7L V6) is slower at 6.5 seconds, Lincoln’s twin-turbo bruiser gets the job done in 5.1. The 300 hit 60 in 6.3 thanks to its greater mass, but the 300′s 8-speed transmission allowed it to tie the XTS for a 14.9 Second 1/4 mile at 93 MPH.

Drive

My week with the XTS started with a journey to sample the 2013 Chevy Malibu turbo. The event made me wish GM’s new 2.0L turbo had been jammed into the XTS. Why? Because the Malibu hit 60 in 6.2 thanks to 260lb-ft plateau from 1,500-5,800RPM and delivered 24.7MPG in mixed driving. Our AWD XTS eeked out 18.9MPG in a highway-heavy cycle and FWD XTS shoppers should only expect one more MPG.

Acceleration quibbles aside, the XTS’s road manners are impeccable. The XTS proved a faithful companion on Northern California mountain highways thanks to the AWD system, GM’s “HiPer Strut” suspension design and Magnaride electronically controlled dampers. The oddly named suspension design moves the steering axis to a more vertical orientation closer to the center of the tire, reduces the scrub radius and helps keep the contact patch more consistent. Whatever the name, the system just works. The benefit is most obvious in the FWD XTS where it quells the torque steer demon but it also pays dividends in the AWD model by keeping the wheel more vertical thereby improving grip. While I wouldn’t call the overall dynamic “sporty,” the XTS is confident and predictable. Of course the 300′s rear-wheel setup makes it more fun and the MKS exhibited less body roll, but the XTS’s well sorted suspension and Magnaride system make it an excellent all-around performer.

I left my week with the XTS more confused than when we met and I’m no closer to understanding who the XTS is for. The Chrysler 300 makes a better performance vehicle with the 5.7L V8 and a better livery vehicle due to the rear seat dimensions. Lincoln’s twin-turbo V6 is insane and addictive in its own way, and Lincoln will (optionally) toss in quantities of real-wood that would make Jaguar blush. BMW, Audi and Mercedes have better brand names, more polished interiors and a complete line of engines that range from normal to 400+ horsepower. The XTS on the other hand is a confident-handling technological four de force dressed in a corduroy leisure suit. With leather elbow patches. And a fedora.

 

Cadillac provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of fuel for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.48 Seconds

0-60: 6.1 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.9 Seconds @ 93 MPH

2013 Cadillac XTS, Exterior, Tail Fin, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac XTS-002 2013 Cadillac XTS-003 2013 Cadillac XTS-004 2013 Cadillac XTS, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac XTS-006 2013 Cadillac XTS-007 2013 Cadillac XTS-008 2013 Cadillac XTS, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac XTS-010 2013 Cadillac XTS-011 2013 Cadillac XTS-012 2013 Cadillac XTS, Engine, 3.6L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac XTS-014 2013 Cadillac XTS-015 2013 Cadillac XTS-016 + 2013 Cadillac XTS-018 2013 Cadillac XTS-019 2013 Cadillac XTS-020 2013 Cadillac XTS, Infotainment, CUE system, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac XTS-022 2013 Cadillac XTS-023 2013 Cadillac XTS-024 2013 Cadillac XTS-025 2013 Cadillac XTS-026 2013 Cadillac XTS-027 2013 Cadillac XTS, Infotainment, CUE system, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac XTS-029 2013 Cadillac XTS-031 2013 Cadillac XTS-032 2013 Cadillac XTS-034 2013 Cadillac XTS-035 2013 Cadillac XTS-036 2013 Cadillac XTS-037 2013 Cadillac XTS-038 2013 Cadillac XTS, LCD Digital Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac XTS, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac XTS-041 2013 Cadillac XTS-042 2013 Cadillac XTS-043 2013 Cadillac XTS-044 2013 Cadillac XTS-045 2013 Cadillac XTS-046 2013 Cadillac XTS-048 2013 Cadillac XTS-049 2013 Cadillac XTS-050 2013 Cadillac XTS-051 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Review: 2012 Hyundai Azera (vs. LaCrosse and Taurus) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/review-2012-hyundai-azera-vs-lacrosse-and-taurus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/review-2012-hyundai-azera-vs-lacrosse-and-taurus/#comments Tue, 29 May 2012 17:22:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=446613

Derek’s capsule review of the 2012 Hyundai Azera gave the car a resounding “meh”. My own impressions weren’t going to be quite so positive, but then something happened: I test drove the Buick LaCrosse and refreshed 2013 Ford Taurus. Suddenly a $37,000 Super Sonata didn’t seem such a bad way to go.

(N.B. Photos of the Lacrosse and Taurus are in the gallery below)

At first glance, the new Azera looks much like the LaCrosse. The current fashion in semi-premium semi-large front-wheel-drive sedans pairs a high, rounded front clip with a roofline that cleanly sweeps all the way from a point far ahead of the driver to one near the trailing edge of an even higher decklid. Despite rear fenders whose convolutions recall late 50s American iron, the Azera is the sleekest and most athletically proportioned of the bunch (LaCrosse, 2013 Avalon, 2013 ES, 2013 MKZ). The Taurus? Compared to the others, it’s a throwback to a different era when sedans were composed of three distinct boxes. The Azera also has a strong family resemblance to the Sonata (and even the Elantra), but looks appropriately larger and more expensive.

The Azera’s interior isn’t quite a match for that of a Lexus ES. Compared to the Buick and the Ford, though, the Azera is a clear step (or three) up. Everything inside the big Hyundai looks and feels tight and precise. The leather on the seats has a soft, luxurious hand. Inside the Ford, the materials and secondary controls look and feel clunky in comparison. The 2013 refresh adds MyFord Touch complete with reconfigurable instruments, but otherwise left the interior largely untouched. Ford of Europe clearly had no role in this one. Inside the Buick, the dash-to-door fits are abysmal and the material used to mold the doors and dash doesn’t look enough like leather to pull off the embedded stitching (at least not in the tested tan). The Buick’s faux timber is even less convincing. This interior impressed just a couple of years ago, but today a Hyundai outclasses it.

Functionally, the Azera doesn’t fare quite as well. The shift knob’s piano black plastic gets hot in the sun. The Benz-like seat-shaped seat controls are too far forward on the doors. The center stack employs buttons for key audio and HVAC functions that would be much easier to operate with knobs. (No, a gigantic volume control knob isn’t sufficient compensation.)

My least favorite aspect of the Hyundai: the view forward from the driver seat. The rake and position of the windshield yield a header that’s overly close for comfort. The instrument panel flows upward over an awkwardly executed ridge to the base of the windshield. The trailing edge of the hood is higher still, such that from the driver seat you see little beyond the undersides of its uplifted corners. Pulling into a parking space involves far too much guesswork. (Forward obstacle detection would be very helpful, but isn’t offered.) Trimming even an inch from the cowl height would work wonders. Yet the Azera’s windows only seem small until you drive one of the others. The Buick has an even deeper instrument panel and what must be the widest A-pillars in sedandom. The Ford, nine inches longer, three inches wider, and three inches taller, but with no more room in the front seat, feels like a massive bunker on wheels.

Unless you’re bothered by forward-positioned headrests (I am) the Azera’s front seats are comfortable and supportive. Those in the Buick and Ford feel smaller, less luxurious, and less tailored. The rear seat of the Azera, like that of the Buick, is ideal for tall people who have most of their height in their legs. Despite the Ford’s much larger exterior, it provides much less space for rear seat passengers to stretch out. But it does have the largest trunk, 20 cubic feet to the Azera’s 16. In this last area the LaCrosse is the clear loser even in V6 form. The eAssist’s 10-cube trunk could be a deal-killer.

Most cars in this class are motivated by 3.5- or 3.6-liter V6 engines. The 2011 Azera straddled the norm, offering both a 260-horsepower 3.3 and a 283-horsepower 3.8. For 2012 the 3.8 is reserved for the rear-wheel-drive Genesis, but the 3.3 gets direct injection, a bump to 293 horsepower, and a cover styled to make it appear longitudinally mounted (well to the right of center). Hyundai’s engines generally underperform their specs, but paired with a six-speed automatic the 3.3 feels sufficiently torquey off the line. Spurred over 4,000 rpm it moves the big sedan plenty quickly and sounds far more upscale than the Sonata’s turbo four in the process. The Buick and Ford V6s are about as quick, but the latter is far less refined in sound and feel. (I actually drove the Buick with eAssist this time around. It’s inexcusably sluggish for a $30,000+ car. Combine this with the tiny trunk, and I’m surprised they sell any.) My largest gripe with the Hyundai’s performance: power delivery sometimes included the sort of surges and lulls more often experienced with a boosted engine.

With the smallest engine and lowest curb weight, the Azera delivers the best fuel economy of the three: 20 city 29 highway vs. 17/27 for the Buick and 19/29 for the Taurus. The big Hyundai’s trip computer reported slightly better figures in my driving, low twenties in the suburbs and 31 on a highway run to the airport. Acceptable numbers, but not the company’s best effort.

Hyundai took its biggest risk with ride quality. The Azera’s suspension tuning, though not as aggressive as that of an Acura TL or Nissan Maxima, is considerably firmer and more tightly damped than that in the Buick and especially the Ford. On most roads the Hyundai’s ride feels smooth and composed, but on others it sounds thumpy and feels lumpy. The Technology Package’s lower profile 19-inch wheels probably don’t help. The suspension especially struggles with expansion joints and other lane-spanning road surface imperfections. The Azera’s steering is heavier than the systems in the Buick and Ford (but has a few degrees of off-putting on-center slack). Do these differences deliver a sportier driving experience? Relatively speaking, yes, but the end result feels close but not quite there. I’d rather drive the Azera than the LaCrosse or the Taurus, but it’s not fun the way a Maxima or TL can be. (Granted, the TL I tested had the unfair advantage of SH-AWD and the Maxima had a sport package.) Unlike the Buick, Ford, and Acura, the Azera is not available with all-wheel-drive.

Derek had a big issue with wind noise. Perhaps because my ears are older, I noticed only a little, in the vicinity of the windshield header at highway speeds. I noticed more road noise, but not much of this on most roads, either. There are quieter cars in the class, but the Hyundai is in the ballpark and generally oozes upscale sedan.

The tested car’s $36,875 list price included the $4,000 Technology Package (19-inch wheels, huge panoramic sunroof, Xenons, uprated audio, cooled front seats with memory and thigh extension for the driver, sunshades, cool blue interior ambient lighting, rear obstacle detection). Pretty steep for a front-wheel-drive Hyundai, yet very reasonable compared to competitors. Based on TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, a similarly loaded LaCrosse is about $3,700 more before adjusting for feature differences and about $2,400 more afterwards. The Taurus might seem out of place in this group, but it’s priced about even with the Buick. A Toyota Avalon is priced even higher. An Acura TL is about seven grand more than the Hyundai (after a $1,650 adjustment in the Azera’s favor for feature differences), and a Lexus ES 350 is about eight.

But what about the Sonata? Why pay a lot more for a couple more inches of wheelbase (all of which goes into rear legroom), a couple more cylinders, an upgraded interior, and snazzier styling? Well, you won’t pay a lot more, at least not if you can live without the Technology Package’s panoramic sunroof and high-watt audio system. A Sonata 2.0T Limited with nav undercuts the otherwise similarly equipped base Azera by a mere $1,705.

The new Hyundai Azera isn’t perfect. It would benefit from a lower cowl, less intrusive headrests, more polished powertrain programming, less on-center slack in its steering, and a less lumpy ride. But it mostly suffers from being so good in most ways that you wonder why it couldn’t be a little bit better. What direct competitor is actually better? Compared to the Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus, the Azera is superior in nearly every way. It’s not as sporty as an Acura TL or Nissan Maxima, but it seems more luxurious and upscale than either. It’s not quite as luxurious as a Lexus ES, but it’s also priced below a Toyota. If fact, it’s not priced much higher than a loaded Sonata. Anyone considering one of these cars should also check out the Azera.

Carol Moran-Charron of Art Moran Buick in Southfield, MI, provided the LaCrosse. She can be reached at 248-353-9000.

Frank Cianciolo of Avis Ford in Southfield, MI, provided the Taurus. He can be reached at 248-226-2555.

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

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Azera front quarter, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Azera side, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Azera rear quarter, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Azera interior, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Azera instrument panel, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Azera rear seat, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Azera engine, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Azera engine undressed, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Azera view forward, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Azera view rearward, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Azera panoramic sunroof, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Azera A-pillar interior, photo courtesy Michael Karesh LaCrosse side, photo courtesy Michael Karesh LaCrosse interior, photo courtesy Michael Karesh LaCrosse eAssist trunk, photo courtesy Michael Karesh LaCrosse A-pillar, photo courtesy Michael Karesh LaCrosse dash-to-door fit, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Taurus front, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Taurus side, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Taurus interior, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Taurus rear seat, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Taurus trunk, photo courtesy Michael Karesh ]]>
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Review: 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/review-2012-buick-lacrosse-eassist/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/review-2012-buick-lacrosse-eassist/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2012 16:17:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=430222  


GM’s track record has been less than stellar. First we had the Saturn Vue Green Line, a very “mild” hybrid that paled next to competitors like the Ford Escape. Next came the extraordinarily expensive 2-mode hybrid system used in GM’s pickup trucks and full-sized SUVs, which cost far too much and delivered far too little. Finally, we have the Volt – ’nuff said. No wonder GM’s latest hybrid endeavor has come to market with little fanfare, no “hybrid” logos on the vehicle and no hybrid branding from GM. Can we honestly call the 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist a hybrid?

While the LaCrosse’s styling is dominated by slab sides and FWD proportions, the overall look is handsome, even elegant. Compared to the ES350, the Buick looks a touch more sedate while looking less like its kissing cousin the Chevy Malibu. The fairly high belt-line and increasingly popular four-door-coupe roof-line give the 16.5 foot long Buick an almost modern flair (without being so modern as to drive away traditional Buick shoppers.) Despite the modern styling, Buick has stuck to their dubious “ventiports” which make even less sense now than before with our 4-cylinder LaCrosse sporting six portholes. Maybe port 5 represents the motor and 6 is the battery?

While the new LaCrosse’s interior is not class leading in any way, it is uniquely styled. Personally I’m not a fan of the steeply sloped doors but the 40-inches of rear leg room may compensate for that. The dashboard in our tester sported Buick’s new “stitched” dash which is an injection molded plastic dash that has “cuts”  molded in and is then stitched with thread to give the look of a stitched dash without the cost. Overall, the effect works, but the acres of fake wood are less convincing. I understand the need to differentiate between Cadillac and Buick, but the lack of real tree in the LaCrosse is a problem when Buick’s self-proclaimed Lexus competition having plenty of burl-forest standard.


While many hybrid vehicles ditch the folding rear seats due to the battery pack’s location, the LaCrosse continues to offer a pass-through – although it is about 50% smaller than the V6 model’s hole-in-the-trunk. Also on the list of complaints is a trunk that has shrunk to 10.7 cubic feet and is still hampered by trunk hinges that restrict the cargo area. The lost space is given to the hybrid battery pack and associated cooling ducts. Instead of a spare tire in the trunk you’ll find an empty cavity with a tire inflation kit. Why not toss the battery into the unused spare tire space?

The first generation Belt-Alternator-Starter or BAS system GM used in the Saturn Vue and Chevy Malibu “hybrids” was unloved by the press, ignored by shoppers and euthanized after a short time on the market. Instead of trying to resurrect the fantastically expensive “two-mode”  system, GM went back to basics and fixed what was wrong with the BAS hybrid in the first place. GM threw out the ancient 4-speed automatic and replaced it with a new 6-speed unit. The two extra gears allowed Buick to change the final drive ratio for better “hybrid” performance while still having a fairly broad range of lower gears for passing and take-off. Next, they ditched the low-capacity 36V NiMH battery replacing it with a modern 115V lithium-ion pack. The transformation was finished off by a liquid-cooled motor/generator packing three times the punch of the previous generation (15HP and 79lb-ft of torque). In addition to being more powerful, the motor and electronics are designed for nearly continuous use allowing the hybrid system to operate over a broader range of speeds and conditions. The result is a 0.2 second improvement in the LaCrosse’s 0-60 time and a 25% improvement in fuel economy over the outgoing un-eAssisted LaCrosse. Despite the improvements, GM decided to take a cautious approach and is not calling the new system a hybrid, nor are they including the motor’s assistance in the 182 horsepower or 172 lb-ft torque numbers. The ES350, on the other hand, is inexplicably unavailable as a hybrid.

The addition of a battery and motor alone didn’t achieve the 25 MPG city and 36 MPG highway numbers – the Lacrosse eAssist relies on  active grille shutters, altered gear ratios, low rolling resistance tires, a new trunk spoiler, and aero improvements under the car to help get these numbers. The combination of eAssist and the other improvements are what increase the all-important combined economy score from 23 mpg to a 29 mpg. The highway figure of 36 mpg is possible due to the new final drive ratio, which allows the 2.4L engine to spin at a leisurely 2,000 RPM at 70MPH. Without eAssist, this would be a problem upon encountering a slight rise in the terrain as GM’s 6-speed auto is notoriously reluctant to down shift. Fortunately, the 79lb-ft of torque provided by the BAS motor enables the LaCrosse to deal with freeway overpasses and gentle rolling hills without downshifting or slowing. In comparison, the Acura TL delivers 20/29 MPG, the ES350 is less efficient at 19/28 and the Lincoln MKS rounds out the bottom of this pack at 17/25. The Buick is by far the least powerful in this group and some might rightly compare it to Lincoln’s premium hybrid, the MKZ, which returns 41/36 MPG, but the MKZ is a smaller vehicle.


Our LaCrosse averaged 29.9MPG during our 674 mile week with the car. While the start/stop system helped keep the LaCrosse from sipping fuel at stoplights, the system has to idle the engine to run the air conditioning so your mileage in hotter climates is likely to vary considerably. If you value MPGs over cool air, there’s an “ECO” button which tells the car to sacrifice cabin cooling in the name of efficiency. The transmission is fairly smooth, but to aid energy-regeneration, the 6-speed unit is programmed to be as eager to downshift when slowing as it is to upshift when accelerating. No matter what the engine and transmission are doing, the cabin remains eerily quiet due to some extensive work on the sound insulation. This car isn’t just quiet for a near-luxury car, it’s quiet for any car, period. Serenity does have a downside, as my better half was quite put off by the engine start/stops and downshifts when stopping, which were made somewhat more prominent by the silence. Personally, they didn’t bother me at all so be sure to get in a good road test before you live with the car.


On the tech front, our LaCrosse was equipped with the standard 8-inch touchscreen radio and optional navigation system. I found the user interface considerably easier to use than the system in the Cadillac CTS, and was amused by graphics and colors reminiscent of Star Trek The Next Generation. Buyers not willing to spend $1,345 on the optional nav system, can still get turn-by-turn directions via OnStar, although only the first 6 months of the service are free. iPhone and iPod integration are easy to use, and the user interface is very responsive. Unfortunately the maze of physical buttons are not as intuitive as the on-screen menus. Even after a week, I was unable to stab a button in the dark without taking my eyes off the road. Buick offers blind-spot monitoring on the LaCrosse in a $1,440 “confidence package” which also includes steering xenon headlamps and GM’s vacuum-fluorescent heads up display. You can see some images of the HUD in the gallery below. The monochrome display shows basic navigation instructions, speed and a digital tach but falls well short of the polish BMW’s HUD possesses. Absent at any price is adaptive cruise control or collision warning, features available in a majority of the competition including the ES350.

Out on the road the LaCrosse handles just like you’d expect from 3,835lbs of Buick; it squats, dives and serves up plenty of body roll in the corners, but then again so do the Lexus, Hyundai Azera and Lincoln MKS. If you want sporty and can handle the looks, roll into an Acura dealership for a TL. Buick has set pricing for the LaCrosse eAssist at $29,045 for the base model. Should you step up to the “LaCrosse with Convenience Group” at $29,600, you can choose between the 303 HP V6 or the eAssist drivetrain for the same price. AWD LaCrosse models are available only with the 3.6L engine. While Buick is quick to call the engines choice a “no-cost option”, the eAssist base model is $2,830 more than last year’s base four-cylinder model. At essentially 30-large, the base eAssist LaCrosse compares favorably with the $36,725 base price of the ES350.

As our week with the LaCrosse ended I was more confused about eAssist than I was when it started. This confusion has nothing to do with the actual system itself which worked flawlessly and had a decent impact on fuel economy, it had everything to do with GM’s naming conventions. Somehow I’m not be surprised that the first hybrid viable hybrid from GM, mild or otherwise, would receive little fanfare. While the LaCrosse will never set your heart alight with excitement, it combines an excellent ride, cabin noise levels that Rolls Royce engineers are probably trying to replicate and decent fuel economy with a $35,195 as tested MSRP. While I’d probably still buy the more expensive ES350 ($41,240 similarly equipped), the Buick is a solid product with decent mileage at a compelling price.

Buick provided the vehicle, one tank of gas and insurance for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30 MPH: 2.8 Seconds

0-60 MPH: 7.9 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.22 Seconds at 85.7 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 29.9 MPG over 674 miles

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, ventiports, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, rear seat folded, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, battery cooling, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, spare tire well, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, ventiports, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, fuel economy, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, tach, auto stop, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, tach, auto stop, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, infotainment screen, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, center console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, HUD heads-up display, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, HUD heads-up display, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, HUD heads-up display, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, HUD heads-up display, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, HUD heads-up display, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, infotainment controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, infotainment screen, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, ambient lighting, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, ambient lighting, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, ambient lighting, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, passenger's side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, passenger's side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, dash controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, headlamp and HUD controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, radio and HVAC controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, shifter, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, window switches, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, rear seat HVAC, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, steering wheel controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, steering wheel controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, driver's side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, rear seat, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, rear seat, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Interior, rear seat, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist system, Picture courtesy of General Motors buick-lacrosse-thumb Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Next Lexus ES To Make Buick Lacrosse Look “Laughable” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/next-lexus-es-to-make-buick-lacrosse-look-laughable/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/next-lexus-es-to-make-buick-lacrosse-look-laughable/#comments Tue, 03 Jan 2012 19:05:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=424127

 The rivalry between the Buick Lacrosse and the Lexus ES350 may never become the stuff of automotive legend, but for a certain subset of consumers – wealthy men aged 65+ living part time in South Florida – the two vehicles are carefully cross-shopped to determine which car has the plushest ride, quietest cabin and parcel shelf best suited for stacking Kleenex boxes and adjustable-back baseball caps.

Now, the great conjecture machine known as the blogosphere (in this case, GM Authority) is reporting that the new Lexus ES, due out as a 2013 model, will make its Chinese domestic rival look “laughable. That according to one “well-connected auto industry executive”. Based on what we’ve seen from the Toyota product stable, the anonymous gentleman may be on to something.

According to the article, the new ES will grow in size (it’s roughly half a foot shorter than the Buick) and become the quietest car Lexus has ever made. Given that most ES owners wear some kind of digital watch, you won’t even be able to hear anything tick, a la the Rolls-Royce cars of old. The “killer app” here appears to be the inclusion of a hybrid system. The Camry Hybrid is listed by the EPA as returning 40/38 mpg city/highway, but according to the report, the new ES will get “…high 40s on the highway and even better in the city…” Compare that to the Lacrosse eAssist, which gets 25/36 mpg.

With TTAC’s staffers (myself included) having had seat time in the new Camry and the new Lexus GS, we may be able to draw some conclusions regarding the next ES. Jack was suitably impressed with the performance chops of the new GS, but noted that it was liable to lose out in the all important status race. Fortunately for Lexus, the ES customer seems to be cut from a more practical cloth – after all, they are cross shopping against a Buick.

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LaCrosse The Universe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/lacrosse-the-universe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/lacrosse-the-universe/#comments Tue, 12 Oct 2010 13:45:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=368297

I am the electron, the distant particle. Sometimes I know where I am, sometimes I know where I am going, but never do I know both. I look back and see where I was. This time I covered 1,600 miles in sixty-six hours, from Ohio to Indiana to Ontario and back, racing, partying, making videos, lulled to dullness by the long road, sneaking out with the morning light and never really sleeping. This is not On The Road: this is Two-Lane Blacktop. We cannot learn about ourselves; there is no “there” there. But we can learn about this Buick, this uneasy inheritor of a tarnished nobility.

I step from my Town Car into this 2011 LaCrosse. It has 261 miles on the odometer. First impressions: it feels insubstantial. As Michael Karesh noted in his review, it feels and looks smaller than it is. Hard to believe it’s bigger than a Malibu. The extra space is used for a swoopy interpretation of the only interior design idea GM has had in the past decade. CTS, LaCrosse, Cruze… it’s all the same sausage in different widths. Control efforts are trivial, the leather feels like plastic, the brakes are no more trustworthy than a Panther’s. At least the 3.6L V6 is strong in the current Japanese/German rev-it-up mode.

Down the road we go to Putnam Park, site of the last NASA Great Lakes enduro of the year. It’s a three-hour race, and I will be driving the second half of it in the “Pakistan Express” #787 Civic Si. At the green flag, I watch my co-driver, Brian Makse, take the lead in a sixteen-car field and hold it for an hour. Looks good, but there’s a problem. Our transponder has died. The crew chief, Sam Myers, radios Brian. Extend the lead, we need at least a lap to swap transponders. When Brian comes in, we have perhaps forty seconds to swap it. Sam and Rob Demorest, the first mechanic, make the swap in about ninety frantic seconds while the Civic wobbles over Sam’s head.

Brian’s back out. A Miata hits the wall hard a few laps later, scattering haybales and black-flagging the race for twenty minutes. Brian works to get back on the lead lap, and then it’s my turn. During the driver change, two critical things happen. The first thing is obvious: there’s a fuel spill, leading to my being called back for a five-minute pitlane penalty while the competition whizzes by lap after lap. The second thing isn’t quite as obvious at first: my earplugs didn’t seat.

On track the unmuffled Civic is painfully loud, In my confusion, I’m immediately passed by two competitors, dropping us to seventh place. I can’t think, can’t see, my laps are pathetic, I’m losing time. Now the car is starting to pop out of fourth gear every time there’s a cornering load. The view out the windshield looks fuzzy. I think about quitting and am looking for the radio button when my eyes fall on the Traqmate race computer strapped to the dashboard. Oh, what the hell.

I switch the Traqmate on and cycle it to “qualifying mode”. In this mode, it tells me in real time if I’m improving my lap time or screwing it up. My first lap is 1:26.0. Not good for Putnam in this class. My next one is 1:25.4. Then 1:25.1. I can’t hear anything now. My head is numb. I’m feeling for grip as the other cars start to come backwards at me. I’m holding the car in gear around some of the turns, one-handing it like a hero. Woo-hoo!

Sam knows he has to scream into the radio and it makes him laconic: “GOOD JOB YOU ARE FASTEST CAR ON TRACK.” Really? We’re in the “E3″ class. There are Porsche 911s and American Iron cars out there. The Traqmate says 1:23.1. I later find out that Brian was in the high 1:22s on fresh tires, but for now all I know is that there’s no more. I run to the end, passing my way back up to fourth in the next sixty minutes, five feet at a time, making the small improvements and the tough passes, waving at a TTAC reader who is running a Porsche 944 in our class and who was really the most courteous guy on-track all day.

I cross the line, get out of the car, take a photo with Sam, who has put me in so many safe, well-prepared cars in the past few years. Although Sam looks like a bouncer in a rough bar, he’s actually a track-record-holding driver who gave up his race career to focus on his family. There are few men whom I respect more.

No time to chat: it’s time to drive to Toronto to shoot a video on the Infiniti M56 for another publication. 638 miles. My head thrums softly in the LaCrosse, my vision is fuzzy, the border guard asks me if I’ve been drinking. I don’t remember all of the trip but before I know it I’m putting on a tie, practicing my lines. I drive at seventy miles per hour eighteen inches behind the camera truck, covering the brake with my left foot, repeating the same loop for three hours as the camera moves. There’s no zoom in top-end cameras, apparently. We do “zooms” by coordinating our driving. Nerve-wracking.

Now I’m in line outside the Kool Haus in Toronto, standing in line for three hours, waiting for the Miike Snow concert. The woman with me is china-doll perfect, Eastern European, willfully alternative in style and outfit. “Are you okay?” she says.

“What?”

“You haven’t heard anything I’ve said.” And I only hear the roar in my head, louder and louder, like the sea coming in.

One in the morning and Miike Snow is pounding bass in this converted warehouse. Everybody is in motion. I have earplugs in now, trying to let my head recover. My little friend is screaming, jumping. She was born the year I received my professional cycling license. Louder and louder, like the thunder blowing towards my home in the summer.

She has a friend. “You said it was an old man car,” the friend says.

“It is. It’s a Buick.”

“Buicks are fun.”

“Really?”

“Oh yeah, I used to have one, when I drove. But I only had my license for a year.” The bar is closing. I could be asleep in the hotel half an hour from now. China doll smile. “You’re coming back with us, right?”

“Of course.” There are paintings lining the room where she plays piano for us at three in the morning, banging through a dozen Amanda Palmer songs, a classically trained pianist taking her anger out on the instrument, splendid, beautiful, her left hand hitting the bass side harder and harder, louder and louder, like the inevitability of conquest and surrender.

And then it’s daylight and I am sneaking out, a massive canvas with me, she said hours ago I should take it, I will not wake her to confirm. She sleeps like a perfect china doll now, her friend curled up on another bed down the hall. There’s an inch to spare in the Buick’s back seat on either side of the painting.

Back to the hotel, shower, dress, say the lines, repeat the lines, watch the blocking. Five minutes of video takes three days, you know. The M56 is a Japanese Buick, the same but different. The interior and exterior are weirdly reminiscent of the LaCrosse. The radio tunes the same way. Turn up XM channel 80, remember the night that is not separated by sleep.

Then it’s the afternoon and I am crossing the border again. The guard looks at the painting in the back seat. “Why?” he asks.

“Why not?” I say, and he waves me towards Buffalo. Now it is dark and I am settled into the Buick, we are heading in the same direction. It’s fast enough, it’s economical enough, and if it isn’t desirable that’s okay, the Lexus ES isn’t desirable to anyone and it sells, sells, sells. In the gas station the attendant says, “Why are you wearing earplugs?” I put them in days ago. Maybe. That was somebody else. I take them out and the world rushes in.

I run from the counter, surrounded by the noise, stereo chatter, flushing toilets, people arguing, towards the Buick, open the door, jump in headfirst, slam it shut behind me. We are quiet on the American road. However briefly, I know where I am.

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