Capsule Review: 2015 Buick LaCrosse AWD

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
capsule review 2015 buick lacrosse awd

Full disclosure: this is not my kind of car.

Buick sold 51,468 LaCrosses last year, a 10,000-unit decline compared with 2010, even though the overall car market was 33% stronger last year than it was in 2010. Reach a whole decade back to discover that Buick sold 170,213 LaCrosses, LeSabres, and Park Avenues in 2005.

• USD Price As Tested: ≈ $48,485

• Horsepower: 304 @ 6800 rpm

• Torque: 264 lb-ft @ 5300 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 18 mpg

It’s not just a Buick thing. U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Azera, Lexus ES, Nissan Maxima, and Toyota Avalon combined to slide 9% in 2014, year-over-year. LaCrosse sales actually increased slightly in 2014, but 2015 is off to a rough start with sales down 17% through two months.

More disclosure: big Buick sedans are increasingly not your kind of car, either. And by “your”, I’m referring to the market as a whole.

That doesn’t mean I can’t be converted. Despite its terribly light steering, one week with the 2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ led me to tell my wife that we should pick up a used one in a couple years. She laughed at me. “We’re not your grandparents,” she said. I hope she felt really guilty about reminding me that all my grandparents are, you know, dead.

I enjoyed a week last summer with the latest all-wheel-drive Hyundai Genesis, as well. Granted, its rear-wheel-drive-based architecture does offer a different vibe. The Ford Taurus is too small inside, but the Chrysler 300? Ever more cool to my eyes. The Dodge Charger is available with more than 700 horsepower, and that Hellcat rubs off nicely on all the lesser Chargers.

But the 2015 LaCrosse, a Lexus ES-fighting, 3.6L V6-powered, all-wheel-drive big car with a surprisingly tight 13.3-cubic-foot trunk and an as-tested Canadian price of nearly $52,000, is not my kind of car. True, it’s a nicely executed version of what it’s supposed to be. Alas, what it’s supposed to be is not for me, and the figures suggest, it’s not for you, either.

Loaned to us for the week by GM Canada, the LaCrosse is supremely quiet, albeit let down by a set of noisy Hancook winter tires on our tester. The rear seat is expansive with plenty of width for three if need be. Buick’s Intellilink infotainment unit is sufficiently straightforward and simple, not the best but certainly not the worst interface in the automobile world. From most angles, the LaCrosse looks quite nice, as well, and certainly more premium than it did when this second-generation debuted half a decade ago. Interior material quality is quite posh, even on the rear doors.

Unfortunately, there’s more than a hint of old Americana in the way the LaCrosse makes its way down the road. The engine’s bounty is noticeable, but so is the car’s 4140-pound curb weight. While the LaCrosse is surprisingly composed when driven with a moderate level of increased urge down a twisty road, the level of surprise arrives in large part due to your own expectations. And the fact that the LaCrosse feels better at six-tenths than three-tenths is troublesome. Sure, it always manages to mask pavement imperfections, but it’s working so hard to do so that there’s a faint but constant sensation of up-and-down-side-to-side of body movement, like a waiter who consistently provides refills but always seems to be hovering over your table.

The LaCrosse’s steering is sharper than the Impala’s, but its overall ride and handling balance lags behind the Chevy, which feels much smaller to drive than it actually is. All-wheel-drive availability is one key differentiating factor; a buyer’s locale determines the degree to which four driven wheels are essential.

Refreshed for MY2014, the second-gen LaCrosse is now in its sixth model year. Even in old age, it proves Buick can do luxury well. Combine that premium quotient with the Verano Turbo’s Euro-like balance, the Regal’s snappier exterior styling, and the Impala’s vast cargo area and perhaps the LaCrosse is transformed into my kind of car.

It’d help if they got rid of the capacitive touch climate controls, too. My grandparents wouldn’t have a clue what to do with those.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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4 of 111 comments
  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Mar 25, 2015

    The comical thing is that everybody who does a write up of these types of cars always has to make comment about the blue haired set. Yet in the real world I see far far far more elderly folks driving Toyota Camry's, Avalon's and Corolla's than the current crop of Buick sedans so that is quite telling. The Buick LaCrosse is a product of the Millennial set. Overly gimmicky infotainment- check. Squinty hard to see out of windows- check. Useless trunk for that obsessed over stubby rear end look because god forbid there is any over hang -check. Massive back seat legroom because China does it that way- check, bloated slug like exterior styling- check, weights far more than it should- check and last massive 19 and 20" slammin wheels- check. The sooner this car gets a redesign the better. It's no wonder many of today's full size sedan shoppers are avoiding these types of cars now!

  • Stevelovescars Stevelovescars on Dec 15, 2016

    Chiming in on an old story, so I don't know if I'll get any response, but can anyone elaborate on the AWD system on this car? Is it any good in the snow or is it a cheap add-on like the Chrysler 200? These can be bought lightly used for reasonable money and are pretty intriguing at under $20k with 25k miles. However, other than saying it has AWD I can't seem to get any more details about the system.

    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Dec 15, 2016

      I think all of GMs passenger car/CUV systems are "slip and grip" - computer detects slippage on the front and sends some power to the rear to help out. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

  • FreedMike Race car drivers are all alpha-types. Aggression is part of the deal. I think you see more of that stuff in NASCAR because crashes - the end result of said aggression - are far more survivable than they would be in F1 or IndyCar.
  • Analoggrotto Only allow Tesla drivers to race, we are the epitome of class and brilliance.
  • Wjtinfwb When my kids turned 16 and got their Operators, we spent $400 to send both (twins) to 2 driving schools. One held by the local Sherriff was pretty basic but a good starter on car control and dealing with police officers as they ran the school. Then they went to a full day class in N Atlanta on a racetrack, with the cars supplied by BMW. They learned evasive maneuvers, high speed braking, skid control on a wet skid pad and generally built a lot of confidence behind the wheel. Feeling better about their skills, we looked for cars. My son was adamant he wanted a manual, Halleluiah! Looking at used Civics and Golf's and concerned about reliability and safety, I got discouraged. Then noticed an AutoTrader adv. for a new leftover '16 Ford Focus ST six-speed. 25k MSRP advertised for $17,500. $2500 above my self-imposed limit. I went to look, a brand new car, 16 miles on it, black with just the sunroof. 3 year warranty and ABS, Airbags. One drive and the torquey turbo 2.0 convinced me and I bought it on the spot. 7 years and 66k miles later it still serves my son well with zero issues. My daughter was set on a Subaru, I easily found a year old Crosstrek with all the safety gear and only 3k miles. 21k but gave my wife and I lots of peace of mind. She still wheels the Subaru, loves it and it too has provided 7 years and 58k miles of low cost motoring. Buy what fits your budget but keep in mind total cost over the long haul and the peace of mind a reliable and safe car provides. Your kids are worth it.
  • Irvingklaws Here's something cheaper, non-german, and more intriguing...
  • Wjtinfwb Happy you're loving your Z4. Variety is the spice of life and an off-beat car like the Z4 intrigues me as well. More than anything, your article and pictures have me lusting for the dashboards of a decade ago. Big, round analog gauges. Knobs and buttons to dial up the A/C, Heat or Volume. Not a television screen in sight. Need to back up? Use the mirrors or look over your shoulder. If your Z4 had the six-speed manual, it would be about perfect. Today's electronified BMW's leave me ice cold, as do the new Mercedes and Audi's with their video game interiors. Even a lowly GTI cannot escape the glowing LED dashboard. I'm not a total luddite, Bluetooth streaming for the radio would be nice and I'd agree the cooled seats would be a bonus on a warm day with the top down. But the Atari dashboard is just a bridge too far for me.