By now you've seen the commercials where Buick calls out Lexus and claiming that their new LaCrosse is as good, or better, than the ES series. And not only is it better, that it's cheaper, too. Sounds too good to be true, don't it? We thought so too until we hopped behind the wheel of Buick's new mid-sized luxury sedan. The car that was designed partly by GM's Chinese arm—Buick's are HUGE in China. Ask about 'em—packs in a hell of a lot of luxury in a package that doesn't look as if it was made for your grandmother. Read on to see if Buick latest offering is as good as they claim. Spoiler alert: it is...
PRICE: Base $33,765, As Tested: $36,560
POWER: 280 hp, 3.6L V6
MPG: 17 city/ 27 hwy
RIDE: The goal for the LaCrosse, as you can see by the commercials, was to go head to head with Lexus' ES. But in order to do battle against their mid-sized, front wheel drive offering, they had to make sure the LaCrosse was just as comfortable to drive. And they've succeeded. The CXS we drove with the 3.6 L, 280 hp V6, was a smooth as any Lex we've driven. There's a real sense of calm when you drive it. The six-speed automatic transmissions shifts smoothly, the road noise is kept to a minimum and the steering is nicely weighted to provide you with just the right amount of info. Not enough for you to confuse it for a sports sedan, but enough so you don't fall asleep behind the wheel.
EXTERIOR: The LaCrosse is the best design to come out of Buick in decades. Most people resign Buicks as cars for the elderly, but the LaCrosse, though it sounds old, actually envokes a youthful spirit. It's curvy, but sharp. We could go without all the chrome slathered on the rear and grill, but what can you do? It looks substantial and expensive, without coming off as stuffy and pretentious. The latter is probably due to the fact that it's a Buick, but it is what it is.
INTERIOR: Back in GM's heyday, when they had a number of overlapping brands, Buick served as the nameplate that delivered the same a features as the higher priced Cadillac's but in a more reasonably priced package. The LaCrosse carries on that tradition with its interior. It doesn't have all the trick electronics that Caddy's have, like the navigation screen that rises out of the dash. But we'd be damned if the interior wasn't the one of the best in GMs entire line up. That may have something to do with the fact that it was designed in China where Buick is considered better than Mercedes-Benz. Everything is comfortably set up. From the nice blue that shines through the gauges and the dash, to the nice wood trim swirling throughout, it all just works. However, there are some pieces that were overlooked. In our test car, the indicator stalk was very loose and rattled at times while driving. But one thing we did like is the rear legroom. Because the car is used to chauffeur rich business and government types, the rear legroom was made to accommodate accordingly.
TECH: Besides GM's OnStar service, our LaCrosse CXS came with a CD/DVD player that had an 3.5" aux connection for your MP3 player, a 40 gig hard drive and a rearview camera. All of which worked well.
SUMMARY: The LaCrosse is a great step in Buicks goal to once again become the affordable luxury car maker. For about $1200 less than a comparable Lexus, you get most of the same tech and features as well as a car that can ride just as comfortably. It ain't the end of the road—there are still a couple things the Lex does better: fit and finish, audio quality. But Buick managed to create a package that would do well against other luxury marquees in any country. If you're looking for a comfortable cruiser, it's worth the look.