Buick LaCrosse


Debut: 2016
Maker: General Motors
Predecessor: LaCrosse (2009)



 Published on 1 Sep 2016 All rights reserved. 


Thanks largely to Chinese customers, GM sold nearly 1 million units of the last generation Buick LaCrosse since 2009. That guarantees the car a second generation. The new LaCrosse does not deviate from its established formula: a near-luxury large sedan targeting at the same audiences as Lexus ES instead of the sportier European competitors. It keeps the transverse-engine, front-wheel drive format, but now you can specify HiPer strut front suspension or even a torque-vectoring 4WD system. It is certainly more versatile than before.

Buick did some very stylish concept cars in recent years. The LaCrosse follows them to adopt a sleek, coupe-like shape, but the end result is not as convincing. Its nose looks handsome enough, but the gently curving waistline and the heavy-handed crease line over rear fender look all too familiar to Hyundai Azera. The round boot lid and taillights look a bit cheap in the new world order where finer details are appreciated. Despite the coupe-like roof line, the car doesn’t look very athletic. You are aware of its FWD layout from its cab-forward proportion.



While the new car keeps its length and width unchanged, its roof is lowered by 40 mm. This, in addition to the coupe-like curve, robs some headroom, no matter front or back, so the new LaCrosse is not as roomy as its exterior dimensions would lead you believe. Rear passengers enjoy good legroom thanks to the wheelbase stretched to 2905 mm, but to cope with the sloping roof it has to mount the rear bench low. Moreover, the rear cushion is flat and soft, resulting in mediocre seat comfort.

At the first glance, the interior design is fresh and quality seems high. However, like so many Buicks, a closer inspection will find it is built to cost. The wood trims and leather upholstery are not real items, although they don’t feel too cheap. Some plastics on the center console and dash are low rent and prone to scratch. That said, the Buick feels easily classier than the equivalent Kia or Hyundai by replacing most plastic surfaces with leather and wood trims. The design is also cleaner and more modern, while GM’s infotainment system is responsive and easy to navigate. There are plenty of storage space, including a bin located just under the floating console on which an electronic gear shifter is mounted.



GM claims the new car loses 300 pounds (136 kg) compared with its predecessor thanks to the use of high-strength steel, lighter sound deadening materials and other weight saving measures in many components. The base FWD model weighs 1632 kg, on a par with Lexus ES and other Korean rivals. AWD and adaptive dampers add about 110 kg, still lighter than the old FWD top model. This relieves the burden to the 3.6-liter direct-injection V6. Like the applications on Cadillacs and Camaro, the new LGW engine features automatic stop-start and “active fuel management”, the latter turns the engine into V4 under partial load to save fuel. Its output is considerably enhanced from the old V6, now pumping out 310 hp instead of 280 and 282 lbft of torque instead of 259. It also eclipses its Japanese and Korean rivals, so performance should be a touch stronger. Expect 0-60 mph to be achieved in the low 6-seconds range. GM wisely skips a more powerful engine option as the LaCrosse chassis is not good enough to take more. The shrinking market segment also kills the need for another engine.

On the road, the V6 is satisfyingly willing and refined. Its cylinder deactivation switchovers seamlessly, although auto stop-start is less so. GM’s 8-speed automatic transmission is smooth and imperceptible, although more demanding drivers will find it too civilized.



Despite weight cut, the LaCrosse hasn’t sacrificed NVH. Laminated windscreen and front side windows are standard, as are triple door seals. Active noise cancellation audio is optional. The redesigned 5-link rear suspension also helps smoothing and quietening ride. In fact, on the road its refinement is massively improved, now on a par with Lexus. Noise level is remarkably low. Ride comfort is excellent on the base FWD model with softer suspension setting and 18-inch wheels. Predictably, the flipside is mediocre body control and a steering that is both light and numb. All too familiar to old Buick owners.

Fortunately, the GM division now also takes care of “normal” drivers. You can opt for a sportier package which includes torque-steer-reducing HiPer strut front suspension (instead of conventional MacPherson strut), continuous adaptive dampers, 20-inch wheels and wider tires. Press the additional “Sport” button and the car’s handling is transformed. While it is still no BMW, the body control and steering effort are much improved. You can hustle the car into the twisty with some fun, something you would not expect for a big Buick. Do you really need the ultimate AWD option? Probably not. Although it employs a Ford Focus RS-style twin-multiplate-clutch rear transfer unit for torque vectoring, it is designed for lighter duties thus could be easily overheated in prolonged use. After all, the LaCrosse is not a sports sedan by any means. Comfort is still its major chord.

Verdict: 
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
LaCrosse
2016
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
5017 / 1859 / 1460 mm
2905 mm
V6, 60-degree
3649 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
-
DI, cylinder deactivation
310 hp
282 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: strut (HiPer strut)
R: multi-link
(Adaptive damping)
235/50R18 (245/40R20)
1632 kg
150 mph (est)
5.9*
14.6*
LaCrosse AWD
2016
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
5017 / 1859 / 1460 mm
2905 mm
V6, 60-degree
3649 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
-
DI, cylinder deactivation
310 hp
282 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/40R20
1741 kg
150 mph (est)
5.8*
14.8*



























Performance tested by: *C&D





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