2016 Buick LaCrosse

The LaCrosse is a full-size premium sedan and the flagship model of the Buick brand. Unlike Buick's octogenarian-focused offerings of years past, the LaCrosse deserves full consideration from buyers of all ages thanks to its handsome interior, strong available V6 motor and excellent ride/handling balance.

Recent Changes
Entering its last model year on the market, the current-generation LaCrosse gets minor changes such as an updated IntelliLink infotainment system and available 20-inch alloy wheels.

Outside, the updated LaCrosse is highlighted by bold "sweep-spear" character lines and an elegant new interpretation of Buick's waterfall grille. Other new touches include reworked headlights with LED accents, expanded chrome trim and LED taillights. New 18, 19 and 20 inch wheel designs also mark the latest model year.

The interior, already one of GM's strongest recent efforts, now features upgraded materials, more comfortable seats and the new-generation IntelliLink infotainment system. Similar to Cadillac's CUE setup, IntelliLink functions through an eight-inch touchscreen that lets users swipe and drag through icons and menus to control the sound system, place phonecalls or steam music. The setup can be spec'd with a navigation system with speed limit, traffic and point of interest (restaurant, gas station, attractions, etc) info. Real-time weather updates, nearby fuel prices and movie theater listings can also be accessed via an available SiriusXM Travel Link system.

Redundant dashboard knobs and steering wheel controls give users alternate options for controlling IntelliLink, and there's also a new natural language recognition system that recognizes a staggering number of phrases - effectively eliminating the need for the clunky and cumbersome memorized commands.

As before, the LaCrosse offers ample rear seat space, although the 13.3-cubic-foot trunk is more appropriate to a compact sedan. The standard audio system has been revised and now boasts seven speakers - including strategically placed tweeters - while true audiophiles can opt for a premium 11-speaker Bose setup.

A new Ultra Luxury package adds an upscale look and feel with synthetic suede headliner and pillar coverings, semi-aniline leather seating and Tamo Ash wood trim.

Power, Handling
The LaCrosse now is offered with the choice of an eAssist mild hybrid powertrain or a potent V6. The standard eAssist system teams a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with a 15-kilowatt electric motor for a total output of 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. The system's upside is 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, while drawbacks include leisurely acceleration and a 15-volt lithium-ion battery thats significantly into the already limited trunk space.

Those willing to trade mpgs for plentiful thrust and more trunk space can select the 3.6-liter V6 - a no-charge option on all but the base model - which produces 303 horsepower and 274 lb-ft of torque and trims about two seconds from the car's zero-to-60 mph time. The V6 model is rated at 17/27 mpg in front-wheel-drive form, while optional all-wheel-drive makes winter driving a cinch but lowers efficiency slightly to 16/26 mpg.

All LaCrosse models shift through a six-speed automatic transmission.

Buyers in the large, plush premium car segment probably aren't looking for a sport sedan, and they won't find one in the LaCrosse. However, it does provide faithful steering and composed handling without a tradeoff in ride quality, which is decidedly cushy. Suspension revisions for the latest model year help give the LaCrosse a slightly more agile feel.

Standard and Optional Features
The LaCrosse comes equipped as standard with the eAssist powertrain, a rear-view camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a seven-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with a USB/AUX input jack, Bluetooth, Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system with an eight-inch touch-screen, a 110-volt power outlet and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The Leather Package brings leather upholstery, heated front seats with driver's memory functionality, a power-adjustable passenger seat, a rearview camera, a proximity key, foglights, rear park assist and an auto-dimming driver's side mirror.

Two Premium Packages are available on the Lacrosse. The Premium Package I starts with the Leather Package and adds the 3.6-liter V6, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated leather/wood steering wheel, an 11-speaker Bose surround sound system, a power rear window sunshade, adaptive shock absorbers (FWD models only) and 19-inch wheels. The Premium Package II builds on those features with 20-icn wheels and a navigation system.

The Ultra Luxury package adds synthetic suede headliner and pillar coverings, semi-aniline leather seating and Tamo Ash wood trim.

Occupant Safety
The LaCrosse comes standard with dual front, front and rear side, and full-length side curtain airbags. Other safety technology includes stability and traction control systems, ABS and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Two newly available safety packages can also be spec'd.

The Driver Confidence 1 package includes Forward Collision Alert (warns the driver of impending crashes), Lane Departure Warning (notifies the driver when the LaCrosse begins wandering into an adjacent lane), Lane Change Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. High-intensity discharge headlights, fog lights and a head-up display are also part of the package.

The Driver Confidence 2 Package adds Collision Preparation with Collision Mitigation braking - this builds on Forward Collision alert by priming the brakes when a potential crash is detected. If the driver doesn't react in time, the system can actually apply the brakes to prevent or mitigate the severity of a collision. The package also includes adaptive cruise control and safety alert seat, which vibrates to warn the driver of a crash threat.

Key Competitors
As Buick's first truly competitive premium sedan in decades, the LaCrosse aims to steal sales away from the Lexus ES, the Hyundai Genesis and the Chrysler 300.