The LaCrosse is the first vehicle under the entire GM umbrella to ride on the company's new P2XX large-car platform. For those who aren't versed in GM chassis nomenclature, that is the long-wheelbase variant of E2XX, which debuted under the new Malibu. It's a descendant of the Epsilon II architecture.
Fundamentally, this new platform takes all the great things about GM's Epsilon II architecture (advanced independent suspension design, excellent cabin NVH, etc.) and combines it with technologies and materials intended to eliminate weight (roughly 300lbs).
Outside, the LaCrosse boasts a new look. It's more elegant and more aggressive than the outgoing model and features a new grille based on the beautiful Avenir concept car.
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. The trunk has been enlarged to hold 15 cubic feet of cargo, which is still a bit on the small size. The standard audio system has been revised and now boasts eight speakers - including strategically placed tweeters - while true audiophiles can opt for a premium 11-speaker Bose setup. The standard system also supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
New for the latest model year, the standard powertrain is a gasoline-hybrid setup made up of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a compact electric motor. Named eAssist, the system provides 194 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque. Note the LaCrosse is a mild hybrid, meaning it can't drive on electricity alone for any distance.
The optional engine is a 3.6-liter, direct-injected V6. It produces 310 horsepower at 6,800 RPM and 282 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 RPM. It's paired to a traditional nine-speed torque converter automatic with wheel-mounted shift paddles. It can be had in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive variants.
Fuel economy checks in at 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway for the hybrid, 21/31 for the front-wheel drive V6, and 20/29 for the all-wheel drive V6.
The LaCrosse features standard auto stop/start technology. The large engine starts and stops more smoothly than most four-cylinders, making it easier to deliver seamless acceleration when pulling away from a stop. Buick's engineers are so confident in its unobtrusiveness, in fact, that auto stop/start cannot be disabled in the new LaCrosse.
The Buick LaCrosse is not a world-class sport sedan, but it does offer competent road manners and even a fairly athletic ride if optioned appropriately. Buick addressed this by offering the new LaCrosse in multiple configurations.
The more comfortable spec includes a set of 18" wheels and a conventional front strut suspension along with fixed-rate dampers. The sportier option gives you a set of 20" wheels, a more aggressive tire compound and GM's HiPer Strut front suspension with active dampers (not to be confused with MagneRide).
Vehicles equipped with the 20" wheel package also get a sport mode toggle, which cranks up the steering effort (but not the ratio) and alters the transmission shift programming to hold lower gears longer.
Those who opt for the all-wheel-drive on a loaded LaCrosse can still get the active dampers, the bigger wheels, sport mode and the stickier tires . And, no matter which wheel and tire package you choose, every LaCrosse comes with a sophisticated five-link independent rear suspension.
There is one difference, however. HiPer Strut, like Ford's RevoKnuckle, is designed specifically to mitigate torque steer. That's a problem you might encounter when hustling a front-wheel-drive car with a 310-horsepower V6. When you step up to all-wheel-drive, that's no longer a priority. As such, it is not included.
Standard and Optional Features
The LaCrosse is offered in four trim levels: Standard, Preferred, Essence and Premium.
The Standard model is equipped with eight-way power-adjustable front seats, a spit-folding rear bench, two 12v power outlets (one front, one rear), active noise cancellation, keyless and remote start, leatherette seating surfaces, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto up/down front windows, auto down rear windows, fog lamps, heated outside mirrors, HID Xenon headlamps and 18" alloy wheels.
Moving up to the Preferred model adds a rear cargo net, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, a spare tire and SiriusXM radio.
The Essence includes articulating headlamps, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats with memory, passenger seating with two-way lumbar adjustment and perforated leather seating surfaces.
The Premium trim adds a 110-volt power outlet, four-way power front lumbar adjustment with massage, forward collision warning, a HUD, a heated steering wheel, lane keeping assist, a rear seat armrest storage compartment, Safety Alert Seat and wireless device charging.
A handful of packages are available for buyers who choose the Essence or Premium trims. Buyers can add a panoramic moonroof, navigation with upgraded Bose audio, Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist, forward automatic braking and front pedestrian braking depending on trim level. The 20" wheel package (and its assorted handling upgrades) is also available on Essence and Premium models.
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.
Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist, forward automatic braking and front pedestrian braking can be added via the Driver Confidence I & II packages.
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.