One of the more well-known Buicks as of late, the LaCrosse currently stands as the brand's best-selling luxury sedan. Its name relates to the exciting sport of lacrosse, which is a hockey-like game played on a grass field. In French Canada, the word is rather naughty, so the LaCrosse is known as the Allure to our northern neighbors. Though the latest-generation LaCrosse is notably more dynamic than its predecessor, it still holds firm to the Buick qualities of a relatively cushy interior and a smooth, quiet ride.
Overall, any Buick LaCrosse offers a driving experience that will suit older, more traditional Buick drivers just fine, while the current-generation LaCrosse may offer enough style and athleticism to appeal to somewhat younger ones as well. There are plenty of excellent choices for a premium sedan, but we wouldn't hesitate to recommend the current LaCrosse to anyone in search of a comfortable yet capable large sedan.
Current Buick LaCrosse
The Buick LaCrosse is a large sedan that blends modern styling and surprisingly accomplished handling with traditional Buick traits like light-effort steering and a cushy ride. There are seven trim levels: base, Convenience, Leather, Premium 1, Premium 2, Premium 3 and Touring. Even the base is well equipped, with standard highlights including full power accessories, a power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, OnStar, Bluetooth and a USB/iPod interface. Moving up through the trims obviously provides an ever-growing standard features list, culminating in the Touring that counts 19-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, xenon headlights, a rearview camera and a navigation system among its standard niceties.
The base engine consists of a mild-hybrid setup dubbed "eAssist" that pairs a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (182 horsepower) engine with an 11-kilowatt electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. Fuel mileage estimates for this roomy sedan are impressive at 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. A 3.6-liter V6 with 303 hp is also available. A six-speed automatic is the lone transmission choice either way. Front-wheel drive is standard, though V6 buyers can also opt for all-wheel drive.
In reviews, we've been impressed by the LaCrosse's appealing dual nature. Those looking for a traditional, plush Buick ride will be pleased. At the same time, so will most anyone who enjoys driving, as those who venture onto twisting two-lanes will be amazed at how nimble and sure-footed this 2-ton sedan feels. It's not exactly a sport sedan, but it is leaps and bounds ahead of the Lexus ES 350, while giving up nothing in terms of ride comfort. Of course the 3.6-liter V6 is the choice for driving enthusiasts as it provides spirited acceleration, though the high fuel efficiency of the eAssist powertrain makes that setup's rather languid performance a lot easier to accept.
The LaCrosse also impresses in non-dynamic respects. The backseat is roomy and comfortable, and the front seats offer firm support that's more German sedan than American land yacht. The dashboard design is sleek and sophisticated, and materials quality is good except for some rough plastic edges and superfluous chrome here and there. One of our few complaints involves the 13-cubic-foot trunk -- unusually small for this segment. In sum, if you're in the market for this type of car, the LaCrosse belongs on your to-drive list.
Used Buick LaCrosse Models
The second-generation LaCrosse debuted for 2010 and was offered in base CX, midlevel CXL and top-of-the-line CXS trim levels. Initially, there were two V6 engines offered, a 255-hp, 3.0-liter V6 and a 280-hp, 3.6-liter V6. Later that model year, a 182-hp, 2.4-liter inline-4 became the base engine. The following year the LaCrosse was essentially unchanged, apart from the smaller V6 being dropped and the four-cylinder version gaining a new electric power steering system.
The first-generation Buick LaCrosse was produced for the 2005-'09 model years. Its basic platform was similar to that of a few other General Motors products, including the Pontiac Grand Prix. Its highlights were available six-passenger seating (with a front bench seat), a large trunk and a soft, isolated and quiet ride.
There were three trim levels for most of the original LaCrosse's run: CX, CXL and CXS. The Super model joined the lineup in 2008. The CX and CXL were powered by GM's venerable 3.8-liter, 200-horsepower V6, while the CXS got a 3.6-liter V6 good for 240 hp, and the Super was motivated by a 5.3-liter small-block V8 providing 300 hp. All engines routed their power to the front wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission.
The CX came with basics like air-conditioning and full power accessories, while the CXL stepped up to leather upholstery, automatic climate control and more upscale exterior trim. The CXS added the peppier V6, 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a quicker steering ratio and a split-folding rear seat. The top-of-the-line Super featured a broad-shouldered V8, a sport suspension, unique front and rear styling and dual chrome exhaust outlets.
In reviews, our editors found the first-generation Buick LaCrosse to be a mixed bag. On the plus side, the car offered Buick's traditional soft, quiet ride, and acceleration was fine, particularly with the Super's V8, a rarity in a front-drive luxury car. The gauges were easily read, and storage space was ample thanks to the roomy 16-cubic-foot trunk.
However, we thought the soft seats unsupportive on longer drives, and found the car's faux wood trim and standard "mouse fur" upholstery a bit hokey. Furthermore, there was an abundance of cheap plastics on the center console, and the backseat offered rather tight accommodations for a car this size. As you might expect, the LaCrosse was "LaConfused" when driven through corners with any gusto, displaying significant body roll and lazy steering response. The four-speed automatic was another liability, as competing cars typically offered more efficient five- and six-speed units.
Notable changes during the original Buick LaCrosse's run began in 2006, when head-protecting side curtain airbags and antilock brakes became standard on all models. The Super joined the lineup for 2008, while Bluetooth was added (and the CXS model dropped) for 2009, the last year of production.
Read the most recent 2013 Buick LaCrosse review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Buick LaCrosse page.