What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Buick LaCrosse is unchanged other than a shuffling of feature availability.
While midsize family sedans garner the most attention and sales, there's still a place for larger sedans that provide additional room and trunk space. One of the more appealing cars of this group is the 2013 Buick LaCrosse, a premium sedan that offers crisp styling, an elegant interior and impressive driving dynamics.
Debuting three years ago, this generation of the LaCrosse comes with a choice of two engines: a four-cylinder or a V6. The four-cylinder is actually a mild-hybrid "eAssist" powertrain that allows the LaCrosse to achieve an EPA combined fuel economy rating of 29 mpg. Granted, that number is still well shy of what you'd get with a full hybrid (one that can propel itself solely on electric power) such as the Lexus ES 300h, but that car comes only in a single trim that is considerably more expensive than a base, but still well-equipped, LaCrosse. If it's power you want, a 303-horsepower V6 is available, as is all-wheel drive.
Apart from adding some more standard features and shuffling the contents of various packages, the 2013 version of the LaCrosse stays the course. And that's fine with us, as it means there's still an elegant cabin with sweeping lines and rich surfaces, all set off by the generous use of LED accent lighting. The serene, roomy cabin is filled with useful features and luxuries, ranging from a rearview camera to a dual-screen video entertainment system.
The LaCrosse is so well rounded that we only have a few complaints -- namely, it has a very small trunk for a large sedan (even more so if equipped with the eAssist powertrain) and poor rearward visibility. At the same time, there are also some very appealing choices out there, including the Acura TL, Hyundai Genesis and Lexus ES 350. You could also check out the Chrysler 300 and Ford Taurus if you're not so concerned with having a car with an upscale badge. Ultimately, you really can't go wrong with any of them, but we can tell you the well-rounded 2013 Buick LaCrosse is a fine choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Buick LaCrosse is a large luxury sedan available in five trim levels: Base, Leather, Premium 1, Premium 2 and Touring.
Base models come nicely equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming mirror, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), split-folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, OnStar, Bluetooth, an 8-inch display and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, iPod/USB interface and smartphone app integration.
Spring for the Leather model and you get foglamps, heated mirrors, rear park assist, a rearview camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats, driver memory settings and an eight-way power front passenger seat.
The Premium 1 ups the ante with the 3.6-liter V6, 18-inch wheels, keyless ignition/entry, perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated leather/wood-trimmed steering wheel and a power rear window sunshade. The Premium 2 adds chrome wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a 120-volt household-style power outlet and an 11-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system.
At the top of the line is the Touring model, which features 19-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive suspension, xenon headlights, a blind spot warning system, a head-up display, digital music storage and a navigation system.
Some of the features found on the upper trim levels can be added to the lower trims as options. Other notable options include a sunroof, rear side airbags and a rear seat video entertainment system with dual headrest-mounted screens.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Buick LaCrosse is offered with a choice of two engines. For maximum fuel economy there is the eAssist mild hybrid powertrain, which is standard on base and Leather trim levels. This system pairs a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with an 11-kilowatt electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. Total output is 182 hp and 172 pound-feet of torque, sent to the front wheels by way of a six-speed automatic transmission.
In Edmunds track testing, a LaCrosse with eAssist ran the 0-60-mph dash in 9.2 seconds: a rather leisurely performance for this segment. Still, this powertrain is about efficiency, not speed. Aided by clever aerodynamic improvements like automatically controlled shutters behind the grille, it delivers impressive EPA estimates of 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined.
Buyers looking for additional thrust can opt for the 3.6-liter V6 that cranks out 303 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered here, but buyers do have a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Fuel mileage estimates stand at 17 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 17/25/20 with all-wheel drive.
Standard safety features for the LaCrosse include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation. Rear-seat side-impact airbags and a blind-spot alert system are available as options.
In Edmunds brake testing, a LaCrosse with the 3.6-liter engine and 19-inch wheels came to a stop from 60 mph in 127 feet -- a bit longer than average. A LaCrosse with eAssist and 17-inch wheels turned in a much stronger performance, stopping from 60 mph in 115 feet -- excellent for this segment.
In government crash tests, the LaCrosse scored five (out of a possible five) stars overall, with five stars awarded for both frontal- and side-impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it its top "Good" rating in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Slide behind the steering wheel of the 2013 Buick LaCrosse and you'll find yourself surrounded by graceful curves and upscale materials. Even after the sun sets, the cabin's flowing lines are emphasized by soft blue ambient lighting that adds a classy touch.
If there's a weakness in this artful design, it's that the controls aren't quite as straightforward and intuitive as some traditional Buick buyers might like. Just the same, we think the various buttons and knobs used to control the audio, climate control and navigation systems will become a non-issue once owners amass some seat time.
As you'd expect in a luxury sedan, the LaCrosse's cabin is long on comfort. Seats are supportive and there's plenty of leg- and shoulder room even in the backseat. The available heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats are especially pampering.
The LaCrosse's trunk is on the small side, however. With just 13.3 cubic feet of capacity, it holds less than some compact sedans. It's even less in models equipped with the eAssist powertrain, where the hybrid battery pack reduces capacity to 10.8 cubic feet. The smallish opening can also make loading larger items problematic.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the 2013 Buick LaCrosse is the driving experience. The LaCrosse is blessed with precise steering and secure handling, yet it also has the plush ride quality one expects of a luxury sedan. Also notable are the quiet interior that adds to the upscale feel. Poor rearward visibility is a problem, however, making the available blind-spot warning system and rearview camera worthwhile investments.
The eAssist model's mild-hybrid system operates seamlessly, rarely reminding the driver of its existence. For instance, when the engine shuts off automatically when the car comes to a stop, you don't get as much of the telltale shudder when it turns back on as is common to most auto stop-start systems. Unfortunately, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder that provides a majority of the motivation here (the electric motor provides limited assistance) sounds unrefined and feels sluggish. The strong V6 is better suited for the LaCrosse's personality, though its fuel economy is not nearly as good.