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During the course of two generations, the Buick LaCrosse has been a large, five-passenger sedan. That's really where the similarities end, though, as they are radically different cars indicative of much different eras for the Buick brand.
The first LaCrosse was the epitome of old Buick, in more ways than one. Bland to look at, blander to drive and with a cabin filled with subpar materials, it was a decade behind the times. Its large size and simple controls at least made it popular among senior car shoppers. The current-generation LaCrosse, however, is a far more modern, stylish and overall impressive automobile that is not only one of the better full-size sedans you can buy, but even gives certain luxury-branded large sedans a run for their money. Regardless of your age, it's definitely worth consideration.
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, but it's quite underpowered and we'd avoid it. The smaller V6 was dropped the following year and the four-cylinder version gained a new electric power steering system. The eAssist hybrid replaced the base four-cylinder for '12.
These LaCrosse models sold prior to 2014 had slightly different exterior styling and Buick's previous-generation interior electronics controls that featured a great many buttons and could be confusing to use. Intellilink's smartphone integration features as well as electronic safety features like lane change alerts and rear cross traffic alerts were also unavailable prior to '14.
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.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Buick LaCrosse page.