Used 2016 Buick LaCrosse Review

Edmunds expert review

The 2016 Buick LaCrosse is a well-rounded large sedan that pampers its occupants and drives nicely -- especially with the V6.




What's new for 2016

For 2016, the Buick LaCrosse gets a standard power driver seat and an updated IntelliLink infotainment system with dual USB ports, an enhanced interface and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Minor equipment changes include a new Sport Touring package that bundles a number of desirable features with unique 18-inch wheels and a rear spoiler.

Vehicle overview

As Buick's flagship sedan, the 2016 Buick LaCrosse offers the generous size and accommodations traditionally associated with the brand. Passenger space is copious, with rear legroom rivaling that of some executive-class luxury sedans. Pleasingly, the LaCrosse isn't a snooze to drive either, which you might otherwise assume given the brand's history.

The 2016 Buick LaCrosse's styling is pleasingly understated, with chrome accents tastefully applied.

That said, only one of the two engines available is truly suitable for this class of car. There's either a capable 304-horsepower V6 or a mild-hybrid four-cylinder unit dubbed eAssist. While the latter option provides better fuel economy, we're not convinced it's worth sacrificing the V6's additional power or available all-wheel-drive system.

Regardless of what's under the hood, every LaCrosse is stylish and well-equipped. For 2016, the LaCrosse's IntelliLink infotainment system gets some notable updates, including a revised touchscreen interface, dual USB ports and advanced smartphone integration courtesy of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Although the LaCrosse is a strong effort, buyers should also be sure to look at similarly priced competitors. The Toyota Avalon, for example, is available with a full-fledged hybrid powertrain that gets an EPA-estimated combined figure of 40 mpg, versus 29 mpg for the LaCrosse eAssist. Its more luxurious relative, the Lexus ES can be equipped with the same hybrid system and also shares the Avalon's burly standard V6. The Chevrolet Impala matches the LaCrosse's big sedan comfort at downright reasonable prices, while the rear-wheel-drive Chrysler 300 offers elegant design and optional AWD. These are all pleasant cars, no doubt, but the 2016 Buick LaCrosse continues to distinguish itself as a satisfying choice in the segment.




Trim levels & features

The 2016 Buick LaCrosse is a large luxury sedan available in six trim levels: 1SV, Base, Leather, Premium 1, Premium 2 and Premium 3.

The 1SV LaCrosse comes standard with the V6 engine, remote ignition, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), split-folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, OnStar telematics with 4G LTE connectivity and WiFi capability, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, the IntelliLink infotainment system (with an 8-inch touchscreen display and smartphone app integration), a rearview camera and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and two USB ports. If you want any other equipment, we advise you to move up to the Base trim level at least, as the 1SV isn't eligible for most options.

An 8-inch touchscreen interface comes standard on every 2016 LaCrosse.

At the Base trim level you get all the 1SV's equipment plus 18-inch wheels and a cargo net. The available Sport Touring package adds unique 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, the Comfort and Convenience package #2 (rear parking sensors, auto-dimming side mirrors with integrated signal repeaters, ambient lighting, keyless entry and ignition, and driver memory settings) and the Leather package (leather upholstery, heated front seats and an eight-way power front passenger seat).

Spring for the Leather model and you'll lose the Sport Touring package's wheels and spoiler, but you get the Comfort and Convenience package #2 and the Leather package as standard. LaCrosse Leather V6 models get 18-inch wheels of their own (19s with AWD), while four-cylinder models roll on 17-inchers.

The Premium 1 raises its game with heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a 120-volt power outlet, a power rear window sunshade and an 11-speaker Bose audio system.

The Premium 2 adds 20-inch wheels, a torque-steer-resistant front suspension design ("HiPer Strut"), adaptive suspension dampers and a navigation system.

Optional on all but the 1SV and Base LaCrosse is the Ultra Luxury package, which features upgraded leather upholstery with extended coverage (including the center console and door armrests), a faux-suede headliner and real wood accents.

Also optional on all but the 1SV and Base models is the Driver Confidence #1 package, which includes xenon headlights, foglights, a head-up display, a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure alert and forward collision alert. The Premium trims can upgrade to the Driver Confidence #2 package, which adds adaptive cruise control, a collision mitigation system with automatic braking and a vibrating "Safety Alert" driver seat.

For Leather trim levels, the Experience Buick package bundles the contents of the Driver Confidence #1 package with navigation and the Bose sound system. Another notable option (for all trims except 1SV and Base) is a panoramic sunroof.



Performance & mpg

The 2016 Buick LaCrosse comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 that cranks out 304 hp and 264 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available on Leather and Premium 1 trims.

In Edmunds track testing, a front-wheel-drive LaCrosse V6 sprinted to 60 mph in a satisfactory 6.8 seconds. The EPA pegs LaCrosse V6 fuel economy at 22 mpg combined (18 city/28 highway) with front-wheel drive and 20 mpg combined (17/26) with all-wheel drive.

When equipped with the 3.6-liter V6 engine, the 2016 Buick LaCrosse has strong passing power.

Available only on the Base and Leather trim levels is a mild hybrid powertrain called "eAssist" that pairs a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with an 11-kilowatt electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. Combined peak output is 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic are standard.

In Edmunds testing, a LaCrosse with this configuration sauntered to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, a very leisurely showing for this segment. EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 29 mpg combined (25 city/36 highway) — fine numbers for an ordinary four-cylinder sedan of this size, but far behind competitors like the Toyota Avalon Hybrid.

Safety

Standard safety features on the LaCrosse include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear 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. Every LaCrosse comes with a rearview camera, and all except the 1SV and Base model have rear parking sensors as well.

Optional safety features are provided via the two Driver Confidence packages discussed above, highlighted by lane-change alert (which issues a warning during a lane change if another car is rapidly approaching in the new lane) and a collision mitigation system with automatic braking. The "Safety Alert" driver seat (included with the Driver Confidence #2 package) is a novel offering that vibrates to indicate the direction of a crash threat.

In Edmunds brake testing, a LaCrosse V6 with 19-inch wheels came to a stop from 60 mph in 116 feet -- excellent for this segment. A four-cylinder LaCrosse with 17-inch wheels turned in a similarly strong performance, stopping from 60 mph in just 115 feet.

In government crash testing, the LaCrosse earned the top overall rating of five stars, with a five-star rating for both frontal and side impacts. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the LaCrosse its highest rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset test as well as the side-impact, roof strength and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.

Driving

The 2016 Buick LaCrosse's four-cylinder powertrain operates smoothly, rarely reminding the driver of its hybridized complexity. The auto stop-start system, for example, is unusually refined, lacking the telltale shudder on restart that plagues many of these setups. Unfortunately, the 2.4-liter gasoline engine sounds coarse under full acceleration, and it feels pretty lethargic, especially with extra passenger or cargo weight. The V6, in our opinion, is the way to go.

There's more driving excitement in the 2016 LaCrosse than you might expect.

With either engine, the LaCrosse's driving dynamics are spot on. The ride is exceptionally comfortable and quiet, but there's more to this Buick than just its cruising credentials. It doesn't feel like a land yacht from the driver seat; on the contrary, it's surprisingly composed and steady when you're driving it around turns. Marginal rearward visibility takes a bite out of driver confidence in parking lots, but the standard rearview camera and various safety systems make the best of it.

Interior

With its distinctive wraparound dashboard, the LaCrosse's interior makes a strong first impression. The rakish design neatly flows into the interior door panels, while the angled center stack, highlighted by a large 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, provides a modern and upscale ambience. At night, thin blue lights trace the interior's contours, adding to the big Buick's premium vibe. Materials quality is fully competitive for the price.

The touchscreen interface is generally user-friendly and features crisply rendered icons plus Apple CarPlay compatibility, with Android Auto added to later-production models. However, the touchscreen's location may require an uncomfortable reach for some drivers. On the bright side, the LaCrosse is one of the few vehicles in this price range to provide 4G LTE data connectivity and mobile WiFi as standard equipment.

The interior of the 2016 LaCrosse includes a sleek dashboard that gives the car a distinctly contemporary feel.

As expected in this class, passenger comfort is a LaCrosse highlight. The front seats are supportive and provide ample adjustments for different physiques, while rear legroom is generous enough that even NBA forwards could comfortably sit back there without complaint.

With all that space in back, apparently there wasn't much left for the trunk. With just 13.3 cubic feet of capacity, the LaCrosse V6's trunk holds less than some compact sedans. Moreover, the eAssist powertrain includes a trunk-mounted battery pack that reduces capacity to a paltry 10.8 cubic feet. Either way, the smallish opening can make loading larger items problematic.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.