2018 Buick LaCrosse

2018 Buick LaCrosse Review

The 2018 Buick LaCrosse is more than just another large sedan. It's a genuine luxury car.
by James Riswick
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Buick has been trying for years to re-establish itself as a luxury brand, and the 2018 LaCrosse represents a solid step toward reaching that goal. Though it certainly delivers for shoppers simply seeking a larger, more comfortable and more refined car than what is offered in the midsize sedan segment, this big Buick transcends its typical large sedan competitors by staking a legitimate claim to luxury status. Possessing a nicely crafted cabin, attractive styling and sophisticated driving manners, it genuinely competes with cars from Lexus and Lincoln. In other words, this is so not Grandma's old Century.

For 2018, Buick has diversified the LaCrosse's lineup with a new base engine that puts an emphasis on fuel economy. Called eAssist, this mild hybrid system subtly helps the four-cylinder engine return a Buick-estimated 35 mpg highway. It's important to note that the eAssist is not a full hybrid like those offered by several of the LaCrosse's key competitors. However, it is cheaper than those competitors, and it's really best to think of the eAssist as simply a fuel-economy-focused base engine.

Regardless of the engine you get, the 2018 Buick LaCrosse delivers an impeccably quiet and comfortable driving experience. We also like the LaCrosse's surprisingly adept handling when the car is fitted with the highly recommended Dynamic Drive package. Overall, we recommend the LaCrosse if you're searching for a comfortable and luxurious large sedan.

What's new for 2018

A new base engine debuts for 2018. Dubbed eAssist, it features a small electric motor and battery in addition to a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The result is exceptional fuel economy for a large sedan. The V6 engine also gets a new nine-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive availability is extended to the Essence trim level. The new Avenir model sits above the Premium to become the LaCrosse's top trim level.

We recommend

Try the eAssist four-cylinder engine first. If you're fine with its power delivery, why not choose the more efficient model? If you want the V6, though, we'd recommend going for at least the Essence and specifying the Dynamic Drive package. It's the LaCrosse at its most luxurious and refined.

Trim levels & features

The 2018 Buick LaCrosse is available in base 1SV, Preferred, Essence, Premium and Avenir trim levels. All except the Avenir come standard with a mild hybrid powertrain known as eAssist that features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a six-speed automatic, and a small electric motor that together produce 194 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque. Standard on the Avenir and optional for the Preferred, Essence and Premium is a 3.6-liter V6 (310 hp, 268 lb-ft) paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, while the Essence, Premium and Avenir can be fitted with all-wheel drive and the V6.

The base 1SV comes standard with 18-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, keyless ignition and entry, remote engine start, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air vents, simulated leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with two-way driver lumbar adjustment), OnStar (with an onboard 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot), an eight-speaker sound system and the Buick IntelliLink infotainment interface that includes an 8-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone app integration.

The Preferred adds a power-adjustable steering wheel, satellite radio and a cargo net.

Stepping up to the Essence trim gets you adaptive headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, driver-seat memory functions, leather upholstery, heated front seats, passenger-seat two-way lumbar adjustment and wireless smartphone charging. Optional for this trim level is the Driver Confidence 1 package that adds blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert systems.

The Premium trim includes the Driver Confidence 1 items and adds forward collision warning, a head-up display, lane departure warning and intervention, the Safety Alert driver seat (buzzes to get your attention to various safety warning systems), ambient interior lighting, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, an ionizing air cleaner, a heated steering wheel, and ventilated front seats with massage and four-way lumbar adjustment.

The Essence and Premium can be bolstered with a couple of option packages. The Sun and Shade package has a panoramic sunroof and a power rear sunshade. The Sights and Sounds package adds a navigation system to IntelliLink, an 11-speaker, premium Bose surround-sound audio system and HD radio.

The Avenir comes with 19-inch wheels, a revised front fascia, upgraded leather upholstery, special floor mats, and the contents of both the Sights and Sounds and Sun and Shade packages.

Optional for the Essence, Premium and Avenir models is the Dynamic Drive package, which equips the LaCrosse with 20-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers and, for front-wheel-drive models, an upgraded front suspension design. You can also specify the Driver Confidence 2 package for the Premium and Avenir trims, adding adaptive cruise control; forward automatic emergency braking, which detects vehicles and pedestrians; and an automatic parking system.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2018 Buick Lacrosse Premium eAssist (2.5L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).


The LaCrosse is a thoroughly unhurried car. The shifts are smooth and the steering has good on-center feel, making for an easy freeway cruiser. But the engine feels overtaxed, and the body wallows through corners while its tires protest at even moderate requests for performance.


The LaCrosse accelerates smoothly, but the relaxed throttle requires deliberate input to find even a hint of urgency, and when the engine is pressed it sounds unhappily strained. Passing maneuvers require plenty of room. Our measured 0-60 mph time of 8.3 seconds is slow for the class.


The pedal effort is linear, if a bit soft, and braking force is easy to regulate. There's no noticeable regenerative action, making for very smooth stops. We measured a panic-stop distance from 60 mph of 119 feet, which is good for a car like this, and the car is stable under hard braking.


The on-center feel is very good, making freeway driving easy, and steering resistance builds through turns, going from very light to surprisingly heavy. But there's no sense of what the front wheels are doing, and what feel there is seems rubbery and artificial.


The LaCrosse does fine in low-speed turns, but when pushed even a little, it feels unsettled. The suspension never seems to fully settle, leading to wallowing body motion. The tires begin protesting audibly at even relatively low speeds. In short, the LaCrosse fails to inspire confidence.


The no-defeat stop-start system is mostly unobtrusive. The shifts are generally smooth, except for the occasional harsh shift at low speed. Using the shift paddles results in an unhurried response from the transmission. The LaCrosse is mostly inoffensive, but it feels large and heavy on the road.


We'd expect quiet and plush from the big Buick, which would match its relaxed driving characteristics. The seats are certainly a comfortable place to spend time, but the ride is busy and there's noticeable noise at freeway speeds. Less expensive cars offer similar levels of refinement.

Seat comfort

The seats balance support and padding nicely, and strong heating and cooling help make these all-day comfortable. The seat cushion is a bit narrow, but since the bolsters are very flat, the narrowness won't impact comfort for most drivers. Of course, the seat will do little to hold you in place.

Ride comfort

The suspension manages to smooth the edges off bumps in the road, but there's pronounced bounce over larger bumps and smaller imperfections make the car feel heavy-footed and jiggly. There's more going on than we expect from a car in this class, and it hurts the LaCrosse's luxury aspirations.

Noise & vibration

The windows do an excellent job of filtering out the sound of surrounding traffic, but there's lots of road noise over bumps and at freeway speeds. At speed there's also wind and tire noise and noticeable engine noise when trucking up inclines.

Climate control

The dual-zone system works well left to its own devices, and the seat heaters and coolers are quite strong. However, only a few basic controls are button-based; full manual control requires interacting with the touchscreen, which may be an annoyance for drivers who prefer this approach.


The interior aims for a midpoint between luxury and mainstream cars, but there's a lot of plastic and the interior space isn't as open or roomy as what many rivals offer. The limited physical controls are easy to find and use, but many features require interacting with the touchscreen.

Ease of use

The steering wheel-mounted controls are easy to use, but with only a handful of buttons in the cabin, many controls require the touchscreen. While the system is straightforward, the busy ride can make tapping smaller virtual buttons hit-and-miss. Some may find the screen a bit of a reach, too.

Getting in/getting out

The front openings are large and square, although the high bottom sill creates a stepover. Good rear legroom makes stepping in easy, except in tight parking spaces where the longer rear doors can't open far enough. Adult passengers will have to duck under the raked roofline in the rear.

Driving position

The armrests on both sides of the driver are high enough to be usable, making you feel ensconced in the car and more comfortable on longer drives. The seat offers plenty of adjustability for drivers of different sizes. Some center-stack controls can be a reach for long-legged drivers.


The high, wide center console takes up a lot of space, impinging on kneeroom and making the front feel smaller than it is. The rear seat offers good legroom, but headroom is compromised for adults over average height. Overall, the cabin is less roomy than those of other full-sized luxury cars.


The rear window is short, partially obscuring the view and making the backup camera a necessity. The thick front and side pillars create blind spots, and the small sideview mirrors don't help much without blind-spot monitoring. The rear-most side window helps over-the-shoulder visibility.


The LaCrosse's interior has a lot of plastics. Most have a soft-touch coating, but it's still a lot of plastic surface area. The wood trim and seat leather also feel a bit plasticky. We had issues with a nonfunctioning head-up display and noted a creak in the cabin.


The big surprise is the limited amount of usable trunk space due to a number of intrusions that leave only a relatively small square of flat flooring. There's a good amount of space for small items in the cabin thanks to a lateral pass-through under the center console.

Small-item storage

The shelf that occupies a pass-through under the center console offers a good amount of storage space. The center console box is relatively small, as is the glovebox. The door pockets can hold regular water bottles but not much more, and the seatback pockets are comically small.

Cargo space

At 14.3 cubic feet, there's surprisingly little usable trunk space. Flimsy wheelwell coverings impinge on the sides and the battery creates a rise in the trunk, so there's a relatively small area of flat flooring. The 60/40-split folding seats help for longer items, but bulky items will be an issue.

Child safety seat accommodation

There are clearly marked LATCH anchors, but the bottom anchors are recessed in the seat cushions and not very accessible. The top anchors are easy to access. There's enough rear-seat room to accommodate even bulky seats.


General Motors' technologies are fully deployed in the LaCrosse, although many driver aids and active safety features are optional. They compare favorably against those in mainstream cars but are outclassed when stacked up against offerings from luxury manufacturers.

Audio & navigation

The Bose audio system doesn't provide anything exceptional, but GM's navigation system is as strong as ever. It's easy to use and supports plenty of voice commands that work well. That said, when stacked up against luxury rivals, the system feels outdated and outclassed.

Smartphone integration

Bluetooth pairing is straightforward to accomplish, and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work smoothly. The wireless charging pocket in the center console is a tight fit for large phones or phones in cases, but it provides easy access. The car will notify you of messages and read them aloud.

Driver aids

Only a few active safety features are standard, even on higher trims. Adaptive cruise works smoothly, albeit a bit conservatively. Lane keeping assist tends to overcorrect so the car ping-pongs between lane markers. It's not always easy to figure out what has set off the vibrating seat.

Voice control

The prompts are helpfully displayed on the touchscreen, but there isn't as much functionality as with some competitive systems, especially in the luxury market, and phrasing has to be precise. The navigation system responds well to voice input and isn't prone to misunderstanding.

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.