In 2009, we attended one of our first big media events for txGarage. What a great time to get in on all these new, exciting cars too. We were at the media event for the State Fair of Texas where they were launching the new GMC Terrain and the Buick LaCrosse. It was fantastic being at one of our first big events and driving brand new cars not yet on the market. Jump forward two years and we are reviewing the 2011 LaCrosse, with txGarage alive and kicking.
Maybe it’s my dysfunctional memory, or maybe the LaCrosse has just improved that much over the last two years, but I dont remember it being such a great car for the money. As tested, our LaCrosse dropped in at $36,660 and was basically fully loaded. You can pick up a base modle for under $30k.
The styling of the LaCrosse has set the tone for the direction of Buick and after seeing and testing the new Regal, I’d say it’s a great direction. Just check out the detail in those headlights and the defined, but swoopy lines down the hood; the sides; and around to the trunk. Unlike the Regal. this car looks big. And thats for good reason: it is big. Step inside and you get all the aminaties you’d expect from Lexus or many other luxury brands. Our tester was a CLX trimmed LaCrosse and was equipped with good quality leather seats, comfortable in the front and rear with pleanty of room to move about. Heated and cooled seats for both front passengers, dual climate control, Harman Kardon entertainment system with OnStar navigation, a rear window visor that is raised and lowered at the touch of a button, buttons on the leather wrapped steering wheel to control the entertainment system and cruise control, screens mounted to the rear seats for the DVD system, and the list goes on and on. You also get a keyless entry system that I wish was on some other GM cars we’ve recently driven. Keep the key in your pocket, walk up and pull on the door handle, sit down, put your foot on the brake and hit the start button. When you get out of the car, simply swipe your finger across the door handle and the car locks up. I can’t think of one feature that the Lexus has that I was lacking in this Buick.
The two-tone leather and wood interior was appealing, but even more so at night when the ice blue ambient lighting bathed the interior. The entire week of cruising along in this car all we could think was, how can this car be less than $37k?
The ride and handling tell the same story. This is no sport sedan that’s going to hug you in the corners or brake your spine on harsh roads. This, much like the Lexus, is for comfort and luxury. It’s quiet and soft going down just about any pavement. In the turns, you get predictable body roll, but never excessive.
The one area of letdown is the powertrain and chassis layout of the Buick. Most luxury manufacturers offer platforms in rear-wheel drive and offer more powerful engine options. Although the Lexus ES, Acura TL, and Lincoln MKS are all well selling front-wheel drive luxury moniker, the LaCrosse still undercuts them on price. Obviously, the front-wheel drive and 4 cylinder combo allows the Buick to cost so much less than these other luxury brands. Is it a bad thing? Not at all. As much as I’d like to see a beautiful Buick body on a rear-wheel drive platform and a LS3 V8 under the hood, it won’t help incrase sales for Buick and would drive prices way up. If you are looking for that kind of luxury and willing to pay for it, GM still offers up Cadillac, by the way.
Nonetheless, our tester was fitted with the 2.4 inline 4 cylinder matched up to the six-speed automatic transmission. The power was lacking with 182 hp trying to push this 4018 pound sedan around. When you are cruising down the highway, it was all rosy, but in town with lots of starts and stops, the transmission was a little too jerky. Trying to get up to speed, you’d jerk back and forth through gears, then stop and start the parocess all over again. You could just tell that the car had too much weight for the power you got out of the engine. Fuel economy was decent as we averaged 21.2 mpg throughout our entire week. The EPA ratings for the LaCrosse are 19 city/ 30 hwy.
To put it bluntly, most consumers won’t notice as much the lacking power, and Buick does offer up a V6 to help haul the mass. But this car, for this price, is a statement Buick is making loudly. This car has been selling well for Buick, pushing out over 61k units last year. With other brands out of the way and not a terrible amount of competition in the simi-luxurious market anymore, this is a great offering by Buick. The LaCrosse is really showing what great potential Buick has as a surviving brand of GM.
The full photo gallery HERE