We’ve driven the Buick LaCrosse a few times, starting way back in 2009 when it was launched. With the LaCrosse, Buick aimed their sites straight for the likes of Lexus, Acura, and Lincoln. We’ve talked plenty in our last two reviews about the impressiveness of the interior quality for the money and how we think that Buick has made good on their goal. So what’s different about this LaCrosse over others we’ve tested? Something called eAssist.
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The eAssist platform was created to make a more fuel efficient version of the LaCrosse. It uses the hybrid system you would have found in the now dead Saturn Aura Green Line with a few more modern tweaks. The engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. This is matched up with a small electric motor that allows this car to enable a start/stop function. This is where the engine shuts down when you are stopped at a stoplight and kicks back on, seamlessly, when you are ready to set off again. Doing this allows the eAssist LaCrosse to post pretty impressive fuel economy numbers. This large, luxury sedan is good for 25-city mpg and 36-highway mpg.
Buick has also thrown in GM’s next-generation six-speed automatic transmission. This is supposed to improve on the old transmission by reducing friction losses and improving shift response. They have also fitted the car with low resistance tires, which are supposed to not sacrifice any grip, unlike the ones you would find on a Prius. The fuel tank has been messed with as well. Instead of the 18.4-gallon tank in the normal LaCrosse, you only get 15.7 gallons. This is said to limit the maximum curb weight of the car. In the front grille, much like the Cruze Eco, you get electronically controlled shutters that help with aerodynamics.
So it’s a hybrid? Who wants to be seen rolling around in a flashy hybrid these days? Well, for us, the cool thing about this car is that you won’t find any indication that this is a hybrid car. Besides the battery that takes up a little room in the trunk and a few “eco” phrases on the dash, your friends will be none the wiser.
All of this sounds impressive, and in the case of saving fuel, it works well. In our week of driving the car all over the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, we averaged around 34 mpg. My biggest issue with the car is with the start/stop feature. I’ve driven other cars, mostly much more expensive ones, that utilize the start/stop feature, and in the LaCrosse, it was much more jerky then I expected. If you are in heavy traffic or doing a lot of rolling stops and starts, the system doesn’t seem to handle it that well. I also have the same gripe about this car as I did in my last review; the power just isn’t there for such a big heavy car. I know the point of this car isn’t to be powerful, but it really felt to be too down on power. The V6, although nowhere near as fuel efficient, is much easier to drive.
When it comes to price point though, the eAssist LaCrosse is undoubtedly in a class of it’s own. You can pick up a base LaCrosse with eAssist for just under $30,000. To me, that’s an immense bargain for such a large and fuel-efficient car, no matter its powertrain woes.
Even our decked out tester only ran up to just over $36,000. This sticker price included navigation, heated seats, backup camera, side mirrors that slid down when the vehicle is put into reverse, comfortable leather, and a great interior feel. It might be the stereotypical “grandpa” car, but it really is perfect for someone that wants to get around in comfort and class while still being fuel efficient.