2010 Buick LaCrosse
Date Posted: February 10, 2010
By Zack Spencer
Buick hopes that this new LaCrosse can attract buyers who might be thinking of an import brand like Lexus
Passive automotive observers might have been a bit surprised when General Motors decided to eliminate the Pontiac brand and keep Buick instead. Surely Pontiac had better brand recognition than Buick? In addition, when the decision was made, Buick only had three vehicles in the lineup, including the Enclave crossover, Lucerne full sized sedan and the mid sized Allure. Why did GM make this decision? One word-China. Buick has a massive market share in China because the Buick brand is one that Chinese buyers aspire to own. If GM can produce the same cars for China and the North American, they can spread the development costs over two massive markets, saving money. While on the subject of two unique markets, it should be pointed out that the Canadian Allure and American LaCrosse were the same car but had different names, due to Quebec slang surrounding the term ''LaCrosse''. (Similar to ''pulling the goalie''). With the introduction of this all-new 2010 model, GM has decided to stand tall and use LaCrosse for both markets and hope the snickering will fade away.
I can clearly remember the first time I saw the latest LaCrosse in person. It was sitting on the floor of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show and thought to myself that GM had finally got it right. This is a good-looking car and is as nicely styled as anything in this class. The front has a classy looking grill, sophisticated headlights, with optional adaptive xenon's, and flowing shape. The car sits nicely over the wheels, plus the sculpted shape and stance look very well thought out. In order to achieve this look, Buick has adopted the latest trend in vehicle design and that is to make the doors higher and the windows smaller. It gives a dramatic effect but the smaller windows might reduce outward visibility. Another thing to note is the high rear trunk deck and shallow rear window. Something to look for when you try this car out is whether you see out the back? The good news is a rear view camera and parking sensors can be ordered.
General Motors put as much effort into the interior as they did on the outside. The LaCrosse competes head to head with the Lexus ES and Lincoln MKS and the interior looks as good, if not better than those interiors. The faux leather dash with stitching is upscale, as is the light touch of wood, splashes of chrome and sophisticated lighting. The great thing about GM is that their navigation and radio interface is similar from vehicle to vehicle and it is easy to use and read. An 8-way power drivers seat is standard along with leather wrapped tilt and telescopic steering, leather shifter, Bluetooth connectivity and auxiliary jack. My test car came equipped with a voice activated navigation system, leather seats and a few more goodies that make the interior even better. The back seats have plenty of room with lots of legroom but because of the high doors and small back windows the view out the back might not be the best.
What kind of ride would you expect from a Buick? Mushy? Floaty-boaty? Well I can tell you that yes this Buick is smooth and refined but it still gives feedback to the driver. It isn't numb, just smooth, quiet and luxurious. The closest car I can compare it to is the Lexus ES, and that is some good company. In fact, when stopped there is no way to tell that the car is running, it is that smooth and quiet. There are two direct injection engines, a 3.0L with 255hp and a 3.6 direct injection engine available in the top CXS trim with 280hp. All of that power goes through a 6-speed automatic, which can be shifted manually on the centre console. GM decided to provide a base front wheel drive car or an all-wheel drive car on the CXL trim. Also, to help with winter driving is standard traction and stability control. The Buick LaCrosse can be equipped to be as fancy as your wallet will allow but I feel that the base model, at just under $33,000, it is a great alternative to a buying a V6 equipped Chevy Malibu. They are similar in size but I think the Buick is nicer on the inside, plus a V6 engine is standard. I have to say that this is an easy car to enjoy for a long trip. I've always enjoyed every Buick I've driven over the last few years and this one is no different, in fact it is more dramatic in style but just as relaxed as ever.
General Motors believes that the Buick brand will have a resurrection in North America and become a mainstream brand one again. The ride and power is perfectly suited to buyers who want refinement and smoothness with no rough edges. There are certainly enough of these buyers in the market because Toyota and Lexus have dominated with just these types of cars. The question is whether Buick can win them over? With top quality ratings and a fine car on their hands, I suspect that more people should, and will try Buick. Even if Buick doesn't achieve the sales GM is hoping for in North America, there are over one billion Chinese that they hope to sell the LaCrosse to. Let's just hope that they don't know any Quebec slang.
The Good, The Bad
Can you name the number one brand for vehicle dependability after three years, according to JD Power and Associates? Buick is number one, tied with another name you wouldn't expect.... Jaguar!
Buick might be a brand that the Chinese aspire to buy but will Canadians be drawn to Buick dealers?
Power: 3.0L V6 with 255hp or a 3.6L V6 with 280hp
Fill-up: 12.7L/7.7L/100km (city/highway) 3.0L V6 .
Sticker price: Starts at $32,795