The all-new LaCrosse is a significant part of Buick's lineup because it replaces the Regal and Century with a new product aimed at younger buyers.
Buick's model mix will continue to evolve, and future models could well include a new full-size sedan, a rear-wheel-drive flagship sedan and a luxury convertible.
There are three LaCrosse models, all front-wheel drive. Prices start at $23,495 for the CX, $25,995 for the CXL and $28,995 for the CXS. I drove a CXS.
The LaCrosse name comes from a concept car shown in 2000. The concept had a clever trunk that could be opened to reveal a cargo space almost like a pickup truck's. The production version does not have that feature and bears little resemblance to the concept other than the name.
It does have a curved, coupelike roofline, round nose and four headlights. The styling is clean and simple, free from add-on plastic panels and excessive chrome. While the look may be a radical change for Buick, it is fairly tame. That isn't to say the LaCrosse isn't attractive. It is. Traditional Buick buyers may not like it, but Buick is hoping its new models will appeal to younger buyers, and the LaCrosse certainly has a young look.
How it drives is more important than how it looks. The LaCrosse is extremely quiet, thanks to laminated steel between the cabin and engine, baffles in the roof pillars, laminated glass in the windshield and front doors, and the use of melt-on sound deadener throughout the lower body structure. The carpet also has a sound-absorbing backing.
Muted noise enhances the driving experience, and Buick seems to be adopting it across the board.
Another key part of the driving experience is a well-designed, easy-to-use interior. The LaCrosse is a welcome departure from past Buicks in this regard. The instrument cluster looks elegant, but more importantly, switches and knobs are simple and understated. The textures on the instrument panel are soft and inviting, plus the layout of controls is clear. Interior ergonomics puts the LaCrosse on par with many imports.
A passenger commented that the sloping roofline made it hard to get into the back seat without bumping his head.
The CXS is powered by a 240-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 with variable valve timing. This engine has dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It is rated at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on the highway.
This new engine is not only smooth and quiet, but it delivers 90 percent of its torque between 1,600 and 6,000 rpm. Producing the bulk of its torque at low speed enhances drivability and makes it lively right from a stop.
The CX and CXL models get a 3.8-liter, 200-horsepower V-6. This engine is now in Series III form, which includes an electronic throttle.
Compared to the Regal, 80 percent of the suspension is new. The power steering has been retuned for better on-center feel. The brakes are four-wheel disc, and 16-inch wheels are standard. The CXS comes with 17-inch wheels for even sharper response in corners. GM's StabiliTrak vehicle stability system is available, too.
The test car's base price was $28,995. Options included a power sunroof, steering-wheel controls for radio and climate, auto-dimming inside mirror, vehicle stability system, side-impact airbags, XM satellite radio, heated seats and remote start system. The sticker price was $33,650.
Three years or 36,000 miles.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Jim Flammang||Cars.com National||June 23, 2005|
|Mark Glover||The Sacramento Bee||March 11, 2005|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||January 26, 2005|
|Royal Ford||Boston.com||December 25, 2004|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||December 19, 2004|
|Larry Printz||The Morning Call and Mcall.com||December 12, 2004|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||December 11, 2004|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||November 7, 2004|
|Anita Lienert||The Detroit Newspapers||October 20, 2004|
|Jason Stein||October 31, 2004|
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