As part of its restructuring, General Motors executives decided to save Buick, kill Pontiac and Saturn. I remain unconvinced that this was the right decision, but I have to admit that the 2010 LaCrosse makes a very strong case that there is life left in Buick.
The LaCrosse was introduced as a 2005 model at the Chicago Auto Show, replacing the Century and the Regal. GM's then-fresh product czar Bob Lutz, from whom we expected great things, tried hard to act like the LaCrosse was something special at that introduction, but he fooled no one, not even himself. It was just another plain but plucky Buick, which would please many customers, but excite none.
For 2010, though - wow. Styled mostly in China, Buick's strongest market, this new LaCrosse looks - inside and out - more like an Acura than anything else, though by no means is it a copy. It is the entry-level Buick by default: Buick has only three models for 2010, the others being the larger Lucerne sedan, which starts at $29,230, and the Enclave SUV, which starts at $35,165.
The base LaCrosse, the CX, starts at just more than $27,000, and the mid-level CXL starts at $29,645, adding leather upholstery and larger wheels to the CX and its 3.0-liter, 255-horsepower V-6 engine. The top-of-the-line model, and the one tested here, is the CXS, which starts at $33,015. It adds quite a few luxury features, and a more powerful 3.6-liter, 280-horsepower V-6. All models have a six-speed automatic transmission. All are front-wheel-drive, but the CXL has an all-wheel-drive option that adds $2,175, and is probably worth it if you live in the snow belt.
The interior of the LaCrosse CXS is as luxurious as most anything from Japan or Germany. The front bucket seats are extremely comfortable, even for long trips. Rear seats are fine for two adults, acceptable for three. There's plenty of trunk space. No one who sat in the LaCrosse failed to compliment the interior.
Outside, the CXS makes a statement, but it isn't so polarizing as to offend anyone. There isn't much of a sense of family with other Buick products, but that's fine. Build quality - it's made in Kansas City - was top-notch. Options on the test car, including a navigation system, a backup camera and a sunroof, raised the price to a still-reasonable $37,880.
The 3.6-liter V-6, best known for its installation in many Cadillac products, can't be faulted, and the six-speed automatic transmission was nicely matched to the engine's power delivery. The EPA rates mileage at 17 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and the smaller 3.0-liter is actually rated lower, 17/26 mpg. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder will be offered soon in the base model, and it's rated at 20/30 mpg.
My only real criticism is the handling and steering - GM seems convinced Buick customers want a floaty ride and slightly numb steering, but I don't. In "sport" mode, available as part of a $800 package that added variable suspension, it's certainly better, but it's no Acura.
Otherwise, the 2010 LaCrosse has what it takes to make believers out of many of us who had written Buick off. Nicely done.
2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS
Base price: $33,015
Price as tested: $37,880
EPA rating: 17 miles per gallon city driving, 27 mpg highway
Details: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive sedan with a 3.6-liter, 280-horsepower V-6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Joe Wiesenfelder||Cars.com National||July 15, 2010|
|Kelsey Mays||Cars.com National||July 30, 2009|
|Cars.com Staff||Cars.com National||February 27, 2009|
|Sara Lacey||Mother Proof||August 16, 2010|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||April 11, 2010|
|Clifford Atiyeh||Boston.com||February 17, 2010|
|Scott Burgess||The Detroit Newspapers||January 23, 2010|
|Sherrice Gilsbach||Mother Proof||November 19, 2009|
|Steven Cole Smith||Orlando Sentinel||November 13, 2009|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||September 20, 2009|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||September 13, 2009|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||August 7, 2009|
|Scott Burgess||The Detroit Newspapers||August 6, 2009|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||July 24, 2009|
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