The 2010 model year marks the first complete redo of Buick's LaCrosse since the competent but uninspiring midsize sedan made its 2005 debut. Though it shares aspects with the Chevrolet Malibu and Saturn Astra, the LaCrosse is intended to compete with premium or near-luxury models like the Volkswagen Passat. It was designed in the U.S. and China, where Buick has a significant presence.
Though it's a midsize sedan, the LaCrosse is a bit larger in all dimensions than the Malibu, and a few hundred pounds heavier. The grille is large and bold, and there's a distinctive accent line that runs along the side from headlight to taillight. It's a stronger statement than the previous generation, but Buick hasn't redefined itself to an extent that will turn off traditional buyers.
The three trim levels are distinguished more by equipment than cosmetic aspects. The CX has 17-inch wheels. The CXL has 18-inch wheels and adds fog lights and turn-signal indicators on the side mirrors. The CXS has chrome 18-inch wheels, but 19-inchers are optional.
The interior is modernized with features like ambient LED lighting and optional navigation, Bluetooth compatibility, analog and digital stereo inputs and a dual-display DVD video system for the backseat, but it doesn't trade the classic interior for anything too edgy. There are wood accents, high-quality materials and contrasting-color stitching. The backseat truly has room for three passengers.
Under the Hood
The LaCrosse comes with one of two V-6 engines: a 255-horsepower 3.0-liter in the CX and CXL, and a 280-hp 3.6-liter in the CXS. Both are direct-injection designs, a relatively new development in gasoline engines that portends good gas mileage for the engines' size and power. Both engines drive the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The middle trim level is eligible for all-wheel drive.
The LaCrosse is tuned for a softer, quieter ride than GM's other midsize sedans.
The LaCrosse has front airbags, side-impact airbags for the front seats and curtain airbags that cover all the side windows. Antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control are also standard, as is OnStar with a year's free subscription. Options include adaptive headlights, which swivel in the direction of a turn, and a blind spot warning system.
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