Although it shares aspects with the Chevrolet Malibu, the Buick 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.
New for 2011
Buick drops its 3.0-liter V-6 engine and keeps the 3.6-liter V-6 and its more efficient 2.4-liter four-cylinder.
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. Exterior features include:
- Optional 19-inch wheels for the CXS
- Available limited-slip differential
- Optional real-time adjusting suspension
The interior is modernized with features such as ambient LED lighting and analog and digital stereo inputs. 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. Optional interior features include:
- Navigation system with Bluetooth connectivity
- Dual-display DVD entertainment system for the backseat
- Heated and ventilated seats
Under the Hood
The LaCrosse comes with one of two engines: a 182-horsepower, Ecotec 2.4-liter inline-four-cylinder in the CX and CXL FWD, and a 280-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 in the CXL AWD and 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- and 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 communication system with a year's free subscription. Optional safety features include:
- Adaptive headlights
- Blind spot warning system
- Brake assist system
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