As a member of Generation X, I've never been ready to admit that a midsize sedan would work well for my family, but after spending significant time with the Buick LaCrosse, I just couldn't deny it anymore.
The 2012 Buick LaCrosse's smooth ride transported me in total comfort, and it was so well-equipped with many of my favorite tech and luxury features that I enjoyed driving it much more than I expected.
The LaCrosse delivers a pleasurable ride, but it does feel a little slow at times, both in acceleration and braking. With such a cushy ride, there's no need to hurry anyway, but I would've preferred a little more power and responsiveness.
Buick's eAssist technology, which comes standard on the LaCrosse with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, was designed to increase fuel economy by using a small electric motor to help the gasoline engine. Also, when the car is idle, the engine switches off, and once the driver pushes the gas pedal again, it switches back on. I found the eAssist system to be smooth, and the engine's stop/start technology was almost unnoticeable when driving unlike when I tested a similar feature in the BMW 5 Series sedan.
The 2012 LaCrosse base model has a starting price of $31,045, but my test car, a Premium I trim, came in at $36,175.
The 2012 LaCrosse is a classy sedan. Sure, you might think that would age it, but it's quite the opposite. It's got a sleek, sculpted look, and with lots of shiny chrome accents, the LaCrosse is well-suited to stand up against other luxury sedans in the looks department. At first glance, I thought it looked rather large, but once I drove it, it didn't feel as big as it looked from the outside.
Ease of entry and exit is almost a non-issue in the LaCrosse. The rear roofline has a drastic slope, so I had to be cautious when loading my daughter into her child-safety seat. You'll have to help smaller children open and close the heavy doors, but overall, there should be no major problems caused by the LaCrosse's exterior styling. It's easy to access the cargo area — one push of the button on the key fob and the trunk pops right open.
The trunk's size is compromised because the eAssist system's lithium-ion battery is stored there, so be warned that larger strollers are a tight fit. If you're headed to the grocery store or are taking a quick jaunt with an umbrella stroller in tow, it'll be just fine.
The 2012 LaCrosse comes standard with a 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection that's paired to a 15-kilowatt electric motor. EPA estimates for the LaCrosse are 25/36 mpg city/highway. The eAssist system had a positive impact on my gas mileage during my test drive, especially in the city, and using regular unleaded gasoline made for more budget-friendly times at the pump, as well. A 303-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 is optional; it gets 17/27 mpg.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
The LaCrosse's interior is luxurious and comes off as upscale. Each time a new passenger saddled into this five-seater they immediately exclaimed how gorgeous things were inside. It was true, and I wholeheartedly agreed each time that praise was awarded.
The sedan's displays and graphics are some of the best I've seen inside a car to date, and the Ice Blue backlit gauges and accent lighting won me over. The amount of tech in this car will satisfy the savviest of techie moms and dads, especially with its large 8-inch touch-screen and head-up display feature, which really makes things feel futuristic.
Buick's IntelliLink multimedia system is intuitive and simple to use. The icons make navigating through your music library or even making adjustments to climate controls a piece of cake. Despite the similarities, the IntelliLink system is far superior to (and much less frustrating than) MyFord Touch. One huge surprise, especially with a sticker price of $36K, was the lack of a navigation system and map display. You are provided personalized turn-by-turn directions in the vehicle via OnStar, but I really missed my map, which is an $895 option. This seemed to be a glaring omission, especially at my test car's Premium trim level.
The biggest luxuries found in the LaCrosse are the comfortable seats, ample legroom and general roominess in the cabin. There's lots of space to be comfortable in this five-seater, though with child-safety seats installed in the backseat, you'll be better off with just four. The LaCrosse can fit another couple in the backseat on double-date night just as easily as it can accommodate space-hogging rear-facing safety seats. My husband had room to stretch in front as well, even with our daughter's rear-facing safety seat behind him.
One odd thing about the LaCrosse was that despite its roomy interior, it was skimpy on storage space. Everybody gets a cupholder, but the center console is teeny and the door cutouts are so small that they're useless.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
The LaCrosse received an overall safety score of five stars out of five from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It received five stars in front and side crash tests and four stars in rollover crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also named the LaCrosse a Top Safety Pick. To earn this safety nod, a car must receive the top score of Good in front, side, rear and roof-strength crash tests.
The LaCrosse has standard front-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, an electronic stability system with traction control, a six-month OnStar subscription, rear parking sensors and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows.
Optional features are all-wheel drive, head-up display, a backup camera, a blind spot warning system, rear side-impact airbags and adaptive, auto-leveling headlights.
The LaCrosse has the standard two sets of Latch anchors in the outboard seat, but there's also one additional anchor in the middle seat position. That extra Latch anchor makes it possible to properly install a child-safety seat in the middle of the second row. However, the stiff seat cushions made it somewhat difficult to use the Latch anchors. Once I got the cushions pushed back far enough, installation went quickly. See how the LaCrosse fared in Cars.com's Car Seat Check.
Get more safety information on the 2012 Buick LaCrosse here.
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