2012 Buick LaCrosse Gets Standard Hybrid System, 37 mpg Highway

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Every day we edge closer to the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, and every day we seem to get another jaw-dropping fuel-economy figure from an automaker.

Today, GM surprised us with a new standard powertrain for the 2012 Buick LaCrosse that’ll allow it to achieve 25/37 mpg city/highway. Combined horsepower is rated at 182 hp.

The new powertrain involves a traditional four-cylinder, automatic transmission and GM’s new mild hybrid system, dubbed “eAssist.”

It’s a similar system to the Chevy Malibu Hybrid, which returned mileage of 26/34 mpg. The Malibu Hybrid is no longer made.

The LaCrosse’s system, however, uses a lithium-ion battery pack, a small 15-horsepower electric motor, regenerative braking, a fuel cutoff system and start-stop technology to achieve a 25% fuel-economy gain over the 2011 LaCrosse that’s equipped with the four-cylinder (19/30 mpg).

The new lithium-ion battery pack compromises truck space now only 10.9 cubic feet versus the 2011 LaCrosse’s 13.3 cubic feet, which is already quite small for the class. Split folding rear seats are still included. This feature often isn’t found in hybrid sedans.

Along with the powertrain improvements, the LaCrosse with the eAssist system gets aerodynamic body panels underneath the car and low-rolling-resistance tires. It also has a lower grille that closes at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics, which is a similar system that’s found on the upcoming Chevy Cruze Eco model.

On the inside, the eAssist LaCrosse will get an instrument panel that helps the driver achieve the most fuel-efficient driving like similar systems in other hybrids. Compared with its competition – the 2011 Lexus ES 350 (19/27 mpg), 2011 Acura TL (18/26 mpg) and 2011 Lincoln MKZ (18/27 mpg) the new LaCrosse blows them out of the water. Lincoln does offer a MKZ Hybrid (41/36 mpg) at the same price as the base V-6 MKZ, which will probably be the closest competitor for this Buick.

We’ve tested both the four-cylinder LaCrosse and the Malibu Hybrid and both felt modestly powered or underpowered for their size. Hopefully, the 2012 LaCrosse gains a bit more power to match the impressive mileage.

GM says the mild hybrid system will come standard on the base LaCrosse, which will start at less than $30,000. Expect the model to go on sale next summer.

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