Forget the big grille, the chrome fenders, the oversized headlights or the high beltlines.

In other words: This isn't your neighbor's Chrysler 300.

Buick acknowledges it didn't want the flash associated with Chrysler's big-selling sedan. It had no interest in drawing attention to itself. It didn't want the bling.

So, what you get in the new LaCrosse, a four-door, front-drive sedan, is something a bit more subtle that is supposed to attract the masses.

The average age of the typical Buick buyer is about 65, General Motors says.

Although the jury is out on whether it will lower the demographic, it might get people thinking differently about Buick.

No flash. Some dash.

As a midsize car that aches to compete with the ultra-competitive Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Ford Five Hundred crowd, GM hopes this is another alternative on buyers' short list.

The LaCrosse comes in three versions, a base CX, a mid-level CXL and an uplevel CXS.

The CX and CXL come with GM's 3.8-liter pushrod V-6 that produces 200 horsepower. It's an adequate amount of power that is quieter and more refined (less vibration and harshness) than Buick engines of the past.

Step up to the CXS, and you'll get a beefier, high-performance 240-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine that offers a surprising amount of get-up-and-go. It hustles through the turns and jumps out of the gate. The 3.6-liter engine is smoother, more refined and does not sound like a jet engine at a high-rate of speed. When compared against the Accord and Camry, it comes out pretty well.

Thrills? Chills? Not really.

But comfort and quietness? Most definitely.

Buick reallocated extra resources to ensure the LaCrosse is one of the quietest rides on the road. And it is. At a cruising speed, the LaCrosse absorbs road bruises and smooths out the cracks.

On handling, Buick promised "no more floatiness" on the road, and GM held true to its promise. Unlike previous versions, the LaCrosse does not waffle around the highway. It sticks in the corners and stays stable during normal driving. It is smooth and probably firmer than most Buick users will be used to.

During its development, Robert Lutz, GM vice chairman and product czar, canned the usual Buick staples.

That means the precision, fit and finish is loads better than the Buicks your dad used to drive.

Lutz made sure to close the loose-fitting gaps while adding some extras. He talked Buick designers into adding a chrome-trimmed interior, a better headliner, a new instrument panel and enough add-ons to take on the Lexus ES 300 crowd - Buick's benchmark.

Mostly, though, this is a value story. There is plenty packed into a $22,000 base price ($28,835 in top-end versions) and interior room and overall space is worthy of the Buick name. There is loads of room in the front and back, and the trunk will hold four sets of golf clubs.

Yes, the seats are a little flat. And, yes, the exterior could use more style. Buick says that is coming. For now, the LaCrosse will not alienate the Buick crowd. It will not draw a crowd. It will not make a statement. It will not appear in a Snoop Dogg video.

In other words: It is not a 300.

Is that good or bad? We'll find out.

Buick claims that "trendy" designs (read: the 300) have a certain shelf life.

Only time will tell.

2005 Buick LaCrosse

Vehicle type: Front-wheel-drive, front-engine, four-door, five-passenger sedan

Key competition: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Maxima

Base engine: 200-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6

Transmission: Four-speed automatic

Standard safety equipment: Dual front air bags; child safety seats

MPG rating: Not available

Manufactured: United States

Warranty: Basic warranty is three years/36,000 miles with roadside assistance.

Base price: $22,835

Price as tested (including destination and delivery): $28,995