2010 Buick LaCrosse Review

2010 Buick LaCrosse - The new Buick.


Buick's new 2010 LaCrosse sedan is so completely redesigned that its interior was partially done in China, where Buick is hugely popular. Still, this is an All-American car, produced in Kansas.

Buick wants to build on the success of its popular, relatively new Enclave crossover vehicle to give it a more modern image in America, where the average age of Buick buyers is above 70.

Baby boomers consider 70 to be "the new 60," when it comes to aging, but Buick is after LaCrosse buyers in their 40s and 50s, while retaining older customers. In China, Buick says its affluent young professional customers are in their 20s and 30s.

Buick says its sporty Reatta two-seater and Grand National muscle cars of the 1980s are remembered--not to mention its potent 1960s and 1970s muscle cars. But it adds that many Americans feel that it has an "old folks" image.

"Americans in their 40s and 50s know of our brand, but say it 's just not for them," says Susan Docherty, Buick-Pontiac-GMC vice president.

Buick said at a media preview of the LaCrosse near Detroit that rivals to its new sedan  include Asian cars such as the Acura TL and Lexus ES 350. The new Buick was partly developed in Europe and its interior was done by a U.S./Chinese team.

Buick feels it's in a good position at the "new" General Motors, which consists of Cadillac at the top, Buick in the middle and Chevrolet as the entry level division, with GMC remaining an upscale truck division.

In terms of luxury status, Buick fits nicely between Chevy and Cadillac, said Russell Clark, the brand and product development executive director for Buck-Pontiac-GMC.

The entry LaCrosse is the front-drive $27,085 model, which dips below the $28,000 barrier without the car's $750 destination charge. Next comes the front-drive $29,645 CXL, which costs $31,820 with all-wheel drive and is the only LaCrosse to offer that drive feature. The CXL is expected to be the most popular LaCrosse.

The front-drive $33,015 CXS is the top version.
The CXL with front- or all-wheel drive has a 3-liter V-6 with 255 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque. It provides lively acceleration, but needs lots of revs for the fastest acceleration, although it's happy to provide them via its responsive six-speed automatic transmission. A new 2.4-liter Ecotec dual-overhead-camshaft four-cylinder engine replaces this V-6 as the standard engine later this year.

The 3-liter V-6 delivers an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 27 on highways with front-drive and 16 and 26 with all-wheel drive. Buick says the four-cylidner will deliver an estimated 20 mpg city and 30 highway.

The CXS has a 3.6-liter V-6 with 280 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque. It's considerably stronger and makes the LaCrosse a faster, more relaxed car that's quieter during hard acceleration. Fuel economy with this engine is an estimated 17 city and 27 highway. It also utilizes a six-speed automatic.

Both V-6s only require regular-grade gasoline, as will the upcoming four-cylinder.

Buick says the 0-60 mph time with the 3.6 V-6 is approximately 6.8 seconds. Figure on adding another second to 60 mph with the 3-liter V-6. Both engines provide easy 75 mph highway cruising.

The four-cylinder won't be a slouch, with a respectable 0-60 mph time of  "9.2 to 9.3" seconds, says Buick, which expects it to attract new customers.

Those figures are OK, considering that the 197-inch-long LaCrosse is fairly heavy. The front-drive CX weighs 3,948 pounds. The CXL checks in at 4,018 pounds with front-drive and at 4,199 pounds with all-wheel drive. The CSX weighs 4,065 pounds.

The CX has such features as premium cloth seats and 17-inch wheels. The CXL adds  heated, leather-covered seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, outside mirrors with LED turn indicators and 18-inch wheels. The all-wheel-drive system works with an anti-lock braking system and electronic stability control to provide sure-footed traction during most driving conditions.

The CXS has heated and ventilated perforated leather-covered seats and chrome 18-inch alloy wheels, with available 19-inch wheels.

As for safety, all models have front-side air bags and head-curtain air bags for front and rear occupants, with rear side air bags optional. GM's OnStar assistance system also is standard.

Other safety items include an optional side blind spot alert system, head-up instrument display, "rotating" headlights that let a driver see around curves better, rearview camera and an entertainment system with DVD screens behind the front seat head rests so they don't block rear vision.  

The new LaCrosse is a mid-size car, as is its predecessor. Its 111.7-inch wheelbase is sightly longer, but it's a bit shorter overall at 197 inches. It's virtually the same width but is about two inches higher.

The car feels solid, thanks to a strong body structure that uses ultra-high-strength steel. A firm structure contributes to good ride and handling, as does an all-independent suspension.

The new, nicely sculpted styling is sleek. The hood behind Buick's traditional "waterfall grille" looks somewhat short, although three long, chromed, nonfunctional "portholes" on each side of the hood make it look longer. Portholes in front fenders are a Buick trademark going back to the late 1940s.

Buick occasionally dropped the portholes, then brought them back. They're a nice traditional touch. In any case, the LaCrosse has plenty of artfully located chrome, especially at the rear, and the chromed dual exhaust outlets of the CXS make ti look particularly sporty.

Large door openings and handles make it easy to slide in and out of the church-quiet interior, which looks decidedly upscale. It has ice-blue ambient lighting for the  console, instrument panel and door panels. However, there are a few cheap-feeling plastic components here and there.

Gauges can be quickly read, but climate system controls are small and there's a mixture of small and large audio system controls. The available start-stop engine button is handy, but is buried behind the adjustable steering wheel.

Front seats provide good support, and the front cabin is roomy. So is the rear-seat area, although this is really a four-passenger car because the center of the back seat is too hard for comfort. It's best to use that area for the fold-down armrest.

Steering and handling above-average. The brake pedal feels rather soft, but has a progressive action. A CXS model I drove had the $800 Touring Package, which sharpens roadability with its low-profile 45-series tires on machined alloy 19-inch wheels and a sport suspension.
 A handy touch is a pull-out coin holder tray to the left of the steering wheel, and all doors have storage pockets, although the rear ones don't hold much.

The trunk is large, but has a rather high, somewhat odd-shaped opening, although indented areas allow extra room for tall golf clubs. Rear seatbacks flip forward and lay flat to enlarge the cargo area, and the pass-through opening between the trunk and rear seat is fairly large. A full-size spare tire fits in the trunk below its floor.

The hood raises smoothly on a strut, and the oil dipstick and filler are conveniently put directly in front of the engine compartment.

Buyers of upscale mid-size cars should give the LaCrosse a close look. That's something you wouldn't have to suggest to upscale young Chinese car buyers, who probably will love this new Buick.

Visit DanJedlicka.com for more road tests, interviews, and classic car articles.Visit DanJedlicka.com where veteran auto writer Dan Jedlicka reviews the latest cars and trucks in an easily understood but detailed manner. In addition, Dan's Web site also includes colorful classic and collectible car articles, a letters column and candid interviews with auto-field personalities.

Dan Jedlicka

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Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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