2014 Buick LaCrosse First Drive Review By Larry Nutson
by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel
The LaCrosse is Buick’s flagship. The current generation came on the scene in 2010. Since then the Buick LaCrosse with its fresh styling has proven to be a viable entry as an upscale large sedan.
Kelly Blue Book has called Buick the Best Value Luxury Brand. This year Buick’s conquest sales from non-GM brands is noteworthy. Sales in USA’s Northeast are up over 20% and in New York alone up 36%. LaCrosse buyer’s primary reasons for buying are exterior style, value, overall quality, and ride comfort.
We got up close and personal with the 2014 LaCrosse starting out in the Meatpacking District of NYC and then heading out for a day of driving that took us out of Manhattan and up in to the far reaches of New York’s Rockland County and Northern New Jersey.
Now for 2014 Buick gave the LaCrosse a fairly extensive freshening with significant improvements where needed. You almost could consider the LaCrosse all new. The 2014 LaCrosse goes on sale later this year and the base-trim 1SB model has a suggested retail price of $34,060, including a $925 destination charge.
The 2014 LaCrosse's base powertrain is the reliable 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with eAssist, which is rated at 36 miles per gallon on the EPA highway test and 25 city mpg. But for folks wanting more power, a 304-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 is available as a no-cost option (note: no extra cost), and available with either front- or all-wheel drive. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic.
There is a fuel economy tradeoff with the increased performance the V6 gets you, being EPA test rated at 18 city mpg and 28 highway mpg for front drive, and 17 city mpg and 26 highway mpg for all-wheel drive.
I drove both the front drive and all wheel drive V6 models on our drive route and both provided good acceleration and highway merging and overtaking as well as quiet engine operation. My colleagues drove the e-assist and they reported “nothing lacking” with that engine. By the way, the new LaCrosse is very quiet with no disturbing wind or tire noise either, making for comfortable cockpit conversation.
Available on 3.6L front-wheel-drive models with 19- or 20-inch wheels is real-time damping and Sport Mode Selectivity, which uses four electronically controlled dampers to constantly “read” the road and make adjustments within milliseconds. Ride is smooth and comfortable, steering effort and feedback is very good, and overall dynamics are well balanced. The all-wheel drive model is expected to be bought by folks living in snowy and hilly parts of the country.
New radar- and camera-based safety features include Lane Change Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Automatic Collision Preparation. GM’s patented Safety Alert Seat works with many of these features, providing seat vibration pulses indicating the direction of a potential crash threat.
Full Speed Adaptive Cruise Control is also offered. It senses traffic in front to adjust vehicle speed, including bringing the vehicle to a complete stop and accelerating again. We “took the chance” and put this system to the test. That is, when a vehicle in front slowed and stopped we let the LaCrosse do the braking job while we only steered and didn’t touch the brake pedal. The nice thing about this Adaptive Cruise Control is it brings the vehicle back up to speed when a car in front slows. With “normal” cruise control, it is disengaged when you touch the brake and the driver needs to re-accelerate the vehicle to the desired cruising speed.
Other standalone options include various wheel choices, Bose audio, navigation, rear seat entertainment, and a sunroof.
Additional equipment, including rear park assist, a rear-vision camera, passive entry and push-button start, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, a power rear sunshade, and real-time dampening, are standard equipment in various LaCrosse equipment groups.
As recently announced by GM, every 2014 LaCrosse comes standard with two years or 24,000 miles of included regular maintenance and five years of OnStar RemoteLink Key Fob services. Regular maintenance includes oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and multi-point inspections. This is in my opinion a real convenience. Yes, it rolls those maintenance costs into the car purchase price, but when you take your car for service there is no cash out-of-pocket. And, I believe the amount added in to the car cost is less than what you would pay if it were not.
Buick has been around for 110 years. In 1903, the first Buick was hand-built in a small barn behind David Dunbar Buick’s Detroit home. Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?
© Larry Nutson