The 2016 Buick LaCross sets the table for the sedans that will follow it. The handsome exterior gives way to a quiet interior that’s underlines the brand’s “premium” mission without stepping on the likes of Cadillac. And yet, the most expensive models can be trimmed out like Cadillacs, with Bose audio and an upgraded instrument panel. The IntelliLink touchscreen interface is essentially Cadillac’s CUE minus the haptic feedback. It has 60 favorites slots and space for 1,000 contacts. It can also connect with smartphones for hands-free or streaming audio functions, as well as access to apps for Pandora or Stitcher audio. In the past, such advanced tech would have been wasted on the typical Buick customer. But today, it falls right in step with drivers giving the brand a second chance.
Buick’s mid-size to large LaCrosse flouts the brand’s trend toward upmarket vehicles without abandoning its reputation. Unlike your father’s Buicks, it doesn’t wallow in the past. It may be big, but it accelerates briskly and handles well in V-6 form, and offers fairly good fuel economy as a mild hybrid.
While it has lots in common with the Chevy Impala, the LaCrosse came first, and the impact of its soft-shouldered, snappily creased body panels hasn’t diminished. It features LEDs next to the headlights and inside the taillights, and the pleasingly thick shape has most of the details down pat. Give us a job at GM and a $10 pry bar and we’d rip every fake porthole off the LaCrosse’s hood, but there’s not much else to find fault with on the big Buick.
Buick offers two powertrains. The more practical choice is the four-cylinder with GM’s eAssist mild-hybrid system; it returns respectable performance while still getting 36 mpg on the highway. We, however, would choose the V-6 version for a more traditional luxury experience. Even with the larger engine, the LaCrosse is no performance car. The closest it gets is with the Touring package which adds magnetic adjustable suspension, V-rated tires and variable-effort power steering. Ride quality doesn’t suffer, but drivers will notice a much more responsive feel.
Five adults can fit in the LaCrosse, but four will be much more comfortable. Seating comfort is on par for a full-size sedan and refinement is truly luxury-car caliber. Trunk space, however, is small for the class. Upper level trims get upgraded, perforated leather seats that are both cooled and heated. An Ultra Luxury package slathers the cabin in Tamo wood and wraps the cockpit in semi-aniline leather. “Quiet Tuning” is Buick’s catchphrase for its tight, near-silent interiors, and that extends to all models.
Eight standard airbags help the LaCrosse earn some of the best safety scores of any GM vehicle. Available safety tech includes blind-spot monitors, adaptive headlights and rear side thorax air bags. A second tier of available gadgets includes collision preparation braking, adaptive cruise control and a seat vibrator that alerts an inattentive drive to potential safety issues.
In 2015, the LaCrosse added modern technology that’s becoming a necessity in its price class. A rearview camera is standard, and Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system can give directions to your iPhone through Siri Eyes Free. The LaCrosse can also come equipped with a 4G LTE connection, though GM’s OnStar telematics system. It includes the ability to broadcast a wi-fi data connection inside the vehicle.
The EPA says the all-wheel-drive version should get 17 mpg city, 26 highway, 20 combined. Those numbers rise to 18/28/22 mpg for the front-wheel-drive version.
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