First Look: 2017 Buick LaCrosse – Review and Road Test

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DRIVING THE 2017 BUICK LACROSSE

Even on my ride from the airport downtown, something was noticeably missing: road noise. Indeed, Buick uses the phrase “library quiet” and it isn’t at all hyperbole.

First, however, I had to learn how to shift. The car features a new electronic shifter that allowed Buick’s engineers to make room for cup holders and a dedicated smartphone slot as well as some storage space under the console. The shifter, which also comes on the Cadillac XT5 crossover and will be standard on the new Chevy Bolt later this year) has a unique shift pattern that did take some getting used to: to get into Reverse, move the shifter towards Neutral and then to the left. This lessens the likelihood of accidental shifts into Reverse but it will probably be a matter of taste for some.

Buick offers multiple trim levels (sadly, it does not have a “Limited” trim level) but moving up to the Preferred at just under $37,000 adds a power-adjustable steering wheel, the Essence at just over $39,500 adds leather seats (the standard vinyl isn’t bad), and excellent ventilated massage seats are included in the Limited, ahem, Premium which comes in just shy of $42,000.

The all-new engine – a 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 develops 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet of torque and has to move 300 pounds (136 kilograms) less car than in the outgoing LaCrosse. It’s paired to an excellent eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters and was rather entertaining in sport and manual shift mode.

The new LaCrosse does much better than the 1974 Buick Electra’s 11.4 mpg (20.6 l/100 km), with an estimated EPA rating of 31 mpg (7.6 l/100 km) on the highway and 21 (11.2) in city driving. Best of all, the car is tuned for driving, not hypermiling, although Buick engineers made liberal use of such fuel-saving devices as active aero shutters hidden behind the grille, a cylinder deactivation system that doesn’t clue the driver in that the engine is in V4 mode, and a reasonably unobtrusive stop/start system.

The new five-link rear independent suspension working with the Hipper Strut front suspension kept the car firmly poised and, while I’d never compare the LaCrosse to a sports sedan, it did exhibit excellent road manners and handled twisties with a certain degree of aplomb.

BOTTOM LINE

Once again, Buick remains true to its 100-year-old slogan, “When better cars are built, Buick will build them” and now has a tasteful and almost timeless design. While it maintains the ventiports in the fenders, used to signify the number of cylinders under the hood, they are nonetheless tasteful and harken to Buicks of years.

In case you had any doubts, the Buick of really particular people is back and it is unquestionably better than ever.

THE DETAILS

2017 Buick LaCrosse Premium
Base price/price-as-tested $41,990/$44,075
Drivetrain Front engine, front-wheel drive
Engine 3.6-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque 310 / 282
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Curb weight (lbs) 3,598
Wheelbase (inches) 114.4
Length x width x height (inches) 197.5 x 73.5 x 57.5
0-60 mph (seconds) 6.0 (est.)
Fuel economy (mpg) (hwy/city) 31/21

 

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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