Buick LaCrosse
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Overall

Buick’s headliner gets a full update with Enclave-inspired design; more tech and toys inside too.

Drivetrain

The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder “eAssist” electric helper system and the stout 3.6-liter V6 carry over unchanged; all models have six-speed automatic transmissions.

The Buick LaCrosse is the car that helped launch the company’s return to profitability back in 2009 and remains very popular today. To keep people interested, the LaCrosse has visited the plastic surgeon, emerging with a revised face and tail. New LEDs are in both head- and taillights, while the front fascia and bumper are reshaped too. Drag-reducing grille shutters that close automatically are standard on every model, not just the “green” versions. Mechanically, the entry-level model retains its mild-hybrid electric system to help the 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Dubbed eAssist, the electric motor — which replaces the alternator — adds 15 horsepower and 79 pound-feet of torque to the 182-horsepower gasoline engine. It uses lithium-ion batteries that also allow the gasoline engine to shut off at stoplights, and regenerates electricity under braking. Top-line versions stick with the 3.6-liter V6 with 304 horsepower, but front-drive V6′s use electric power steering rather than hydraulic to cut parasitic power losses. All models use six-speed automatic transmissions and there’s optional all-wheel-drive that sends torque to whichever wheel has the most grip. The LaCrosse is perhaps most appreciated inside where its nicely detailed dashboard, console and controls are aging nicely, although the new-for-2014 Ultra Luxury package, which uses semi-aniline leather, real “Shado Tamo Ash” wood and a mixed “Sangria/Ebony” color mix, adds some upscale touches. All LaCrosse models get the new-generation IntelliLink touch-screen radio with easier-to-use controls, while options include a power sliding sunroof, heated cloth or leather front seats, steering-wheel-mounted audio and climate controls and numerous audio-system upgrades. Seeing as how the range-topping Cadillac XTS was developed from the LaCrosse, it’s only fitting that the Buick now makes many of the Caddy’s safety systems available in two option packages. Things like blind-spot and lane-change warning, front-collision alert and — for the first time on a Buick — active cruise control. The well-equipped base model uses 17-inch wheels, but several alloy wheels sizes — including 20-inchers for 2014 — can be had. The LaCrosse also boasts what Buick calls QuietTuning, which is a thorough effort to reduce unwanted noise, vibration and harshness. The result is an affordable family car with the refinement of a luxury car.

Base price (incl. destination): $34,100

Type: Four-door sedan

Base engine (hp): 2.4 liter DOHC I4 combined with 15-kilowatt electric motor (182)

Optional engine (hp): 3.6-liter DOHC V6 (304)

Layout: Front-engine, front- /all-wheel-drive

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

MPG (city/hwy): 25/36 (2.4)

Safety: Front airbags; side airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control

Weight (lb.): 3,830