2017 Buick Lacrosse Canada Review
The 2017 Buick LaCrosse seems destined to never get the credit it deserves. Its bound to be dismissed as just another fullsize sedan relic ignored by those who habitually visit their Lexus dealer every few years for a new ES. This new LaCrosse will inevitably be overshadowed in the Buick showroom by SUVs and never fully appreciated by the majority of its buyers who simply want a big comfy and quiet car.
That destiny would be a shame. The completely redesigned LaCrosse is now a legitimate luxury car not because advertisements say it is but for the way it drives the way it looks and the way it cossets you inside. The former is really the most impressive since its also the most surprising.
During the LaCrosse press launch in Portland Oregon Buick boasted how comfortable and exceedingly quiet the car is and indeed it isolates road imperfections and allows for a pair of low talkers to converse in subdued tones. The big Buick sedans loweffort steering will also satisfy the niceandeasy tastes of most drivers. The best way to describe driving the LaCrosse is unwaveringly pleasant.
Yet during that pleasant drive road dips and midcorner undulations dont make the comforttuned suspension bob and bound like its competitors might. Its body control and generally planted nature encourage speeds and confidence to creep ever so higher through successive sweeping corners on Oregons densely forested MistClatskanie Highway. Even that loweffort steering demonstrates precision linearity and just enough feedback to further spur on such a pace.
This unexpected capability is best observed on cars equipped with the optional 20inch wheels which supplant the standard 18s and more importantly bring with them Continuous Damping Control (CDC) and GMs HiPer Strut front suspension which is designed to quell torque steer and further improve cornering grip. You dont even have to engage CDCs firmer Sport mode to appreciate the LaCrosses surprisingly sharp road manners.
We unleashed the engineers chief engineer Jeffrey Yanssens said after our test drive. I told them I dont care how much it costs. I want you to know your system and I want your system to be the best it can be. What do you have to do to make that happen and what can I do to enable you to make that happen?
Yanssens is honest and clearly proud of his teams work. Theres no PROKd script and he almost embodies the cars Rodney Dangerfieldlike struggle for respect as the thin press presentations focused more on styling and marketing. He clearly wants it known that this wasnt business as usual.
There was plenty of effort made to improve performance and efficiency as well. GMs nextgeneration directinjected 3.6liter V6 is the only engine offered boasting 310 horsepower and 282 poundfeet of torque. With about 300 pounds less than the last generation car the 2017 LaCrosse should now have a considerable acceleration advantage over the Lexus ES 350 which has a roughly equal curb weight yet 42 fewer horsepower. The base Lincoln MKZ weighs about 120 pounds more and is down 76 horses (although the 2017 MKZ gets an optional 400hp V6 that the LaCrosse wont attempt to match).
An eightspeed automatic transmission and frontwheel drive are standard while the top trim level Premium can be bolstered with an allwheeldrive system capable of shunting rear power from left to right through a twinclutch torque vectoring differential. Even with frontwheel drive though that ample power doesnt result in torque steer with or without HiPer Strut.
Refreshingly the throttle isnt overtly tuned to bolster fuel economy. Engineers instead turned to a standard lineup of usual but wellexecuted fuelsaving suspects. Active aero shutters are hidden behind the grille while a cylinder deactivation system is so imperceptible theres not even a gauge light indicating youre running in V4 mode. The automatic stop/start system isnt quite as unobtrusive but its still one of the best systems weve experienced.
We said to ourselves Were going to be so good at [auto stop/start] that were not going to include an off button Yanssens said. So they didnt. The fact we hadnt bothered looking for one would serve as proof that his team succeeded in part but there are nevertheless bound to be times especially in gridlock traffic when an off button would be appreciated
As it stands Buick says EPAestimated fuel economy will be 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway with frontwheel drive. That happens to be what the ES 350 got in 2016 although changes to EPA measurement methods for 2017 may alter its figures downward once announced. The allwheeldrive LaCrosse is rated at 20/29 mpg.
Even the most basic LaCrosse at $32990 offers generous standard content. That includes a highquality cabin with simulated leather tastefully stitched together to cover ample padding on the doors dash and center console. The wood trim is convincing and tastefully applied though there was just enough sunlight poking through on an overcast Oregon day to reveal typical GM sunreflecting metallic trim.
The standard 8.0inch IntelliLink touchscreen also falls victim to glare at times and may be difficult to reach for some drivers. Its high placement makes it easy to see however and this latest GM system (much like the identical Chevy MyLink system) deserves praise for its quick responses and large easily pressed icons. In the LaCrosse it also comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support as well as 4G LTE onboard WiFi.
Moving down the gradually cascading center stack the LaCrosse introduces a new electronic shifter that frees up the high center console for conveniently placed cupholders a dedicated smartphone slot and an underconsole storage area of questionable utility. The shifter itself (used on the Cadillac XT5 crossover and to be shared with the Chevy Bolt and no doubt other vehicles) features a unique shift pattern that requires the driver to move it up toward Neutral then left to reach Reverse. This was done to ensure a deliberate decision to shift into Reverse which is probably prudent but some are bound to dislike the unusual shift pattern.