2017 Buick LaCrosse

Not so long ago, a typical Buick buyer was the sort of oldster likely to bend your ear about what it was like to grow up in the Golden Age of Radio. Today, Buick is successfully targeting a generation whose members don’t remember life before the internet. In the seven years leading into 2013—a short time in the car industry, just a single product cycle—the Buick customer’s average age dropped from 64 to 59. But this is not a complete reversal of fortune; Buick still sells plenty of plush sedans to the “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” crowd even as it pushes potato-shaped crossovers on those who believe that “information wants to be free.” Which is why the completely redesigned Buick LaCrosse is actually two very different cars at once.


The Buick of Yesterday

The first is the standard LaCrosse, a large, five-passenger sedan with an ample back seat. A base model starts at just $32,990; a throwback to the black-and-white era, the LaCrosse is available only in those two non-colors without paying an upcharge and is mostly devoid of premium content or options. Kudos to the marketing team for calling out its “seatback map pockets” in the online configurator, which has us wondering: Do those who still use paper maps also use online configurators? An extra $4000 for Preferred trim nets you, ahem, a cargo net, a power-adjustable steering column, satellite radio, and shinier wheels but not the ability to have your LaCrosse with even the most remedial luxury amenities. Leather upholstery and heated seats are restricted to the next-higher trim level, the $39,590 Essence, as are the optional sunroof and the blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts. More advanced sensor-based safety equipment such as adaptive cruise control and automated braking are a $1690 option available only on the top Premium trim at $41,990. If you want the nice Buick, you’re not going to get it for the nice price.

The Buick of Tomorrow

But even a LaCrosse Premium needs some help to become that second, better LaCrosse that we prefer. This comes by fitting a $1625 package that includes 20-inch wheels and tires, an adaptive suspension, and GM’s HiPer Strut front suspension. (This package is also available on the Essence model.) Order the 20s and you turn the geriatric Buick into the LaCrosse of the future, a smooth-riding, nice-handling machine that isn’t afraid of twisty roads. If you prefer Jimmy Fallon to Johnny Carson, this is the LaCrosse for you. Read more...

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03 Jan 2017