2017 Buick LaCrosse

General Motors has a long history of building large, front-wheel-drive, V-6–powered sedans. So it’s had plenty of time to get the formula right. The stylish and spacious new 2017 Buick LaCrosse, GM’s latest and greatest of the breed, mostly hits its mark and proves that all the hard work has paid off.

The new LaCrosse rides on a version of the Epsilon II platform that underpins the Chevrolet Impala, another well-executed big sedan in GM’s stable. But while there are hints of the Impala in the LaCrosse’s side surfacing, Buick’s comprehensive design makeover leaves the LaCrosse looking much more elegant than the Chevy. The look is clearly meant to evoke the lovely Avenir concept, and while it doesn’t boast that big sedan’s unmistakably rear-drive proportions, it largely succeeds otherwise. The chrome trim that is part of our test car’s uplevel Essence trim is tasteful and adds to the overall exterior elegance.

We’re not quite as convinced by the LaCrosse’s interior. Material quality isn’t the issue—nicely grained plastics and soft leather cultivate an upscale vibe—but the dashboard design makes the interior feel a lot less spacious than it is. The center console, which sweeps up dramatically to meet the dashboard, is too high, creating a bathtub-like seating position for the front occupants. Space on the center stack isn’t utilized well, with the climate-control buttons sized too small and clustered too closely together. GM’s new electronic shifter takes up nearly as much room as a purely mechanical unit, its up-and-over action to select reverse will no doubt cause confusion for first-time users, and the storage compartment below it is difficult to access. At least the rear seat is expansive and comfortable, and the IntelliLink infotainment system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability) is generally simple to use.

Buick has nixed the old LaCrosse’s eAssist mild-hybrid option, so the only engine choice for the 2017 model is GM’s latest “high-feature” 3.6-liter V-6 mated to an eight-speed automatic. It’s a strong powertrain, able to accelerate this 3730-pound sedan from rest to 60 mph in a swift 5.9 seconds. Although it’s quiet and demure in normal driving circumstances, the engine is happy to rev past its 6800-rpm power peak when asked; the transmission downshifts quickly when you jab the throttle, and the V-6 simply sounds good—if not quite as sweet as it does when exhaling through the active exhaust system available on the Chevrolet Camaro. Read more...

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11 Feb 2017