May 25, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Friday, 22 January 2010 16:11
Buicks for many years have been comfort cars for the senior set. Their soft ride, reliability, simplicity and sturdy bulk made General Motors’ near-luxury line a favorite among the elderly.
One supposes older folks looking to trade in their 10-year-old LeSabres and Park Avenues will drift back to the Buick dealer in search of a newer version of the same car. They won’t find it. The LaCrosse, a midsize four-door sedan redesigned for 2010, seeks a wider audience.
This is a spirited automobile, with brisk acceleration and suspension refinements aimed at making the LaCrosse the most sure-footed big Buick we’ve ever driven. Buick also has abandoned the almost comical simplicity of its controls and the oversized labels on the audio and climate-control buttons. Indeed, elderly and many middle-aged drivers will be put off by the array of 31 buttons and three dials on the center stack, and seven more buttons on the console. Even our 30-year-old test driver, who owns a similar GM car, found the control panel daunting.
With a 280-horsepower V-6 engine, six-speed shiftable automatic transmission, and optional ($800) selectable sport-suspension mode, the 2010 LaCrosse CXS is reminiscent of the old Wildcat line that helped to establish Buick’s performance credentials during the 1960s. The ride is soft and the cabin very quiet, but unlike the larger Buick Lucerne we test-drove a few years ago, the LaCrosse handles crisply and competently. This model is all about what GM used to do well, and is doing well again.
The LaCrosse comes in four trim levels and is available with three engine choices, including a 182-horsepower inline Four. All-wheel drive is available in the mid-level CXL version; the rest have front-wheel drive, and all have the same six-speed automanual.
Prices range from $26,245 for the CX to $33,015 for the CXS. With options, our CXS listed for $37,880.
The LaCrosse is competing in a field crowded with fine Japanese and Korean sedans, as well as the American-made Lincoln MKZ and Chrysler 300. For midsize-sedan shoppers willing to settle for less refinement and brand-name cachet, the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Malibu are sensible choices.
The CXS is rated at 17 mpg city, 27 highway, and uses regular gasoline. We averaged a little better than 20 mpg in mostly highway driving, so the EPA figures should be taken with a grain of salt.
The 2010 LaCrosse won the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick designation in frontal, offset and side-impact crash tests. Past LaCrosses have had average to above-average reliability, based on owner surveys by Consumer Reports magazine.
In addition to its strong performance and comparatively agile handling, the LaCrosse has ample leg room for tall drivers, a roomy back seat and a stylish, inviting interior rendered in high-quality materials. Our only complaints centered on the small size of the trunk opening and the complexity of the audio, climate and navigation controls.
Engine: 3.6-liter inline V-6, 280 horsepower, 259 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic
Suspension: Four-wheel independent, modified MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 19-inch chrome alloy (optional)
Tires: P245/40R19 all-season (optional)
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 12.8 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 18.4 gallons
Fuel economy: 17 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
Fuel type: Regular
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