2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist
We’re big fans of the Buick Lacrosse, so when we hear it was adding GM’s new eAssist system, we quickly jumped behind the wheel. eAssist is a light electrification system that builds on the mild hybrid system first used in the 2007 Saturn Aura Green Line. eAssist replaces the alternator with a larger belt-drive motor/generator. During heavy acceleration, it adds 15 horsepower to the LaCrosse’s standard 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Juice comes from a 115-volt lithium-ion battery that unfortunately takes up over a third of the trunk space.
Regenerative braking helps keep the battery charged, thus enabling this LaCrosse to be the first Buick with automatic stop-start. Economy is also improved during deceleration by engine fuel shutoff. But, to avoid choppy throttle response, the motor/generator continues spinning the crank for immediate take-off power. The result is that eAssist boosts LaCrosse four-cylinder City fuel economy by 30 percent to 25, with the Highway rating rising 20 percent to 36 mpg. The later is superior to all current full hybrid luxury cars. And our drivers were very impressed with how well the eAssist drove.
BEN DAVIS: The vehicle never runs on battery alone, so there’s never a change in engine modes. And regenerative braking is really smooth it’s almost stealth. And the auto stop feature at stop lights on the restart, I couldn’t even tell the thing had shut down in the first place.
JOHN DAVIS: While a full hybrid system can add $5000-$7,000 to a car’s price, eAssist adds about $2,000 to the LaCrosse. At just under $30,000, the 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist is available now, with an eAssist Buick Regal due soon.
EPA: 25 mpg city/ 35 mpg highway
Price: Under $30,000