Things are looking better than ever at Buick showrooms. With a lineup that not only boasts unique style, setting them apart from their General Motors brethren, but also some honest-to-goodness driving dynamics that are finally helping bring in those elusive younger buyers. And now there’s an all-new LaCrosse that looks to keep that trend… trending.
While the 2017 Buick LaCrosse is not a make-or-break model for this global brand; if it were to be a big success here, that would surely go a long way towards keeping the brand viable for years to come.
Regrettably, it will not only have to go up against its usual near-luxury competitors; but it’ll have to fight for attention in its own showroom.
Trying to lure people away from the SUVs and crossovers they are no doubt there to check out is a challenge for all brands.
Still, after hitting the roads around Portland, Oregon, we immediately found that this new LaCrosse was very pleasant to drive; noticeably lighter and more agile than its predecessor, especially on interesting roads. Not something we’ve ever said about any Buick utility.
This LaCrosse advantage is due to a fresh structure, with a new 5-link rear suspension and an optional HiPer strut front suspension.
That mission is furthered if you continue opting and go for the 20-inch wheels and Continuous Damping Control active suspension.
Yet, true to a Buick; it remains extremely quiet inside, despite the use of lighter sound absorbing materials. And good seat comfort means you can spend plenty of time inside, before having to step out into the real world’s harsh reality.
Engine duties are carried out by a 3.6-liter V6 with 310-horsepower and 282 lb-ft. of torque. It features an active fuel management cylinder cutoff system that lets it act like a 4-cylinder whenever possible.
There’s an 8-speed automatic, and the combo provides adequate power. But the transmission seems to be the weak link; it’s plenty smooth on the upshifts, but hesitant with the downshifts when you’re seeking a quick pass.
Its shifter is similar to the Cadillac XT5’s and we’re not exactly fans of the not-user-friendly design.
Automatic stop/start is also part of the picture; and while it’s unable to be switched off, at least it’s a smooth system, barely noticeable on startup. A new dual-clutch all-wheel-drive arrangement can be had as well, but only with Premium trim.
Visibility improves somewhat, but we still found the thick A-pillars obtrusive.
In the backseat, there’s plenty legroom for adults, but head room seems tight.
Buick’s much-improved 8-inch IntelliLink display blends in nicely with the dash, and there’s a small number of manual controls just below. Notably, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
Everything inside appears quite luxurious, as materials are certainly improved, looking more upscale and feeling softer; some trim levels even feature real wood.
Finally, the trunk area is more nicely- finished; and there’s additional space to be found in it, climbing to 15.0 cubic-ft. The split folding rear seats with pass-through add even more.
LaCrosse exterior styling is very pleasing; featuring the new face of Buick, first found on their Avenir concept. Though it doesn’t look all that different from the old face, save for a more open appearing grille; with the return of the 3-color tri-shield badge, now with chrome spears attached.
The body ticks all of the new design boxes; being longer, lower, wider, and about 300-lbs. lighter. And of course there’s LED signature lighting.
Wheelbase is close to 3.0-inches longer than before, at 114.4. Standard wheels are 18s.
A wide variety of safety features are either standard or available depending on trim, but full Front Automatic Braking is only available with Premium, and requires adding the Driver Confidence Package #2.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for front-wheel-drive are 21-City, 31-Highway, and 25-Combined. For an average Energy Impact Score of 13.2-barrels of yearly oil use with 6.0 tons of CO2 emissions.
Even with a $1,000 increase over last year, prices start very reasonably at $32,990. But things escalate rapidly from there, on the way up to Premium trim with all-wheel-drive, at closer to 45-grand.
There’s no denying that products from Buick, and GM in general, are their best ever. Still, everyone else’s products have improved as well. So the 2017 Buick LaCrosse is facing an uphill battle. Fortunately, LaCrosse has shown up well-equipped for the fight; with a much-improved ride-and-handling balance, as well as the best interior we’ve ever seen from Buick. Let’s just hope this beauty of a Buick doesn’t fly under the radar.
Engine: 3.6 liter
Torque: 282 lb-ft.
EPA: 21 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 13.2 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.0 tons/yr