Lacrosse the sport is growing in popularity across the country. LaCrosse the car is not. With sales of GM’s full-size sedans down nearly 20 percent in the first half of this year, rumors are swirling about the end of the Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac XTS and CT6, and the Buick LaCrosse. Consumers aren’t buying sedans, and that’s too bad, because the redesigned 2017 Buick LaCrosse is a good car at the wrong time.
The LaCrosse ferried me between three states and two supercar track programs starring an Audi R8 at night and Dodge Challenger Hellcat the following morning. Cruising time in the LaCrosse, separated by 12 hours and about 200 miles, was the perfect break from more demanding driving.
The LaCrosse soaked up the highway, provided a quiet, comfy cabin, and adaptive cruise control made highway slowing and going a breeze. The voice commands were stellar, needing only one command attempt, and one address entry to load the map. It’s easy and comfy, which is everything you want out of a full-size tourer.
Shaking the senior-citizen stigma might be harder for the LaCrosse than other Buicks, despite its relative youth. Introduced for model year 2005 as a replacement for the Century, the LaCrosse has moved upstream in size and features with each redesign, taking over the flagship when the Lucerne was discontinued in 2011. While the name isn’t as stodgy as Roadmaster or LeSabre, it sounds oldish.
For shoppers tired of all the 2-liter turbo fours, Buick sticks with the V-6 engine in the LaCrosse. For speed, shoppers should look elsewhere. GM’s LGX engine, a 3.6-liter direct injection 6-pack with variable valve timing making 310 horsepower, feels underwhelming in the LaCrosse, which is surprising due to its 300-pound diet from last year. There’s just not much get-up from a stop, but there is ample power for highway passing moves.
Active cylinder deactivation shuts down two cylinders while cruising, all of which significantly boosts fuel economy by 3 mpg to 23 mpg combined.
Handling and steering are soft, but so is the ride.
The full-size sedan provides a nice buffer between traffic without feeling too big. It’s 1.7 inches shorter than its predecessor, but the wheelbase is stretched 2.7 inches to make it appear sportier, lower, longer. Trunk space has grown by nearly 1 cubic foot to 15 cubic feet total, which is smaller than the competition but seemed like plenty. It is an ideal fleet vehicle. I don’t see this as a negative.
The price was, however. A few friends balked at $50,000 for the premium all-wheel-drive model, arguing for something snazzier and smaller. But there are a lot of GM options standard, and advanced technology such as adaptive cruise (part of the driver confidence package for $1,690) and navigation (part of sights and sounds package for $1,145) are worth the price. The $1,550 sunroof and 20-inch wheels (part of the dynamic drive package for $1,300) didn’t add much for me.
One of my favorite features, and this is rolling out in most GM cars, is the selectable display in the instrument cluster between the tachometer and speedometer. Using the steering wheel controls, drivers can change radio stations and sources, get navigation commands, reset trip odometers or check active fuel economy and other data bits available in the touchscreen — without having to use the touch screen. GM’s overall infotainment system is one of the best on the market, and simpler than most of the luxury brands’ systems.
The fit and finish are fine, and while it’s not a luxury car, it is the more unassuming premium class nudging toward Lexus, Acura, Infiniti and even now Mazda. It isn’t going to draw gasps from the design or the performance, but it will provide many contented sighs while cruising.
2017 Buick LaCrosse Premium at a Glance
Vehicle type: Full-size sedan
Base price: $43,265
As tested: $49,345 (excluding $925 destination)
EPA MPG: 20 city, 29 highway
Engine: 310 hp 3.6-liter V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic to all wheels
Parting shot: Good for cruising, not so good for selling