Review of: 2017 Buick LaCrosse 4dr Sdn Premium FWD
2017 Buick LaCrosse: Old-school comfort
By Chris Chase
Aug. 29, 2017
Buick redesigned its flagship LaCrosse sedan last year, introducing it as a 2017 model with sleeker styling that would have been a good fit on the previous-generation version we drove a few years ago. That car wasn’t sporty, but was kitted out with an AWD system and high-tech suspension that lent it a sophisticated feel to fit the brand’s upscale intent.
Pros & Cons
- + Acceleration
- + Comfortable, spacious interior
- + Usable technology
- - Headroom
- - Automatic transmission
The LaCrosse’s new look is hardly a departure, carrying a number of styling elements over from its predecessor. The look is more cohesive overall, with a bit of European flair laid over a long wheelbase and rear overhang. And here we thought big sedans were going out of style.
Buick’s designers put some work into making the LaCrosse’s interior look and feel modern. There’s a big infotainment touchscreen and a gauge cluster with a customizable LCD centre section. A high-tech gear selector falls close to the driver’s right hand, but it’s a tricky thing that over-complicated the simple task of shifting into reverse, requiring a push of the lever all the way forward and then to the left.
The LaCrosse seats up to five, and everyone but the person stuck in the centre of the backseat gets the kind of generous legroom promised by this car’s stretched wheelbase. AWD is an option here (our test car didn’t have it) and that necessitates a big hump down the car’s middle to make room for a driveshaft to the rear axle.
The sloping roofline means rear-seat headroom isn’t great, but otherwise this is a very comfortable car for four adults. A big trunk means you should be able to get everyone’s luggage in for that weekend jaunt out of town.
It doesn’t strike us that the typical big-Buick buyer would be particularly concerned with smartphone integration, but the LaCrosse nonetheless supports both the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto platforms, and can also be optioned with wireless charging for those devices.
The IntelliLink infotainment system that accesses those features, along with more common radio functions and navigation, is excellent, with crisp, clear graphics and quick responses. This is one of the better systems of its kind on the market.
Steerable HID headlights that swivel with the steering are standard across the line, as are a backup camera and tire pressure monitoring. More advanced active safety features like forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking and radar cruise control are options in lower trims and included in higher-end models.
We came away thoroughly impressed by the LaCrosse’s 3.6-litre V6 engine, which moved this big car with authority. Some of the credit for that is due to Buick’s effort to make this new sedan lighter than the one it replaced. Leaving the heavy AWD system out of the picture also helped keep weight down.
In a big sedan like this, the powertrain’s operation should be basically invisible, but the eight-speed transmission performed inconsistently, with clumsy shifting in normal driving.
Despite its more modern appearance, the LaCrosse rides on a soft suspension that recalls Buick sedans of decades past. Handling is competent, but push this car through a quick corner and you’ll be fully aware of its size.
LaCrosse MSRPs start around $35,000, which is an attractive number for a big, roomy car and less expensive than three of its key competitors, the Kia Cadenza, Toyota Avalon and Lincoln MKZ, at $36,295, $39,990 and $39,190 respectively. Lincoln’s advantage is that it includes AWD in its base price; the demerit is its less-powerful turbo four-cylinder engine.
More importantly, we think, all four cars’ prices fall between $45,000 and $47,000 when loaded up with features, with the Lincoln priced highest.
Ultimately, it doesn’t feel like Buick put a lot of effort into making the LaCrosse as modern to look at and drive as we expected, given the brand’s recent push for younger buyers who, in any event, are more into crossovers and SUVs than sedans.
That’s not surprising, though: This car exists purely to appeal to returning customers (there are still plenty of them around!) who want a Buick like the ones they’ve owned in the past, and they certainly won’t be disappointed.