The 2013 LaCrosse gains Buick’s IntelliLink Infotainment system as standard equipment. Available as a subscription based option the system includes XM Travel Link, which provides real-time updates on gas prices, weather, and movie times, The Premium III Group has been discontinued. FWD models equipped with GM’s 3.6-liter V6 get electric power steering to help save fuel economy.
It’s a worse kept secret that China is Buick’s biggest market, where the brand sells more vehicles there than in the United States - in fact the Chinese LaCrosse is the most popular model. Another interesting fact is that a LaCrosse clone is sold in South Korea as the Daewoo Alpheon.
The LaCrosse is considered Buick’s mid-size ‘entry-level’ luxury sedan though with the demise of the slightly larger Lucerne sedan it now pinch hits as the brand’s flagship model. Point of fact, Buick makes it well known that the LaCrosse is America's answer to the Lexus ES. However that becomes somewhat cloudy considering that in its most basic form (cloth interior) the LaCrosse more realistically is a nice mid-size sedan, not quite suited for near-luxury primetime.
An interesting footnote is that the LaCrosse was originally sold as the Buick Allure in Canada because "la crosse" means 'self-love' (or 'swindle') in Quebec French slang. It was Buick's best-selling vehicle in Canada until 2008, when the Enclave took over.
For 2013, the LaCrosse is available in five trim levels, including Base (1SB), Leather (1SL), Premium I (1SP), Premium II (1SR) and Touring (1ST) trim levels. The Premium III has been discontinued.
The 1SB and 1SL sedans use a unique mild-hybrid setup, called eAssist, to boost fuel economy by 25 percent over the previous 2.4-liter Ecotech four. That equates to a EPA rating of 37 mpg hwy. Unlike ’full’ hybrids, such as the Lincoln MKZ and new Lexus ES 300h, eAssist is unable to propel the vehicle on battery power alone. The Lacrosse Touring is only available with the more conventional LFX 3.6-liter V6, rated at 303 horsepower. This same engine is optional on the base 1SB and Luxury 1SL sedans and exclusive to the Premium trim levels as well. Both feature direct-injection with E85 capability and are mated to a 6-speed automatic with a manual mode feature. New for 2013 is an electric power steering system that replaces the previous hydraulic unit on models equipped with the V-6 engine.
Our LaCrosse Touring arrived just in the ‘Saint Nick’ of time for our Twelve Days of Christmas. If Kris Kringle did own a vehicle, this could easily have been his ride, especially in its ‘color me Santa’s sleigh’ Crystal Red paint job that offered as an upgrade. Normally I’m not into paying extra for a paint color, but here’s where I would make an exception. The only item that made the picture incomplete was the absence of a sunroof, especially the optional contrasting dark tinted panoramic top ($1195) which is the only style available for the Touring package. Our test model came in with a $39,240 base sticker with the only options being rear seat air bags ($350) and the paint upgrade ($325).
This second-gen silhouette is just as stunning as the day it debuted in early 2009, characterized by crisp lines as elegant as they are timeless. While it may never be classified as a milestone model this Buick should never look outdated no matter how much time passes. Up front rests Buick’s signature waterfall grille flanked by the signature vent ports. With its rakish back glass the rear end sports just as aggressive stance which is especially noticeable on models with dual chrome exhausts outlets. The 9-spoke painted machine alloys of the Touring are yet another item that sets it apart from the LaCrosse’s more pedestrian trim levels.
Inside, you’re greeted to warm perforated leather upholstery with heated and vented front seats that are power-assisted. In this case our test model came in a cashmere hue. The styling theme continues its fluid motif, emulating near futuristic characteristics such as an attached instrumentation pod which appears more of an afterthought, but works well in execution. All this is connected to an otherwise seamlessly clean IP with a center stack that houses the command center for Buick’s revised IntelliLink Infotainment system, which includes a standard 9-speaker Harmon-Kardon audio system.
Introduced last year, this system is now combines GPS-enabled navigation, where it uses either Bluetooth or an USB port to connect the driver’s smart phone – via voice activation and steering wheel-mounted controls. It does all this through an 8-inch, high-resolution, full-color touch screen, with includes the backup camera and houses the controls for the dual climate control.
The back-up camera and blind spot monitoring system are especially helpful due to rearward visibility, or the lack thereof, due to the sloping pitch of the rear window.
GM is quickly becoming recognized for their warm interiors with soft ambient lighting, and the LaCrosse is certainly no exception. I easily found myself running more errands after dusk, or just sitting in the car playing with the infotainment system while listening to the audio for that reason alone. With the Touring’s standard HUD (Heads Up Display) projected on the windshield, sitting in the driver’s seat, especially at night, felt more like being in the cockpit of a jet airliner.
So when one plunks down 40 large and have a lot of options on the table, what is the motivation in choosing the LaCrosse Touring? While that’s a question a lot easier to ask than answer, this luxury sports sedan is not without its unique virtues, like superb quietness for starters. In fact the LaCrosse is so quiet it has a copyright .QuietTuning, a brand exclusive feature, is so innovative that Cadillac now uses it on certain 2013 models, like the revised SRX crossover.
Another unique feature is what is referred to as HiPer Strut front suspension – which in essence is a modified MacPherson strut system which helps to improve driving dynamics. The HiPer Struts, which are exclusive to the Premium II and Touring packages, are of a unique front suspension design that improves ride and handling by reducing torque steer; improving vehicle sensitivity to tire irregularities and wheel balance; more linear and communicative steering through improved camber control; and improved impact isolation on bumps and rough surfaces.
With this concept, the upper steering pivot moves from the strut mount to a ball joint located outboard of the strut. This yields a more vertical “kingpin” axis about which the wheel and tire revolve as the steering wheel is turned, a reduced offset between this axis and the tire’s contact patch, and a reduced scrub radius (the distance between where this axis hits the road and the tire’s contact patch). In theory, this should reduce torque steer, improve grip in turns, and improve steering precision but also increase steering effort at low speeds and reduce steering feel. The Touring edition also includes real-time damping and Sport Mode Selectivity, which uses four electronically controlled dampers to constantly “read” the road and make adjustments within milliseconds.
Though our test vehicle was equipped with the more common front drive drivetrain, an all-wheel-drive system is optionally available, where it’s integrated with the electronic traction control system providing outstanding capability in inclement weather. Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel ABS and intelligent brake assist include large front discs and solid rear discs with lightweight, aluminum-body calipers at each corner. Under heavy braking; the system senses the severity of a braking situation and applies additional pressure when needed.
During my holiday time I was able to really take this Buick through its paces. In an almost contradiction in terms I found ride and handling to be taunt, yet not harsh, with a slight hint of a pillow-like ride characteristic. Acceleration was quick off the line with definite absence of normal torque steer. Maintaining a legal cruising speed was near impossible without the use of cruise control or closely monitoring the instrumentation. Looking over the current GM manifest, the LaCrosse Touring appears to be the only front driver which seems to offer the combination of all the above.
With Buick’s current portfolio in place the word ‘stodgy’ is no longer applicable. That can be contributed to former GM consultant Bob Lutz who set the foundation for the brand’s turn-around in place. Though the marquee is still attempting a comeback, so far this has been achieved with merely dutiful sedans and crossovers. The Buick brand could benefit substantially with more passionate and prestigious imagining, but since the Chinese are fairly content with sedans and crossovers the likelihood of that happening is fairly remote.
As for the LaCrosse Touring itself: though it lacks the perceived panache of a more legitimate premium luxury model it’s squarely in the crosshairs of shoppers looking at the totally redesigned Lexus ES and Lincoln MKZ. This current generation LaCrosse kicked some major butt against Lexus when it debuted in 2009, however the playing field has indeed changed. Lexus and Lincoln now offer full-fledge hybrid models; and while that’s not a deal breaker for most, it’s at least worth noting, and validates that the LaCrosse cannot afford to rest on its laurels to stay in the hunt.
2013 Buick LaCrosse Touring FWD
On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $39,240
Price as Tested: $40,790 (includes $875 Designation Charge)
3.6-liter V-6 303-bhp @ 6800 rpm, Torque (lb-ft): 264 @ 5300 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
WHEELS AND TIRES: 19-inch machine aluminum wheels on
FUEL ECONOMY: 17/27/21 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
FUEL CAPACITY: 18.0-gallon
CURB WEIGHT: 4277 lb
Legroom (front/rear): 41.7/40.5 in
Headroom (front/rear): 38.0/37.3 in
Trunk: 13.3 cu. ft/
Warranty: 48mo/50,000miles, 72mo/100,000miles corrosion, 60mo/100,000miles on power train and 60mo/100,000miles roadside assistance