As gasoline soars past the four dollar per gallon mark this month, its perfect timing to talk about the all new 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist. While fuel economy is usually mentioned at the end of our car review articles, the impressive 36 MPG available on this full size luxury Buick LaCrosse is one the shining features for this new car. LaCrosse’s fuel economy rivals – or exceeds – that of small cars like the MINI Cooper (28 city/36 hwy with automatic transmission) and Toyota Corolla (26 city/34 hwy with 1.8L and automatic transmission), but does so in a full-size luxury package that comfortably seats five adults.
Alfred Matthews Buick GMC Cadillac General Manager, Paul Caron, said, "The 2012 Buick Lacrosse eAssist is a wonderful alternative to a full blown Hybrid. This 4 cylinder 1/2 hybrid as we call it gets 36 mpg highway. Alfred Matthews Buick GMC Cadillac has just started receiving our allocation of this wonderful new addition to the Buick lineup. This month we have sold more Buicks then we have sold in a month in over 3 years, and we still have several days to go. The cool thing about this new addition is you lose none of the extras when you buy the eAssist. Navigation, Heated and Cooled seats, Heated steering wheel, Leather seating all are available in both the 4 cylinder e-assist version or the V-6 model. No difference in price. So you can get V-6 power or 36 mpg. You choose."
The eAssist system is mated to a 2.4L Ecotec direct-injection four-cylinder engine and next-generation six-speed automatic transmission. It uses power stored in an advanced, air-cooled lithium-ion battery to provide needed electrical boost in various driving scenarios, optimizing engine and transmission operation. An advanced 115V lithium-ion battery and latest-generation 15-kW motor-generator unit help increase fuel economy through:
- Regenerative braking, which provides up to 15 kW of electricity to charge the battery
- Providing up to 15 hp (11 kW) of electric power assistance during heavier acceleration
- Automatic and smooth engine start-stop functionality when the vehicle is stopped
- The use of electricity instead of gasoline when stopped
- Aggressive fuel cut-off during deceleration down to zero mph for added fuel savings
- Intelligent charge/discharge of the high-voltage battery.
The eAssist system captures up to 15kW of energy that would be normally lost during braking and uses it to recharge the lithium-ion battery. The system also shuts down fuel delivery in certain deceleration conditions, further improving fuel economy. While in fuel shut-off mode, the motor-generator unit continues spinning along with the engine to provide immediate and smooth take-off power when the driver presses on the accelerator. As the vehicle comes to a stop, the engine’s start-stop function is active when the motor-generator unit brings the engine to a smooth stop to position it properly for a smooth restart when the brake is released.
As far as performance is concerned, you might have to drive a little bit differently than you are used to. When entering freeway traffic or passing, I found that you have to add full power acceleration or "pedal to the metal". There's plenty of power...you just have to be a little more aggressive when applying it.
Driving the 2012 Buick LaCrosse was a remarkable experience over what you might expect in other hybrid type of automobiles. The steering feels precise, and handling is significantly better than you'd expect without sacrificing the plush ride quality one expects of a luxury sedan. Add this to a very quiet ride, plus all the amenities and safety features and the new LaCrosse delivers a true feeling of luxury.
With all of these new innovations plus the new styling and design features, it's no wonder that Buick is the fastest growing major brand in the U.S. and remains a best-selling brand in China, with continuing record growth.