2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS Review – A Brand Resurrected

Wednesday June 23rd, 2010 at 12:66 PM
Posted by: Kurt Gensheimer

2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS

By Kurt Gensheimer

Blings:

  • Interior silent as a monastery
  • Incredible amount of rear legroom
  • Beautifully crafted inside and out

Dings:

  • Visibility so bad it should come with a Surgeon General warning
  • Torque steer (yes, it’s front-wheel drive)
  • Low rear door clearance devours heads

Ruling: It might be riddled with blind spots, but the new LaCrosse is also riddled with style, performance, luxury and value.

Never before has an automotive brand represented two completely polar opposite demographics as Buick does in the United States and China. In the U.S., the cache of Buick has grown as old and decrepit as it owners, whereas in China, Buick has emerged as the automotive brand representing a thirtysomething’s arrival into the material world. In China, the average Buick owner is a youthful 32. In the U.S.? More than twice as old.

Which is exactly the reason why last year when half of GMs automotive brands were on the chopping block, Buick was spared. Depending on who you ask, we can either thank or blame the Chinese for saving Buick. Although the Chinese are well-known in America for their manufactured junk worth less than the packaging it’s wrapped in, after driving the 2010 LaCrosse – a car which was entirely designed in China – we can’t find any Chinese junk here. Unless of course you’re referring to an actual Chinese Junk ship, known for it’s unsurpassed efficiency and ease of handling; two characteristics also found in the new LaCrosse.

2010 Buick LaCrosse

First Impressions

The first time you lay eyes on the LaCrosse, you brain registers Lexus ES 350. But this wouldn’t be an entirely fair comparison, as the Lexus looks rather mundane sitting next to the LaCrosse. Additionally, when we pulled up to a stop light next to a 2005 LaCrosse, the design improvements really set in. Styling-wise, the new LaCrosse is 90 million miles ahead of the LaCrosse of only five years yore. It’s hard to believe they even share the same badge and nameplate.

So the outside of the LaCrosse looks good with its generous chrome accents, 19″ inch rims, high shoulders and tasteful hood vents, but what about inside? Recently, GM has been notorious for pairing world-class exterior design with bush-league interior appointments containing more plastic than a Rubbermaid warehouse. But this isn’t the case with the LaCrosse; it’s every bit as sculpted and eye-catching as the exterior.

2010 Buick LaCrosse

Performance

On the road, the first observation we made was how absolutely silent the cabin was. Scary silent. So silent that even at freeway speeds we could still hear ourselves think ‘how silent is scary silent?’ This scary silence can be attributed to the acoustic glass used in the front windows and the five millimeter thick glass in the back. Not only do buyers associate silence with quality, but they also associate it with luxury. Two elements which the Buick brand has been lacking for decades.

A┬áthird element is performance. Aside from the radial roasting Buick GNX of the mid-1980s, the Buick brand has long lost any aspirations of performance – until now. The LaCrosse is offered with three direct-injection powerplants: a 2.4 liter four-cylinder, a 3.0 V6 and the one we tested in the CXS, a 3.6 V6. In our opinion, at least for the LaCrosse, the 3.6 is the only way to go. The car’s 4,000 pound curb weight makes the smaller engines seem underpowered. With 280 horses and 208 ft. lbs. torque powering the front wheels, the LaCrosse is quick with a mid-7 second 0-60, outstanding throttle response and fuel-efficient to the tune of 17 mpg city and 27 mpg freeway. Even with our frequent throttle stomps, we averaged a shade under 23 mpg over nearly 400 miles of driving.

2010 Buick LaCrosse

The LaCrosse is based on GM’s successful front-drive mid-size luxury sedan platform, but as with any front-wheel drive car putting down 280 horses, torque steer is an issue, but only a slight one. Quite honestly, in an outright performance-oriented sedan like the Acura TL Type S, you expect a little torque steer. But in a Buick? We weren’t prepared for it. But perhaps it’s about time our expectations change.

2010 Buick LaCrosse

The LaCrosse handles like no other Buick sedan in memory. Smooth, controlled and tight in the corners, the LaCrosse has no problems aggressively tackling interstate cloverleaf onramps, and it gives you plenty of notice when it’s running out of talent. Our tester had the Touring Package, which features a continuously variable real time damping system with sport mode capability. You probably won’t find yourself salivating to get it out for a back country flog, but the combined engine thrust and tight handling (particularly for a Buick) will still bring a smile to your face each morning on the way to work. And not much to say about the tranny except it hasn’t changed much from previous Buicks – which is to say it shifts smooth and quiet as still water on a pond.

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