Road Test Review – 2015 Buick LaCrosse V6 Premium Is Deceptively Sporty and Extremely Luxurious

lacrosse 2015 gifQuick: name the best large sedan on the market for less than $50,000?

Requirements for consideration are a huge back seat, width to never touch elbows with front passengers and all-day cruising comfort. Because you are a keen driver and love a great curving road, let’s add mountain road poise to the list. We are not considering luxury cars like the BMW 5 series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz C or E-Classes — they are too small in the back seat.

The immediate group of competitors with these prerequisites are: the Hyundai Azera, Lincoln MKS, Toyota Avalon, Kia Cadenza and perhaps the Lexus ES, despite it being a bit narrow in the back.

From this group, the 2015 Buick LaCrosse is the champ.

Surprised?

You shouldn’t be: the LaCrosse has been a quiet hero for the Buick line since its debut as a 2010 model year. For any American car to be objectively and subjectively superior to the import-heavy lineup above is certainly news. Read on to find out why the LaCrosse is such a champ in this soggy market segment.

 

 

EXTERIOR

The LaCrosse in 2015 is remarkably fresh for a vehicle that has been on the market for a full four years so far. The loaded Premium II trim of the test car definitely helps — we have the largest 20-inch wheels that help the Buick look frisky even from 100 yards away.

The reason for this LaCrosse’s continued appeal is a very timeless and classy design from all angles. This is clearly a large American sedan, but the scale is dressed in sexy LEDs forming check-boxes in all corners of the car. The black-chrome grille is a fantastic detail over our tester’s Frost White Tricoat — and helps the LaCrosse feel fresh and even a bit youthful and hip. Those LED accents in the top corners of the lights are still imposing and premium at speed, where they show the world this is no float-boat that is blocking the left lane. It is a pace-setter in the fast lane!

There are subtle and flush-mounted foglamps down below the main projector beams, adding to the width of the design from head-on.

Moving to the profile, we have a very lofty roofline and tall silhouette that emphasizes passenger room and easy of access from all four giant doors. The subtle beltline kink ahead of the rear wheels is subtle but appealing – it adds a taut feel to the design that ditches previous Buick curviness effectively.

In back, a matching check-mark of LED forms the taillamps in red at the edges of the trunk-top, while integrated and flush-mounted exhaust finishers match the front foglamps in shape and size. It is a cohesive and appealing machine from the outside.

The one note is that even this front-drive LaCrosse does ride pretty high off the road. The AWD is higher still — and both would greatly benefit from a lower spring setup. As is, the car is clearly a giant machine — which shows prestige but is a bit frumpy versus a 2-inches-lower stance of our dreams.Road Test Review - 2015 Buick LaCrosse 75 Road Test Review - 2015 Buick LaCrosse 72 Road Test Review - 2015 Buick LaCrosse 71

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INTERIOR

So from the outside the LaCrosse is clearly a size queen — with its huge and super-lux length, width and height making a big impression.

So when you sit down in the very comfy and supportive driver seat, you are shocked on a few levels. Sport seats? Great driving position and hugely tilting and telescoping wheel? What the what?

The gearstick and starter button fall right to hand, and you set off still in disbelief.

The first toe-tip into the 304-horsepower engine says sayonara to the Avalon and Lexus ES. There is actual power on offer here — and none of the lardy body float that is mostly standard in this class.

Continue the full-throttle exploration below. Let’s touch on the LaCrosse’s premium cabin design, tech features and roominess. The cabin is a serene and classy environment with four trim and leather colors. The seats are large and overstuffed with highly touchable leathers that are never glossy, and never slippery. Premium. A rocker-hinged center console opens and closes with softly damped thrumps, and the OnStar 4GLTE is just a click away. It works, and is fantastic.

The rear seat of this Premium II car has an additional 120-volt power outlet below the central HVAC vents in back, plus yet another socket power jack. The rear seat is huge and angled just right for newspaper-reading passengers back there. Cross your legs if you want – there is legroom to spare. The width of the car and that lofty roof are ace points here – with lots of sky above your forehead even with the double-pane glass moonroof. Very, very nice inside here.

Two notes for future LaCrosses? The overly lacquered ash wood is a throwback, as is the rear armrest that is a bit stubbier and less comfortable than the best superlux limo’s.

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DRIVE IMPRESSIONS

Back to the driver’s seat and the rolling shock/awe of the speedy and poised LaCrosse.

At the first corner, you find huge levels of grip and a flat and poised body that is tighter than a Manhattan pilates class. Push harder, and it gets better. It grips and rips out of corners with amazing chassis rigidity and handling balance.

You can feel the 300-plus pound-feet of torque at all times, and the LaCrosse is actually really rapid from 20-70-mph in passing maneuvers. The six-speed is near-perfect in crisp upshofts and has few if any chunky downshifts when you floor it.

The whole car just feels European and buttoned-down in a way that none of the above competing sedans can manage. The Avalon and MKS have huge body heave and creaky electronic steering to spoil any fun, while the Hyundai Azera’s V6 is famously gutless on hard throttle. The LaCrosse is smooth but speedy.

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PRICING

2015 Buick

FWD

AWD

LaCrosse

$34,560

NA

LaCrosse Leather

$36,650

$39,655

LaCrosse Premium I

$38,950

$41,425

LaCrosse Premium II

$40,895

NA

SUMMARY

 

This surely reads like a Buick fanboy is clattering out the words. But we have no reason to stretch the truth here. The LaCrosse is stylish, relatively affordable at $44,000 as tested — when you consider the roominess on offer, especially — and luxurious while handling with zero DynaRide floatiness of previous generations of Buick.

The car is really emblematic of the new and rejuvenated Buick ethos. World-class handling that is twice as good as the Japanese, Korean and other American cars with similar size — that is what really sticks with you after parking the LaCrosse.

This is a car that would be a great addition to any family. Even if you do not drive like a Grand Theft Auto player — as we did — the LaCrosse’s exceptional balance of luxury, easy technology and performance-car steering, brakes and engine is a rare combination indeed.

Short of the BMW 7 series or the Audi A8 at double the price, the LaCrosse is a huge achievement. A rolling statement of intent.

Next time someone says, “That’s not a Buick!” You can smile to yourself.

No, it’s not. Not like any Buick from the past — but laying a great foundation for Buicks of tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 2015 Buick LaCrosse

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

Overview

Model: Buick LaCrosse FWD & AWD
Body style / driveline: front-drive/all-wheel-drive, front-engine, four-door, five- passenger sedan
Construction: integral
EPA vehicle class: midsize sedan
Manufacturing location: Fairfax (Kan.) Assembly
Key competitors: Acura TLX, Lexus ES 350, Lincoln MKZ
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Engines

Type: Ecotec 2.4L DOHC I-4 3.6L V-6 VVT DI
Displacement (cu in / cc): 145 / 2384 217 / 3564
Bore & stroke (in / mm): 3.46 x 3.85 / 88 x 98 3.7 x 3.37 / 94 x 85.6
Block material: precision sand-cast aluminum cast aluminum
Cylinder head material: cast aluminum cast aluminum
Valvetrain: DOHC with four valves per cylinder; continuously variable valve timing DOHC with four valves per cylinder; continuously variable valve timing
Ignition system: individual coil-on-plug individual coil-on-plug; individual cylinder knock control
Fuel delivery: direct injection and electronic throttle control direct injection and electronic throttle control
Compression ratio: 11.2:1 11.5:1
Horsepower (hp / kW @ rpm): 182 / 136 @ 6700
(SAE certified)
304 / 227 @ 6800
(SAE certified)
Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ rpm): 172 / 233 @ 4900
(SAE certified)
264 / 358 @ 5300
(SAE certified)
Recommended fuel: regular unleaded regular unleaded or E85 (E85 capability not available in California and Northeast states with PZEV emissions)
Emissions controls: close-coupled, catalytic converter; continuously variable valve timing; positive crankcase ventilation evaporative system; supplemental air injection system dual close-coupled catalysts and single underfloor catalyst; variable valve timing, evaporative system
EPA-estimated fuel economy (city / hwy): 25 / 36 18 / 28 (FWD)
17 / 26 (AWD)
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Transmissions

Type: Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed automatic Hydra-Matic 6T70 six-speed automatic
Application: 2.4L four-cylinder 3.6L V-6
Gear ratios: (:1):    
     First: 4.58 4.48
     Second: 2.96 2.87
     Third: 1.91 1.84
     Fourth 1.45 1.41
     Fifth: 1.00 1.00
     Sixth: 0.75 0.74
     Reverse: 2.94 2.88
Final drive ratio: 2.64 2.77
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Electric Drive System (for 2.4L eAssist)

Type: belt-driven, liquid-cooled motor/generator unit and lithium-ion battery system; air-cooled power electronics and battery pack
Maximum electric generating power: 15 kW @ 1570-3180 rpm
Maximum electric motor torque (cranking): 110 lb-ft / 150 Nm
Maximum electric motor torque (electric assist): 79 lb-ft / 107 Nm @ 1,000 rpm
Maximum electric motor power (electric assist): 15 hp / 11.2 kW @ 1,000-2,200 rpm
Lithium-ion battery: 115V, 0.5-kWh, 15 kW peak power
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Chassis/Suspension

 Suspension (front): MacPherson strut coil-over-spring; twin-tube dampers with gas-charged valving; hollow direct-acting stabilizer bar (eAssist and 3.6L FWD with 17- or 18-inch wheels/AWD 19-inch wheels);
HiPer Strut coil-over-spring; twin-tube dampers with gas-charged valving; hollow direct-acting stabilizer bar;  real-time damping and Sport Mode Selectivity (3.6L FWD with 19-inch or 20-inch wheels)
Suspension (rear): four-link (eAssist and 3.6L FWD with 17- or 18-inch wheels);  H-arm (3.6L AWD); H-arm with real-time damping and Sport Mode Selectivity (3.6L FWD with 19- or 20-inch wheels)
Steering type: electric  variable-effort power steering (eAssist and FWD V-6); power variable-effort: (AWD models)
Steering ratio: 15.2:1
Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock: 2.75
Turning circle (ft / m): 36.8 / 11.2 (eAssist); 38.8 / 11.75
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Brakes

Type: split, dual-circuit four-wheel-disc with power assist
Rotor diameter x thickness
(in / mm):
V-6: front: 12.6 x 1.2 / 321 x 30 (vented)
rear: 12.4 x 0.9 / 315 x 23 (vented)
eAssist: front: 11.7 x 1.2 / 296 x 30 (vented)
rear: 11.5 x 0.47 / 292 x 12 (solid)
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Wheels/Tires

Wheel size and type: 17-in machined alloy (std w/ eAssist)18-in machine-faced alloy, painted (std on 1SB, 1SL with 3.6L; opt on eAssist in non-PZEV states)19-in painted, machined alloy (std on 1SL, 1SP AWD V-6)19-in chrome alloy (std on 1SP FWD V-6, and opt on 1SL FWD V-6)20-in alloy (std on 1SR)
Tires: P235/50R17 low rolling-resistance all-season (std w/ eAssist)P235/50R18 all-season
P245/45R19 all-season
P245/40R20 all-season
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Dimensions

Exterior

Wheelbase (in / mm): 111.7 / 2837
Overall length (in / mm): 197 / 5001
Overall width (in / mm): 73.1 / 1857
Overall height (in / mm): 59.2 / 1504
Track (in / mm): front: 61.7 / 1567
rear: 62 / 1575
Curb weight (lb / kg): 3757 / 1704 (2.4L)
3895 / 1767 (3.6L FWD)
4140 / 1878 (3.6L AWD)

 

Interior

Seating capacity: 2 / 3
Headroom (in / mm): front: 38 / 965
rear: 37.3 / 947
Legroom (in / mm): front: 41.7 / 1059
rear: 40.5 / 1029
Shoulder room (in / mm): front: 57.4 / 1459
rear: 56 / 1423
Hip room (in / mm): front: 55.2 / 1402
rear: 53.9 / 1369
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Capacities

EPA interior volume
(cu ft / L):
99 / 2805
Passenger volume (cu ft / L): 101.7 / 2878
Cargo volume (cu ft / L): 10.8 / 306 (2.4L)
13.3 / 376 (3.6L)
Trailer towing maximum
(lb / kg):
1000 / 454 (3.6L)
Fuel capacity (gal / L): 16.6 / 62.8 (2.4L)
18.5 / 70 (3.6L FWD)
19.5 / 74 (3.6L AWD)
Engine oil (qt / L): 5 / 4.7 (2.4L)
5.5 / 5.2 (3.6L)
Cooling system ( qt / L): 9.6 /12 (2.4L)
7.6 / 7.2 (3.6L)

 

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About The Author

Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly expanding automotive news magazine. He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank. Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.