During the late forties and early fifties, Buick had a unique tagline in their ads which was “When better cars are built, Buick will build them’. This was to tell possible buyers that if you wanted a quality vehicle, look at a Buick. But this tagline also poses an interesting question. When General Motors exited bankruptcy just a few years ago, the brand that was the rising star was Buick. Sales were improving and the perceptions of the brand being an old person’s vehicle were changing thanks to two key models: the Enclave and LaCrosse.
Within the past two years, Buick has introduced refreshed versions of the two models that have played a key part in its revitalization. This brings up the question of when better cars are built, will Buick build them? To find out, I spent some quality time with a 2014 Buick LaCrosse.
The 2014 LaCrosse is very similar to the model introduced back in the 2010 model year. The only real difference between the two is that the 2014 model has gotten some minor surgery here and there. Up front is a new a clip that features a larger grille that has been restyled and reshaped headlights with a strand of LEDs. The back end has a new trunk lid and taillights. Seeing the 2014 LaCrosse for the first time, I wasn’t too keen on the changes as I thought it made it look bloated. But seeing it in person with the Midnight Amethyst paint color, the LaCrosse has begun to grow on me.
The LaCrosse’s interior is one that can be best described as handsome and something very different from other competitors in the class. My tester was equipped with a light neutral leather trim with cocoa accents to give the interior a very airy-feeling. Wood trim along the dash and door panels add a nice touch of class. Being a Buick, you would expect high levels of comfort. The LaCrosse delivers on that front with supportive seats for all passengers and power adjustments for the front passengers. The back set has a very generous amount legroom, but headroom is tight thanks to the LaCrosse’s sloping roofline.
On the tech front, Buick has fitted a new instrument cluster that now features a screen in the center that displays navigation, audio, telephone, or vehicle information. The center stack has been reworked to feature a larger eight-inch touchscreen with Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system and touch-pad buttons for the climate control system. The touch-pad controls were somewhat hit and miss when I tried to adjust the temperature or turn on/off the heated or cooled seats. While the controls are nice to look at, I do wish Buick would go back to physical buttons. As for IntelliLink, it still has some performance problems when performing certain tasks such as changing stations. However, GM does deserve a lot of credit for IntelliLink’s voice recognition system. Whatever I said to the system, it was able to figure it out and perform it.
For Ride and Drive Impressions, See the Next Page.
The LaCrosse is available with two different powertains; a 2.4L eAssist mild-hybrid system or a 3.6L DI V6. My tester was equipped with the latter engine and it packs 304 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the sole transmission, but you do have the choice of either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Mine was equipped with front-wheel drive. Much like the Chevrolet Impala I drove for review last summer, the 3.6L is very much up to the job in the LaCrosse. Power came on very smoothly and there was no feeling of the vehicle needing more power. The six-speed automatic is very smooth with shifts being barely felt by anyone. The most impressive feat of the 3.6 though is how refined it is. Compared to the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala who also use this engine, the LaCrosse’s application is the most quiet yet. Credit the brand’s quiet tuning for this. On the fuel economy front, the EPA rates the 2014 LaCrosse at 18 City/28 Highway/21 Combined. My average for the week landed around 22.1 MPG.
On the ride and handling front, the LaCrosse has found a nice middle ground of providing a smooth ride and keeping the body motions in check. This comes down to an optional adaptive suspension suspension which automatically adjusts to keep everything in check and provide passengers a ride that can rival a magic carpet. The driver can adjust the suspension to either provide standard smooth ride or a firmer, sporty ride. While it does firm up the ride somewhat, it doesn’t make into car you want to play around with. The steering had a light feel when you’re turning, but had a nice amount of feedback that was being communicated to the driver.
Like every other Buick, the LaCrosse comes with the brand’s QuietTuning which employs such items as dual-pane glass and added insulation. The LaCrosse has a clever trick of using its audio system to help cancel out ambient noise by pumping out white noise. It’s a clever system to make the interior feel like a library.
With every iteration of the LaCrosse, Buick has been able to pull out a bit more refinement. The 2014 model shows that with impressive ride manners, quietness, and a interior that could make living room envious. To go back to question of when better vehicles are built, will Buick build them? The 2014 LaCrosse proves they already are.
Cheers: The Quietness, Ride, Luxury Appointments
Jeers: Infotainment Woes, Capacitive Touch Buttons On The Climate Control
Disclaimer: Buick Provided the LaCrosse, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: Premium FWD
Engine: 3.6L SIDI V6
Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
Horsepower @ RPM: 304 @ 6,800
Torque @ RPM: 264 @ 5,300
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/21
Curb Weight: 3,896 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Kansas City, Kansas
Base Price: $38,810.00
As Tested Price: $45,595.00 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
Driver Confidence Package #1: $2,125.00
Driver Confidence Package #2: $1,795.00
Power Sunroof w/ 2nd Row Skylight: $1,195.00
Buick IntelliLink w/ Navigation: $795.00