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ponchoman49

2006 Buick LaCrosse review

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Recently had the opportunity to rent a base LaCrosse CX for a weekend from Friday to Monday morning. It was a blue fleet model without the Onstar. I was relieved to see that it at least had the bucket seats because every Impala they had was a split bench. Upon pulling out of the rental agency, I noticed right away that the LaCrosse was a bit quieter than it's Regal/Century predecessors. The 3800 sounded almost identical to my 00 LeSabre with a more muted exhaust and a very refined idle. This was one of my biggest beefs with the W-bodies in the past. The 3800's always sounded thrashy and course but this one was noticeably more refined overall, just as advertised! Road noise was quieter on certain surfaces but not all. We have some rough roads here in Upstate, NY and it was on these that the LaCrosse transmitted some road noise and impacts through to the cabin. It wasn't bothersome but noticeable. Perhaps a little sound insulation in the rear end is in order too as my mom, who was sitting in the back seat when we all went to dinner friday evening, said it was noisy back there. I was dissapointed right away in the cloth seats which were about 4 shades too light. The material felt pleasant and the seats themselves were fairly comfortable but they looked plain and lacked detail. Some darker seat material in the gray and tan cloth is in order along with some stitching or pattern in the seats. Interior quality was first rate and there was not a squeak or rattle to be heard. The glovebox opened and closed smoothly and kudos for Buick in installing a light in there! The black center stack looked a bit plain but it didn't really bother me much. What did bother me throughout the whole day was the chrome strip that runs along the whole top of the dash. It was a very sunny day and it glared right into my eyes on occasion which was very distracting. I also preffered the dash and door panal grains on my 00 LeSabre over the course grains in the LaCrosse. Overall though the interior was very classy and well put together and a huge improvement over the old Regal. The powertrain was a mixed bag also. While the 3800 is regarded as a very torque laden mill this setup seems at odds with your right foot. It took a heavy throttle foot to induce brisk response as opposed to the instant torque rush the older 3800's gave you. The 2.86:1 lazy axle and drive by wire may have played a role here. It was also bewilderingly slower than any other 3800 I have driven to date, including my buddy's 98 Regal which had less power and torque than this car. Against a stop watch I clocked a 0-60 time of 8.5 seconds as a best figure and sometimes it was 8.6-8.7. That was in comparison to the consistant 7.8 seconds I acheived from a 06 base Impala from another review with it's more powerful 3500. The over 3500 lb curbweight is partly to blame and I think GM needs to fine tune the drive by wire system. The ride overall was very good on most surfaces and the car did handle pretty well overall. But I never really liked the steering, finding it too darty and twitchy and less than precise. Buick could learn a lot from my 02 Intrigue in this respect. Front seat room was good but the back seat was a bit cramped with the seats moved a little more than half way back. This was an issue on the Impala too. To wrap up, the exterior was pretty well done but I really wish Buick was more adventuresome on the front end treatment with a more bold grille and better looking headlights. I really like the CXL and CXS versions with the optional chrome appearance package and chrome wheels. They are very sharp. Lastly fuel mileage: I overall got 23.5 mpg and a best highway figure of 28.

Changes I would like to see on the 07 LaCrosse:

1) 3900 replacing the 3800

2) 6 speed automatic replacing the 4 speed across the board.

3) Upgrade the gears to 3.05:1 with the 3900 which should net 20/29 mpg ratings

4) Give the 3.6 a shot of adrenaline and around 270 hp in CSX versions

5) Darken the cloth seats in the base models and change the fake wood to a more realistic look. Also get rid of the chrome bar on the dash

6) Revamp the base and CXL models steering

7) Make the front end look bolder

My pro and con table would look like this:

Pros: Quiet on the move, engine more refined than before, decent highway mileage, attractive package and much improved interior quality.

Cons: Chrome bar on dash distracting in sunlight, cloth seat material way too light, rear seat legroom could be better, bland front end look, so so engine response, steering feel needs to be improved.

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Changes I would like to see on the 07 LaCrosse:

1) 3900 replacing the 3800

2) 6 speed automatic replacing the 4 speed across the board.

3) Upgrade the gears to 3.05:1 with the 3900 which should net 20/29 mpg ratings

4) Give the 3.6 a shot of adrenaline and around 270 hp in CSX versions

5) Darken the cloth seats in the base models and change the fake wood to a more realistic look. Also get rid of the chrome bar on the dash

6) Revamp the base and CXL models steering

7) Make the front end look bolder

My pro and con table would look like this:

Pros: Quiet on the move, engine more refined than before, decent highway mileage, attractive package and much improved interior quality.

Cons: Chrome bar on dash distracting in sunlight, cloth seat material way too light, rear seat legroom could be better, bland front end look, so so engine response, steering feel needs to be improved.

I, too, did a post-Alamo-rental review of the LaCrosse. I tried so hard to give this car every benefit of the doubt and couldn't. I am not in agreement with the mechanical underpinnings you seek. I am ok with the 3800 and the 4-spd in the entry level as this maintains the price point. Remember, this is now the bargain basement Buick when in CX form. I also disagree on how quiet it is. I noticed only a fractional difference from the GP with the same engine. It's still the familiar 3800 exhaust note.

I totally agree that the front end is bland. As I drive by a Buick dealership I know, I see the front ends looking at me. I look at them from different angles and they are not appealing. The upright oval just doesn't work with the lines of the car. It is also bland in how it handles. It's reasonably smooth, quiet and "isolated" but it can lose its composure so as to not inspire confidence in its roadworthiness. It's not a great handling car. In terms of interior finishes, the assembly is quite good. In fact, it's very good. However, the fabric (not just the color shades) has to go. It's this mousefur crap. How about a heartier, more corduroy like fabric in about 3 colors that have some definition to them?

In short, it's a car you can live with VERY easily. You will think of it as a trusty friend that you might just take for granted.

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