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Review: 2014 Buick LaCrosse Premium FWD


William Maley

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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.

2014 Buick LaCrosse Premium FWD 16

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.

2014 Buick LaCrosse Premium FWD 13

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.

2014 Buick LaCrosse Premium FWD 9

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

Year: 2014

Make: Buick

Model: LaCrosse

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)

Options:

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

William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.


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Car is nice, I love the clean dash and minimal buttons and knobs. Some like Acura are overloaded with way to many buttons and knobs. A good balance between touch screen and actual knowbs/buttons is the right approach and eventually everyone will be ready for a complete touch screen and no buttons or knobs.

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Still not my cup of tea but somewhat improved nonetheless. The worst issues I have with this design are the tiny squinty side windows and rear visibility, the bloated Lexus whale like styling and the front seat area where my legs feel smashed up against both the wide center console and the door panel. Worse the new models front seats are too short and lack upper support for the legs, something that the Impala and XTS do not share! Here's hoping for a lighter more efficient Lacrosse with better visibility and more unique styling the next time around.

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      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

      View full article
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