We really wished we had the maximum number of audio sources on this car, because the sound from the Harman Kardon audio system was exceptionally good. Piano trills and guitar chords were all reproduced with such clarity that it amplified the emotional content of songs. Bass wasn't particularly strong, and the system leaned slightly towards the shrill, but overall it was a joy to listen. Harman Kardon accomplishes this magic with 11 speakers and a 384-watt amplifier, producing 5.1 channel surround sound.
A Bluetooth phone system also comes standard in the LaCrosse, but it is not particularly advanced. It uses voice command, and offers basic calling functions, including an onscreen keypad, but it doesn't import a phone's contact list to the car.
The LCD on the stack also serves to show the rear-view camera display. Buick fits it with trajectory lines that respond to steering wheel input, showing where the car will go depending on the steering angle. And as a unique feature not found on non-GM cars, this rear-view camera also has object detection, flashing a warning icon when objects or people are close to the bumper.
All these cabin tech accoutrements suit the Buick LaCrosse well, as this sedan focuses purely on luxury. Front wheel drive and a very soft suspension lead to a ride that will pamper the car's occupants as each pothole and bump gets carefully absorbed and damped out. The LaCrosse has one of the best rides we've felt in a car using a strictly mechanical suspension.
That said, a mere $800 adds the Touring package, which includes a real-time damping system for the suspension, with a switch that shifts it between normal and sport modes. We didn't think much of the LaCrosse's sport capabilities with the standard suspension. Even during a quick lane change the car wallowed, that soft suspension allowing all sorts of body roll. Nothing about this car encouraged us to power it through corners.
The LaCrosse CXS comes with the same direct injection 3.6-liter V-6 found in the Cadillac CTS and Chevy Camaro, an excellent mill making 280 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to make the front wheels chirp whenever we put a firm foot on the gas pedal. This engine doesn't hesitate to move the LaCrosse, but it is available at the CXS trim level only. The two lower-trim models, the CX and CXL, get the same direct-injection 3-liter V-6 found in the Cadillac SRX.
EPA mileage for the LaCrosse CXS is 17 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, a large spread made possible by its six-speed automatic, which offers a few tall gears to maximize economy at freeway speeds. In our testing, we came in at just over 20 mpg, with city and some mountain driving taking a toll.
The six-speed automatic has a manual mode, but as the LaCrosse isn't intended to be a sports car, we largely left it alone. Unlike the transmission in the Cadillac CTS, this one didn't aggressively downshift when we hit the brakes.
We were more than impressed by the 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS. Its exterior styling, cabin trim, electronics, and ride delivered a very good luxury experience. In fact, Buick treads into Cadillac territory with the LaCrosse, at least on the luxury side. We particularly like the maps and traffic avoidance in the navigation system, along with the sound quality from the Harman Kardon audio system.
The engine offers the right amount of power for the car, and the transmission shifts smoothly. Mileage is only average, though. During maneuvers, our car wallowed, but the optional dynamic chassis might correct this issue. The car also looks reasonably unique, and should stand out amid all the other full-size sedans on the road. Another nice design element are the graphics used in the instrument cluster display and on the center stack LCD.
|Model||2010 Buick LaCrosse|
|Powertrain||Direct injection 3.6-liter V-6|
|EPA fuel economy||17 mpg city/27 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||20.6 mpg|
|Navigation||Optional hard drive-based with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Optional|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible single CD|
|MP3 player support||iPod|
|Other digital audio||Satellite radio, USB drive, hard drive, auxiliary input|
|Audio system||384 watt 11 speaker Harman Kardon surround sound|
|Driver aids||Rear view camera with object detection, blind spot detection, head-up display|
|Price as tested||$35,955|