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Car Tech Video: 2012 Buick LaCrosse
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Car Tech Video: 2012 Buick LaCrosse

6:59 /

GM engineers a great car but hamstrings it with tech decisions that leave the glass half full.

Speaker 1: The conventional wisdom in the car biz is that nobody is shopping for a mid-class export ever cross-shop stuff from Detroit. Certainly not a Buick. That makes GM all red and angry so they decided to do something about it. Here's the 2012 LaCrosse. Let's take it for a spin, check the perception and check the tech. Before I take the inside, first to note about the look. Trust me when I tell you this car doesn't photograph or shoot well. I've never seen a good picture or video clip of it. Not our shooter's fault. You're a good guy, Jim. It just doesn't look good on imaging products. I don't know why. Now here's what doesn't look good. These (false?) hood vents. Yes, I know they're kinda vintage road master DNA but Buick, don't put them on here. Leave that for the customer to get (??) and stick over here with some double stick tape. Now I got to give it to Buick right off the bat. This interior is not to my liking, it's not my taste. Kinda gaudy in a modern Las Vegas hotel way but it's really well done. If this is your goal, they've nailed the goal. That's one of the great integrations in terms of look and color and style of instrument panel to LCD head unit. Right away, your eyes drawn to this beautiful 8-inch touch LCD. One issue is because you've got the laid back dash which really opens this room up, you do have a long reach to the screen. If I'm here in my seat and by the way, I'm pushed way up for shooting purposes, I can't reach that and I've got kinda long arms. And if I have my seat where I really drive, forget it. Navigation looks great on this guy. It's in there in the class with Toyota and BMW and some others but here's where things start to get annoying. You can get navigation or you can get there Intellilink Telematics app based connected head unit. You can't get both. That's a bad decision to have to make. Intellilink, it's basically GM's synch killer. With advanced natural language voice control for calls and media and app based support for Pandora streaming radio and Stitcher audio Podcast with hopefully more apps to follow soon. I've got my smart phone all paired up. I've got Bluetooth hands-free of course but I don't have Bluetooth streaming. That's fast becoming a must-have in a car these days and it ain't here. Now unfathomably for a car this class, the base model doesn't have Bluetooth hands-free falling back instead on OnStar calling which is lame if they're trying to appeal to a younger audience than Buick normally would. Now with so many cars, you got a lock out going on here. When the car is moving, a lot of things like address entry for navigation go great for safety so then you would drop back to your voice command Speaker 2: Ready Speaker 1: Turn by turn directions Speaker 2: All right. Now say plan route, directory or store Speaker 1: Plan route Speaker 2: I'm sorry. To use the plan route command, you need to have store destinations. To get a route now, please push the blue OnStar button Speaker 1: And all I can get to via voice are these dopey turn by turn directions from the OnStar operation center. I don't want that. I want to talk to my in-car nav system and get this done. They've got some called the confidence package that will give you that head up display who's actually one of the better ones I've seen and nicely color key (??) the rest of the stuff on the dash. Very nice. And you also get a blind spot indicator system for that but it won't keep you out of trouble if you're drifting in to someone's path. And intelligently, they have not a right foot gauge but a momentum gauge. What I mean by that is the eco gauge that so many cars have these days. This one shows when you're either accelerating too hard or if you're breaking too hard. Both are bad for cars when you're trying to get the maximum efficiency out of the energy. That's a very smart way to show it. I'm in the engine bay, not a pretty thing. 2.4 liter in-line 4 with some great tech, direct injection. It's a very modest capacity for a car of this size but it's got what they call a belt alternator starter hybrid system, a mile hybrid. You get electric motor boost by that belt pooling on the crank pulley. It's kind of crude stuff and we saw this in the Chevy Malibu hybrid which is kind of embarrassing but they've really refined it and now it's a super smart system. This whole apparatus gets this car something like 25 or 30% better efficiency and it's not terribly complicated. The numbers, 182 horsepower, 172 foot pounds of torque. We've got 9.2 or so as a zero to 60, perfectly adequate, and 25/36 mpg. But I want you to experience how this car performs on the road in terms of cohesion. Very interesting. Come on. Now as you know, I particularly like cars that do what they said out to do whatever that may be and I hate the LaCrosse does that. First of all, this little put put motor is very small but doesn't come off as puny. You can tell it's (??). It's doing it's (?t?) through technology to move this car well but it does move this car well. This may also be one of the best meetings of engine transmission and electronic control unit that I've driven in a year or two. The shift points, the torque loads in the engine, apply to that transmission when it's shipping are really nice. Now on the downside, this is not a responsive car in terms of having sporting power, you get the V6 for that. And the handling is a little wallowy. It's an under steering proposition to be sure but most consumers don't know what under steering is, let alone why it should bother them. On of the small thing, there is no visibility in this car. This is the biggest (A-pill?) that I think I have every scene. You can lose another car there easily. Let alone a kid on a bike. That's a serious problem and the same thing at the back. That rear package shelf rises up to meet these chunky sea (pillars?) and you may as well just cross your fingers and listen for the crunch. How do we do a LaCrosse, CNET style? Start off base about 31 grand deliver then you've got this soapy choice. Intellilink, their apps platform or navigation. To me it's pretty easy since the navigation's been crippled the legal team? Goodbye. I'm gonna option this guy with a package that will include Intellilink and I'm gonna quite my Android phone on the windshield to get navigation. Beyond that , the confidence package is intriguing. It's about $1400 but it gives you a really good quality head up display and the blind spot technology if you're in to that

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