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New Buick LaCrosse makes hybrid standard

Buick's new eAssist mild hybrid system comes as a standard feature on the new LaCrosse, giving this full-size luxury sedan fuel economy in the 30s.

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Luxury car makers usually insist that you need massive amounts of V-8 horsepower to motivate your leather and wood trimmed executive sedan. Some drivers may crave that kind of power, but many are content to cruise at the speed limit while considering whether pork bellies would be a good investment.

Buick built its new LaCrosse for that second class of driver. Its four-cylinder engine may seem meager, but at 2.4 liters and using direct injection, it gives the full-size sedan reasonable power. Buick enhances that power with a small electric motor, not powerful enough to drive the wheels on its own, but capable of adding boost during acceleration.

You don't need to be a one-percenter to afford the new LaCrosse, either, as its base price is about $30,000. Even better, it achieves average fuel economy around 30 mpg, which for many will be a reasonable trade-off from 500-horsepower luxury sedans that get less than 20 mpg.

During our review, we found the cabin very comfortable, but Buick still has some work to do on its electronics. The new IntelliLink system, providing app integration, sounded sweet, but it was not available in conjunction with the navigation system.

Check out CNET's review of the 2012 Buick LaCrosse.