The LaCrosse is offered in several different trim levels--Base, Convenience Group, Leather Group, Premium I Group, Premium II Group, Premium III Group and Touring Group. All come with standard front-wheel drive, while the Leather, Premium I and Premium II LaCrosses are available with all-wheel drive.
Base, Convenience, Leather, and Premium I are powered by a 182-horsepower, 2.4L Ecotec inline 4-cylinder engine, now with eAssist, which adds a 15-hp electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. The unit increases fuel economy by an average of 25 percent, helping to achieve EPA estimates of 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. Premium II, III and Touring front-wheel-drive models, as well as all-wheel-drive versions of the Leather and Premium I LaCrosse, benefit from a new 303-hp 3.6L V6, which also produces 264-pound-feet of torque. That engine returns 17 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Both engines are paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission that includes tap-shift manual control.
The LaCrosse is built on a stiff body structure, which helps improve handling while still allowing a smooth ride. Sound deadening materials have been used extensively throughout the car, and the LaCrosse offers one of the quietest rides on the road. A rather conventional suspension layout, with MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar in front and a multi-link setup in back, combines with variable-effort rack-and-pinion steering and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes to provide good all-around performance. Premium III and Touring models feature Buick's HiPer Strut front suspension, which helps keep torque steer to a minimum.
Standard safety features on all LaCrosse models include GM's StabiliTrak stability control, plus driver and front passenger side-impact airbags and side-curtain airbags that cover front and rear occupants. Rear-seat side thorax bags are optional.
With an overall size that's a bit larger than most mid-size cars, but not as barge-like as many full-size executive cars, the LaCrosse should be a good choice for those who plan to carry adults in the rear seats. While the interior is spacious and well-appointed, the design of the instrument panel will find the most attention. With a new style and flowing lines that wrap from the door panels around through the instruments, accented by dark woodgrain and contrast stitching, this Buick feels more detailed inside than either Buicks of the past or other luxury-brand models. Soft leather surfaces, along with smoked chrome and wood trim, help support the upscale feel throughout the cabin.
The LaCrosse covers a pretty wide range in price and equipment depending on the trim, and even the Base model comes nicely equipped with Bluetooth, air conditioning, a power driver's seat, tilt/telescopic leather steering, cruise control, keyless entry and a CD sound system that includes XM Satellite Radio and steering-wheel controls. Convenience adds remote start, Universal Home Remote and 4-way driver lumbar support, while Leather Group adds front heated leather seats with 8-way power adjustability for the passenger, as well as heated exterior mirrors. Step up to the various Premium Groups and you'll find Rear Park Assist, ventilated seats, 18-inch wheels, rear sunshades, a harman/kardon audio system, and more. Finally the Touring Group includes all of the above, plus a blind spot alert system, Xenon headlights, head-up display, Sport mode, a refined suspension, 19-inch wheels and more.
The Buick LaCrosse receives some notable updates for 2012. Among them, CX, CXL and CXS trim levels of years past have been replaced by large option packages: Base, Convenience Group, Leather Group, Premium I Group, Premium II Group, Premium III Group and Touring Group.
The 182-hp 2.4L Ecotec 4-cylinder now has standard eAssist, a 15-horsepower electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack that improves fuel economy over last year's engine by 25 percent--now rated at 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. Also, Buick's 280-hp 3.6L V6 has been replaced on Premium II, III and Touring front-wheel-drive models by a 303-hp 3.6L V6 sourced from the Chevy Camaro. All-wheel-drive versions of the Leather and Premium I LaCrosse also feature that engine as standard. It can be ordered on Base, Convenience, Leather and Premium I as a no-cost option.