2008 Buick Lacrosse Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 Buick LaCrosse has a wide range of engines--and a Super edition with great V-8 power.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Buick LaCrosse to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove the Buick LaCrosse to offer you a conclusive opinion on this mid-size sedan. This review also compares the 2008 Buick LaCrosse with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

For Buick, 2008 is a carryover year; regarding the LaCrosse, that means not much has changed since 2007. Here are the basics: The 2008 Buick LaCrosse gets a fresh new face for 2008 and more standard equipment for its CX and CXL. The LaCrosse CX adds a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel, a theft-deterrence system, illuminated vanity mirrors, and a driver information center personalization. All LaCrosses now feature XM Satellite Radio, remote start, a telescoping steering wheel, and dual-zone climate control.

The 2008 Buick LaCrosse CX and CXL sedans come with a 200-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 engine. A four-speed automatic transmission is the only available gearbox. It's possible that if you're shopping for a 2008 Buick LaCrosse, you may run across a sporty edition called the CXS. If you pop the hood, you'll find the base engine that powers the Cadillac CTS, a 3.6-liter V-6 with variable valve timing and 240 horsepower. This model was a placeholder until Buick's big news for 2008.

That big news is the 2008 Buick LaCrosse Super. The LaCrosse Super will come equipped with GM's small-block 5.3-liter V-8, which is capable of producing 300 hp. The engine also has active fuel management, which deactivates four cylinders at cruising speed to save fuel. It's a hugely entertaining engine that turns the otherwise ordinary LaCrosse into a road-clawing machine, though it's still a pillowy ride with only moderate steering feedback.

Review continues below

The chassis of the 2008 Buick LaCrosse Super has also been reworked to make it make firmer and more responsive, while at the same time retaining the comfortable ride that traditionally has been one of the Buick's hallmarks. In addition, the changes include more precise steering, larger front and rear brake rotors, and Bilstein monotube struts, GM says. The LaCrosse Super features 18-inch wheels, as well. It feels great on the road compared to a non-Super LaCrosse.

The Super is the first LaCrosse 2008 model with Buick's famous hood portholes as well as a new waterfall grille, hood, and front fascia. Inside, the LaCrosse Super features a new seat with increased bolstering covered in a woven embossed leather, as well as wood-grain-appearance accents on the instrument panel, center console, door, and gear shift knob. The Super also gets exclusive instrument cluster graphics, new front sill plates, and a silver finish on the instrument panel.

For Buick, 2008 offerings only include the LaCrosse, Lucerne (a full-size sedan), and Enclave (full-size crossover).

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2008 Buick Lacrosse

Styling

The 2008 Buick LaCrosse is somewhat dated and average, but at least it's not ugly.

For Buick, 2008 is a carryover year; regarding the LaCrosse, that means not much has changed since 2007. Detroit News says that the Buick LaCrosse 2008 "looks more nondescript than anything else," acknowledging "there's some personality in its front end...the pair of headlights on each side is nicely cut out along the front, [and] the stretched oval grille was lowered, leaving the LaCrosse with a surprised expression over its new fascia." Edmunds says the Buick soldiers on with an “aged platform…and a staid design and image,” though Automedia approves of the “Jaguar-like sculpting over the quad lamps flanking its upscale oval grille, its stance, and its rear appearance.”

The Super is a new V-8 version of the LaCrosse; 2008 editions get Buick's famous hood portholes as well as a new waterfall grille, hood, and front fascia. Autoblog notes this year's Buick LaCrosse sports the signature portholes: "four on each flank signifying the eight cylinders pumping on the other side of the sheetmetal." ForbesAutos reports "visual differences between Super Buicks and their base-model equivalents include more aggressive bumpers, bolder grilles, and more chrome."

Moving on to the Buick LaCrosse 2008 interior, Car and Driver says that "unique plastic wood looks classier, and the center stack gets a matte silver finish to look more like a Chrysler." Still unimpressed with this year's Buick LaCrosse styling, Detroit News is critical in its assessment: "inside, the LaCrosse felt comfortable but remained boring." Edmunds has the opposite opinion, reporting this Buick LaCrosse 2008 dash design as "clean and elegant, with a long expanse of faux wood trim sweeping across its length, interrupted only by a simple gauge cluster directly in front of the driver," as well as "tasteful chrome accents along the dash and around the gear selector add a splash of style." LaCrosse Super editions get new seats, along with wood-grain-appearance accents on the instrument panel, center console, door, and gear shift knob.

7

2008 Buick Lacrosse

Performance

The 2008 Buick LaCrosse aims at the mainstream with a cushy ride and iffy handling, but the Super version tightens and speeds things up.

Reviewers around the Web feel the 2008 Buick LaCrosse has acceptable power in V-6 editions and adequately balanced road manners, but the Super edition is something special.

The 2008 Buick LaCrosse CX and CXL sedans come with a 200-hp 3.8-liter V-6 engine. You may run across a sporty edition called the CXS. If you pop the hood, you'll find a 3.6-liter V-6 with variable valve timing and 240 hp. ConsumerGuide notes that the 3.8-liter V-6 powering the CX and CXL trims "provides brisk takeoffs but lacks passing power." Kelley Blue Book says "as the 2008 Buick LaCrosse is not intended to be a sports car, most drivers will find the base engine more than adequate for daily commutes." The CXS’s "3.6-liter V6 has more available muscle at all speeds," ConsumerGuide contends; Edmunds calls it “a better choice.”

According to Autoblog, the Buick LaCrosse 2008 Super edition "gets a major power boost from the addition of GM's 5.3L small-block V8 that produces 300 horsepower and 323 ft-lbs. of torque." According to Car and Driver, this engine "is the same aluminum 5.3-liter currently torque-steering Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo SSs and Pontiac Grand Prix GXPs toward ditches and road signs near you." Edmunds says, “Asphalt-burners will want to slide behind the wheel” of the V-8 even though it has “gruffer delivery” than the smoother 3.6-liter V-6. Kelley Blue Book reports that the larger V-8 is "equipped with GM's Active Fuel Management System (AFM), which cuts fuel to four of the eight cylinders when less power is required, thus resulting in less fuel consumption."

Cars.com divulges that every Buick LaCrosse 2008 model is equipped with a four-speed transmission. ConsumerGuide says that the Buick LaCrosse "transmission is generally smooth but requires a deep stab of the throttle to downshift for passing punch." Edmunds notes that the transmission is nonetheless "antiquated...a liability in a class where rivals offer modern five- and six-speed automatics, as well as continuously variable units."

Edmunds adds that "fuel mileage ratings are respectable but not class-leading...the CX and CXL have 17 mpg city/28 mpg highway estimates, while the CXS comes in at 17/25 and the Super [V8] rates 16/24." According to ConsumerGuide, "V6 LaCrosses use regular-grade gas, and GM recommends premium for the Super's V8."

The LaCrosse specializes in a buttery ride—and in base versions, great handling is off the menu. ConsumerGuide reports that the "base suspension absorbs bumps well but tends to bound and wallow over ruts and humps at highway speed." Detroit News says that "it was comfortable and reassuring, but it wasn't super. Its 198-inch body rolled through the bumps quietly, but the ride felt soft and squishy. On city streets, the car's body rolled heavily in turns and swayed back and forth when accelerating quickly or braking hard." Edmunds remarks, “On the highway it rides smoothly and soaks up bumps with little drama, as you'd expect a midsize family sedan to do. But the sedan's handling capabilities leave much to be desired.”

The chassis of the 2008 Buick LaCrosse Super has been reworked to make it firmer and more responsive, while at the same time retaining the comfortable ride that traditionally has been one of the Buick's hallmarks. Autoblog also notes "the suspension has been upgraded with Bilstein monotube struts, the steering made more precise and the brakes given larger rotors." Automobile points out that the Buick LaCrosse 2008 sedans "are focused more on comfort and capability than pure speed, and as such, the laptimes-at-all-costs modifications have been kept to a minimum on the LaCrosse...a specially modified steering rack, improved wheel and Lucerne braking components are all aimed at providing the LaCrosse Super with more over-the-road speed." Edmunds calls it a “step in the right direction.”

8

2008 Buick Lacrosse

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Buick LaCrosse does a respectable job of carrying five or six passengers; interior quality needs a touch-up.

The 2008 Buick LaCrosse offers generous amounts of passenger and cargo space, though its seats can be flat, and its interior is middling in quality.

TheCarConnection.com notes few complaints when it comes to ride quality. According to Cars.com, with "a front bench seat [it] can seat up to six," adding that a "five-seat model with front bucket seats is also available." Detroit News reports "nearly 100 cubic feet of passenger space inside this [Buick LaCrosse] sedan, making it, well, super sized." Edmunds advises, however, that "broad, flat seats make ingress and egress easy, but lack support for taller adults," while "rear-seat legroom is tight for larger individuals."

Cargo space is abundant in all Buick LaCrosse 2008 trims. Cars.com states that "the sedan's trunk is a competitive 16 cubic feet." ConsumerGuide says "the trunk has low liftover and nonintrusive lid hinges," but adds that "its opening...is too small to load larger boxes." Edmunds reports "the [Buick LaCrosse] cabin offers lots of storage bins and cubbies."

ConsumerGuide tells us that Buick LaCrosse 2008 interior materials are "well-assembled...[the] soft-touch interior materials have a quality look and feel...gauges are easy to see and read." Edmunds, on the other hand, points out that "the plastics used for the door panels, console and most controls have a low-rent appearance and feel." Nonetheless, Kelley Blue Book opines that "the 2008 Buick LaCrosse's interior shows a clear change of direction for Buick, with an emphasis on quality, design and comfort... dash and instrument cluster are leaps and bounds above the hard, bland plastics found in previous Buick sedans, and the control knobs show an attention to detail worthy of the Buick name."

Buick LaCrosse 2008 noise levels are minimal: "It's extremely quiet when driving down the road," according to Detroit News. However, ConsumerGuide notes "wind rush is apparent at 65 mph with notable body drumming over coarse pavement."

8

2008 Buick Lacrosse

Safety

Occupants can generally feel good about their safety while riding in the 2008 Buick LaCrosse.

TheCarConnection.com gives the 2008 Buick LaCrosse good marks for attention to safety.

The Buick LaCrosse 2008 performed reasonably well in government crash tests, earning five out of five stars for front impact protection and four stars for rear side impact protection and rollover resistance; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awards it only three stars for front side impact protection, however. These scores are consistent with results from the more stringent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which gives it a top rating of "good" in front impact tests, but only a "marginal" rating for side impacts.

Cars.com reports that "antilock brakes and side curtain airbags are standard" on all Buick LaCrosse trims. ConsumerGuide adds that the Buick LaCrosse 2008 lineup also offers "dual front airbags, curtain side airbags, antilock 4-wheel disc brakes, tire-pressure monitor, daytime running lights" as standard equipment.

Options for this year's Buick LaCrosse include a stability control system, although this is "standard on the more powerful CXS and Super models."

Visibility is not a serious issue with the 2008 Buick LaCrosse; Kelley Blue Book reports that "thin front and rear roof pillars keep blind spots to a minimum, but spotting the sloping hood's leading edge can be difficult" for someone in the driver's seat of this Buick LaCrosse 2008.

8

2008 Buick Lacrosse

Features

The 2008 Buick LaCrosse offers generous standard equipment, but the options list looks dated.

TheCarConnection.com notes that the 2008 Buick LaCrosse includes a fairly good, if not lavish, number of standard and optional features.

ConsumerGuide reports four Buick LaCrosse 2008 trim levels: CX, CXL, CXS, and Super. Cars.com reports that standard features across all trims "include XM Satellite Radio, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and remote start." ConsumerGuide lists additional amenities on this year's Buick LaCrosse: "interior air filter, OnStar assistance system w/one year service, tilt/telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel w/radio controls, cruise control, cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, 6-way power driver seat, center console, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, ...AM/FM/CD player...tachometer, intermittent wipers, illuminated visor mirrors, rear defogger, automatic headlights, floormats, Theft-deterrent system, 225/60R16 tires, [and] wheel covers."

In terms of what differentiates the trims, Edmunds writes that moving up to the "more upscale LaCrosse CXL" gives buyers "alloy wheels, leather upholstery, wood-grain trim, heated front seats and a driver's power lumbar adjustment." The CXS trim of the Buick LaCrosse includes "a smoother and more powerful V6, 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a quicker steering ratio and a split-folding rear seat." Popular Mechanic notes that on the Super trim, "Eighteen-inch wheels with 50 aspect ratio tires are standard," while Edmunds adds that the trim also has "V8 power...a further upgraded suspension, larger brakes and leather seating with unique woven inserts."

Kelley Blue Book mentions that Buick LaCrosse 2008 "options vary by trim and include a power sunroof, six-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, MP3 audio, rear spoiler and StabiliTrak stability control (CXS)." According to ConsumerGuide, some of these options for the 2008 Buick LaCrosse include: "Rear-obstacle-detection system, heated power mirrors, 6-way power passenger seat, automatic day/night rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, [and] rear map lights." Cars.com also notes that the Buick LaCrosse 2008 "top-of-the-line Super gets a silver-colored center stack and unique gauges."

Edmunds does point out that "popular high-tech features like a navigation system and Bluetooth are not" available.

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October 12, 2017
2008 Buick Lacrosse 4-Door Sedan CX

Super product and super performance

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Car has 118k miles and I have replaced the battery and tires, has had Royal Purple motor oil since I purchased it.
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April 18, 2015
For 2008 Buick Lacrosse

Super model trasformation

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The Super model of the Lacrosse puts this grocery getter in a whole nother league! 300+ horsepower V8,Bilstein shocks,oversize dual exhausts and outside aero panels with the distinctive 4 hole portholes on... + More »
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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 8.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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