- Fresh, bold exterior
- Roomy interior
- Strong value in the middle-spec models
- Attractive, solid-seeming interior
- Somewhat cheap look and feel on base model
- Expensive to option fully at the top end
- Handling isn’t as sharp as it could in the sportier CXS model
The 2010 Buick LaCrosse is not just a good-looking vehicle; it handles and rides well, and when compared to its main rivals, it’s a value leader as well.
The Buick LaCrosse is an all-new vehicle for the 2010 model year, redesigned from the ground up to bring a new fight to its competitors. Though the last LaCrosse was never intended to compete with the entry-level luxury sport sedans from Europe, the new car takes on both Japanese and Europeans on their own turf.
The new LaCrosse design hints at the future of Buick’s styling ethos, and puts a fresh global face on the brand. The styling and comfort of the new car will not likely deter the brand’s older core buyers, but Buick is hoping the 2010 LaCrosse will attract a younger set as well.
With its capable if not quite sporty handling and large feature set, there’s something for everyone in the new LaCrosse. The four models—CX, CXL, CXL AWD, and CXS—can only be easily differentiated externally by their rear-mounted badges and varying wheel sizes and styles, though sharp eyes will catch the characteristic trio of fender-mounted “portholes” that have migrating to the upper hood for the new CXS.
Each of the four LaCrosse trims but the CXS get the same 255-horsepower, 3.0-liter, direct-injected V-6 engine, though a smaller and more efficient 2.4-liter engine will be available in late 2009. The 300-horsepower V-8 that the 2009 LaCrosse Super had is gone, but it’s replaced by the same 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 found in the Cadillac CTS, detuned to 280 horsepower. The 3.0-liter engine will pull the front-wheel drive LaCrosse to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, while the CXS’s 3.6-liter unit makes the dash in 6.8 seconds. A smaller 2.4-liter four-cylinder will enter the 2010 Buick LaCrosse lineup at the end of 2009, but will not be available at launch.
A smooth six-speed transmission helps both V-6s maximize fuel efficiency, with the CX, CXL and CXL AWD scoring 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, and the CXS’s more powerful unit taking a small hit to rate 17mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
Inside, the cars all get a wide range of materials, including plastic, wood and leather, with quality rising as you move up the model line. Faux stitching on the dashboard and well-upholstered and bolstered seats make for a more luxurious setting than might be expected from the LaCrosse’s mid-market pricing. The car is spacious, especially for rear-seat passengers. Cargo room is ample as well with a large trunk offering 12.8-13.3 cubit feet of storage depending on the trim.
Behind the wheel, the new LaCrosse is a transformation compared to past models. While the classic Buick ride quality isn’t compromised—it’s still as comfortable as anything in its class—the 2010 LaCrosse offers much more competence in the curves than its predecessors. Fitted with the optional magnetic adjustable suspension, the car offers even more fun to the mildly enthusiastic driver, though its roughly 4,000-pound weight and front-biased weight distribution do make themselves known in the form of understeer and body roll when pushed too hard. Wheel configurations range from standard 17-inch steel wheels with plastic covers in the base CX up to large 18- and 19-inch machined, painted, or chrome-plated alloys. In TheCarConnection's drive tests, the 17-inch-equipped models rode noticeably more comfortably and quietly than the 18- or 19-inch models, where stiffer sidewalls transmitted more road noise into the cabin.
Safety features are abundant in the 2010 LaCrosse, with a full complement of dual-stage front and side airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags standard on all models. Rear-seat-mounted thorax airbags are also standard across the range. StabiliTrak stability and traction control and ABS brakes are standard as well. The 2010 LaCrosse hasn’t yet been rated by the IIHS or NHTSA for safety.
The 2010 Buick LaCrosse offers a great combination of value packages from the entry-luxury sector up to the mid-luxury range, with more modern ride and handling characteristics, a range of high-tech features and quality interior design and materials. A new high-resolution digital center instrument panel screen is also available, as is a Heads-up Display (HUD), pushing the LaCrosse’s feature set into the high-tech realm. A 40-gigabyte hard-drive-based navigation and entertainment system can also be fitted. All LaCrosses except the base CX feature hands-free Bluetooth phone connectivity, remote start, eight-way adjustable seating, and dual-zone climate control.