2010 Buick Lacrosse Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
September 6, 2009

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.

To bring you the most useful possible review on the new 2010 Buick LaCrosse, TheCarConnection.com's editors have first driven the LaCrosse, reporting firsthand on their likes, dislikes, and overall impression of this new luxury sedan. Then, to give you even more information for your buying decision, TheCarConnection.com selected highlights from a range of other review sources.

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.

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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.

8

2010 Buick Lacrosse

Styling

The new 2010 Buick LaCrosse’s globally designed exterior is flowing and graceful for a sedan its size, but it’s still not the most elegant design in the class.

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse offers up a new look for the Buick brand in some ways. Overall, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com appreciate the effort Buick has put in towards remaking the LaCrosse, but a few unfortunate styling elements remain.

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse is a “four-door sedan that comes in CX, CXL, and CXS trim levels,” according to Consumer Guide reviewers. The exterior sheetmetal is largely new for the 2010 version of the LaCrosse, and Cars.com calls it “an exercise in well-proportioned grace.” Jalopnik agrees that the Buick LaCrosse is “a beautiful car in person, borrowing proportion from the much-lauded 1993 Lexus GS.” Cars.com goes on to call the Buick LaCrosse “easily the best-looking Buick since the Clinton administration.” When it comes to specific details, Motor Trend says that “the body sculpting and chrome flourishes are much more expressive than the ES 350’s, especially the crisp bow-wake shoulder line and concave lower ‘light catcher.’” Autoblog continues the unanimous wave of approval, writing that “it’s hard to argue with the LaCrosse’s aesthetics,” as the new sedan manages to combine Buick styling elements that “don’t come across as retro or cliché.”

The only downside is that the 2010 Buick LaCrosse gets the ‘signature’ porthole look, with the faux vents moved to the top of the hood. The decorative vents appear cheesy from a distance, out of place up close and, in the words of Cars.com, “hurt an otherwise sharp design.”

If you open up any of the Buick LaCrosse’s large doors and sit inside you’ll be treated to a rethought interior that wins over reviewers with its refinement. Like the exterior, Jalopnik thinks that “the interior is handsome, too, with sweeping lines, modern styling and enough ambient lighting to shake a cane at.” Motor Trend is equally impressed, writing that “if the exterior entices, the interior could seal the deal.” Cars.com reviewers find that the many small details found throughout the LaCrosse’s cabin “go a long way toward convincing those with sticker shock that Buick’s midsize sedan’s price premium is deserved.” Whether or not the appealing design is enough to win over cash-strapped consumers who still view Buick as a senior citizen brand, however, remains to be seen.

7

2010 Buick Lacrosse

Performance

The larger engine doesn’t offer much of a performance advantage in the 2010 Buick LaCrosse; you shouldn’t expect the responses of a sport sedan anyway.

The general consensus regarding the new 2010 Buick LaCrosse is that it’s no sports sedan, but the Buick four-door can hold its own as a daily driver and highway cruiser.

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse lineup features a trio of engines that are separated by 600-milliliter steps. First up, according to Motor Trend, is “a base 182-horse, 2.4-liter four in the CX model,” while the CXL gets “a 3.0-liter V-6 producing 252 or 255 horses,” depending on transmission; the CXS gets a “280-horse, 3.6-liter V-6.” None of the engines is particularly suited to stoplight burnouts, according to TheCarConnection.com’s research, but with the 3.0-liter Jalopnik claims that “acceleration is strong, smooth and actually enjoyable.” Cars.com warns that with the smaller engines “there’s less immediate power available when the light turns green,” which should seem obvious, but if you step up to the available 3.6-liter variant of the Buick LaCrosse Consumer Guide says that you’ll get “plenty of reserve power.” In terms of acceleration numbers, reviews indicate that the 3.0-liter gets to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, while the bigger (and thirstier) 3.6-liter gets the job done in 6.5 seconds, although Jalopnik claims it “doesn’t feel appreciably faster.” The four-cylinder hasn’t been tested yet because Buick won’t start offering it until later in the model year.

If you get enjoyment out of shifting your own gears, you’ll probably want to avoid the 2010 Buick LaCrosse. Motor Trend says that all three engines “bolt to six-speed automatic transmissions,” and the only option is whether you want “all- or front-wheel drive in the CXL.” Fortunately, initial impressions of the transmissions are positive. Jalopnik reports that “the transmission is well sorted with shift points exactly where you’d expect,” and Cars.com says that the auto “handles upshifts smoothly.” Autoblog offers high praise as well, finding that the available automatics “shift with exemplary smoothness and reasonable speed.”

Fuel economy is not going to be a marketing point for the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, but it’s far from the worst entry-level luxury sedan on the road. According to the official EPA estimates, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse should return 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with the 3.0-liter engine/FWD combination, while the AWD gets knocked down to 16/25. The 3.6-liter version of the Buick LaCrosse, meanwhile, offers 17 mpg city and 27 mpg on the highway.

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse handles confidently enough on most roads, but, as Cars.com points out, “its capabilities stop short of an all-out sport sedan’s.” Fortunately, Cars.com mentions, “no one ever wanted Buick to build the next BMW.” An available Sport mode for the Buick LaCrosse “improves body-motion control” and also causes the steering effort to increase “without ever delivering much in the way of genuine road feel,” according to Motor Trend. Jalopnik characterizes the hydraulic steering as “comfortably overboosted and on-center feel is a bit numb,” but there’s nothing frustrating about the way that the Buick LaCrosse drives. The ride quality is quite comfortable, and Consumer Guide calls it “perhaps LaCrosse’s most impressive quality,” although they point out that “ride quality suffers in sport mode, with larger road irregularities registering with pronounced thuds.” One major downside on the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, however, is found once the driver steps on the brakes—according to Cars.com reviewers, “the pedal doesn’t elicit a particularly strong response,” and “under hard braking, the car’s nose dives excessively.”

9

2010 Buick Lacrosse

Comfort & Quality

With ample room front and back, material and assembly quality well above its pay grade and a dynamically adjustable suspension, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse hits all the right marks in comfort and quality.

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse takes a huge step forward in terms of overall quality, and nearly every review surveyed by TheCarConnection.com praised Buick’s newfound attention to detail.

Inside the passenger cabin of this five-passenger sedan drivers and passengers alike will be treated to a larger cabin that Motor Trend says offers “more space, better gear, [and] fewer annoyances.” The front seats are a huge hit with reviewers, and Jalopnik particularly loves the 2010 Buick LaCrosse CX’s “very, very cushy muppet-soft cloth interior.” Cars.com writes that “the standard eight-way power driver’s seat offers plenty of adjustment range,” although the “optional dual-pane moonroof…cuts headroom significantly.” Consumer Guide agrees that front-seat “headroom is tight for those much over six-foot tall,” and the story is the same in the rear, where “head room is marginal for six-footers.” With the Buick LaCrosse’s rear bench seat, Autoblog appreciates that the cushions are elevated “to give a theater seating effect, aiding visibility out the front.” Unfortunately, the overall dimensions in the rear aren’t entirely accommodating, as Consumer Guide warns that “knee room is limited behind taller front-seat occupants.”

The materials and build quality of the Buick LaCrosse are somewhat less controversial, and most reviewers give the LaCrosse’s interior a thumbs-up. Consumer Guide feels that the “handsome cabin is finished in rich, well-textured materials with apparently careful assembly.” Jalopnik partially agrees; on the one hand, they argue that “the wood on these cars is quite impressive or, rather, we should say fake wood,” as they write that “magnification may be necessary to confirm the screen-printing.” On the downside, Jalopnik also says that “material choice[s] are occasionally mediocre, with the dreaded GM flat gray and beige plastic making an unexpected appearance.” Overall, however, the materials are a decided step up from the 2009 Buick LaCrosse lineup.

Buick engineers apparently worked on more than just the interior materials and workmanship, since a ride in the new 2010 Buick LaCrosse is much quieter than one in other Buicks of the last decade. Jalopnik is so impressed that they claim that “the interior is so quiet you can hold conversations at 100 MPH without even hearing the engine,” and Consumer Guide seconds that by calling the LaCrosse “impressively hushed.”

8

2010 Buick Lacrosse

Safety

Though the 2010 Buick LaCrosse hasn’t yet undergone official crash-testing, the wide range of standard airbags and safety equipment—plus optional rear-passenger thorax airbags—make for an impressive package.

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse arrives on dealer lots in 2009 with a full complement of safety features. As Buick aims to bring the average age of its buyers down into the 40-50-year-old range it will likely promote its safety features even heavier, as this demographic tends to still have kids around the house—usually of driving age.

Like most 2010 models, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse has not yet been crash tested by either the NHTSA or the IIHS, but Buick’s history in crash tests is comforting. The outgoing 2009 LaCrosse, for example, earned perfect five star front impact ratings, although it did suffer from a mediocre three star driver side impact rating. Stay tuned to TheCarConnection.com for the latest updates on the 2010 Buick LaCrosse as it undergoes the full battery of crash tests at both agencies.

Crash-test ratings may not be available yet for the latest Buick sedan, but the safety features list has been heavily pushed by Buick. As Cars.com points out, “four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard” on the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, and other standard features include “an electronic stability system and six airbags.” Unlike some competing models, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse doesn’t offer all of its safety equipment as standard fare; backseat side airbags are an optional feature, and when added they bring the total number of airbags inside the big Buick to eight.

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse doesn’t suffer from any major deficiencies in terms of sightlines. Consumer Guide reviewers write that “visibility is generally good in all directions” from the LaCrosse’s driver seat. For those who are particularly concerned about visibility, Cars.com notes that “a blind-spot warning system and adaptive cornering headlights, which automatically swivel a few degrees to illuminate upcoming curves when you turn the steering wheel, are optional.”

8

2010 Buick Lacrosse

Features

The base-model 2010 LaCrosse lacks some of the polish and basic technology mid-luxury buyers are going to expect as standard; high-tech luxury features are available but costly.

The Buick brand is one of four GM lines that will continue post-bankruptcy, but figuring out where exactly Buick fits is a bit of a challenge. Some of the features on the latest 2010 Buick LaCrosse would be at home in an entry-level Cadillac. One thing is for certain right now—Buick offers a pretty strong value with a load of high-tech features and a competitive base price.

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse comes in three feature levels, which are designated CX, CXL, and top-end CXS. Most reviews read by TheCarConnection.com heap praise on the Buick LaCrosse’s feature set, with Motor Trend claiming that “Buick sees Lexus on most counts and raising on others.” Beginning with the base model Buick LaCrosse, Cars.com reports that “standard features include a power driver’s seat, single-zone automatic climate control and a CD stereo with an MP3 jack and steering-wheel controls.” The mid-range Buick LaCrosse CXL pushes toward Cadillac-ery, and with this model Jalopnik says that “cloth seats move to leather, a super basic radio readout goes to a navigation and entertainment screen, 17s become 18s, and, overall, you get more of the pampering.” The 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXL, meanwhile, gets a standard Harman Kardon sound system, among other features.

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse also gets a slew of optional features, including a world-class navigation system. Cars.com raves that the LaCrosse’s “optional in-dash navigation system—it’s GM’s latest generation—has excellent graphics and quick response: zoom in on the map or jump to a submenu, and it happens now.” Motor Trend adds that “once everything’s programmed, many of the features can also be accessed via voice command.” The nav system is far from the only desirable feature on the list, though, as Cars.com writes that “Additional options include a panoramic sunroof…xenon headlights and a backseat DVD system with a screen behind each front-seat head restraint.”

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse gets mixed reviews from automotive experts for its cargo space and interior storage. Beginning with the trunk, Consumer Guide claims that the Buick offers a “deep and spacious storage area,” but Cars.com contests that it’s “not particularly roomy.” Cars.com reviewers also back up their opinion with some data, pointing out that “overall volume, at 13.3 cubic feet…leads the TL (13.1 cubic feet) but trails the ES 350 (14.7) and MKZ (16.5).” Inside the passenger compartment, Jalopnik reviewers are disappointed to find an unremarkable center console, and notes that, “for large cars in a luxury segment, the cubbies and storage in the LaCrosse are pretty terrible.”

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September 13, 2015
2010 Buick Lacrosse 4-Door Sedan CXL 3.0L FWD

This has been a great car.

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Has been a great car -- stylish, comfortable, luxurious. 225,000 trouble-free km so far. Shape still looks modern, especially in black with tinted windows. Looking forward to the next version of the Lacrosse... + More »
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June 25, 2015
2010 Buick Lacrosse 4-Door Sedan CX 3.0L

Slightly above average for a "semi-luxury" car

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This car is comfortable and quite. Gas mileage is good for size. Comfort is good. I enjoy the seats, dual air conditioning controls, and the ride. Visibility when backing the car is terrible. It cries for a... + More »
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April 28, 2015
2010 Buick Lacrosse 4-Door Sedan CX 3.0L

I love my LaCrosse!

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The car is stylish inside and outside and handles well on city streets and highways. The only thing missing is the LED headlamps that are now on the newer models.
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Styling 8.0
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