2013 Buick Lacrosse Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 12, 2012

The 2013 Buick LaCrosse hits the mark for comfort, sophistication, and refinement in a large sedan—and its 36-mpg rating is icing on the cake.

With the introduction of the current LaCrosse several years ago, GM set in motion a transformation for Buick that elevated it well above the old stodgy, geriatric image and onto a different kind of world standard. As a premium large sedan--and one that even feels downright luxurious in its upper trims--the LaCrosse is sophisticated and engaging. And while it's not quite Cadillac, it's more worldly than the Buick of just a few years ago.

The 2013 LaCrosse looks smooth and graceful on the outside, with a soft shoulder line, enough chrome to gently punctuate, and above all, a pleasing roofline and proportions that are better than typical for a primarily front-wheel-drive sedan. Meanwhile its cabin design feels traditional and luxurious, and if you let any lingering GM biases shake off before stepping in, it's really everything that a Lexus shopper might expect in an ES. The modern, curvy dash design fits the premium feel, and it has a nice two-tone look, with an upper dash tier that swoops around and over the dash in a continuous arc, flowing nearly into the door trim to form an interior beltline. Warm interior hues and premium-feel materials complete a welcoming look and feel.

The 2013 Buick LaCrosse takes advantage of GM's eAssist mild-hybrid technology, and in base form it returns respectable, refined performance while achieving an EPA highway number of 36 mpg. And for those seeking a more traditional luxury-car experience, the step-up V-6 engine fits the bill. The LaCrosse is no performance car, but it does handle the curves better than its predecessors. And in Touring guise, with the optional magnetic adjustable suspension (and included V-rated performance tires and variable-effort power steering), the LaCrosse gains a more responsive feel that doesn't come at the expense of ride quality.

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With space for five, as well as a back seat that's good enough for three, the LaCrosse has a level of seating comfort that's a step above compared to mid-size sedans. Interior appointments and standards of refinement in the LaCrosse's cabin are truly luxury-car caliber. Upper models also get upgraded perforated leather and ventilated heating and cooling features, along with more adjustability and memory settings; and across the lineup, Buick's 'Quiet Tuning' philosophy reflects in a tight, near-silent interior. 

The LaCrosse is a safety champ, with top safety ratings from both U.S. agencies. But it goes beyond that. Check some option boxes and you can get a number of safety-tech features that until recently have been limited to top European sport sedans, mostly. Blind-spot warning system, adaptive cornering headlamps, and rear side thorax bags are all available, as is a head-up display (HUD)Top-of-the-line LaCrosses can feel like entry-level Cadillacs, with an upgraded instrument panel, hard-drive navigation, and Harman Kardon sound.

For 2013, Buick has added the IntelliLink touch-screen interface as a standard feature for all LaCross models. IntelliLink allows connectivity with smartphones for hands-free or streaming audio functions, as well as access to apps for Pandora or Stitcher audio. An available Heads-up Display (HUD), and a 40-gigabyte hard-drive-based navigation are among the LaCrosse's many other upgrades, as are a DVD rear entertainment system and a power sunroof. And for 2013 you can get both IntelliLink and the full-featured navigation system together. .

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2013 Buick Lacrosse

Styling

Elegant and graceful, the Buick LaCrosse has nice proportions for a front-wheel-drive design.

When the LaCrosse was last completely redesigned, a couple of model years ago, it was at the front of a new styling philosophy for Buick--essentially meaning no more padded vinyl roofs, squishy bench seats, or stodgy interiors. In short, Buick's design attributes now have more of a European flavor.

The 2013 LaCrosse looks smooth and graceful on the outside, with a soft shoulder line, enough chrome to gently punctuate, and above all, a pleasing roofline and proportions that are better than typical for a primarily front-wheel-drive sedan. However, the tacky 'portholes' atop the front fenders, a styling detail that Buick has already brought back and retired once in recent years, should be retired for good.

Wheel configurations are one of the key differences, and ranging 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, they can significantly change the LaCrosse's look.

The cabin design of the 2013 Buick LaCrosse feels traditional and luxurious, and if you let any lingering GM biases shake off before stepping in, it's really everything that a Lexus shopper might expect in an ES, for instance. The modern, curvy dash design fits the premium feel, and it has a nice two-tone look, with an upper dash tier that swoops around and over the dash in a continuous arc, flowing nearly into the door trim to form an interior beltline. Warm interior hues and premium-feel materials complete a welcoming look and feel. It's worth noting that base LaCrosse models do sacrifice some of the upmarket interior trims, but the ambient lighting brings a pleasing nighttime aura.

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2013 Buick Lacrosse

Performance

With the available V-6, the LaCrosse is surprisingly quick, although the base eAssist mild-hybrid four-cylinder setup aims for efficiency, not performance.

The 2013 Buick LaCrosse takes advantage of GM's eAssist mild-hybrid technology, and in base form it returns respectable, refined performance while achieving an EPA highway number of 36 mpg. And for those seeking a more traditional luxury-car experience, the step-up V-6 engine fits the bill.

Included with the eAssist system is an upgraded 115-volt battery, and the electric motor system provides about 15 horsepower of hybrid boost to the engine. We've found this base powertrain to be quite smoothly integrated and perfectly adequate, though not all that enjoyable; and although eAssist helps smooth out shifts most of the time, the system still has moments of roughness and indecision. Just as with other hybrid systems, eAssist enables the engine to stop at idle in some situations, to save fuel, and it starts very quickly and smoothly the moment you lift off the brake.

For those who want an experience that's closer to that of a traditional luxury car or a traditional Buick, a 303-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 is available. Mileage dips significantly, but it's strong and smooth, with plenty of reserves for passing--which perhaps makes it the best choice for those who plan to carry a full load on highway trips.

The LaCrosse is no performance car, but it does handle the curves better than its predecessors. And in Touring guise, with the optional magnetic adjustable suspension (and included V-rated performance tires and variable-effort power steering), the LaCrosse gains a more responsive feel that doesn't come at the expense of ride quality.

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2013 Buick Lacrosse

Comfort & Quality

If you opt for one of the top trims of the 2013 Buick LaCrosse, you'll get true luxury-car ambiance to go with the comfort and spaciousness of this package.

The 2013 Buick LaCrosse looks like a large, spacious sedan from the outside, and its interior is fully in line with that impression. With space for five, as well as a back seat that's good enough for three, the LaCrosse has a level of seating comfort that's a step above compared to mid-size sedans.

In front, the LaCrosse offers front seats that are soft yet supportive, and the tall roofline helps bring a feeling of spaciousness. Back-seat accommodations, as well, are contoured well enough for adults, making this one of the few sedans that's ideal for four adults on a road trip. A huge trunk, as well as folding seatbacks, can hold plenty of cargo or accommodate larger items.

The interior appointments and standards of refinement in the LaCrosse's cabin are truly luxury-car caliber. Across most of the interior, materials are lavish, with fine detailing, ambient lighting, and nicely done faux-stitching on the dashboard, along with plenty of soft-touch surfaces. Upper models also get upgraded perforated leather and ventilated heating and cooling features, along with more adjustability and memory settings.

Only the base models can feel just a little bit simple and plasticky, and the faux wood can seem a little out of place in some of the models. But otherwise there's a wide range of materials, including plastic, wood and leather, with quality rising as you move up the model line.

Ride quality in the LaCrosse fits the premium look and feel, with the measures of Buick's 'Quiet Tuning' philosophy damping out nearly all wind and road noise. The only thing we've noticed with V-6 models is that they tend to have more of a raspy sound under acceleration than you might expect from a quiet luxury car.

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2013 Buick Lacrosse

Safety

It doesn't get any better than this; the 2013 LaCrosse is a standout for safety--even against expensive luxury brands.

Those seeking one of the safest cars on the market have no reason to dismiss the 2013 Buick LaCrosse; it earns some of the best ratings from both major U.S. safety agencies, and in addition to a solid roster of standard safety features it offers an extensive list of active-safety items that might just help you avoid an accident.

The federal government has given the LaCrosse a rating of five stars overall, and it's achieved 'good' ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in all categories--making it last year again a Top Safety Pick. Good outward visibility also makes the LaCrosse a great pick with respect to safety.

But it goes beyond that. Check some option boxes and you can get a number of safety-tech features that until recently have been limited to top European sport sedans, mostly. Blind-spot warning system, adaptive cornering headlamps, and rear side thorax bags are all available, as is a head-up display (HUD).

8

2013 Buick Lacrosse

Features

With a Cadillac feature set but a price that's (in base form) not far from Chevy, the 2013 Buick LaCrosse is an impressive value.

The 2013 Buick LaCrosse is a well-equipped sedan in any of its guises, but in its upper Premium or Touring trims the LaCrosse feels like a true luxury car. Top-of-the-line LaCrosses can feel like entry-level Cadillacs, with an upgraded instrument panel, hard-drive navigation, and Harman Kardon sound.

For 2013, Buick has added the IntelliLink touch-screen interface as a standard feature for all LaCross models. IntelliLink allows connectivity with smartphones for hands-free or streaming audio functions, as well as access to apps for Pandora or Stitcher audio. All LaCrosses feature hands-free Bluetooth phone connectivity, remote start, eight-way adjustable seating, and dual-zone climate control.

An available Heads-up Display (HUD), and a 40-gigabyte hard-drive-based navigation are among the LaCrosse's many other upgrades, as are a DVD rear entertainment system and a power sunroof. New for 2013, you can get both IntelliLink and the full-featured navigation system together.

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2013 Buick Lacrosse

Fuel Economy

Especially for those who log a lot of highway miles, the 2013 Buick LaCrosse is one of the greener large-sedan picks.

The 2013 Buick LaCrosse is merely average among larger sedans if you get the available V-6 engine. As such, its EPA figures come in at either 16 or 17 mpg in the city, and 26 or 27 on the highway.

It's a completely different story with the base eAssist powertrain, though; incorporating a new version of GM's mild-hybrid belt-alternator-starter system, these models are mileage standouts, with ratings of 25 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, for a combined gas mileage figure of 29 mpg.

In real-world driving, we've seen about 30 mpg in 270 miles of mixed driving with one editor, and about 23 mpg in 160 miles of mixed driving with another editor (somewhat less highway driving). A cautionary note for those with urban commutes: Though we've been able to come close to replicating the LaCrosse's 36-mpg highway rating, we've found it challenging—virtually impossible—to see the EPA test's 25 mpg in city driving; the trip computer's figures in typical city driving have been more in the 19 to 21 mpg range.
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April 18, 2015
For 2013 Buick Lacrosse

Great car.

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Like everything about the car except getting in and out of it. I am elderly and 6ft,2in" tall. I don't compact as well as I used too. Vision could be better ("A" post too large).
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8.2
Overall
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Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 9.0
Safety 10.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy 6.0
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