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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
the reality is that most would-be buyers will likely be completely satisfied with the performance of the four-cylinder LaCrosse.
the four-cylinder engine is overtaxed by the package's 3,800 pounds
The steering feel is rubberier than that of most sport sedans, but it’s pleasantly weighted and offers a degree of feedback absent in Buicks of the last forever or so
Car and Driver
No LaCrosse feels sporty, but all handle well with assuring competence.
Last model year, the former base engine, a 3.0-liter V-6, was replaced by an 182-hp, 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine as standard, and with a 3.6-liter V-6 remaining an option. The base setup proved to be only a placeholder, with the new eAssist technology and its 36-mpg rating coming standard this year.
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. Overall, the base powertrain is pretty smoothly integrated and perfectly adequate, though not all that enjoyable. eAssist enables the engine to stop at idle in some situations, to save fuel, and it starts very quickly and smoothly as soon as you lift your foot off the brake.
The 3.6-liter V-6 is available, and this year it gets a 23-hp boost, to 303 hp. It's the choice for those who want strong, smooth performance—albeit with a very significant dip in mpg.
Behind the wheel, the LaCrosse is still not a performance car, by any means, but it handles the curves better than its predecessors. Fitted with the optional magnetic adjustable suspension (and included V-rated performance tires and variable-effort power steering), the LaCrosse can be enjoyable to the mildly enthusiastic driver.
The four-cylinder engine and new eAssist mild-hybrid system in the base 2012 LaCrosse is configured for efficiency, not performance, but with the available V-6 it's surprisingly quick.