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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
base V-6 provides brisk takeoffs but lacks passing power
most drivers will find the base engine more than adequate for daily commutes
Kelley Blue Book
Asphalt-burners will want to slide behind the wheel (of the LaCrosse Super)
Reviewers around the Web feel the 2009 Buick LaCrosse has acceptable power in V-6 editions and adequately balanced road manners, but the Super edition is something special.
The 2009 Buick LaCrosse CX and CXL sedans come with a 200-hp 3.8-liter V-6 engine. Consumer Guide 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 Buick LaCrosse is not intended to be a sports car, most drivers will find the base engine more than adequate for daily commutes."
According to Autoblog, the Buick LaCrosse 2009 Super edition "gets a major power boost from the addition of GM's 5.3-liter small-block V-8 that produces 300 horsepower and 323 ft-lbs. of torque." Car and Driver points out that 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 2009 Buick LaCrosse model is equipped with a four-speed transmission. Consumer Guide 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 Super comes in at 16/24." According to Consumer Guide, "V-6 LaCrosses use regular-grade gas, and GM recommends premium for the Super's V-8."
The LaCrosse specializes in a smooth boulevard ride—and in base versions, great handling is off the menu. Consumer Guide 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 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 2009 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.”
The 2009 Buick LaCrosse knows its audience and, with the V-6, offers a pillowy ride at the expense of handling.