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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
“Three DOHC direct-injected engine choices”
“Acceleration is strong, smooth and actually enjoyable”
“Its capabilities stop short of an all-out sport sedan’s”
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.”
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.