2014 Buick Lacrosse Performance

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Performance

Buick splits the LaCrosse into two quite distinct versions. One's pitched for efficiency's sake, while the other tackles Buick's traditional reputation for smooth moves.

The base powertrain takes a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and couples it to an "eAssist" mild-hybrid system made up of batteries and an electric motor. It's not a full hybrid--it's not able to cruise on electric power alone--but the eAssist setup does feed some of its net 15 hp to the drivetrain to smooth six-speed automatic shifts and to run some accessories, as well as to restart the engine after it's automatically stopped at longer pauses. With a net 182 horsepower, this base powertrain is quite smoothly integrated and perfectly adequate, though not all that enjoyable. Although eAssist helps smooth out shifts most of the time, the system still has moments of roughness and indecision.

Four-cylinder eAssist versions lead the LaCrosse down a high-economy road, but the V-6 is a strong straight-line performer.
For those who want an experience that's closer to that of a traditional luxury car or a traditional Buick, a 304-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. There's also an all-wheel-drive option, engineered by Haldex, that can shuffle some power to the rear wheels when the fronts lose traction.

The LaCrosse is no performance car, but it does handle the curves better than its predecessors. Its electric power steering has a better sense of stability and on-center tracking than some of the brand-new large sedans we've driven this year. 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.

This year, the LaCrosse has new tire choices, as well as 20-inch wheels and tires on the options list for the first time. When we're able to spend more time with the retuned model, we'll update this section.

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