This is Games N Gadgets week at the Charlotte Observer. Throughout the week, Monday-Sunday, we're going to look at some popular and not-so popular Games N Gadgets. If you have any ideas for things you'd like to see us review, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Got a chance to drive Buick's new 2010 LaCrosse recently. It's one of the key cars in GM's post-bankruptcy strategy and it's aimed right at one of the best cars in the world: the Lexus ES-350.
And Buick hits the target.
The LaCrosse, other than a small sub-13 cubic square foot trunk, is a better looking car, a better riding car and will turn more heads. Of course, Buick will need to upgrade its dealership experience if it really wants to compete with Lexus. It'll need the red carpet treatment and the free loaners, to start.
But inside LaCrosse is spacious, and about as quiet as I've encountered in a car under $50,000. You literally do not hear the outside.
The interior is well thought out. The usual plastics and hard surfaces we've seen from GM in recent years is gone. The seats, filled with supple leather, are comfortable enough to put in your living room, and have plenty of support, especially in the lumbar region.
The car rides smoothly, but not with the usual GM bounce. The car handles like a cross between a German sports sedan and a Japanese car and starts at $28,000. Well equipped, you're talking about $35,000.
The car comes with two engines, a 3.0 liter, 255-horsepower V6 and a 3.6 V6 that kicks out 280 horses.
Interestingly, the bigger engine gets about the same gas mileage (17/26 to 18/27) as the smaller one.
The car I drove had the smaller engine and felt plenty strong. The car felt nimble and solid at the same time, and this being a column about Games N Gadgets, I was fascinated by all the toys abound.
You had GM's excellent OnStar package which helps with directions and emergencies (with someone to talk to instantly for help). The OnStar folks can unlock your car.
The Bluetooth phone had some problems with buzzing over the speakers when connected but worked seamlessly for hands-free calls, and your speedometer appeared in the bottom of the windshield, so you didn't have to take your eyes off the road to see it.
I also loved the hard drive in the powerhouse stereo. You could hear a song you liked on the radio and pause it or rewind it.
You could download all your favorite songs, iPod-like, right into the system, and this stereo rivals the Mark Levinson brand for Lexus and the Elliott Scheiner unit in upscale Acuras.
All said, the LaCrosse is an excellent package that doesn't look like any Buick sedan we've seen in awhile. A new smaller Regal sedan has recently been modeled and shows GM's new direction.
The question is: are people buying it?
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