Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Buick LaCrosse, the best American car in ages

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 lwertz@charlotteobserver.com


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?

Also this week


Anonymous said...

That is a whale of a car for only 280 hp. If Buick really wants to start picking up younger drivers they need to offer more ponies under the hood. If not a V8 then at least a turbo version V6.

Great looking car though.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for posting some good press on one of GM's models! We have got to get the word out that American products, while not so good in the past, are well worth a look (or purchase) now and can compete with the imports. Although I would disagree with your title and say that the Corvette has been a fine world-class sports car for quite a while now. If you need proof, I'll give you a ride in mine!

Anonymous said...

Langston great review. I'm considering this car and the Lexus ES and HS hybryd. Have you driven the hybyrd? Wondering your thoughts there.

Right now I'm going back to drive all three again. I'd have to agree with you on the LaCrosse though. Its' stunning. I just wonder about resale with Buick

Anonymous said...

Maybe our School leader can spend some of his newfound folding money to upgrade the company Taurus or gift Tom Knotts for his service to CMS. It's still good to know the engineering and assembly can succeed but let's see what it looks like after 200k.

NinerWupAss said...

Have you driven a new Taurus SHO or the Fusion? Or a new Chrysler sedan? Considering your title is best American car in ages I certainly hope so! If you haven't driven those then you are simply spouting off at the mouth when know very little about GMs direct competition.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:46 I'm with you. I want to jump back on the U.S. ship so bad, but I'm wondering how these new cars will hold up. They look better, and if you believe Langston's review, they are put together better. The proof as they say is in the puddin

Langston Wertz Jr. said...

Yes, I've driven the new Taurus and the Fusion. Liked the Fusion hybrid more than the standard sedan. The Taurus was a good car. Big puppy, too. I just felt the Buick was a better car. Better looking, smoother, more luxurious to my mind.

Both are good cars and show that U.S. automakers are headed in the right direction. If I were buying a sedan right now, in that price range, I'd have to cross shop the LaCrosse and Taurus against anything Japanese or European.

Anonymous said...

I want to hear more about the Regal! I like the LaCrosse but it's too bloated for me.

Anonymous said...

Good review and good topic. Wish the Disturber did more this.

Anonymous said...

Me say no to Obamamobile. Until the Company is no longer Government owned and run, comes out consistenly with quality products and have more power in their engines, I will stay with Ford.

grayisland said...

Here we have the classic American car review- much improved, not nearly as crappy as it used to be, the phoenix of US cars. Show me one with 100K miles on the clock that isn't your basic 'beater,' then I'll pay attention. Reputations take decades to form, so tell me about GM in, say, 2025. A good car for folks that can't spell 'hybrid' maybe, but get real....

Anonymous said...

all buicks are for old folks.....GM will never get it right. they will just keep usning tax payers money to keep designing cars that no one wants. Maybe they should try the Pontiac Aztek again! LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

Close your eyes and imagine if you will, at the strike of midnight no American ever buys anything but and American made car ever again....starting with the ones that are mostly made in America now, then only the ones that are completely made in America...

UH anyway I agree on the obamamotors comment.....and to insult myself further.... I too have driven in one and it drives just like a car!

What this country really needs is a 45mpg Gremlin!

Anonymous said...

I have ridden in the Lacrosse and find a fine automobile. I will not purchase a GM product mainly due to the poor way the government handled the bailout. Those who caused the problems at GM, the unions control most of the company and sorry management all remain intact while the stock holder, who remains blameless to this day were robbed of their ownership stake and good faith investment.

Everyone knows it has been said...

It has pointy elbows.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately for those of us that don't buy into planned obsolescence, Lafayette, Indiana seems to produce the best selling, best multi-tasking car made in America. Plush ride? nope! Goes through 4 to 5 inches of snow, vertical ascents and descents, corners confidently and reasonable to operate over 196k. Smart ugly at times and way over engineered all the time. Manual trans-missions still available. Subarus #2 and 3 joined 1993 and happy they're still affordable. Swore off GM in 1978 when GM "subbed" Chevette trannys in Regal Wagons

Ronald said...

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Mark said...

Maybe not the best, but indeed, one of them. I love this car and I wish I didn't have to buy viagra every day so I could save a little money to purchase -one day- one of those.
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Eric said...

That's a cheap deal! And I must say that its one of the cars that should be considered when buying. As for me, I'll have to seek a good deal at the used cars (Orange County-based) or the used cars (Santa Ana-based) stores. Have you been there?

Jack said...

Buick Lacrosse is best and elegant car from GM in many years. It will be a game changer for GM which is hearing criticism from American car lovers about Buick. Buick will be compete with others in luxury car arena because of its new heated leather seats, automatic climate control and LED lights.
Buick Century Custom

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