By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 7/8/2011
As the first masterpiece ushered in by Buick's renaissance, the 2011 Buick LaCrosse has proven itself more than just another pretty face; it is a bona fide driver's car, solidly built and with a style all its own. The new look of Buick actually began with the Enclave CUV, and while the LaCrosse is the first car to wear Buick's new duds, it's certainly not the last. The new Regal looks like the LaCrosse's miniature clone, and soon the 2012 Verano will arrive sporting similar, if not smaller, proportions. From its distinctive grille to the elongated "V" shaped crease running along the car's sides (an homage to the great Buick cars of the '50s, '60s and '70s), the 2011 LaCrosse truly impresses, especially when compared to other premium-leaning sedans such as the Lincoln MKZ, Hyundai Genesis and Lexus ES 350. And, while it may take the Buick brand a few more years to recapture the hearts of younger Americans, the company now has the tools in its toolbox to pull it off.You'll Like This Car If... You May Not Like This Car If...
While the LaCrosse is certainly attractive, the Buick name is not as well received by younger audiences who still seem to gravitate toward Lexus, BMW and now even Hyundai. The LaCrosse's lack of a V8 engine option might dissuade some buyers.What's Significant About This Car?
A 2.4-liter Ecotec engine is now standard on front-drive CX and CXL trims, and includes a new variable-ratio electric power steering unit.Driving It Driving Impressions
Those seeking a comfortable turnpike cruiser that can also serve as a daily driver will find much to like in the 2011 Buick LaCrosse. As expected of any car bearing the Buick nameplate, the LaCrosse is exceptionally smooth riding and has a whisper-quiet interior. Yet, this is no Electra, displaying surprisingly eager driving dynamics that makes cars such as the Lexus ES 350 feel a bit old fashioned. Unlike some of its competitors, those wanting added all-weather on-road security can opt for all-wheel drive on the mid-level CXL trim with the 3.6-liter engine. While the 2.4-liter engine performs quietly and without fuss, it really is underpowered in this segment. The engine of choice is the lovely 3.6-liter V6 which pumps out 280 horsepower, yet, thanks in part to the six-speed automatic transmission, returns impressively good highway fuel economy.
Even with the front seats moved as far back as possible, rear-seat passengers still have enough legroom to sit comfortably, no matter the length of the trip.
CXS Ice-Blue Interior Lighting
When the sun goes down, the interior of the LaCrosse is bathed in a soft blue light, emanating subtly from multiple points inside the vehicle. This "mood lighting" is a nice touch that adds to the sedan's premium feel.
Very few cars marry their interior and exterior styling into a single theme, but the 2011 Buick LaCrosse could be the poster child for just such an exercise. Flowing lines seem to pour from the dash, door panels and center console, all converging seamlessly to form an almost organic interior. Soft touch surface abound and the LaCrosse's button and switches operate with a substantial, weighted feel that reinforces the impression of solidity and craftsmanship. The seating provides ample room front and rear, and the seats themselves are nicely padded with good support for the lower back and thighs. If there is one area that could use improvement, it's in the LaCrosse's cargo hold. Although the LaCrosse's trunk itself is generous, the trunk lid supports located on either side eat up considerable real estate.Exterior
In the tradition of great Buicks before it, the 2011 Buick LaCrosse displays an iconic waterfall grille and signature portholes (again, a design element that dates back decades), only this time the little circles are placed on top of the hood, not on the side fenders. The LaCrosse's high beltine features a dramatic styling element – known as "sweep spear" in Buick parlance - that extends from the front of the vehicle to the rear. In keeping with the LaCrosse's smooth, unbroken lines, Buick runs the exhaust tips through the rear fascia instead of under it. Available 19-inch alloy wheels enhance the LaCrosse's aggressive good looks.Notable Standard Equipment
A 2011 Buick LaCrosse CX comes equipped with a 2.4-liter in-line four cylinder Ecotec engine, six-speed automatic transmission, eight-way adjustable power driver's seat, OnStar, automatic air conditioning and 17-inch alloy wheels. Moving up to CXL territory adds halogen fog lamps, 18-inch wheels, dual zone automatic air conditioning, auto-dimming rear mirror, universal home remote and leather seating. The top-of-the-line CXS is additionally outfitted with a 3.6-liter V6, 18-inch chrome wheels, heated and cooled front seats and a harmon/kardon 11-speaker sound system with USB port.Notable Optional Equipment
Looking to outfit your 2011 LaCrosse in every techie extra it offers? Then opt for Bluetooth, the harmon/kardon sound system, rear park assist, navigation, head-up display and the rear seat entertainment system with noise-cancelling headphones. If comfort is more important to you, add the heated and ventilated front seats, four-way driver's lumbar support, dual-zone climate control, heated and power-folding side mirrors and keyless start. And if you want the LaCrosse to look and behave a bit sportier on the road, add the xenon headlights, rear h-arm suspension, 19-inch all-season tires and chassis with continuously variable real time damping and sport mode selectivity. The 3.6-liter V6 is available on both the CX and CXL trims.Under the Hood
Motivation for the 2011 Buick LaCrosse comes from a 2.4-liter in-line four- cylinder engine which comes standard on the CX and CXL trim. If a low purchase price and good fuel economy are your primary concern, this is the best powerplant for the LaCrosse. However, if superior passing power or all-wheel drive traction are what you seek, then the 3.6-liter V6 is the only way to go. Both engines employ direct injection and are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions to help maximize fuel economy.
2.4-liter in-line four
182 horsepower @ 6700 rpm
172 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/30
280 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
259 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/27 (FWD), 16/26 (AWD)
A base 2011 Buick LaCrosse CX starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $28,000, while moving up to the CXL trim bumps the price closer to $30,500. Adding all-wheel drive to the CXL will add about $2,500 to the final price. The top-of-the-line, 3.6-liter V6-powered CXS sells closer to $34,500, and, when fully loaded, tops out around $38,500. To ensure that you get the best deal on your LaCrosse, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com to see what others in your area have paid for their LaCrosse. Competitors for the LaCrosse include the 2011 Lexus ES 350, 2011 Acura TL, 2011 Ford Taurus, 2011 Lincoln MKZ and 2011 Hyundai Genesis, all of which start several thousand dollars above the base CX trim. However, when it comes to resale value, the LaCrosse can't trump the segment-leading ES 350, falling several percentage points behind it and right in line with the MKZ and Genesis.