By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
When Buick's all-new LaCrosse debuted for 2010, it was praised for exterior and interior
design and refinement and has sold well as a result. Now, for the 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, comes the first application of GM's energy-efficient eAssist "mild hybrid" technology as the standard LaCrosse powertrain. Essentially a major upgrade to the system offered in some 2007-09 GM vehicles, eAssist couples a small motor-generator to a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine to provide power assist for launch and acceleration, along with regenerative braking, which morphs the motor into a generator during deceleration to replenish the battery.
If a fairly affordable entry-luxury sedan that can hold its own against much pricier imports is what you might like, this stylish and refined American Buick may be the answer.
If GM's once-moribund but fast-rising Buick brand does not ring your chimes, you might prefer a comparably-priced domestic Lincoln or Chrysler, or a Japanese Lexus, Infiniti or Acura.
The biggest change in the 2012 LaCrosse is standard eAssist, which marries an 11 Kw (15-hp) electric motor to a 182-hp 2.4-liter Ecotec four driving a six-speed automatic transmission. It's good for a 20-percent improvement in EPA highway fuel economy and an impressive 32-percent boost in city economy over the 2011 four-cylinder LaCrosse. If you prefer horsepower to hybrid power, a lighter and more powerful (than last year) 303-hp 3.6-liter V6 is a no-cost option.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist driving experience is essentially transparent. With the addition of electric boost, the LaCrosse accelerates more briskly than the 2011 four-cylinder version, though not as strongly...as the 303-hp V6 alternative, and it drives absolutely normally. We found the steering precise, the brakes strong, the handling surprisingly agile, and eAssist acceleration more than adequate, even in hard driving, though the engine can get a bit (Buick atypically) raucous at high loads and wide-open throttle. You barely notice the engine shutting down during stops (the tachometer needle drops to an "auto stop" position) or restarting – without the shudder typical of some hybrids – when the brake is released. A hill-assist feature retains brake pressure to prevent rollback during uphill launches with the engine shut down, an ECO gauge helps optimize efficiency, and a central instrument panel graphic shows electric power flow from battery to front wheels during boost and back during deceleration.
What's not to like about a mild-hybrid powertrain that dramatically increases fuel efficiency while enhancing performance and pleasability without adding much to the price?
It displays speed, navigation instructions, audio status (including song names as they begin playing) and other key information out there over the hood in your line of sight, and its brightness and vertical position are easily adjusted. The best we've seen.
Inside the nicely-crafted cabin, warm wood, smoked chrome accents and ice-blue ambient lighting in the instrument panel, console and door-handle pockets create a comfortable, upscale environment. Complimenting the exterior, the flowing design theme wraps around the instrument panel into the doors, and the high-grade leather has handsome contrasting stitching. All major buttons and controls – including those on the leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel – are conveniently large, well-marked and intuitive to use. Most notable is the LaCrosse interior's almost eerie quiet thanks to Buick's "QuietTuning" process of systematically reducing, blocking and absorbing interior noise.
GM previewed its future passenger-car-styling on the 2009 Buick Enclave, a Buick look that continues through the midsize 2011 Regal and the upcoming 2012 Verano compact. On the 2012 Buick LaCrosse, that look features a big, bold waterfall grille, a sculpted side "spear" sweeping from the wraparound headlamp to taillamp design and a roofline that curves gracefully into a short rear deck. Thanks to electronically-controlled lower grille shutters that close at higher speeds to push air over and under the car and strategically-placed underbody aero panels, the eAssist LaCrosse is slightly more aerodynamic over the standard car.
To keep the starting price down while replacing the previous base four-cylinder with the costlier eAssist propulsion system, a few items that should be standard – remote start, a set of universal home remote buttons – turn up on the options list. That said, a full-color driver information center, OnStar (with a one-year subscription), XM Radio, a manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel, remote keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels and both Bluetooth and USB connectivity are standard, plus such important safety features as traction and stability control, brake assist and six airbags.
The 2012 Buick LaCrosse's extensive options list includes high-intensity-discharge headlamps, "Side Blind Zone Alert" to help spot vehicles hiding in your blind spots, a (terrific) head-up display, heated and ventilated perforated leather-covered seats, power-adjustable lumbar support for the driver (but not the primary passenger), a heated steering wheel, premium audio, GPS navigation, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a power rear sunshade and even a 110-volt power outlet for charging your phone or computer. All are available either stand-alone or in packages.
Standard eAssist (also on the 2012 Buick Regal and coming soon on the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu and other models), provides a 15-hp on-demand boost to the 182-horsepower four and shuts off its fuel during off-throttle coasting and deceleration, yet both engine and motor/generator keep spinning, ready to provide smooth, immediate power when needed. The motor-generator helps bring the engine to a smooth stop when the car stops, then smoothly restarts it when you lift off the brake. When you're off the throttle, regenerative braking charges the 115-volt lithium-ion battery to power the car's electrical systems with recaptured energy instead of fuel. The 303-horsepower direct-injected, DOHC 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 is flex-fuel capable and pleasingly muscular with front-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive. Both drive through GM's latest six-speed automatic transmissions.
2.4-liter four-cylinder (with eAssist)
182 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
172 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/37
3.6-liter V6 (Flex-fuel E85 capable)
303 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
264 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/27
By Bill on Monday, March 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 119,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Love the look, drive feel."
Cons: "Blind spots. Will get lane sensor options next."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I get a replacement company car every 3-5 years. This 2010 Lacrosse (100% loaded) is now in month 62 and I have to trade in. Having a hard time finding anything near what I want at the same price. Major problems have been the 19" wheels. Destroyed about six on potholes. Air pressure sensors have been faulty. Cannot use Sun roof or shade since it will lock up in open and require a quick trip to dealer. (Relay issue.) Closest dealer not really sympathetic with issues. Original dealer too far but service there is 100%. (Had to be shipped in from another State to get what I wanted. Will never buy car off the lot if I have to give up a color or option."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By ColumbiaResident on Friday, February 20, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "good mileage and pickup in spite of small engine."
Cons: "Entertainment system is a disaster."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"This revises my earlier review from November 2011. I still like the car, but I find the entertainment system such a disaster that it takes a lot away from the car. Its reliable, still gets close to 30 mpg and the E-assist is worth it. But the GPS is sometimes hard to follow - I have made wrong turns sometime which never happened in an earlier GPS and the entertainment system is terrible. Whenever I hang up a cell phone call (via bluetooth) it turns the GPS on. Whenever I turn on the GPS it automatically turns on the radio (which I didn't ask for). It constantly erases my ipod setting which I connect to the car via the USB port. Most cars drive well today. For my next car I will thoroughly test the entertainment system first and if Buick doesn't do it right by then they are out of the running."
9 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By dlea on Monday, February 16, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,850overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Terrible price"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"By the amount shown on Kelly Blue Book, I did not get a good deal on this car and feel I was lured into the place and told I would get a good deal but I see I am paying way more than it is worth and that makes me angry. I have no idea what I am going to do."
5 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By maz3338 on Saturday, February 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfort, MPG, and space/size."
Cons: "lack of power/accelaration."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I own the E-Assist version. and just love the ride and luxury feel. very spacious, great MPG yet no compromise on size or options. much smoother start/stop technology (unnoticeable) when compared to other brands technology (i.e. BMW). if you are looking for power and accelaration, that's not your car (the E-Assist) you better off with the 6 cylinder version. but if you want to combine everything else, including comfort, space, luxurious feel and look, with great MPG for this size vehicle) then this is your car."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By mike on Saturday, February 07, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price (but not sure of the reason), many acc"
Cons: "Best gas milage was 23 mpg driving on ONLY a highw"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The car pulls to the left. I bought the car as is because it was a lemon of some sort. So, even though it is loaded with accessories, I got it at a lower price because someone had returned the car."
10 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Shawn on Friday, February 06, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 83,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Body style"
Cons: "All Mechanical items."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Upon reaching 70,000 miles my GM Buick LaCrosse continues to have mechanical issues. I have replace 2 wheel bearings, timing chain, water pump and today I found out the catalytic converter needs to be replaced. The roof lining vibrates and should be replaced. I contacted GM and customer support will not support the repairs totaling more than $4,000. I was a GM owner for years, but will never buy a GM product again due this experience."
11 people out of 14 found this review helpful