Buick's 2014 LaCrosse is intended to bring younger buyers to what has traditionally been seen as a nameplate for more senior folks. Conservatively handsome, well equipped, capable, quiet, comfortable, and refined, the car boasts eAssist, GM's mild-hybrid system. A 304-hp V6 engine is available, and offers the option of all-wheel drive. But we actually prefer the progressive spirit of the eAssist powertrain, with its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, small electric "boost" motor and regenerative braking. In a rare win-win, the system improves both fuel economy and performance, and combines with the car's solid look and feel to create a thoroughly credible alternative to the established imports. Although powertrains and chassis are unchanged, the LaCrosse rolls into 2014 with new front and rear fascias and upgraded interiors.
You'll Like This Car If...
There are many edge-of-luxury sedans that offer decent performance with impressive efficiency at a competitive price, but if you are pleasantly surprised to find those qualities from a traditional American brand, the Buick LaCrosse belongs on your short list.
You May Not Like This Car If...
For many up-and-coming car shoppers, the Buick brand, though clearly ascendant, is still not an aspirational target, and you might feel more naturally drawn to similar offerings from Lexus, Audi or Acura.
Extensively freshened, the LaCrosse sports a bigger waterfall grille, a new hood, and revised lighting with the option of bi-xenon HID adaptive headlights. The rear fascia has an integrated spoiler and wraparound LED taillights, and the interiors have been redesigned with upgraded materials, new seats, a new center control stack, updated telematics, and a posh new Ultra Luxury option.
Driving the LaCrosse
The key point about the 2014 Buick LaCrosse driving experience is the transparency of its eAssist system. A 15-hp electric motor helps the 182-hp 4-cylinder engine during acceleration. When slowing,...
... the motor becomes a generator, recharging a lithium-ion battery pack. The gasoline engine also shuts down at stop signs, but restarts quickly without the shudder typical of some hybrids. In short, the LaCrosse with eAssist drives absolutely normally. We found the handling competent, the ride quality smooth, and the brakes strong, though the new electric power steering lacks road feel. Acceleration with the eAssist system is more than adequate though the engine can get a bit raucous at higher revs. Whether it's eAssist or the optional V6, the 2014 LaCrosse is also distinguished by exceptionally low interior noise levels in freeway cruising. Another welcome feature in cities like San Francisco is hill-assist, preventing rollback during uphill launches with the engine stopped.
EASSIST A clever and largely transparent marriage of a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, a small electric motor and regenerative braking, the eAssist evolved-mild-hybrid system significantly improves both fuel efficiency and performance without adding a lot of weight or cost.
HEAD-UP DISPLAY It shows speed, navigation instructions, audio status (including song titles) and other key information in your line of sight, seemingly out there over the hood, and its brightness and vertical position are easily adjusted. It's one of the best we've seen.
2014 Buick LaCrosse Details
For 2014, Buick has enhanced the LaCrosse's warm and comfortable ambience. The seats, leather in all but the basic LaCrosse, are new. There's a new center control stack with an 8-inch color touch screen, four new color and trim combinations, and a new generation of Buick's IntelliLink telematics system. Materials have been upgraded, there's real wood trim, and most surfaces are soft-touch. And as befits an upscale sedan, the LaCrosse is stretch-out roomy and cathedral quiet.
Freshened for 2014, Buick's big waterfall grille has been subtly enlarged, the hood has more sculpting, the lower grille is equipped with active shutters to reduce aerodynamic drag at freeway speeds, and the headlights have been redesigned, with the option of articulating bi-xenon HID lights. The rear fascia and decklid are also new, with an integrated spoiler and wraparound LED taillights.
The LaCrosse's list of standard features is long and comprehensive, including a full-color driver information center, OnStar (with a 6-month subscription), SiriusXM Radio (3-month trial), a manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel, remote keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels and both Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Standard safety features include traction and stability control, brake assist and six airbags.
The extensive 2014 LaCrosse options list includes bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge adaptive headlights, Side Blind Zone Alert, a (terrific) head-up display, heated and ventilated perforated leather-covered seats, power-adjustable driver-side lumbar support, a heated steering wheel, GPS navigation, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a power rear sunshade, and a 110-volt power outlet for charging phones or computers. A new Ultra Luxury package adds premium perforated leather seating in a coffee-hued design tone.
Under the Hood
The eAssist powertrain – a 4-cylinder engine plus a small electric motor/generator to provide both a power boost and regenerative braking – is standard on base LaCrosse and Leather versions. A 304-hp 3.6-liter Flex-Fuel-capable V6 is a no-cost option on those two lower-level packages, and the sole offering on Premium I, Premium II and Touring versions. All-wheel drive is available on Leather and Premium I packages, with the V6 only. All combinations use GM's latest 6-speed automatic transmissions. Though the V6 is stronger, eAssist is frankly more interesting and appealing. It provides a 15-hp on-demand boost to the 182-horsepower 4-cylinder engine. When you're off the throttle, regenerative braking charges the 115-volt lithium-ion battery.
The 2014 Buick LaCrosse has a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $34,060, including destination, with the fuel-efficient eAssist "mild hybrid" 4-cylinder/electric motor system and just over $39,000 for the more powerful but less fuel-efficient V6. That compares to about $34,700 for a 2014 Audi A4. The LaCrosse eAssist also offers better fuel economy and is EPA-rated at 25 mpg city, 36 highway, compared to 24/32 for the Audi A4. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to find out what buyers in your area are paying for their Buick LaCrosses. Resale data is not yet available for the 2014 Lacrosse, but historically, the Buick has not been a front-runner in holding its value.
"One of the fastest cars I've ever owned. Very comfortable but the downside of the car is the visibility. Large supports in the middle of the car limits vision. When turning to the left, the vision is hampered by the left mirror. It's a shame because it's the only thing that makes me say I will not buy another LaCrosse."
"I've really enjoyed this car. It handles great and is very comfortable to drive. Passengers have decent leg room and rear ac vents. I like the roomy trunk. I really like the looks of the car inside and out. I think Buick really hit it out of the park with this design. I've drove my car on several long distance trips and arrive at my destination without a sore back and other random aches and pains. With other cars I've owned after driving all day I feel wiped out and when I went to bed I still felt like I was driving. Not with my Buick, It's so smooth and quiet and the driver's seat has an awesome adjustable lumbar support. The engine is fast. Great acceleration."
Cons: "A few tall people complained of lack of head room."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I had the protective coat put on the car before I picked it up new and it cleans up nicely. It is nice to handle and is just a lovely car. I will probably trade it in on a newer model, if I like it at least as well."