KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 8/4/2013
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.
What's New for 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
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