By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
Buick has successfully remade itself as the American luxury brand aimed at young, affluent up-and-comers. Spearheading this campaign is the 2016 LaCrosse luxury sedan, a full-size car in the best Buick tradition but loaded with modern technology, style and value. Buyers can choose between a fuel-efficient 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with “eAssist” electric assist, or a potent 304-horsepower V6. Unlike the Hyundai Azera, the LaCrosse offers the option of all-wheel drive (AWD). To better compete with such rivals as the Acura TLX, Toyota Avalon and Chrysler 300, Buick loads the LaCrosse with such high-tech options as 4G LTE, wireless hotspot and one of the best infotainment systems in the business. Cutting-edge features such as adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance, however, are not available.
If you’re seeking an established premium 4-door as reliable as it is handsome, the 2016 Buick LaCrosse sedan certainly hits the mark. Unique features, such as an available head-up display, help the LaCrosse stand out among its peers, as does its available eAssist powertrain.
The Buick name doesn’t hold the same clout as Acura, Lexus or Infiniti, and this outgoing LaCrosse version doesn’t offer cutting-edge safety features such as adaptive cruise control, forward-collision avoidance or park-assist technology.
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Buick’s LaCrosse luxury sedan for 2016 gets an updated IntelliLink system with a new display and two USB ports. The Premium AWD model offers new 20-inch wheels.
Buick’s 2016 LaCrosse eAssist light- hybrid can’t operate in full electric mode like most hybrids, but it does give a significant boost to fuel economy and performance. A 15-horsepower...
... electric motor provides a big dose of low-end torque, which in turn helps the 182-horsepower 2.4-liter engine feel more robust both off the line and while passing. When engine braking occurs, the motor/generator recaptures energy and recharges the lithium-ion battery pack. Buick also employs start/stop technology that shuts off the engine when the car comes to a stop. The system works seamlessly, devoid of the shudder and hesitation we’ve experienced with similar systems in non-hybrid cars. On the open road, the LaCrosse exhibits competent road manners, delivering a smooth ride without excessive lean or roll. Our only gripe might be the steering’s somewhat numb feel in the turns.
Nothing helps focus fidgeting kids like a tablet streaming video or games, which is why the 2016 LaCrosse’s built-in 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot might just be the greatest addition to cars since seatbelts and satellite radio.
Nobody has been doing head-up displays longer than GM, and the unit in Buick’s 2016 LaCrosse sedan is one of the best. Displays for speed, audio controls, song title and navigation are projected on the windshield’s lower edge, making it easy to see everything without taking your eyes off the road.
Although aging, the 2016 Buick LaCrosse’s interior is still handsome and functional. On the road, the LaCrosse remains a comfortable, cathedral-quiet and roomy sedan for driver and passengers. The multi-adjustable front seats are comfortable for short hops or long hauls, and are covered in leather in all trims but the most basic. The rear seat offers plentiful headroom and legroom, and if you fill the massive trunk, you've overpacked. The 4-cylinder model's eAssist battery pack does compromise cargo space, but not too badly.
Buick’s 2016 LaCrosse may not be the most modern design on the road (you’ll have to wait for the 2017 model to make that claim), but its sculpted hood, large grille, and big headlights give this substantial sedan a purposeful and expensive look. The same goes for the rear end. Other highlights include active shutters on the lower grille to help aid aerodynamics at speed. There are also optional articulating bi-xenon HID lights, designed to help you see around corners on dark roads.
In addition to the aforementioned 4G LTE and Wi-Fi, the 2016 Buick LaCrosse comes standard with a rearview-camera system, 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 aluminum-alloy wheels, and both Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Standard safety features include traction and stability control, brake assist and six airbags.
There is a caveat to that built-in Wi-Fi business. It's free, but only for the first three months. After that, you'll have to pay for the service as an add-on to GM's OnStar telematics system. Other options for the LaCrosse abound, including bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge adaptive headlights, Side Blind Zone Alert, a (terrific) head-up display, and heated and ventilated perforated leather-covered seats. There's also navigation, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a power rear sunshade, and a 10-volt power outlet for charging phones or computers. The Ultra Luxury package adds premium perforated leather seating in a coffee-hued design tone.
You can get your 2016 Buick LaCrosse with one of two powerplants. First is the eAssist powertrain, a 4-cylinder engine plus a small electric motor/generator to provide both a power boost and regenerative braking. It's standard on base and Leather models. The 304-horsepower 3.6-liter Flex-Fuel-capable V6 is available at no extra cost on those models, and it is the only engine available on Premium I and Premium II models. If you get the V6, you can also get all-wheel drive on Leather and Premium I models. All 2016 Buick LaCrosse sedans use GM's latest 6-speed automatic transmissions. The V6 provides more power for passing and acceleration, but the eAssist is more interesting technologically, and gets better fuel economy.
2.4-liter 4-cylinder (with eAssist)
182 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/36 mpg
3.6-liter V6 (Flex-Fuel E85-capable)
304 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
264 lb-ft of torque @ 5,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 mpg, 17/26 mpg (AWD), 14/20 mpg (E85)
2016 Buick LaCrosses carry a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) a little over $32,000 for the 1SV, and just shy of $35,000 for the base sedan, including destination. That translates to a very strong initial value statement and long-term fuel-economy advantage for the eAssist-enhanced 4-cylinder LaCrosse against its competitors. The Leather, Premium 1 and Premium 2 groups add about $2,000 per level, with a Premium 2 with the V6 costing around $41,000 or so. All-wheel drive on the Leather and Premium 1 models adds another $2,000. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to find out what buyers in your area are paying for their Buick LaCrosse sedans. Generally speaking, the LaCrosse won’t hold its value as well as the Toyota Avalon, Acura TLX or Lexus ES. It falls slightly behind the Chrysler 300, but remains on par with the Hyundai Azera and Lincoln MKS.