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Buick LaCrosse good effort by GM

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | February 16th, 2010

You may have seen the TV commercial for the new Buick LaCrosse. The advert goes on about being compared to a new Lexus, Infiniti and Acura. So no prizes for guessing what GM engineers were aiming for. This is a monumental task, especially considering this car's predecessor, the Buick Allure, was not exactly a great moment in automotive history.

I recently spent a week with the new LaCrosse driving more than I typically do.

I made my trip to Detroit, MI. for the annual auto show in this car. In the past I have made this trip in some rather good and some rather awful vehicles. So where does the LaCrosse stand?

Well let me say I am glad I had this car for this road trip, because if there is one thing a Buick has always been good for, it has to be on comfort.

The LaCrosse doesn't dissappoint. Not only are the seats large and cushy, the ride is so smooth you can stitch a jacket while riding in it. Plus it is quiet, and I mean truly quiet. This is truly world class when it comes to sound proofing.

It's not far off when it comes to gadgets also. My tester had a touch-screen navigation system, keyless entry and start, heads-up display, a premium sound system, heated and cooled seats and even a heated steering wheel. I can think of some cars that cost twice as much as this that don't come this well-equipped.

The LaCrosse is world class when it comes to interior room too. Not only are the front seat passengers riding in comfort, the space in the back is quite presidential.

The engine doesn't disappoint either. You get a choice of two engines, either have the 3.0-litre, V6 which produces 255hp, or the one I drove in my CXS test model, the 3.6-litre, V6 that produces 280hp.

Mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, the CXS was surprisingly quick, and unlike any Buick I have ever driven before, quite rewarding when being hustled.

Disappointingly, the bigger engine is only available with front-wheel drive, while the base engine can be had propelling either just the front-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive. Hopefully GM will one day offer all-wheel drive with the more powerful motor too.

One area this Buick cannot match its Japanese rivals is fuel economy. In the city, it is quite awful, while on the highway it's decent. I averaged 12-litres/100km, which is not that great.

There are other faults too, like the fake interior stitching and the overall build quality is not quite a match for Lexus, Infiniti or Acura.

Still this LaCrosse is a very good effort from a company that nearly went bankrupt last year.

Will this car be enough to help save the company? I am not totally convinced, especially when I looked at the price. While a loaded Lexus ES350 or Infiniti G37 or the Acura TL are priced just under $50,000, my test LaCrosse CXS was priced at $51,000.

All I am saying is, this story would have had a much better ending if this new, world class Buick was able to pull it all off for a price tag much under the established foreigners.
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