Buick LaCrosse with E-Assist Review
This is not your Grandad’s or even your Father’s Buick. In fact, the LaCrosse was anything what I expected it to be. It was not only a pleasure to sit behind the wheel and drive, but it ain’t to shabby looking. Sure, it’s not the hippest car on the block, but it is also chalk full of technology that will have those who own Maseratis and Ferraris a bit jealous. I drove the Buick Lacross over the course of 8 days, with the bulk of my driving occurring between LA and Las Vegas when I attended the Consumer Electronics Shows (yes, this review has been in holding for sometime now).
So first things first. Technology aside in the cabin, this Buick Lacrosse comes with something called E-assist. It’s a GM’s hybrid system and allows this car to achieve up to 35mpg during highway travel – I achieved on average about 32mpg during my testing, with of course varability depending on speeds, downhills and traffic. The most evident of the gas savings comes by way of an “autostop” feature, which disengages the engine at stop lights or when the car is sitting idle – being in “park” is not a requirement. Keep in mind that isn’t to say that is actually where the fuel savings occurred, it’s just the most discernible when it came to my road test since engine at times would abruptly kick back in when the light changed from red to green. That said, the E-Assist system is very subtle, requires no user action to engage or disengage it, and much like the Volt you can select a screen on the navigation system to see if it is in use.
From an interior standpoint the Buick Lacrosse is nothing short of exceptional. The entire cabin is finished in leather and like the Volt sports the same touchscreen Nav display. If you’re interested in learning about the navigation system I suggest you head to that review, since it is exactly the same thing, minus any associated info to do with the Chevy Volt. In terms of other tech found in the model I received, it included screens on the rear of both seats to accommodate backseat passengers along with wireless headphones. I didn’t have the chance to play with these, but most certainly couldn’t help but think “this definiately isn’t grandpa’s Buick.”
The front seats of the Buick Lacrosse are adjustable in pretty much any direction of your choice. The drivers seats includes a set of memory settings for multiple drivers and automatically moves back when the door is opened to accommodate exit and entry. Buick has also included heating elements hidden beneath the leather finish to ensure that those in colder climates are toasty warm. And while the car itself is pretty luxurious – it was outfitted with leather every where the eye could see – there are no massagers, though they would be fitting given the vehicle’s opulence and included features. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anyone join me in the vehicle during my testing period, but after spending 4 hours on the road, without any stops, the Buick Lacrosse’s interior is very comfortable and can easily accomodate someone whose height extends beyond 6′ 2″ (my height – I had to have the seat forward a few “notches” to reach the pedals).
Now, what what I didn’t expect to be “wowed” by any of the tech inside the LaCrosse. Was I wrong. GM went bananas and has included a HUD, or heads up display. The last place I expected to see this tech was in a Buick, let alone one of GM cars. For those of you not familiar with the tech, it involves a small projector that shoots an image onto the interior of the windshield. This enables the driver to see at what speed they’re traveling, in what direction and even receive visual cues as to what their next GPS turn is. Because the image is projected onto the windshield you never, at least in theory, have to take your eyes off the road to look at how fast your traveling. When I first began driving the Buick Lacrosse with E-Assist I found this feature very distracting. And while I’m confident you can turn it off (I never did – you can adjust how high it is on the windshield to a certain point) I quickly became accustom to its presence and found it very useful, ensuring I didn’t exceed the speed limit during my trip between LA and Vegas.
Complementing the HUD are an array of on steering wheel buttons. These allow you to control the stereo system and like the Volt includes a USB port for charging and controlling your smartphone. Strangely enough, Spotify played nice with the forward and backward track option, which was anything but the case with Chevy’s all electric car. Setting up the Bluetooth connection for making calls was a breeze and like the stereo controls you can easily answer and end calls using a set of buttons found on the steering wheel. However, for those of you not interested in setting up your smartphone with the car’s Bluetooth system, Buick can also include an OnStar rear view mirror, allowing you to make phone calls simply by stating the number – this is part of the OnStar system, which can also provide an array of other services.
As you’ve probably infered, at least at this point, driving the Buick LaCrosse was an absolute pleasure. Despite it being relatively spacious, the car handle very well around corners yet doesn’t boast an overly stiff suspension, meaning that bumps and pot hole annoyance is significantly reduced. Unlike the Chevy Volt, the Buick LaCrosse didn’t make a tire squeal noise around tight corners, and although it’s no light weight in the pound department, body roll was minimal giving it a rather nimble and agile feeling for a 4 door sedan. Needless to say, the addition of the E-Assist system and HUD are icing on the cake that make this vehicle all the sweeter. At the end of the day it still is a Buick, but GM has set a new course for success when it comes to marrying some of the old with the new.
Bottom Line: A great everyday driver with luxuries perhaps found in other high end vehicles.
- Smooth ride with good handling for a sedan
- HUD (heads up display) is too cool for grandpa
- E-Assist Electric system improves gas mileage
- Gets about 32mpg – I would have like to see a bit more from a hybrid system
- Same old frustrating GM navigation system
- Trunk could use a bit more space