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Review: The 2011 Buick LaCrosse

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On: Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 12:43PM | By: Mary McRae

Review: The 2011 Buick LaCrosse

Redesigned last year, the Buick LaCrosse has brought in a new trend for Buick, one which emphasizes modernity and performance. As opposed to the detached, floaty performance and disappointing cabin that Buicks once were known for. The 2011 Buick LaCrosse stands out among affordable midsize cars because of its sharp styling, assured performance and a cabin that's just about the most luxurious offered at this selling price. This midsize sedan's attractive styling perfectly balances classic Buick nods like the vertical lines of the grille and the sweeping line of the body with thoroughly contemporary detailing. And the car's elegant appearance is combined with surprisingly adept driving dynamics. It's enough to make you forget all about the ship-size cars in that coffee table book of Buick history.

The 2011 Buick LaCrosse is offered in three trim levels: CX, CXL, and CXS.

The base CX comes with 17-inch steel wheels, a power driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, full power accessories, OnStar and a seven-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio. Options for the CX include 17-inch alloy wheels and a Comfort and Convenience package that features dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming mirror, Bluetooth, power lumbar adjustment for the driver seat, a power front passenger seat, and remote engine start. A premium 11-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system with an iPod/USB interface is also available.

Stepping up to the CXL nets all of the standard and optional CX equipment plus 18-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, heated mirrors, heated front seats, and leather upholstery. Available on the CXL is another Comfort and Convenience package that includes rear parking sensors, driver memory settings and auto-dimming side view mirrors. A Driver Confidence package includes adaptive xenon headlights, a blind-spot warning system, as well as a head-up display. Additionally, there is the optional Luxury package that includes a heated leather/wood-grain steering wheel, ventilated front seats, a power rear sunshade and keyless ignition/entry.

Individual option highlights include a sunroof, chrome wheels, a navigation system (with rearview camera and digital music storage), a rear seat entertainment system (with dual display screens), and the Harman Kardon audio system.

The CXS trim level includes 19-inch alloy wheels and everything above except the navigation system, power sunroof, Driver Confidence package and rear entertainment system, which all remain optional. A Touring package is optional for the CXS and includes different 19-inch wheels and adaptive shock absorbers.

For CX and CXL trims, a 2.4-liter inline-4 with 182 hp and 172 pound-feet of torque is the standard engine. Optional is a 3.6-liter V6 that churns out 280 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. The CXL is available in either front- or all-wheel drive—an advantage for those in snowy climates. The CXS is only available with front-wheel drive and comes with the V6, as does the AWD version of the CXL. All LaCrosse models include a six-speed automatic transmission.

EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 19 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined for the four-cylinder LaCrosse and 17/27/20 for the V6. The AWD version rates 16/26/20.

The LaCrosse provides standard front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, OnStar communications, stability and traction control, and antilock disc brakes with brake assist. Rear-seat side airbags are also available as an option.

The LaCrosse boasts an elegant and contemporary interior—the front seats are enveloped by an elegant dashboard arc that stretches from door to door, and the beautifully integrated simulated wood accents contribute to the decidedly chic feel. At night, passengers are bathed in a soothing blue glow from the ambient lighting. In spite of its substantial cabin space, cargo capacity measures just 13 cubic feet, significantly smaller compared to the trunks of competing sedans. The trunk is relatively deep, but the absence of height and width may be challenging for bulky items.

From the driver seat, the LaCrosse exhibits a pleasant blend of luxury and engagement. The cabin remains delightfully quiet, but there's just enough wind and road noise to remind you that you are driving. Considering the size of past Buicks the LaCrosse’s handling is surprisingly good. Rear visibility, however, is nearly lost because of the car's high rear deck and thick roof pillars.

Few cars from GM look as suitable for the future as this one, but with its combination of stylish looks, excellent construction, and solid driving dynamics, the LaCrosse is writing a new, more memorable chapter in that coffee-table book of Buick history. For the near future, the LaCrosse will remain the flagship of the Buick lineup. The LaCrosse is worthy enough to be a contender amongst cars costing several thousand dollars more. If you're looking for a luxury-minded cruiser for comfortable road trips and quiet commutes, the LaCrosse may be just what you are searching for.

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