Buick has updated its flagship LaCrosse sedan for 2014, with some new exterior styling cues, a redesigned interior, more available safety technology and enhanced connectivity options.It’s an important vehicle for General Motors. Global sales have exceeded 500,000 since the big sedan was introduced in 2009, and U.S. sales exceeded 57,000 last year – outselling competing luxury sedans such as the Lexus ES, Acura TL and Lincoln MKZ.The car also has just received a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the best rating a vehicle can get.For 2014, the LaCrosse begins at $34,060 (plus $925 freight). There are four trim levels: the base LaCrosse (1SB), Leather (1SL), Premium I (1SP) and Premium II (1SR).Besides new front and rear styling, the LaCrosse also offers optional wing-shaped LED daytime running lights and wraparound LED taillights, two features that have been showing up on a lot of new vehicles lately.Inside, the LaCrosse has new seats with "enhanced" materials, Buick says, along with a redesigned instrument panel and center console.Also available is the new Ultra Luxury Interior Package, which adds premium semi-aniline leather on the seats, console and door armrests. Along with that is synthetic-suede fabric on the headliner and door pillars, sangria colored seats with ebony accents, and Shadow Tamo Ash wood trim.The cabin includes Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system, with more-intuitive controls and enhanced natural-voice recognition.Among the available new safety features are Blind Zone Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Automatic Collision Preparation.Available as well is General Motors’ new Safety Alert Seat, which vibrates under the driver if the vehicle is about to strike an object. The vibrating pulses are even designed to indicate the direction of the potential crash threat, GM says.Adaptive Cruise Control also is now available. It’s not only designed to pace the car to the vehicle in the lane ahead, but also to bring the car to a complete stop to avoid a rear-end collision, and begin accelerating when the vehicle ahead starts moving again. This could be a big help in slow-and-go freeway commuting.As before, front-wheel drive is standard on the LaCrosse, but all-wheel drive is available. The all-wheel-drive system has an electronic limited-slip differential that automatically detects when a wheel is slipping, and redistributes power to the wheels that still have traction. No driver input is required.There are two drivetrain choices: the eAssist light-hybrid system, with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and 15-horsepower electric motor, which is available only with front-wheel drive; and a 3.6-liter, direct-injected V-6. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with either engine.Every LaCrosse comes with Buick’s QuietTuning system, which helps produce a smooth and quiet ride. QuietTuning elements include acoustical laminate on the windshield and front side glass; steel laminate on the front-of-dash body area; expanded baffles in the roof pillars; sound deadeners throughout the lower body; and sound-absorbing material in the engine, passenger and cargo compartments.Up front, there is a new sculpted hood, along with a large Buick signature waterfall grille and new front fascia. The grille has active shutters that close automatically at highway speeds to improve air flow and reduce drag.There’s also a new headlight design, and now available are adaptive, bi-xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, which turn slightly in the direction the vehicle is turning. At the rear, there’s a new deck lid with integrated spoiler.The new center floor console between the front bucket seats has more storage space. There is also a new eight-inch color display for the driver-information center/instrument cluster.Front seats have been improved, and now have four-way adjustable headrests. Controls for the audio, heating/air conditioning and other functions have been simplified. The audio controls now have just seven buttons, down from 17, GM says.Among standard safety features are eight air bags, including rear-seat side air bags; electronic stability control with traction control; and four-wheel antilock disc brakes with Intelligent Brake Assist. A rearview camera is optional.The four-cylinder engine with the eAssist drivetrain is rated at 182 horsepower and 172 foot-pounds of torque. The system uses a lithium-ion battery pack to power the electric motor. The battery takes up some of the trunk space that would otherwise be available for cargo; with the eAssist system, there is 10.8 cubic feet of cargo space, compared with 13.3 cubic feet in the V-6 models.With the mild-hybrid setup, the car can’t drive on the electric motor alone, but it does assist the gasoline engine to provide better fuel economy. EPA ratings are 25 mpg city/36 highway. As in other hybrids, the gasoline engine shuts off automatically when the vehicle comes to a stop in traffic, then restarts when the driver releases the brake.LaCrosse’s V-6 engine cranks out 304 horsepower and 264 foot-pounds of torque. EPA ratings are 18 city/28 highway with front-wheel drive, and 17/26 with the optional all-wheel drive.New wheels are available in 17-, 18-, 19- and 20-inch sizes.Front-wheel-drive models with the V-6 engine and the 19- or 20-inch wheels come with real-time damping and Sport Mode Selectivity, a system of automatic electronic dampers that GM says constantly monitors the road surface, and can make adjustments to the suspension in a fraction of a second.Electric power steering is standard on all models. The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com .