G. Chambers Williams

Buick’s redesigned full-size LaCrosse sedan debuts for 2017 with new styling, technology

The all-new 2017 Buick LaCrosse five-passenger premium midsize sedan comes with a 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The all-new 2017 Buick LaCrosse five-passenger premium midsize sedan comes with a 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

While Chevrolet and Cadillac have charged forward to help lead General Motors’ revival, Buick has undergone a renaissance as well, an effort that has worked to bring a younger clientele into the premium brand.

Helping to lead that effort is the LaCrosse large sedan, which has been completely redesigned for 2017, including new styling cues, technology and premium amenities.

One of the primary goals of GM in remaking the LaCrosse for its previous generation, introduced for 2010 and updated just three years ago, was to create a vehicle that would appeal to a much-younger audience than Buick traditionally attracted – the over-50 crowd.

That has been a great success for GM, with more than 900,000 of the LaCrosse having been sold since the modern version went on sale in 2009.

Now, for 2017, the brand-new generation arrives with a starting price of $32,065 (plus $925 freight), bearing the new face of Buick.

That includes a new, larger signature waterfall grille with the return of the three-color Buick shield – red, silver and blue –and such features as high-intensity discharge headlights, LED signature lighting, and LED taillights.

Four trim levels are offered, starting with the base LaCrosse, and then followed by the Preferred ($36,065); Essence ($38,665); and the Premium ($41,065, front-wheel drive; $43,265, all-wheel drive).

We tested the Premium front-drive model for this report. This is the top of the line model, and the only one that offers all-wheel drive, which is $2,200 extra. The Premium comes with the best interior, as well – with perforated leather upholstery and a new, standard lumbar massage feature (great for an aching back).

This car’s exterior brought positive comments wherever we took it, with the common theme being how elegant the car looked without being ostentatious. We heard comparisons to some of the nicest premium sedans from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus.

Inside, the LaCrosse also is elegant without any hint of overdoing it, and we found the front bucket seats to be among the most comfortable we’ve tested among sedans in this class, and even above.

Buick has added places to store and connect smartphones in the center console between the driver and front passenger, something the previous model was seriously lacking. You no longer have to put your phones in the cupholders.

Rear passengers had surprisingly roomy accommodations, particularly in the two outboard positions. There was more-than-adequate knee and leg room, and when there was no third person riding in the back, a pull-down center armrest was available, with dual cupholders.

At the bottom rear of the front center console are a 12-volt and a 120-volt power outlet for the backseat passengers, ready to power laptops and game consoles as well as smartphones.

All trim levels come with Buick’s QuietTuning, which is designed to reduce or block outside noise and vibration. That helped make our vehicle mostly quiet at highway speeds. But it did get a bit noisy in the cabin while riding on some rough interstate highway pavement.

The new model is longer, lower and wider than the previous generation, and about 300 pounds lighter, which GM attributes to the use of high-strength steels.

Gone from the 2017 model is the mild-hybrid drive system that featured a four-cylinder gasoline engine and small electric motor. For the new generation, at least for now, the only drivetrain is a new 3.6-liter V-6 engine rated at 310 horsepower and 282 foot-pounds of torque, connected to a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

EPA ratings are 21 mpg city/31 highway/25 combined for the front-drive model. All-wheel drive lowers that a bit, to 20 city/29 highway/24 combined.

Fuel efficiency is enhanced by the automatic stop/start system, which shuts off the engine at stoplights and restarts it when the driver lifts the foot off the brake pedal; and the Active Fuel Management system, which cuts the engine down to four cylinders during level highway cruising.

As with other recent new GM premium vehicles, the 2017 LaCrosse comes with long-lasting DuraLife brake rotors, with four-wheel antilock disc brakes standard. Other new features include enhanced electric power steering, a new five-link rear suspension standard on all levels, and a remote starting system with keyless open and pushbutton start also included across the board.

Wireless charging for compatible smartphones is standard on Essence and Premium trims. And the Teen Driver feature, standard on all models, lets parents set controls, review driving habits and encourage safe driving habits of their kids even when the parents are not present in the vehicle. This includes pre-set speed and audio volume controls.

Connectivity for compatible devices is possible through the IntelliLink audio/navigation system, which includes an eight-inch color touch screen, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and the OnStar 4G LTE internet connection with onboard Wi-Fi hotspot – standard on all models.

Among standard safety features are 10 air bags, including knee air bags for the driver and front passenger; and a standard rear-vision camera system.

Forward Collision Alert and Following Distance Indicator are standard on Premium models, along with the Safety Alert Seat, which pulse-vibrates to warn the driver of a possible impending forward collision or rear cross-traffic event, such as when backing out of a driveway into traffic. We also had ultrasonic rear park assist.

The Driver Confidence Package 1 — available on the Essence model and standard on the Premium – brings Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert and Lane Change Alert.

The Driver Confidence Package 2 ($1,690), included on our Premium tester, gave us Automatic Park Assist, Front Pedestrian Detection, Front Automatic Braking and Adaptive Cruise Control.

The head-up display included on the Premium model projected speed, navigation and audio information on the lower part of the windshield in front of the driver, and was adjustable for height (position) and brightness, using a switch on the left side of the steering wheel on the lower dash.

Our front seats had eight-way power adjust, along with four-way power lumbar support with massage feature; and were heated and ventilated. Memory settings controlled the driver and passenger seats, steering wheel position, and outside driver’s mirror. The steering column was power tilt and telescopic, and the steering wheel was heated.

An eight-inch driver-information display was above the steering column in the middle of the instrument panel.

Outside mirrors were power/heated/auto-dimming with built-in turn signals. We also had adaptable front headlights that automatically turned slightly in the direction the car was turning.

The in-dash eight-speaker audio/navigation system included OnStar and satellite radio, with Bluetooth phone and streaming capability.

Our Sun and Shade Package ($1,550) added a power sunroof and second-row skylight, with a power rear sunshade.

While 18-inch ultra-bright machined-aluminum wheels are standard on the Premium model, our test vehicle came with the optional 20-inch painted-aluminum wheels ($1,625).

The exterior of our car was painted Quicksilver Metallic, which cost $395 extra. The interior was Ebony.

Trunk space is on par with most cars in this class – 15 cubic feet. There is a compact spare tire included in the trunk area.

Base price of our front-drive Premium tester was $41,065; with options and freight, the total sticker was $48,395, which brought us a well-equipped, beautiful luxury sedan with lots of curb appeal, plenty of power, and numerous high-tech safety and connectivity features.

To view the full article and car summary, visit www.star-telegram.com/cars. The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.

2017 Buick LaCrosse sedan

The package: Full-size, four-door, five-passenger, V-6 powered, front- or all-wheel-drive premium sedan.

Highlights: Redesigned for 2017, this is Buick’s premium midsize sedan, available with a variety of high-tech options and intended to appeal to a more-youthful audience than the traditional Buick sedans of the past. It gives GM a strong competitor against the leading Japanese and European premium sedans.

Negatives: Previous-generation’s fuel-efficient mild-hybrid drive system with four-cylinder engine is no longer offered.

Engine: 3.6-liter V-6.

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.

Power/torque: 310 HP/282 foot-pounds.

Length: 197.5 inches.

Curb weight: 3,598-3,840 pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Trunk volume: 15 cubic feet.

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted, roof-mounted side-curtain for both rows, standard.

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Fuel capacity/type: 15.8 gallons (2WD); 16.2 gallons (AWD), unleaded regular.

EPA fuel economy: 21 mpg city/31 highway/25 combined (2WD); 20/29/24 (AWD).

Major competitors: Toyota Avalon, Chevrolet Impala, Hyundai Genesis, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Infiniti Q50, Nissan Maxima, Acura RL, Lincoln MKZ, Cadillac XT6, Lexus GS, Mercedes-Benz E-class, Jaguar XF.

Base price: $32,065-$43,265, plus $925 freight.

Price as tested: $48,395, including freight and options (Premium front-wheel drive).

On the Road rating: 9.3 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.