Preview: 2010 Buick LaCrosse
Not game-changing, but it’s got game
By David Surace
GM finally let all the cats out of its bag regarding Buick’s new LaCrosse, the mid-lux-size-sport-ish-sedan it intends to wedge in front of high-level family sedan and entry-level luxury sedan buyers in the US. First, let me get the metaphor out of the way: as bags go, this one’s a Large with a side order of cats.
You shouldn’t have to be made aware that the LaCrosse is beautiful, though the new ad campaign that aired during this week’s College World Series will try very hard to press that issue through the sickly purple media fug of bankruptcy coverage. Therefore, please allow me to spell it out: the LaCrosse is beautiful, outside and in. Period, full stop.
If you want to peek into The Mind Of Buick without imagining the creepy ghost of Harley Earl hanging around the studio–guys, he left ectoplasm in my coffee again–check out the collage of pictures sitting behind the LaCrosse design team as they talk about their baby: sepia-toned photographs of a vintage catalog model, a watch, a leather club chair. Behind Sean Lo, the chief exterior designer, there’s a drawing of a yacht-like fighter plane, as if Buick were the defense contractor to the Royal Family of Monaco.
Fun facts: the car was developed specifically to co-star in two parallel markets, China and the US, and some of the feature content we’ll see over here will reflect Chinese tastes in some unexpected ways, like gobs of rear legroom, a pass-through control armrest, electroluminescent ambient interior lighting, a rear-view camera and back-seat DVD screens. (It’s helpful to note that Buick is no blue-haired joke in China; the brand is as aspirational and revered as Mercedes and BMW is here, and many Buicks over there are bought to be chauffeured, not driven.)
Initially the LaCrosse will be offered with two of GM’s “high-feature” V-6’s, a 3-liter (255hp/217 lb-ft torque) and a 3.6 liter (280hp / 259 lb-ft torque), both mated to a six-speed auto, and the 3-liter is available with AWD. But it looks like quarterback GM called an audible; starting in fall of this year, an available 2.4-liter Ecotec four cylinder (182hp / 172 lb-ft torque) will push the mileage to an estimated 20mpg city / 30mpg highway, a very minor coup in the entry-lux market (it’s one mpg above its nearest competitors), but it’s certainly nice if your budget doesn’t stretch to fit a BMW or Mercedes diesel. All three engines will be direct-injection, all aluminum, variable stroke and timing. This is great news in terms of power and efficiency, though I would be eager to see how Buick–master of the QuietTuning arts–plans to mask the DI-engines’ normal tendency to make tickity-tickity noises after cold starts.
The other thing Buick would appear to be getting right at first blush is the technology content: Bluetooth (finally) will be on offer at the start, as well as old favorites like remote start and GM’s excellent head-up display. An adaptive lighting system which swivels the headlamps up to 15 degrees to anticipate turns will also be offered to steer HID headlamps, and this summer we’ll also see the Side Blind Zone Alert system, which sends blinky warnings to the wing mirrors whenever a ghostly, skeletal vehicle–quit it, Harley!–passes by the blind spot. Also, those who like to drag their music library around will be pleased to see a USB connection straight to the audio head unit.
Needless to say, there’s plenty about which to be excited. I’ll leave the rest to GM’s PR department; press release right after the pretty pics.
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RENAISSANCE SEDAN: 2010 LACROSSE REPRESENTS A REINVIGORATED BUICK
DETROIT –The completely redesigned 2010 Buick LaCrosse luxury sedan is the newest example of the globally influenced product renaissance at Buick. It offers all-wheel drive, a suite of advanced intelligent personal technologies and safety features, as well as three efficient, powerful engines.
“The new LaCrosse builds on the success of Enclave as the next step in Buick’s renaissance and great attention to detail, craftsmanship and advanced technology,” said Susan Docherty, Buick-Pontiac-GMC vice president. “It offers unique features such as all-wheel drive and a new, efficient four-cylinder engine that will attract new customers to Buick.”
The 2010 LaCrosse was developed within GM’s worldwide network of design and engineering centers, reflecting Buick’s growing popularity around the globe – particularly in Asia. It offers a contemporary vision of a luxury sedan that looks at home on the streets of Santa Monica or Shanghai, with heritage cues that recall the brand’s legacy as a design leader.
“There is great harmony in everything offered by LaCrosse – a beautifully crafted exterior, a premium interior and a satisfying driving experience to please the senses and complement any lifestyle,” Docherty said. “It’s a seamless package that incorporates the very best of GM’s global resources to make this Buick an industry benchmark.”
The 2010 LaCrosse is offered in three models – CX, CXL and CXS:
CX – equipped at the start of production with a new 3.0L direct injection V-6, premium cloth seats and 17-inch wheels. The 3.0L engine generates 255 horsepower (190 kW) and 217 lb.-ft. of torque (294 Nm) and has a six-speed automatic transmission. Later this year, a new, 2.4L Ecotec four-cylinder replaces the 3.0L as the standard engine.
CXL – also equipped with the new 3.0L direct injection V-6, adds leather-appointed heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, fog lamps, outside rearview mirror with LED turn indicators and puddle lamps, and 18-inch alloy wheels. An advanced, intelligent AWD system is available.
CXS – equipped with a 3.6L direct injection V-6; real-time active-dampening suspension (optional); perforated, leather-appointed, heated and ventilated seats, and chrome-plated 18-inch alloy wheels (19-inch optional). The 3.6L engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, generates 280 horsepower (209 kW) and 259 lb.-ft. of torque (351 Nm).
All models share a beautifully sculpted, globally influenced design that is instantly recognizable as a Buick, including a signature “sweep spear” body-side styling, portholes on the hood and a waterfall grille.
The LaCrosse’s interior continues the flowing, detailed aesthetic of the exterior, with elements such as ice-blue ambient lighting throughout the cabin – from the center console, instrument panel and door panels. Buick’s signature QuietTuning, an engineering process to reduce, block and absorb interior noise, provides a distraction-free passenger environment.
The contemporary atmosphere of the LaCrosse’s cabin is accented with available digital connectivity and personal technology that includes in-dash navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, an auxiliary audio input and a USB port. For rear-seat passengers, a DVD entertainment system is offered.
LaCrosse’s strong body structure – including the use of ultra high-strength steel – and a carefully designed passenger compartment help manage crash energy to protect occupants. The LaCrosse is also equipped with technologies that help avoid crashes in the first place.
The roster of standard and available safety equipment includes:
Six air bags, including dual-level frontal air bags; front thorax-pelvic air bags and roof-mounted head curtain air bags for front and rear passengers are standard. Rear side air bags are available
Front safety belt pretensioners and lockable head restraints are standard
Front shoulder belt load limiters are standard
A collapsible brake pedal system is standard
OnStar is standard.
GM’s Side Blind Zone Alert system is available later this summer. Additional optional technologies that bolster LaCrosse’s safety include a head-up instrument display, adaptive forward lighting and a rearview camera system (please see the separate Technology release for more details).
Buick’s renaissance and quality story
As General Motors reinvents itself, Buick remains a core brand that will play a central role going forward. Buick’s lineup is expected to grow in North America, building on the success of the popular Enclave crossover that ignited the brand’s renaissance, as well as the new LaCrosse.
Great design and intelligent personal technologies are driving Buick’s renaissance and build on a foundation of exemplary quality. In March 2009, J.D. Power and Associates announced that Buick tied for the highest ranking in vehicle dependability for three-year-old models. The previous LaCrosse ranked first in the midsize segment, beating the Toyota Camry, while the Buick Lucerne placed second in the large car segment.
For the seventh straight year, Buick ranked in the Top 10 brands in the J.D. Power and Associates dependability study, which evaluates more than 200 problem areas. In addition to the latest J.D. Power and Associates honor, Buicks have been recognized with numerous “recommended” and “best buy” designations by leading consumer magazines and websites for all three current models: Enclave, LaCrosse and Lucerne.
The new 2010 LaCrosse is manufactured at GM’s Fairfax Assembly facility in Kansas City, Kan.
General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), one of the world’s largest automakers, was founded in 1908, and today manufactures cars and trucks in 34 countries. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 235,000 people in every major region of the world, and sells and services vehicles in some 140 countries. In 2008, GM sold 8.35 million cars and trucks globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM’s largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.
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