Buick wants you to think of its 2014 LaCrosse as a luxury car that is "about the drive -- not the destination."
The LaCrosse comes to the 2014 marketplace with a collection of changes that enhance its exterior and interior styling, as well as update performance, technology and safety.
Buick LaCrosse spans the midsize and full-size segments of the sedan market and starts at $33,135. LaCrosse competes with Lexus ES, Acura TL and Lincoln MKZ, among others.
Buick has updated the front of the LaCrosse with a larger version of its signature waterfall grille that is beset by new headlamps with LED "eyebrows." There are also active grille shutters that open and close depending on the sedan's speed to aid fuel economy.
The back end gets LED taillamps and is adorned with an attractive chrome strip to accent the truck lid that now gets an integrated rear spoiler to improve aerodynamic performance. Fully enclosed exhaust outlets come on the 3.6-liter models and are framed with a chrome finish. Also new are 17-, 18-, 19- and 20-inch tires and wheels.
Under the hood of LaCrosse is the standard 2.4-liter engine with eAssist. This mild hybrid technology adds a small electric motor with a lithium-ion battery for an estimated 25 percent increase in fuel economy that is EPA estimated at 25/36 mpg.
An optional 3.6L V6 engine delivers 304 horsepower and 264 lb.-ft. of torque; its EPA-estimated highway mileage is 28 mpg. An intelligent all-wheel drive with an electronic limited-slip differential adds traction to all four wheels and is optional on models with the V6 engine. Both engines are matched to six-speed automatic transmissions.
We drove the updated 2014 LaCrosse recently along a route in Ohio and Kentucky. As the largest sedan in the Buick's luxury lineup, it does its job well with a stately presentation from the outside and an upscale cockpit that coddles with new seats; the driver's seat gets eight-way power in addition to four-way power lumbar.
Our tester was the 3.6-liter front-wheel-drive and we appreciated its power and handling, which is enhanced due to revisions to some chassis and suspension parts. Available on this model are 19- or 20-inch wheels, real-time damping and Sport Mode Selectivity that uses four electronically controlled dampers to constantly "read" the road and make adjustments within milliseconds. It also has Buick's HiPer Strut front suspension, which the automaker says enhances ride in a variety of ways; it also reduces torque steer.
Slipping inside is where we noticed the biggest changes. The interior is updated with fashionable ice-blue ambient lighting, warm wood tones and smoked-chrome accents; a redesigned gauge cluster and dash now organizes the functional gauges and controls into a more simple and intuitive layout; the past generation model had 17 radio buttons, while the new model makes do with seven, for example.
The updated center console and center stack also include easy-access cupholders positioned next to the shift lever. Also new is an 8-inch-diagonal, reconfigurable Driver Information and Cluster Display that can be customized; it operates with "drag-and-swipe gestures"like a cellphone, or with voice commands.
A new app tray allows the driver to set up the home screen with frequently used features, including up to 60 presets of favorite contacts, destinations, and music. Also of note are rear-seat headrests that fold down to aid in rearward visibility, while new four-way adjustable front headrests give a greater range of comfort, particularly for taller drivers.
The interior makeover visually quiets the cabin, plus all LaCrosse models feature Buick's QuietTuning engineering process that reduces, blocks and absorbs unwanted noise from the cabin, making it one of the quietest in the segment, says Buick.
2014 BUICK LACROSSE
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger full-size FWD sedan
BASE PRICE____________________ $38,810
MOTOR TYPE___________________24-valve V-6 w/DI
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 304 at 6800 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 264 at 5300 rpm
TRANSMISSION________________ 6-speed automatic
OVERALL LENGTH______________197.0 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)__ 36.8 ft.
CURB WEIGHT__________________ 3,896 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 15.7 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway