Page 1: Introduction
CHICAGO, IL - Buick wants to move upscale, shedding its fuddy-duddy image to appeal to buyers who want a powerful, quiet, elegant, expertly crafted, and luxurious car priced under $30,000. In fact, Buick spokespeople have openly discussed their intention to take on Lexus head-to-head in the future. Serving as the first volley on this front is the 2005 Buick LaCrosse, an upscale midsize sedan that replaces the Century and Regal. Whether or not they've put the ball over the net remains to be seen.
Upon first inspection, the 2005 Buick LaCrosse is clearly a better vehicle than the Century or the Regal. However, we wonder how serious Buick can be about achieving its ultimate goal of competing with Lexus when the standard LaCrosse is equipped with an old-tech engine configuration, a four- rather than five-speed automatic transmission, express-down functionality for only the driver's window and 16-inch steel wheels with composite wheelcovers. And get this: antilock brakes are standard only on the top trim level. On paper that sounds like a rental car special and nobody shopping a Lexus, let alone a Volkswagen Passat, wants a rental car special sitting in the driveway.
Perhaps Buick's statements about competing with Lexus were premature. The company lists the Ford Five Hundred, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry as key LaCrosse competitors. To that list we might add the Chrysler 300, Mazda 6, Mercury Montego, Mitsubishi Galant and the aforementioned VW Passat. Lexus is still a distant target, but the LaCrosse is certainly an appealing alternative to some of these mainstream sedans.
Page 2: Features
Under the hood of the sporty 2005 Buick LaCrosse CXS is an aluminum DOHC 3.6-liter V6 making 240 horsepower and 230 lb.-ft. of torque, 90 percent of which peaks between a useful 1,600 and 6,000 rpm. Cribbed from the Cadillac CTS and also employed in the Buick Rendezvous Ultra, this modern 3.6-liter V6 is equipped with variable valve timing and is expected to produce 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Dual exhausts provide a sportier engine note on the CXS.
Page 3: Interior
The sporty Buick LaCrosse CXS includes antilock brakes, full-range traction control, a firmer Gran Touring suspension with larger stabilizer bars, variable-effort MagnaSteer steering tuning and chromed exterior door handles.
Depending on which trim level is selected, options include a power sunroof, heated front seatbacks and cushions, steering wheel controls for the audio and climate systems, a six-disc in-dash CD changer with premium sound, XM satellite radio, side curtain airbags, rear parking assist, a power front passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and a remote starting feature.
Inside, the 2005 Buick LaCrosse can accommodate up to six-passengers if the front bench seat is requested. With the bench seat, an "innovative flip and fold" center seatback cushion similar to the one that's been offered on the Mercury Sable since 1996 provides additional storage space when that seating position is not in use.
Cabin design is clean and organized, dominated by soft-touch surfaces, brushed aluminum details, chrome accents, fake burl wood trim and two-tone coloration. Buick has made efforts to greatly reduce tolerances between components for a higher quality appearance, and it shows. Space inside the Buick LaCrosse exceeds the outgoing Century and Regal thanks to a wheelbase increase, resulting in much-needed additional rear legroom. The trunk can carry up to 16 cubic feet of cargo, expanded through the use of the LaCrosse's split-folding rear seatback.
Page 4: Pricing
--Photos courtesy of General Motors