Thinking back on childhood, we can all remember our best friends, the group of kids we hung out with, and the cool places that we snuck off to. Fast forward a few years, and you might see a slightly different set of friends, doing different things in different places. It’s a pattern that repeats itself during the course of a lifetime, where some people stay in our lives and others don’t. Situations change, locations change, and, fact is, people change.
Cars change, too.
Case in point: the 2010 Buick LaCrosse. Long considered a favorite of anyone carrying an AARP card, Buick models have often been overlooked by younger drivers seeking a sportier ride, or at least something Grandpa didn’t park in his garage. For decades there was some validity to that perspective, but the redesigned LaCrosse is not the Floatmaster of the ‘70s or the plastic factory of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Buick has changed, especially in the past couple of years, with the result being models like the 2010 LaCrosse, a stylish people-hauler that’s fun to drive, is available with a bevy of desirable options, and is reasonably priced.
Of course, Grandpa might still opt for his new Buick. If that’s the case, consider yourself blessed with a grandfather who has good taste in cars.
Photos courtesy of GM.
Buick LaCrosse pricing
#10. Pricing for the 2010 Buick LaCrosse starts at about $26,000.
Buick offers the 2010 LaCrosse in three flavors: CX, CXL and CXS, with base prices ranging from about $26,000 to $33,000. Buyers of the front-wheel-drive CX will enjoy standard amenities including power-adjustable front seats, an auxiliary audio input jack, tilt steering, and the choice of either a four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine. Move up to the LaCrosse CXL, available with front- or all-wheel drive, and you’ll be treated to dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, a remote vehicle start system, and more. Sitting atop the LaCrosse hierarchy is the CXS, dressed up with goodies like an upgraded sound system and a more powerful V6 engine.
Buick LaCrosse options
#9. Available options give the LaCrosse a luxury feel without the luxury price.
Our test car was an all-wheel-drive 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXL, with an as-tested price of $35,710. That figure reflects more than $3,000 in options, some of which give this domestic sedan a decidedly upscale feel. We’re talking about a Luxury Package that tacks on upgrades including ventilated front buckets and a heated steering wheel, xenon headlights, and a heads-up display. Some would call that well-equipped, but others may want to spend a bit more on the available navigation system, rear entertainment system with dual screens, blind-spot warning technology, or the suspension and tire upgrades delivered with the CXS’s optional Touring Package. A fully loaded 2010 LaCrosse CXS rings up just under $40,000.
Buick LaCrosse engines
#8. Engine choices cater to fuel economy or performance.
Redesigned for 2010, the overhauled Buick LaCrosse was initially available with two engines: a 3.0-liter V6 used to power CX and CXL variants, and a 3.6-liter six-banger exclusive to the CXS model. The former generates 255 horsepower and 217 lb.-ft. of torque (252 and 215, respectively, with the all-wheel-drive CXL), while the latter bumps output to 280 ponies and 250 lb.-ft. of torque. All models feature a six-speed automatic transmission. Interestingly, the 3.6-liter engine achieves an EPA rating of 17 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, whereas the 3.0-liter achieves the same 17 mpg city but only 26 mpg highway (that drops to 16 mpg city/25 mpg highway for the all-wheel-drive CXL).
A third offering made its debut midway through 2010. Available only with the CX is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that pumps out 182 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft of torque, and is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. As expected, fuel economy improves to 19 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
Buick LaCrosse power
#7. 250+ horsepower is more than adequate for the everyday driver.
Testing of our all-wheel-drive 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXL took place while we were visiting friends in Washington state. Among our adventures during the week was a visit to the family farm, which required clocking hundreds of miles and climbing over the Cascade Mountains. The CXL was a total charmer during the entire trip, to and fro, delivering plenty of gumption for climbing long ascents and enough muscle to allow multi-car passes on back road straightaways. Granted, 252 horsepower doesn’t exactly qualify the LaCrosse CXL as a powerhouse, but we never felt the need for more muscle from the pedal.
Engine output was managed by a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode. A plant of the throttle resulted in a slightly delayed downshift, but despite the accompanying high revs, the 3.0-liter V6 sounded fairly quiet and refined from the cabin.
Over the course of a week and lots of miles, our fuel economy average was in the low 20s.
Buick LaCrosse drive dynamics
#6. You can have fun driving a Buick. Seriously.
For drivers seeking ultimate handling from the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, a CXS model fitted with the Touring Package is the way to go. That’s where you’ll get performance-tuned front struts, 19-inch alloys instead of the standard 18s, and a real-time damping chassis setup with a selectable Sport mode. We, however, had an all-wheel-drive CXL, and though it did lack enthusiast-oriented tuning, there was still fun to be had on twisty mountain roads. The steering was responsive (albeit without a lot of road feel), and body roll was kept to a minimum when the LaCrosse was pushed through a corner.
Back in civilization – where there’s traffic, stoplights and potholes – the LaCrosse held true to its Buick heritage by delivering a comfortable ride. Bumps and road craters were absorbed without any real effects on the driver, and the quiet cabin served to stop the chaos at the door. An available heads-up display, one of our favorite features on any vehicle, allowed us to check our speed while still keeping our eyes on the road.
Buick LaCrosse comfort
#5. Comfort? C’mon, it’s a Buick.
We’ve always associated GM’s premium brand with comfortable cruising, and the 2010 LaCrosse did nothing to alter our perception. Up front are spacious bucket seats with plenty of padding, though they’re firm enough to be supportive over the long haul. We tackled two road trips, each spanning several hundred miles, without a single complaint. Of course, it didn’t hurt that our CXL featured fast-acting heated and ventilated leather seats and generous overall space.
Venture to the LaCrosse’s rear seat and you’ll find a comfy bench and an abundance of head, leg and foot room. The front seatbacks are slightly padded for passengers with especially long legs, and there’s a soft, fold-down center armrest with a couple of cupholders.
Buick LaCrosse interior
#4. Still think that GM builds only sub-standard interiors? Check out the 2010 LaCrosse.
Out of all that goes into the 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXL, what impressed us most were the quality materials. The cabin featured soft-touch surfaces most everywhere we laid a finger or forearm, including the rear seat area. Contrast stitching on the doors, dash and center armrest is an example of designers’ attention to detail, and, satisfying one of our little obsessions, the dials and grips on the instrument panel were rubber. Folks might disagree, but we think replacing what would usually be a hard plastic button or knob with soft rubber is one sure way to deliver a more upscale feel.
As our fingers prodded around the LaCrosse’s cabin, we discovered that the cap above the gauges was softer and more luxurious than what was found in Cadillacs just a couple of years ago. Above it all is a mesh headliner, with matching material on the visors and pillars.
After much searching, the only complaint we had centered on the front console. Drivers who rest their forearm on the center console will find their hand sitting on some hard plastic that felt relatively low-budget. That’s admittedly a minor complaint, but it stood out in comparison to what was otherwise a very impressive interior.
Buick LaCrosse styling
#3. That Buick’s a beaut.
Casual observers might have a hard time identifying the 2010 LaCrosse as a Buick. Once known for rather sedate, conservative styling (and similar driving dynamics), Buick is now represented by edgy designs that hint at sport and luxury.
Greeting onlookers is an aggressive front end, with eye-like headlamps serving to bookend a prominent, slotted grille. Feeding off the upper edges of the grille are sharp creases in the hood, which, when combined with the slightly flared front fenders, give the LaCrosse a very distinct – and appealing – look. Take a gander from the side and you’ll see body contours and a low roofline that give the LaCrosse an athletic appearance. It’s all wrapped up at the rear end with clean lines and taillights that make us immediately think of the Mazda6.
For its part, the interior is decidedly modern, characterized by soft curves, mood lighting, and alloy-like trim pieces (actual aluminum would be nice, but we digress). Countering those niceties was the placement of the door lock/unlock button on the center of the dash and awkward door grab handles.
Buick LaCrosse competition
#2. This overhauled Buick faces fierce competition.
Shoppers considering the 2010 Buick LaCrosse have a long list of alternatives to consider. With its variety of engines and base price of about $26,000, this premium sedan is set to take on models like the Ford Fusion and Taurus, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Azera, Lexus ES 350, Lincoln MKZ, Nissan Maxima, and a slew of others.
That’s an impressive list of vehicles, so Buick has priced the 2010 LaCrosse competitively, equipped it with engines that are near the top of the group in terms of power, and created a spacious cabin that’s on par with many of its rivals.
Now, if the focus could be placed on achieving better fuel economy…
#1. Buick continues its forward momentum.
We’ve seen it coming. Models like the Lucerne, with its Volkswagen-esque design, magnetic ride control, and available V8; and the Enclave, a sveltely styled crossover that delivered the smart functionality of its corporate twins with a premium presence. They were good vehicles, markedly better than previous Buicks, but still required improvement, namely in the way of quality materials and craftsmanship.
Those points have been addressed in the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, an attractive and practical sedan that requires no excuses. It’s just an impressive car, plain and simple.