For this review, Buick sent the top-of-the-line LaCrosse CXS, which starts at $33,015, and loaded it up with plenty of options for an as-tested price of $37,930. The pricing of the Buick LaCrosse CXS puts it just under its Lexus and Lincoln rivals while also managing to stay pretty close to the price of the 2009 LaCrosse. Despite the similar pricing to the original, bullet-nosed LaCrosse that debuted in 2004, the all-new 2010 Buick LaCrosse couldn't be any more different than its predecessor in terms of styling, luxury, comfort and, most importantly, refinement.
2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS Exterior
Buick has really never had a signature look to it which was made worse on the first-generation LaCrosse which had a rather awkward design. This definitely changed for the 2010 LaCrosse as it features a design that builds on the elegant lines of the Buick Enclave and helps form a foundation for future models including the all-new Buick Regal. As a stark departure from the awkward styling of the first-generation LaCrosse, the new model brings a fresher, bolder presence to the lineup starting with the front of the car that included a large waterfall grille and chrome-trimmed portholes mounted atop the hood - both of which are Buick's signature design elements. Most modern cars get their attitude from front-end designs, but one of the most attention-grabbing aspects of the 2010 LaCrosse is its profile with the swept back roofline and sharp, stylish side body creases.
Those looking to add more of a sporty flair to their LaCrosse should definitely check out the optional ($800) Touring Package which adds 19-inch, nine-spoke alloy wheels wrapped in Goodyear all-season rubber as well as some upgrades to the suspension tuning. Our test car was also equipped with a few individual options such as the $695 Xenon headlamps and $325 Red Jewel Tintcoat exterior paint. This paint color is probably the best available on the LaCrosse as it helps accent the stylish body lines and it really looks good against the abundance of chrome that tastefully dashes the exterior.
2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS Interior
Buick definitely did its homework when deciding to go up against the Lexus ES as the LaCrosse features an interior that meets or exceeds the materials, craftsmanship and technology that is available on its Japanese rival. Like the exterior, it's actually pretty hard to define one area of the LaCrosse's cabin that is better than another, but for me it's the feeling of sitting in the driver's seat. While the five-passenger Buick LaCrosse offers plenty of room and comfort for each seating position, the driver is rewarded with a stylish and luxurious cockpit that offers amenities such as a tilting and telescoping steering column, heated steering wheel and an eight-way power seat with height-adjustable lumbar support. This LaCrosse CXS was also equipped with the optional ($350) heads-up display and the E-Z Key passive entry and keyless start meaning the car could be locked, unlocked and started all with the key in the driver's pocket or purse. Back seat passengers get a more lavish experience with plenty of room for three adults plus the added convenience of a three-prong, 120-volt power outlet which is perfect recharging laptops, cell phones or mobile gaming systems.
All seats on this test model were trimmed with a Light Cashmere colored (GM speak for light beige) perforated leather seats and trim panels which were accented by dark brown, wood or metallic trim pieces throughout the cabin. For improved passenger comfort, the Buick LaCrosse CXS comes standard with a power-folding rear sunshade that automatically collapses out of the way when the vehicle is put into reverse. The upper trim level also adds ultrasonic rear park assist, but this test model added the optional backup camera which is a part of the upgraded audio system with hard-drive based navigation system. About the only thing missing from the interior of the LaCrosse is a media system controller similar to the Lexus Remote Touch and Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI).
The entire cabin design throughout the LaCrosse is impressive, but one area that exemplifies Buick's attention to detail on the redesigned model is actually inside the trunk. Visually, the short decklid helps add to the stylish design and when opened reveals a fully carpeted cargo area that is devoid of any exposed screws, sheet metal or speakers. Even the decklid hinges are covered in plastic to help give the trunk area its finished look. Of course the cavernous cargo area is also very practical with the ability to hold up to 12.8 cubic feet of cargo space.
2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS Performance & Handling
When it comes to the powertrain, the new LaCrosse offers three direct-injected engine options, but the LaCrosse CXS is obviously going straight after the Lexus ES 350 with the 3.6-liter V-6 is also shared with other GM luxury models like the Buick Enclave and Cadillac CTS. In the LaCrosse, this engine produces 280 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque, but, more importantly, it provides a smooth and responsive delivery of its power that is just as good if not better the rival Lexus. The LaCrosse CXS has EPA fuel economy estimates of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
Leaving the sport sedan segment to the Cadillac CTS, the Buick LaCrosse delivers a smoother, more comfortable ride which was appreciated on this long trip. The suspension tuning helps the LaCrosse absorb just about any road imperfections including annoying concrete expansion joints and poor asphalt patch jobs. Although it'd be hard to add any kind of impressive performance from the 4,065-pound LaCrosse, the aforementioned Touring Package adds a slightly sportier feeling with a real-time chassis damping setup and a driver-selectable sport mode.
2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS Safety
Safety is also a strong suit for the new LaCrosse with almost perfect five-star crash ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) except for the four-star rollover rating. Likewise, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also gave the LaCrosse 'Good' ratings across the board and named it as 2010 Top Safety Pick. Standard safety features for all 2010 Buick LaCrosse models include six airbags, daytime running lights, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control, tire pressure monitoring system and, of course, GM's OnStar system with automatic crash response and stolen vehicle assistance.
At a time when many questioned GM's decision to keep Buick following its highly publicized bankruptcy, the timing for the launch of the all-new 2010 Buick LaCrosse couldn't have been better. Not only is it much more advanced than the first-generation model, the 2010 LaCrosse finally gives Buick a competent entrant into the midsize luxury sedan segment. The 2010 Buick LaCrosse should be enough proof that GM made the right decision in keeping the Buick division in its portfolio, but it will take more cars like the Regal and the future compact models to help further build the brand and attract younger buyers.
General Motors provided the vehicle this road test review.
Select photos by Jeffrey N. Ross