The 2014 Buick LaCrosse is a mid-size sedan that continues to get better and better - as evidenced by its most recent refresh. Armed with a slate of modest, yet welcome improvements designed to help the Buick LaCrosse chip away at the market position of premium models like the Acura RL (now the RLX) and the Toyota Avalon, the 2014 edition of this comfort-oriented sedan stands as a worthy evolution of what has become the brand's ever-stronger luxury stance.
Big, Yet Sleek
I actually prefer the 2014 Buick LaCrosse to its slightly-more-upscale Cadillac XTS platform-mate, and the main reason has to do with the big sedan's styling. The LaCrosse avoids the somewhat awkward roofline of the XTS while preserving its road presence, and for the 2014 model year adds a fresh take on its front fascia that incorporates LED daytime running lights as well a bolder grille (with aero-shutters) and HID headlights. To the rear of the car are LED tail lights that feature a new wrap-around design, along with a wide slice of chrome and a small spoiler.
Substantial Interior Upgrades
More intriguing is the makeover that has been given to the 2014 Buick LaCrosse's passenger compartment. The car's center stack is dramatically different, featuring an eight-inch LCD touchscreen that also serves as the display for the LaCrosse's IntelliLink entertainment and communications interface. There are fewer buttons to be found in the Buick this year, which according to the brand's designers was a big complaint about the 2013 edition of the car (the IntelliLink feature consolidates much of the vehicle's functionality). I do appreciate that they left enough hardware to interact with the car's climate control system. The improved aesthetics of the less-complicated center stack and console are matched by the Buick LaCrosse' easy-to-use LCD dashboard display, which is flanked by traditional analog gauges for things like fuel level and engine RPM.
The Buick LaCrosse has always been an exceptionally quiet car, and the 2014 model is no exception, with road noise fading away as soon as the driver's door is closed. Leather and soft plastics are abundant throughout the Buick's interior, and those who want to go whole-hog will appreciate the presence of the new Ultra Luxury Interior Package, which installs an imitation suede headliner as well as semi-aniline leather upholstery. Passenger room is generous in the rear seat of the LaCrosse, giving it an almost-full-size feel on longer trips.
Carry-Over Engine Line-Up
There haven't been any changes made to the 2014 Buick LaCrosse's drivetrain stable, which means that there are still only two ways to outfit the sedan's engine bay. The first is the eAssist hybrid setup, which consists of a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that works together with an electric motor to produce 182 horsepower and return 36-mpg in highway driving. The more entertaining option - and the one I drove - is a 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 303 horses and 264 lb-ft of torque. Both versions of the LaCrosse come with a six-speed automatic transmission, although only the V-6 includes available all-wheel drive.
The all-wheel drive V-6 edition additionally gains GM's HiPer front struts, which improve the sedan's handling over the eAssist model and do a lot to dial-back some of the effects of the car's not-insubstantial curb weight. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy to drive the large LaCrosse felt in all-wheel drive trim, and the six-cylinder engine is quite willing to surge forward when you push your foot to the floor. It's no sport sedan, but it's certainly no boat, either.
A Compelling Near-Luxury Choice
The 2014 Buick LaCrosse is an interesting sedan to consider for families looking for something more comfortable to drive than an SUV. Although not on the dynamic same level as more athletic German luxury sedans, the LaCrosse is quiet, refined, spacious, and can be loaded with comfort gear and safety features. It's also more affordable than one might expect, given its content, which is another plus for big car fans not interested in a full-blown luxury ride, but who crave something just a bit more upscale than a Ford Taurus or Dodge Charger