2014 Buick LaCrosse AWD
2014 Buick LaCrosse AWD
2014 Buick LaCrosse AWD. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos pictures by Lesley Wimbush

Comparing the modern-day Buick to your grandfather’s land-yacht is such a well-worn trope that I’m not even going to bother going there.

Suffice it to say, Buick, like its cousin Cadillac, had undergone a sweeping transformation a few years back in the hopes of appealing to a younger demographic.  After surviving GM’s bitter bankruptcy years by a hair, at 110 years old, Buick is now the oldest American automotive brand.

It’s a hell of a rebound since 2009’s brink of extinction, and with resounding successes in China and Europe, Buick is now a bona fide global brand.

When the LaCrosse debuted in 2005, it was rebadged in Canada as the “Allure” for our more delicate sensibilities, since lacrosse, aside from being one of our national sports, is also Quebec slang for “pleasuring oneself”. But it’s rather unlikely that anyone would have made that association anyway, since that particular Buick was not only devoid of passion, it was decidedly un-alluring as well.

While it would be amusing to think that GM said “to heck with it, we don’t care about those smirking French schoolboys” when it became simply LaCrosse throughout the lineup in 2010 – it was merely to comply with the car’s global marketing platform. Owners of existing Allure-badged cars could even take advantage of a retroactive nameplate upgrade – oh, those risqué young Buick folks!

My tester this week, a deep gray 2014 Buick LaCrosse AWD, is attractive in that characteristically American way, outlined in chrome with a grille worthy of a Freightliner – understated it isn’t.

All sharp creases and angular shapes, the LaCrosse is sleek in a way that its predecessors were most decidedly not.

The chrome-lined fender porthole is about as cheesy as a Vegas nightclub act, but when you consider the history, the kitsch becomes rather charming. Although the “Ventiport” originated with a custom car designed to emulate a fighter jet, it made its way into the mainstream Buick lineup in 1949, ostensibly drawing airflow into the engine bay. The larger and longer the inline engine, the greater the number of Ventiports, a tradition that Buick held onto even after introducing the V8 and V6. Now they’re merely symbolic, since there’s no air flow feeding today’s compact four- and six-cylinder mills.

Just as deeply rooted in history is the side crease, a plunging character line that was known from the ’40s through to the ’70s as the “Sweepspear”. During the 1950s – the chrome-trimmed sweepspear was used to separate the colours on two-tone Buicks.  It was reintroduced on the 2010 LaCrosse as a sharp crease with hints of the original.

2014 Buick LaCrosse AWD2014 Buick LaCrosse AWD
2014 Buick LaCrosse AWD. Click image to enlarge

Doctor Phil would have nothing to work with here, since the LaCrosse’s insides perfectly match its outside. The cabin illustrates just how well GM understands its buyers; you’ll find no understated displays of subtlety here. While the materials and finish are very good, they’re not up to German sedan levels of quality, and they don’t have to be. Buick owners celebrate their success with overt trappings of high-gloss wood trim and swooping soft touch high-contrast dash material and fairly obvious stitching. The curvaceous centre console boasts plenty of chrome and glossy piano-black trim to complement the aforementioned wood, while the gauges cast a cool turquoise glow to match the ambient lighting in footwells and door panels. Leather seats are deep, squashy and broad enough to accommodate a more generously proportioned backside than mine. Rear seating is positively voluminous – but at the expense of the trunk, which appears merely adequate.

Standard are the remote vehicle start, OnStar, IntelliLink connectivity system with eight-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and dual climate control.

All-wheel-drive models such as my tester are available in only two trim levels: Leather and Premium.

As a Premium AWD model, it added heated and vented seats, head-up display, sunroof, back-up camera and parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision and lane departure warnings, rear cross traffic alert, navigation and a pretty decent Bose sound system. Extra luxurious options included the glossy wood inserts, perforated leather seating, micro-suede headliner and leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel.

Connect with Autos.ca