2010 Buick LaCrosse
2010 Buick LaCrosse. Click image to enlarge

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General Motors Canada

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Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2010 Buick LaCrosse

Mont Tremblant, Quebec – One of the most admirable traits of an organism – human or otherwise – is the ability to display grace under pressure. And when a car company is under the kind of pressure General Motors is feeling at the moment, grace comes in the form of a quality vehicle.

GM has been working hard at improving its image among the more critical members of the car-buying public; vehicles like the latest Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac CTS are proof of that. The latest example comes from Buick in the second generation of its entry-level LaCrosse sedan.

Up until a few weeks ago, this car was to be known once again as the Allure in Canada; the Allure name was considered favourable, as “la crosse” is an unsavoury slang term in French-speaking Canada. But execs at GM Canada say the name change came at the request of Buick’s Quebec dealers, who thought the boost to advertising and potential sales outweighed the name issue. It goes without saying, too, that GM stands to save a significant amount of money by not having to advertise one car under two names in North America.

2010 Buick LaCrosse
2010 Buick LaCrosse
2010 Buick LaCrosse
2010 Buick LaCrosse
2010 Buick LaCrosse. Click image to enlarge

The LaCrosse is a completely new design next to its predecessor. The Allure was built on GM’s W-Body platform, while the LaCrosse shares its Epsilon II underpinnings with the forthcoming Saab 9-5 and Europe’s Opel Insignia. The second-generation LaCrosse is GM’s first global midsize car in North America, and will also be sold in China and Korea. The car’s design was a joint venture: the platform comes from GM of Europe; interior design and engineering was done in China; and the exterior was conceived in North America.

The LaCrosse’s 2,837 mm wheelbase is 30 mm longer than the Allure’s, but the new car’s overall length is the same amount shorter. Width is up nominally, and the LaCrosse is about 40 mm taller.

Much of the new car’s allure, if you will, is in its appearance; the LaCrosse is far more athletic-looking outside, and the new interior is much more appealing than the Allure’s. Buick makes much of the “sweepspear” character line that begins at the front fender, runs the length of the car, and resolves where it meets the leading edge of the taillight. It’s meant to echo the classic lines of Buicks from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, and regardless of whether you’re old enough to remember the 1938 Y-Job or the ’53 Skylark, it’s an element that has been rendered beautifully on the LaCrosse.

Despite that throwback styling element, this is a car that could hold serious appeal with a younger generation of drivers than those who typically shop Buick stores. Whether that happens will remain to be seen; Buick has its work cut out for it to convince shoppers that this is not another “grandpa” car.

Inside, the centre stack is a little button-busy, but the controls are easy to figure out, and material quality and panel fits are to the same high standards that you’ll have noticed in other recent GM products. A few niggles I noticed in my time in the car were interior door handles and door pulls that are a little awkward to use, and the shift lever is positioned too far back in the console. This isn’t such a huge deal if you’re a stick-it-in-drive-and-go kind of driver, but it makes the transmission’s manual shift function awkward to use.

In front, long haul comfort seemed quite good, despite a driver’s seat with what initially felt like too aggressive a lumbar support. The rear seats are comfortable and offer loads of legroom; the car is optimized for two rear passengers, with a scalloped headliner to increase headroom in the outboard seats.

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