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

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Ingrained attitudes die hard. How else to explain our annual expressions of surprise at how well the large Buick LaCrosse sedan rides and handles when compared to past Buick land yachts like the Allure, Lucerne, LeSabre and Park Avenue? When the LaCrosse was redesigned in the fall of 2009, we said, “This car was actually fun to tear through the twisties in.” In 2010, we opined, “The floating, wallowy Buick of years gone by has been put out to pasture.” In 2012, we said, “This large Buick handles surprisingly well, with little body roll and impressive grip in the corners. Gone are the days of door handles rolling towards the pavement when circling highway onramps. ”

And as if I was suffering from some form of recurring amnesia, I too found myself surprised at the 2014 LaCrosse’s composure and agility during an afternoon of spirited driving on the winding roads of northern Kentucky.

I really should have known better. When GM switched from the W-body platform to the European-designed Epsilon II platform (FWD and AWD) in 2009, the LaCrosse was literally transformed from a cushy luxury sedan to a dynamic luxury performance sedan. The Epsilon II platform also underpins the current Cadillac XTS, Saab 9-5 (RIP), Chevrolet Impala, Buick Regal and Opel Insignia, all of which have been praised for their excellent vehicle dynamics.

Note that though the full-size LaCrosse shares the Epsilon II platform with the mid-size Regal, the LaCrosse has a longer wheelbase and is longer overall, not to mention taller and heavier. It became Buick’s flagship sedan in 2012 when the bigger Lucerne was discontinued.

The 2014 LaCrosse continues with the same powertrain choices – an electrically assisted 182-hp 2.4L four-cylinder engine and a 304-hp 3.6L V6 engine both mated to six-speed automatic transmissions, and both available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. For 2014, a mild exterior styling update includes a larger ‘waterfall’ grille, revised headlight design, LED daytime running lights and available HID headlights, new front bumper, integrated rear spoiler, and new wraparound L-shaped LED taillights. Inside, there’s a more dramatic new centre console with fewer buttons and more storage space, a larger eight-inch centre touchscreen, a new eight-inch instrument display and gauge cluster behind the steering wheel, head-up display, more comfortable front seats, redesigned door lock buttons, and more luxurious trim options.

2014 Buick LaCrosse2014 Buick LaCrosse
2014 Buick LaCrosse. Click image to enlarge

Also new for 2014 are radar- and camera-based collision warning and avoidance technologies: Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Collision Mitigation Braking, full-speed-range Adaptive Cruise Control and the Safety Alert Seat.

The LaCrosse’s base eAssist powertrain is designed for those who place a priority on fuel economy. It includes a 115-volt lithium-ion battery and 15 kW electric motor that can add 15 horsepower of assist while accelerating; it also permits automatic engine shutdown when the vehicle is not moving. EPA fuel economy ratings for the LaCrosse eAssist are 9.4 L/100 km city and 6.5 L/100 km highway (US mpg: 25 city/36 hwy). That’s good for a 1,708 kg (3,765 lb) full-size sedan. But in my opinion, 182 horsepower is not really enough for a car of this size and weight. Its 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) time of 9.2 seconds is two seconds slower than a LaCrosse with the V6 engine, according to Consumer Reports.

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