Review: 2017 Buick LaCrosse is more than a restyled ImpalaView gallery - 8 images
For the 2017 model year, Buick totally reconfigured the big LaCrosse sedan in an effort to differentiate it from the crowd of standard and semi-luxurious sedans on the market. Buick succeeded, taking what used to be just a restyled Impala and making it something unique to the segment.
First and foremost, the 2017 LaCrosse is now a good drive with a solid feel on curvy roads. It also absorbs less-than-ideal pavement and road transitions like a luxury car should, remaining composed and comfortable. The powerplant under the LaCrosse's hood is great for the sedan's size, and the refinement of the interior is much more upscale than the outgoing model.
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Those high points don't make the 2017 Buick LaCrosse perfect, of course. They do, however, make it very good in a segment that, frankly, has been pretty lackluster for the past few years. It seems that manufacturers treat their full-sized sedans as "wash, rinse, repeat" items to be trotted out every few years as "new" or "revised" when all that's really changed are color options and some exterior curvature.
Buick has a lot of history behind it. Back in the day, legendary car designer Harley Earl created not only his first ground-up masterpiece, but the first true concept car ever introduced: the Buick Y-Job. That innovative vehicle wowed the industry in 1938 with its total re-look at the automobile as an object of art and desire rather than just an engineering item. It was sleek, beautiful, and luxurious to look at.
The 2017 Buick LaCrosse isn't the Y-Job. On the exterior, it's not exactly breathtaking or a standout. With the exception of the grille, in fact, there's little to differentiate the LaCrosse from the Chevrolet Impala. That's too bad because inside, the LaCrosse is very different and far more upscale.
The interior of the 2017 LaCrosse is wonderfully made with excellent materials and a lush, but not overdone feel that is (or at least should be) the hallmark of Buick. Caddy aims towards ostentatious luxury whereas Buick strives for upscale but not overdone interior experiences. In the LaCrosse, that is obvious and very well executed. Materials are a good mix of leathers, plastics, wood, and faux metal edging.
Seating is excellent with front driver and passenger seats that are designed to fit just about any derriere with comfort. The center console between is arched outwards slightly to create a more spacious elbow space and to curve inward to allow more knee room ahead. For the driver, the shifter takes a moment to get used to, with its "up, left" reverse shift and push-button parking, but driver controls are generally well-placed and obvious. The front passenger may be a little chagrined to find less than accommodating gadget space, though.
In the back seats, tall folks will find plenty of knee, leg, and shoulder room thanks to the big LaCrosse's full-sized design. Headroom, however, may be a bit cramped for those over six feet due to the roof's slope. Trunk space is useful, despite being small in size on paper. At 15 cubic feet (425 liters), it's not large in volume, but its deep inset and wide mouth make it very useful for most items that would go in there, such as checked bags or golf clubs. It's taller items that will have a rough time fitting.
On the dashboard is Buick's latest IntelliLink touchscreen-based infotainment system. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard in the 2017 Buick LaCrosse, and functionality is good. Our chief complaint is that the placement of the large touchscreen makes it prone to sunlight reflection when the sun is behind the car or aligned just over and to the left or right.
The 2017 LaCrosse is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission in front-wheel or optional all-wheel drive. This engine outputs 310 horsepower (231 kW), which is plenty to get the big Buick going. This isn't a fast-paced car, but it's certainly sporty in its feel on the road. Aiding the engine's stronger-than-average output are the Buick's well-done brakes, which are almost sports car-sharp in their responsiveness. This takes a little getting used to, but goes a long way towards creating the driving confidence that allows a LaCrosse driver to push the car a bit more than they might do otherwise.
The big sedan moves very well for its size, thanks to the LaCrosse's combination of power output, strong braking, and excellent chassis control. Steering is responsive, but not over-tight, and the suspension both absorbs potholes and imperfections well, and manages to keep body roll at a minimum when pressing the corner. This may be one of the sportiest full-sized sedans on the market today.
In all, the 2017 Buick LaCrosse is an excellent full-sized sedan that competes well in its market. That said, this is a market of full-sized luxury sedans that are, to be blunt, fairly boring on the whole. Dominating the category is the Lexus ES which, while being a beautiful luxury sedan, is not exactly a thrill-seeker's four-door. The LaCrosse is definitely more sporty to drive and fun to handle, but Buick dropped the ball (and maybe some of its heritage) by leaving the exterior bland and unassuming. Were the LaCrosse a muscle sedan like the Chrysler 300 can be, we would chalk that up to being a "sleeper car" design. In this case, we can't.
On the whole, though, the 2017 Buick LaCrosse is definitely a "best of" in the large sedan segment. It's well worth checking out, if a big sedan is on your radar.
The 2017 LaCrosse is in showrooms now at a starting price of US$32,065 plus delivery. Our test model rang in at around $45,000 with delivery.
Product Page: 2017 Buick LaCrosseView gallery - 8 images