Both engines come mated to a very smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission that includes tap-shift manual control, modern cast-aluminum construction and direct-injection technology that makes them both more powerful and more fuel-efficient. Also, there's no requirement for premium fuel as in some luxury vehicles. Fuel economy estimates are 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway with the 2.4-liter engine and front-wheel drive.
Most of the lineup comes with front-wheel drive, but the CXL offers an optional all-wheel drive system with electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD); the system sends more torque to the front or rear wheels as needed to get the best traction and control.
The LaCrosse is built on a stiff body structure, which helps improve handling while still allowing a smooth, absorbent ride. A rather conventional suspension layout, with MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar in front and a multi-link setup in back, combines with variable-effort rack-and-pinion steering and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes to provide good all-around performance. CXL and CXS models get upgraded variable-effort steering.
Standard safety features on all LaCrosse models include GM's StabiliTrak stability control, plus driver and front passenger side-impact airbags and side-curtain airbags that cover front and rear occupants. Rear-seat side thorax bags are optional.
With an overall size that's a bit larger than most mid-size cars, but not as barge-like as many full-size executive cars, the LaCrosse should be a good choice for those who plan to carry adults in the rear seats. While the interior is spacious and well-appointed, the design of the new instrument panel will find the most attention. With a new style and flowing lines that wrap from the door panels around through the instruments, accented by dark woodgrain and contrast stitching, this Buick feels more detailed inside than either Buicks of the past or other luxury-brand models. Soft leather surfaces, along with smoked chrome and wood trim, help support the upscale feel throughout the cabin.
The new LaCrosse covers a pretty wide difference in price and equipment depending on the trim. The base CX comes with nearly everything traditional Buick buyers might want, such as air conditioning, a power driver's seat, tilt/telescopic steering, cruise control, heated mirrors, keyless entry and a CD sound system with XM Satellite Radio and steering-wheel controls. The CXL model adds extras such as remote start, a universal remote, dual-zone climate control, a Bluetooth phone interface, leather power heated seats and fog lamps. At the top of the line, the CXS steps up to perforated leather upholstery, along with more extras such as a heated steering wheel, keyless start, ultrasonic park assist, a power rear sunshade, Harman Kardon audio and a 12-volt power outlet.
The options list for the CXS is heaped with high-tech goodies. Examples include a Head-Up Display, a navigation and entertainment system with 40-gigabyte hard drive and adaptive forward lighting.