I dreaded going to Detroit, Michigan. I was on my way to see the new 2010 Buick Lacrosse. I've seen Buicks for years now, none have impressed me. I was in China five years ago and I liked their Buick cars better than the Buicks in the United States. What was I going to say about this car?
I was so busy with this question that I went out the door, right pass the car I came to see. I stopped looked over the red car right in front of me, looking for a stodgie large four door Buick looking vehicle.
The 2010 LaCrosse is offered in three models - CX, CXL and CXS. I drove the CXL and the CXS.
The CX is equipped with a new 3.0L direct injection V-6, premium cloth seats and 17-inch wheels. The 3.0L engine generates 255 horsepower and 217 lb.-ft. of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The CX MSRP starting price $27,835, including destination. EPA rates this front-wheel drive at 17 mpg city/ 27 highway.
The CXL is equipped with the same 3.0L direct injection V-6 as the CX. The CXL adds leather-appointed heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, fog lamps, outside rearview mirror with LED turn indicators and puddle lamps, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Available as an option is the advanced all-wheel-drive system with electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD). eLSD splits the torque across the axle to whichever wheel has more grip to enhance control in icy or wet conditions. The CXL front-wheel drive MSRP starting price is $30,395, the all-wheel drive version is $32,600. EPA rates the front-wheel drive CXL at 17 mpg city/ 27 highway, and the all-wheel drive at 16 mpg city/ 26 highway.
The CXS is equipped with a 3.6L direct injection V-6. With the CXS you get real-time active-dampening suspension; perforated, leather-appointed, heated and ventilated seats, and chrome-plated 18-inch alloy wheels (19-inch optional with the Touring package). The 3.6L engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, generating 280 horsepower and 259 lb.-ft. of torque. The CXS MSRP starting price is $33,765. EPA rates the CXS at 17 mpg city/ 27 highway.
Buick will offer a 2.4-liter four-cylinder The 2.4-liter generates 172 horsepower and 182 lb.-ft of torque in the LaCrosse this fall.
Buick says the competitors for their Lacrosse are the Toyota Avalon, Lincoln MKZ, Hyundai Azera, Toyota Camry, Lexus ES350. So, how does it compare?
Driving the Lacrosse was easy. The engine is well mated to the transmission. The interior is driver and passenger friendly in terms of room. The design is so pleasant that one forgets their supposed to go home and watch Lawrence Welk and go see Kid Rock at Comerica Park in Detroit instead.
GM executives say that this car had design input from their counterparts in China and Europe, that it was a global effort.
The Lacrosse platform is a new version of General Motor's global mid-size architecture formerly called Epsilon. The platform was designed in Europe and you can see the underpinnings in other products such as Opel's Insignia in Europe.
The interior of the five-seat passenger compartment was designed in Shanghai, China at General Motor's Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC). The styling for the sheetmetal was created in the United States at GM's Technical Center in Warren, Mich., and the new vehicle is produced at General Motor's Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas.
When I was in China I was told the story of how Buicks came to be in China. China called General Motors and told them they wanted to import Buicks to China. Buick was not General Motors first choice, they thought Cadillac would fair better. But Buick had a historical appeal as a luxury vehicle in China. I believe it was the emperor that rode in a Buick.
In China, most owners of Buicks are driven. There is particular attention paid to the backseat because the Chinese owner sits in the back. The backseat of the Lacrosse is two feet longer than the Hyundai Azera, four feet longer than Lincoln MKZ, and almost five feet more room than the Lexus ES350.
To be fair, there are a couple issues: The turning radius 38.8, is about a foot more than the competitors, but still, it was still easy to turn curb-to-curb. The Lacrosse is heavier than it's competitors making it not as agile.
I had dinner with Susan Docherty. Susan is the North American Vice President of Buick-Pontiac-GMC. I asked Docherty, besides paying back the government and making a profit within General Motors, what would she consider another success. Docherty stopped, "When I start seeing journalists write, "It's time to clap for GM"".
GM may have a ways to go to prove to many folks that there was a reason for the bailout. But by making a handsome global Lacrosse, Buick is bringing those hands closer together in the form of a clap.