The 2016 Buick LaCrosse has always been a much better car than people gave it credit for, but there were plenty of areas where it could be improved. The 2017 Buick LaCrosse represents a complete redesign for this full-size sedan. Let’s take a look at what’s changed and help you figure out which model year might be better for you.
The 2017 LaCrosse is longer, lower and wider than before. The overall result is a more pleasingly proportioned sedan complemented by a more cohesive design. The 2016 model, by comparison, was a bit of a hodgepodge of elements, with an oversized waterfall grille, slab sides, a boxy rear end and tacked-on hood vents that never really equated to a great-looking car. It was also a compromised design, with thick pillars that restricted the view and an awkwardly shaped trunk that limited its usefulness. These issues have been addressed with the redesigned model.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention that the LaCrosse sees the return of red and blue to Buick’s tri-shield badge.
The 2016 LaCrosse’s cabin was nice for a full-size sedan and featured a handsome design highlighted by wood trim that arced from door to door across the dashboard. We’re not sure if the 2017 version looks better or just different, but the quality of construction and materials used has gone up considerably, to the point where this Buick is now on par with similarly priced luxury sedans and further afield than nonluxury, full-size-sedan competitors. For instance, most of the surfaces you come in contact with are covered in padded and French-stitched simulated leather, while the wood trim is more convincing in appearance and applied with greater restraint.
The cabin is also more functional. The new, taller center console hovers over a large bin area and features more easily accessed cupholders and a dedicated bin that keeps your smartphone securely nearby. The number of buttons has been reduced by a simpler climate-control design and Buick’s latest IntelliLink touchscreen interface, which is standard on every LaCrosse and refreshingly easy to use.
Unfortunately, since the 2017 LaCrosse is 1.3 inches lower, the seats have been lowered to make sure heads aren’t crammed up against the roof. As a result, some may find that the LaCrosse gives them a legs-and-arms-out driving position and a lack of under-thigh support in the back. As such, the 2016 LaCrosse is a bit more passenger-friendly.
You can get the 2016 LaCrosse with a 304-horsepower V6 engine or as a mild hybrid model known as the LaCrosse eAssist, which produces a meager 182 hp. Only about 9 percent of buyers have opted for that, so for 2017, the LaCrosse is only available with a new-and-improved V6 engine that produces 310 hp and, in conjunction with a 300-lb reduction in overall vehicle weight, improves acceleration.
Fuel economy also improves to 21 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive versus the 2016’s estimates of 18 mpg city/28 mpg hwy. The Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy measurement method changed for 2017, so the new LaCrosse is actually even more efficient in comparison to the 2016 than the above figures suggest. A big reason for this improved fuel economy is a new 7-speed automatic transmission (versus six speeds), improved aerodynamics, reduced weight, a cylinder deactivation system and an impressively imperceptible automatic stop/start system.
Features & Technology
Although the trim level names have changed, available feature content really hasn’t. Both the 2016 and 2017 LaCrosse come standard with a rearview camera, OnStar emergency telematics, 4G LTE on-board Wi-Fi, Bluetooth phone and audio, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an 8-inch touchscreen interface known as IntelliLink. The 2017 version is a new system, though, with improved responses and user-friendliness. The screen itself is no longer recessed into the dash, which makes it easier to reach and see, but it does make it more susceptible to washing out in the sun.
A sophisticated new rear-suspension design yields a ride that’s comfortable and silky-smooth but maintains its composure around corners and over midcorner bumps. These dynamics are improved even further with the optional 20-in wheels that bring with them an enhanced front-suspension design and continuously adjustable dampers — both are available on the 2016 LaCrosse with the Premium 2 trim. While the 2016 LaCrosse is likely to elicit few complaints, the new one is an altogether better car to drive.
It’s also a considerably quieter car, courtesy of a wealth of noise-reducing elements such as acoustic glass, triple-sealed doors, improved aerodynamics and active noise cancellation.
Standard safety equipment for 2017 is enhanced with new front-knee airbags and a teen-driver function that mutes the audio system when seat belts aren’t in use and provides a warning when set speeds are exceeded. It also sends an electronic report card to parents when Junior is behind the wheel.
Both the 2016 and 2017 models are available with Driver Confidence packages that add a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning. The latter can be upgraded with emergency automatic braking and a Safety Alert Seat that buzzes the driver’s-seat bottom as an extra attention-getting measure. For 2017, though, the forward-collision warning system can detect pedestrians, while the lane-departure system is enhanced with automatic steering intervention.
The 2017 Buick LaCrosse represents a significant improvement over its predecessor in virtually every way, except perhaps for its lower seating and available feature content. It’s a better, more sophisticated car to drive, look at and be a passenger in. If you’re mostly interested in the LaCrosse’s size and features, the 2016 should still deliver, but we think most buyers will be happier with the new-and-improved version.