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2017 Buick LaCrosse: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader January 2017

The 2017 Buick LaCrosse is a big-time improvement over its predecessor. This completely redesigned full-size sedan is more attractive and luxurious, better to drive, more powerful and efficient, and boasts updated feature content.

Yet the story is not its improvement over the previous version. Instead, it's how strong the LaCrosse has become relative to full-size sedans like the Toyota Avalon as well as luxury sedans like the Lexus ES 350. Everything about this new range-topping Buick demonstrates a quiet, unassuming competence. Yes, it'll get you from A to B with its pampering ride, hushed cabin and easygoing driving efforts -- just the sort of things people expect from a Buick. However, there's also a modern sophistication present in the way it accelerates, saves fuel and goes around corners. We were legitimately surprised at how good it was to drive.

So, for those looking for a large, comfortable sedan, we think the 2017 LaCrosse should be high atop their test-drive list. It manages to satisfy the expectations of traditional Buick buyers while also broadening its appeal to those who may not have considered a LaCrosse in the past.

What's New for 2017?

The LaCrosse was completely redesigned for 2017.

What We Like

Plush ride; high-quality cabin; easy-to-use tech; powerful and efficient engine; exceptional safety credentials; surprisingly agile with Dynamic Drive package.

What We Don't

Questionably high price jump from base trim level; seats may be mounted too low for some.

How Much?

$32,100-$43,300

Fuel Economy

Every LaCrosse comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine good for 310 horsepower and 282 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission, an automatic stop/start system and front-wheel drive are also standard, but an advanced all-wheel-drive system is available on the Premium trim level, sending power left and right in addition to front and rear. Fuel economy is quite good for such a big, powerful sedan, at 21 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving. Opting for all-wheel drive essentially lowers those estimates by 2 mpg.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Buick LaCrosse is available in four trim levels: base, Preferred, Essence and Premium.

The base trim ($32,100) comes very well equipped with 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, keyless start, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, simulated leather upholstery, OnStar with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, the 8-in Buick IntelliLink touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an 8-speaker sound system.

The Preferred ($36,100) only gains a power-adjustable steering wheel, satellite radio and a cargo net in the trunk, which seems odd given its hefty price bump over the base model.

The Essence ($38,700) is a little easier to justify, with its adaptive headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, leather upholstery, heated front seats, driver memory settings and wireless smartphone charging. The Driver Confidence 1 package adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning systems.

The Premium ($41,100) trim adds ventilated and massaging front seats, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, a self-parking system, the Driver Confidence 1 package and a suite of other accident-avoidance tech, including forward-collision and lane-departure warning and intervention systems. The Premium alone is available with all-wheel drive.

Two additional optional packages are available on the Essence and Premium trims. The Sights and Sounds package adds a navigation system and a premium Bose sound system. The Dynamic Drive package adds 20-in wheels and adaptive suspension dampers, plus an upgraded suspension design for front-wheel-drive models.

Safety

Every 2017 LaCrosse comes equipped with stability control, front airbags, front and rear side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, front knee airbags and a rearview camera. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems are optional on the Essence trim and standard on the Premium. A forward-collision warning and automatic braking system along with a lane-departure warning and automatic steering-assist system are standard on the Premium.

The government gave the LaCrosse perfect 5-star ratings in every crash category. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the LaCrosse the best-possible rating of Good in its moderate-overlap front and side crash tests. The rest of the IIHS crash tests have yet to be conducted at the time of this writing.

Behind the Wheel

The LaCrosse provides truly impressive comfort and isolation to its occupants courtesy of the plush suspension tuning and a multitude of sound-deadening measures. Its precise steering is also pleasingly low in effort and in general, this big Buick is easy to drive.

And yet, it's also not some loafing land yacht of yesteryear. It boasts a sophisticated suspension that maintains composure around corners, and should you opt for the Dynamic Drive package (highly recommended), the included 20-in wheels and adaptive suspension dampers provide an almost shocking amount of agility given the degree of comfort that continues to be provided. Like some of the very best luxury sedans, a so-equipped LaCrosse has the ability to be both comfortable when milling about yet surprisingly sharp when you want to pick up the pace. Its strong V6 engine scores additional points in its favor.

We're also generally fans of the LaCrosse's interior, which possesses a higher quality and a more appealing design than you'll find in other Buick models. It is genuinely luxurious. The standard IntelliLink touchscreen is also more user-friendly than most tech interfaces. Unfortunately, back-seat comfort may be reduced for some due to the somewhat low seating position.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Lexus ES 350 -- For some, comparing a Buick to a Lexus may seem nonsensical, but the LaCrosse is so good we think anyone interested in an ES 350 should consider both. As such, anyone interested in the LaCrosse should also consider Lexus' popular comfort-first luxury sedan.

2017 Lincoln MKZ -- Revised for 2017, the MKZ offers updated styling and a new, more powerful engine that the LaCrosse does not have an answer for. Nevertheless, these two cars are similar in price, size and driving experience.

2017 Toyota Avalon -- The Avalon is arguably the strongest full-size sedan and, like the LaCrosse, does a pretty solid impression of a luxury sedan as well. It's also enjoyed superior reliability throughout its history.

Used Cadillac CTS -- This midsize Cadillac boasts sharp styling, a luxurious and spacious cabin, and genuinely sharp driving dynamics. It costs more than the LaCrosse, though, so you'll likely be looking at a used version.

Autotrader's Advice

It's hard to see how the Preferred trim manages to be $4,000 more than the base model, so we'd skip that. Otherwise, we would recommend most shoppers consider that value-rich base model -- there's really nothing about it that says "entry-level." However, if you're looking to the LaCrosse as more of a luxury sedan, opting for the Essence trim level and its Dynamic Drive package is highly recommended.

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New 2017 Buick LaCrosse Premium AWD
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New 2017 Buick LaCrosse Essence
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New 2017 Buick LaCrosse Essence
New 2017 Buick LaCrosse
MSRP $43,725
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New 2017 Buick LaCrosse Essence
New 2017 Buick LaCrosse
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Buick LaCrosse: New Car Review - Autotrader