Full-size sedans may not be very popular anymore, but that shouldn’t be held against the 2019 Buick LaCrosse. Not only is it substantially better than the vehicle it replaced two years ago (let alone the forgettable big Buick sedans from years prior), it’s legitimately a strong competitor to anything else in the segment. That’s still the case despite two of those competitors — the Toyota Avalon and the Lexus ES — receiving impressive redesigns this year.
Now, the LaCrosse counters with only a new Sport Touring trim that just adds some sporty design flourishes to the mid-grade Essence trim. That’s OK, though, as this full-size sedan maintains its quiet, unassuming competence. Its pampering ride, hushed cabin and easy-going driving efforts should be exactly what traditional full-size sedan buyers are looking for, but its mechanical sophistication, ample in-car tech and compelling styling should go above and beyond for those who might’ve previously dismissed a big Buick as an "old man’s car."
So, if you’re among those still keen on full-size sedans, you’re in luck because the LaCrosse is a good choice to have. Of course, so are the Avalon, the ES and the Lincoln MKZ. Test driving them all is recommended, and when it comes time to try the LaCrosse, make sure to sample different trim levels, engines and one with the Dynamic Drive package, as you may prefer one variation more than another.
What’s New for 2019?
A new Sport Touring trim level debuts, adding a blacked out grille, special 19-in wheels and other exterior trim details. It comes standard with the V6 engine.
What We Like
Plush ride; high-quality cabin; easy-to-use tech; a powerful and efficient V6; surprisingly agile with the Dynamic Drive package
What We Don’t
Excessive price jump from base trim level; accident avoidance tech only on top trim levels; the seats may be mounted too low for some
The LaCrosse comes standard with a mild-hybrid powertrain known as eAssist. It consists of a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine connected to front-wheel drive, a 6-speed automatic, an electric motor and a battery pack replenished through the engine and regenerative braking. Output is a modest 194 horsepower and 187 lb-ft of torque, but fuel economy is estimated to be 25 miles per gallon in the city, 35 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg in combined driving. This falls well short of an Avalon Hybrid, but it’s still excellent for a large sedan.
A 3.6-liter V6 is standard on the LaCrosse Avenir and Sport Touring, and it’s optional on all others apart from the base trim level. It produces 310 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque. A 9-speed automatic is standard and is paired with standard FWD. All-wheel drive can be added to the Premium, the Essence and the Avenir. Fuel economy is still quite good given all that power at 20 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined. Opting for AWD lowers those estimates by one mpg.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Buick LaCrosse is available in base, Preferred, Sport Touring, Essence, Premium and Avenir trim levels. AWD is an option on the upper three trims.
The base trim ($29,570) comes very well-equipped with 18-in wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglamps, rear parking sensors, a backup camera, proximity entry and push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way power front seats, simulated leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, OnStar emergency communications, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, an 8-in touchscreen interface, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio and an 8-speaker sound system. Note that you can only get this trim in black or white.
The Preferred ($33,670) only gains a power-adjustable steering wheel and a cargo net in the trunk, which seems odd given its hefty price bump over the base model. You do gain access to more color choices, but only for an extra charge.
The Sport Touring ($39,370) adds special 19-in wheels, black accented exterior trim, adaptive headlights, a driver-side auto-dimming mirror, leather upholstery, heated front seats, driver memory settings and wireless smartphone charging.
The Essence ($36,370) is equipped similarly as the Sport Touring but reverts to the base styling, wheels and engine. Available on both the Sport Touring and the Essence, the optional Driver Confidence 1 package adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning systems.
The Premium ($38,670) trim adds ventilated and massaging front seats, a heated steering wheel, an ionizing air cleaner, a head-up display, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist and the Driver Confidence 1 package.
The Sport Touring, the Essence and the Premium are eligible for a pair of packages. The Sights and Sounds package adds a navigation system, HD Radio and an 11-speaker premium Bose sound system. The Sun and Shade package adds a panoramic sunroof and a power rear sunshade.
The Avenir ($44,870) adds the V6 standard, 19-in wheels, different exterior trim, upgraded interior materials and the above options packages.
Available on the Essence, the Premium and the Avenir, the Dynamic Drive package adds 20-in wheels and adaptive suspension dampers, plus an upgraded suspension design for FWD models. Note that the V6 engine brings a compact spare tire with it.
Available only on the Premium and the Avenir, the Driver Confidence 2 package adds adaptive cruise control, a self-parking system and forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
Every 2019 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 Sport Touring and Essence trims and standard on the Premium and the Avenir. Forward-collision-warning and lane-keep-assist systems are standard on those trims, which can be upgraded with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking.
The government gave the LaCrosse perfect 5-star ratings in every crash category. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2018 LaCrosse the best possible ratings for crash protection and prevention, but a Poor headlight rating kept it from getting a Top Safety Pick award.
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.
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, and although the base eAssist engine’s fuel economy may appeal to some, we think most will find its power insufficient.
We’re generally fans of the LaCrosse’s interior, which possesses a higher quality and a more appealing design than you’ll find in past 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
2019 Lexus ES 350 — Comparing a Buick to a Lexus may seem nonsensical to some, but the LaCrosse is so good we think anyone interested in an ES 350 should consider both. This large Lexus was completely redesigned for 2019, though, so it may be a tougher decision this year.
2019 Lincoln MKZ — These two cars are similar in price, size and driving experience. They also both come from American brands, which may be important to you. Definitely one to cross-shop.
2019 Toyota Avalon — Completely redesigned for 2019, the Avalon is arguably the full-size sedan to beat. It offers a more dynamic driving experience, a more luxurious interior and greater feature content.
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.
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’d recommend most shoppers consider the value-rich base model — especially if you’re OK with white or black paint, its only color options. 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.