2015 Buick LaCrosse Premium I Review

Full-size luxury dynamics with mid-size affordability.

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December 5, 2014

2015 Buick LaCrosse Premium I Review

The LaCrosse's interior gives the car a bit of character that its competition lacks.

Intro
When it comes to figuring out the angles for each of GM's brands in the 21st century, your author has always assumed that whereas Cadillac has its luxury infused with a healthy dose of sport, Buick's luxury has always come by itself, independent of any of the 'sporty' things that younger buyers gravitate towards. This isn't entirely true; Buick's more affordable offerings come with some sporting pretensions, such as the manual transmission on the Regal GS. However, it's pretty darn true on the 2015 LaCrosse, Buick's largest car, which is still considered a mid-sizer.

Whereas the Verano and the Regal might be catered to younger buyers in order to bring them to the brand, the LaCrosse is what you buy when you mature a little and want something a little more sedate and responsible, but without losing your soul entirely (when that happens, you buy a Lexus ES). As it stands, the LaCrosse does a good job standing out from the competition by way of a soft, compliant ride that feels like it belongs in a larger (and more expensive) luxury car, and when all is said and done, you can get one for a very competitive price. But it's still not a car that will get younger buyers jumping out of their seats.

2015 Buick LaCrosse Interior The LaCrosse's interior gives the car a bit of character that its competition lacks. The unique sloping look of the dashboard makes us think of Jaguar or Audi rather than Chevrolet, and most of the surfaces make use of pleasant soft-touch materials, although there is still a fair bit of hard plastic in use, especially around the shifter and electronic parking-brake switch.

The controls are arranged sensibly, with HVAC-related switches just below the infotainment screen. We think the touchscreen controls for the temperature and seat-heaters are lovely to look at but a little laggy to respond, which is a complaint we also levied against Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system.

Overall, though, the LaCrosse's interior is a good place to be sitting. The seats are comfortable for humans of all shapes and sizes, the rear seat accommodates adults with ample legroom, and nearly every surface both looks and feels nice. The single blue strip of interior accent lighting gives the car some nighttime character, something that the competition has had trouble mustering up through interior design.
2015 Buick LaCrosse Exterior Buick's designs have always erred on the conservative side, and the LaCrosse is no different. There aren't too many sharp edges or angles on this car, save for the single prominent body line that spans the length of the vehicle, imparting a - dare we say - Bentley-ish look. Otherwise, the car's shape is mostly unremarkable, fitting in nicely with every other mid-size luxury sedan on the road. It won't put you to sleep like a Lexus ES might, and it won't grab your attention like an Acura TLX will, but this segment isn't buying cars with the express purpose of standing out from the crowd.
2015 Buick LaCrosse On the Road Do you like driving atop clouds? Of course you don't; that's impossible. But, if there was something that could mimic that hypothetical feeling, we think it would be the ride inside the 2015 Buick LaCrosse. It's endlessly soft, soaking up bumps and ripples in the pavement without much word to the driver. Roads that felt mediocre at best in our other tester this week, a 2015 Hyundai Sonata, felt smooth as glass in the LaCrosse. This car definitely rides like a more expensive car.

If you like outside noise, don't buy this car; Buick has done an excellent job creating a cabin that isolates unwanted sound as well as any expensive set of noise-canceling headphones. Buick has come out swinging in an arena that Lexus typically dominates without competition.

However, all that luxuriousness comes at a cost, and that cost is any sort of sportiness whatsoever. Sure, the V-6 has 304 horsepower, but unless your foot is buried into the firewall, you won't be able to tell that the car is capable of anything beyond moving with the flow of traffic. That said, it will get going in a hurry, and if you're smart enough to floor it, Buick will reward you with an engine note that's surprisingly exotic. There is no Sport button in this car, no way to tighten up the luxury-loose steering or the sponge-cake throttle mapping; clearly, the car was built for one purpose and one purpose only, a soft ride. And it succeeds with flying colors.
2015 Buick LaCrosse Final Thoughts The LaCrosse has plenty going for it - it's packing a luxurious ride and an interior with more character than the competition for a not-at-all unaffordable price. It does have drawbacks, sure: It might be a little too soft, which might send quasi-enthusiasts towards the Acura TLX; there's a little too much hard plastic for a car that can be optioned up to $50,000; and Buick's IntelliLink (a.k.a. Chevrolet's MyLink, a.k.a. Cadillac's CUE) can be laggy to the point where you'd rather risk using your phone. But those small leaks aren't enough to sink the whole ship.

When you look at other cars in its class, especially the Lexus ES, the LaCrosse stands apart with a fair bit of character that its more staid counterparts lack. Combine that with its silky-smooth on-road demeanor and a cabin that feels positively plush, and you've got yourself the cure for the common Lexus.
2015 Buick LaCrosse Specs & Price Engine: 3.6-liter, direct-injected, naturally-aspirated V-6

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive

Power Output: 304 horsepower / 264 lb-ft

Fuel Economy (mpg): 17 city / 26 highway

Base Price: $40,285

As Tested: $46,765 (incl. $925 destination)

Available Features:

Driver Confidence Package #1: Following-distance sensor, forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, HID headlamps, head-up display, front fog lamps

Driver Confidence Package #2: Adaptive cruise control, automatic braking assistance

Ultra Luxury Package: Semi-Aniline leather seating, real wood trim, leather-wrapped center console and door armrests, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, ultrasuede headliner

Individual Options: Power panoramic moonroof, premium infotainment with navigation, rear-seat entertainment

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