Few models have done more to change the image of a brand than the big Buick LaCrosse. Along with the Enclave SUV, the sedan marked a critical turning point for the General Motors marque which, many had come to expect, wouldn’t survive GM’s 2009 bankruptcy.
The LaCrosse injected Buick with a healthy dose of youthful style and showed that it actually understood that it was possible to deliver a bit of sporty performance without completely abandoning the quite, “boulevard” ride that once made Buick a star in the near-luxury market segment.
We’ve seen Buick roll out updates to the Enclave and several other key models but the debut of the new 2014 LaCrosse at the New York Auto Show – where it’s also previewing the updated Regal – could prove a critical moment for the marque.
“We evolved the interior and exterior design, increased luxury amenities and materials, and enhanced the safety and personal technologies to give customers more reasons than ever to rediscover Buick,” said Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of Buick Marketing.
The exterior changes include new front and rear styling that features wing-shape LED daytime running lamps and LED wraparound tail lamps. The new front fascia is matched with a sculpted hood and features more prominent waterfall grill.
The interior revisions of the 2014 Buick LaCrosse include new seats, upgraded materials, a redesigned central instrument panel and console – and an all-new, available Ultra Luxury Interior Package.
Like the 2014 Regal, the new LaCrosse also will get Buick’s next-generation IntelliLink infotainment system. The color touch screen is designed to be easier to operate with intuitive controls for easier navigation. You can “swipe” your finger across the screen, for example, much like with today’s smartphones. And the system also accesses a number of smartphone apps. That helped Buick engineers trim the number of buttons needed to control the system from 17 to just seven.
Dual-zone climate controls also feature capacitive-touch operation and are framed in chrome.
Buick is also adding an extensive suite of radar- and camera-based safety systems, including blind spot alert, lane change alert, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, rear cross traffic alert and automatic collision preparation, as well as active cruise control.
The new LaCrosse also becomes the first model outside the Cadillac line-up to adopt the haptic seat technology first introduced on the Caddy ATS and XTS models last year. The seat vibrates indicating the direction of a potential crash threat picked up by those various safety sensors.
The 2014 Buick LaCrosse is offered in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models and offers two powertrains: a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter engine with an eAssist “mild” hybrid, or a 304-hp 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 mated to a six-speed transmission.
In addition, active grille shutters are included on every model. They close at highway speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag and improve fuel economy. The maker hasn’t released EPA mileage numbers yet, but expects to improve the figures for last year’s models.
The new 2014 LaCrosse will be offered with 18 and 19-inch wheels and, for the first time, 20s. LaCrosse is also available with an advanced Haldex all-wheel-drive system with electronic limited slip differential (eLSD) that automatically decides how to distribute torque based on vehicle speed, throttle position and individual wheel slip.
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