Sometimes you have to go to Hell and back to put a car through its paces. Hell, Michigan, in this case, a damned cute little town about an hour west of Detroit, where we could test the mettel of the 2010 Buick LaCrosse.
If the name of this new sedan brings a sense of déjà vu, well, think again. As we discovered during our drive, this is a very different car than the old LaCrosse, and it suggests that Buick, one of the four surviving marques at a post-bankruptcy General Motors, is becoming a very different brand.
Long and low, with a muscular hood and a surprisingly short trunk lid, the 2010 midsize entry was inspired by the Invicta and Riviera show cars, both of which first debuted behind the old Bamboo Curtain. While Buick continues to struggle here in the States, it is one of the most popular brands in China, and the designs developed for that surprisingly picky market will strongly influence the products the brand rolls out here, going forward.
As part of its American turnaround, Buick is moving a bit more up-market, but rather than becoming another Cadillac, the GM brand has taken aim at the Japanese luxury brand Lexus – which, in many ways, has become what Buick might have been. That means stylish, but not necessarily cutting edge design, plenty of high-tech features, and driving characteristics that are dynamic, but put a bit more emphasis on comfort than performance.