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2005 Buick LaCrosse

I’m Getting Too Old For This

     “I’m getting too old for this,” I said.
     “Good, cause I’m assigning you the Buick,” replied Master Chief Dye.
     Yeah, I walked right into that one. Accordingly, I got out my cane, my overcoat, and my bowler hat and strolled out to the garage—at an appropriately adjusted pace. The Cardinal Red Metallic LaCrosse parked there like a mother goose watching the little ones play. I think its BINGO night down at the local VFW hall.
     But forget all that and stand aside Grandpa, because this isn’t your typical Buick. Yeah, it wears the same tri-shield badge as the Park Avenue, but the LaCrosse borders on athletic. Sure the steering could use an ounce more feel and the brake pedal requires a Grandmotherly touch to ensure smooth stops. But underpinning the LaCrosse is a heavily modified version of the late Regal chassis. All moans aside, this is a genuinely new model positioned to replace both the Regal and the Century. Carving corners was surprisingly rewarding with controlled body movements, unlike its predecessors.
     Forward motion is provided by one of two available powerplants. The base CX and the midlevel CXL are powered by a 200hp version of the aging but bulletproof 3.8L V6. CXS models come equipped with the high-feature 3.6L V6. This 240hp mill is basically a detuned version of the powerplant found in the Cadillac CTS. Unfortunately, the only transmission choice is the venerable 4-speed automatic. While it gets the job done, four gears in 2005 is barely adequate. Most competitors are coming to market with 5 and 6 gears. Regardless, our CXS test mule was pretty torquey off the line, but relaxed transmission programming keeps the LaCrosse squarely in the touring class. The car was well suited to the few days we had with inclement weather with the traction control quick to keep things straightened out.
     Style wise the LaCrosse is clean and the shapes are organic in nature. The front end is smooth with a flush oval grille augmented by chrome. Actually, chrome seems to surround just about everything, with bright work applied to the headlamps, bump guards, door handles, window trim and of course, the 17” seven-spoke wheels. It is tasteful however and it’ll make Buick customers giddy with delight. Quad headlamps set the face of this Buick apart from the rest of the line up, the teardrop shaped outside lenses are unique and tasteful. The hood features Jaguar-like curves arching back from the headlights. One neat detail is the small foglamps mounted in the lower grille. They may be small, but they are effective. A slight crease in the aft quarters lends a hint of muscle to the look.
     Clean lines follow through to the inside as well. The center stack is very simple in design, something that is often appealing to customers well along in years. However, the size and close grouping of the buttons made them hard to decipher at the initial glance and even harder to use while wearing gloves. The gauges were easy to read and a pleasure to look at, again encircled with chrome. The seats were flat but comfortable and covered in thick leather. Rear seat room is a little tight but up front there is ample room and I personally found myself to be comfortable behind the wheel. The smooth interior lines were easy on the eyes and textures rich in feel. Everything worked well except the door pull, which is too shallow, but that is being picky.
     In all honesty, we enjoyed having the LaCrosse in our stable. The car was a comfortable cruiser with plenty of trimmings. The options included items such as a convenience package, power sunroof, chrome wheels, Stabilitrack, side-curtain airbags XM radio, heated seats, the chrome appearance package and the oh-so-useful-in-Michigan-winters-remote-start-system. All that totaled up to $4655. Add that onto a $28,335 base price along with destination and delivery charges, and our model rolled out the door for $33,650. Not bad for a premium midsize sedan.
     So where does this leave the LaCrosse in the market? Well, in all honesty, only about mid-pack. This year’s wave of new product has the market in an uproar. Sure the Buick is attractive looking and has a lot to offer, but it will not turn heads like the Chrysler 300 nor can it compete in interior roominess. Individually, the LaCrosse is an impressive addition to an aging line up. Buick hasn’t hit a homerun yet, but with the LaCrosse they finally have someone on base.

The Good:
Attractive styling, comfortable yet controlled (for Buick) ride, factory installed remote start.
The Bad:
Aging transmission.
The Verdict:
An appealing car that remains on the cautious side of styling and dynamics.


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  1. February 18th, 2010 at 20:32 | #1
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