Styling, and a sense of quality throughout the cabin helped draw many owners to the LaCrossse.
The Buick LaCrosse launched in its last full generation for model-year 2010, initially with the name Allure, and shortly after, LaCrosse, which brought the model in line with its global marketing efforts. In French Canada, the word “LaCrosse” is a rather puerile slang, hence the initial use of the name “Allure”.
Anyhow. As a large sedan, the LaCrosse competed with the likes of the Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima and Lincoln MKS / Ford Taurus, as well as other large, affordable luxury cruisers, with an eye for quiet comfort, spaciousness, and a taste of a world-class motoring experience without the world-class pricetag.
Depending on the year and model selected, the LaCrosse offered up such exclusive features as push-button start, a Head-Up Display (HUD), magnetic suspension dampers, hard-drive audio storage, ventilated seats and a rear-window sunscreen. Premium audio systems and Buick’s Quiet Tuning implements were also on board. Look for adaptive headlights, dual-zone climate control, climate-controlled seats, a rear-seat DVD entertainment console, and more.
From 2014 and on, a facelift updated and improved the look of both LaCrosse’s body and cabin.
Look for a 3.6L V6 engine with 280 horsepower before 2012 and 303 horsepower from 2012 and onwards. All-wheel drive (AWD) is available in select newer used models. LaCrosse was also available with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine, good for 182 horsepower, or a 3.0L V6 with 255 hp, depending on the year. A lightly electrified model with GM’s light-hybrid eAssist system and the four-cylinder engine was available from 2012. Note that with a five-year, 160,000 kilometre powertrain warranty, newer used units with remaining coverage will be fairly common in the marketplace.
What Owners Like
Many owners report a pleasing blend of power and efficiency, a comfortable and quiet ride, a spacious cabin, and a stable and planted driving dynamic. Feature content for the price, and the confidence of the LaCrosse’s OnStar system were highly rated as well. Further, styling, and a sense of quality throughout the cabin helped draw many owners to the LaCrossse.
What Owners Dislike
Owners of eAssist models complain of reduced trunk space, thanks to the system’s on-board battery, and some drivers wish for more cabin storage, and a more logical layout to some of the controls and ergonomics.
The Test Drive
Many owners of this generation of LaCrosse taking to the internet to share their experiences report few, if any, issues. Still, some owners have had more serious problems with their great big Buicks, so shoppers are advised to make some specific and general checks of a used unit, for maximum peace of mind.
First and foremost, shop carefully for a model with the 3.6L V6 engine. Numerous well-documented reports of things like oil consumption and bad timing chains proliferate in owner forums of various GM models with this engine, and in particular, direct-injected versions thereof.
It’s unclear exactly when these issues were corrected, though some discussions say newer versions of the powerplant are likely a safer bet, perhaps after the engine was updated from 2012. In any case, protect yourself with any extended warranty coverage that may be available, and shop for a model with as much factory warranty remaining as possible. Note that key trouble signs with this powerplant include certain engine trouble codes relating to a misfire, and hesitation or difficulty starting.
Further into ownership, any trouble signs, warning lights, oil-consumption issues and the like should be brought to your GM dealer’s attention and documented, before the powertrain warranty expires, which may make obtaining warranty coverage easier if needed.
Run the navigation, touchscreen and audio system through its paces on your test drive, trying all functions, several times, and ensuring each works as expected. Some owners have reported issues with spastic navigation systems, sporadic operation of the audio system, and other electronic issues around these systems. In most cases, a software reflash, or a new vehicle battery, fixes the issue.
If you notice any error messages in the instrument cluster referencing an error with the ESP or StabiliTrak systems, the likely culprit is a bad wheel-speed sensor. The sensor itself is a relatively inexpensive part, but it’s built into the wheel hub, and the entire assembly needs to be replaced. Many owners have had luck getting this issue addressed under warranty. Here’s some more reading.
Next up, scrutinize the LaCrosse’s steering feel. Turn the wheel fully while parked, and do some sharp steering at lower speeds in an empty parking lot, too. Any clunks, or a notchy feel to the steering action, are a sign to have the steering system investigated further.
If the LaCrosse you’re considering has the Adaptive Front Lighting (AFL) system, be on the lookout for any flickering of the lights, and any warning messages in the instrument cluster. Be sure to test drive the car with the headlights set to “on”, not “auto”; the lights won’t activate or potentially trip any warning indicators if set to “auto” during a daytime test drive. Here’s some more reading. And a little more. The likely culprit, if issues are detected, are a weak battery, or a problem with electrical system grounding. Here’s a bit more reading on problems caused, potentially, by bad electrical grounds.
Finally, here’s some reading on premature water pump failure. Water pump replacement isn’t as pricey a job as it is in some competitors, but will still run you a few hundred dollars. Coolant puddles beneath the car, or signs of a coolant leak down the side of the engine, are warning signs that the water pump on the LaCrosse you’re considering is on its way out. If the vehicle you’re considering is running towards the end of its powertrain warranty, be sure to have the water pump inspected for signs of leakage. Here’s some more reading.
Most LaCrosse owners report few – if any – issues with their rides, and most problems that are reported should be easy to detect on a test drive, and relatively easy to address at a GM service centre. With the possibility of timing gear issues and premature water pump failure, this is a good model to consider for an add-on powertrain warranty, if available.
Here’s a list of recalls.
Crash Test Ratings
IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2014)
NHTSA: 5/5 Stars