2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS

“Isn’t that the one that looks like a Lexus?” One of the most pleasantly surprising things to happen of late is the 2010 LaCrosse.

“Isn’t that the one that looks like a Lexus?”

One of the most pleasantly surprising things to happen of late is the 2010 LaCrosse. That’s because it really is a good ar. A car for which no apologies are required. It is quiet. Has a smooth rid. The steering is light but responsive. The fit and finish inside and out are exemplary. The throttle response is that which you’d expect from a comfortable front-wheel-drive car that weighs 4,065 lb. and has a 3.6-liter V6 (with variable valve timing and direct injection for a stickered fuel economy of 17/27 mpg, though as Driven we were closer to the first than the last) that produces 280 hp: its reasonable, not neck-snapping.

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And yes, from the side, it does look like a Lexus, as one of my non-automotive-oriented colleagues remarked to me when I mentioned the car. He, evidently, had seen the TV ad where there’s some digital morphing of one car out of the other. But the Lexus EX350 isn’t the only car that the LaCrosse wants to compete with: the Acura TL, Toyota Avalon, Lincoln MKZ, and Toyota Camry are in the competitive set, as well. And of those cars, I’d have to say that the Avalon (which, when it was made available in 1995 as a replacement for the Cressida, was openly described by Toyota people as a competitor to Buick) may be the closest, especially when you look at exterior specs:

LaCrosse/Avalon

Wheelbase: 111.7 in./111 in.

Length: 197 in./197.6 in.

Width: 73.1 in./72.8 in.

Height: 59.2 in./58.5 in.

While you might think that given the slightly more generous proportions of the LaCrosse that it would be roomier, but that’s not the case, as it has an EPA passenger volume of 101.7-cu. ft., and the Avalon has a much roomier 106.9-cu. ft. What’s more, the LaCrosse CXS has an EPA cargo volume of 12.8-cu. ft. compared with the Avalon’s 14.4-cu. ft. (and while the CXS has the smallest cargo volume of the three trim levels, the 13.3-cu. ft. EPA cargo volume of the CX and CXL models are still less than the Avalon).

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What’s notable about this is that the LaCrosse interior was styled in China, where Buicks have quite a ritzy reputation. One would imagine that they would have eked out more interior room for whomever is rolling in the car.

And if I have quibbles about the car, they are primarily in the interior. For example, consider the door pull in almost any car that you can imagine. It is a somewhat rectangular slot in the top of the arm rest, right? Well, in the LaCrosse, it is a slot on the side of the arm rest. That’s right: you stick your hand into a slot and then pull. I find it to be ergonomically awkward. Another thing is that the is a truncated arm rest in the center console, as with two admittedly good cup holders taking up the space where one might imagine one’s arm resting. The driver’s and front passenger’s seats on the CXS are leather, heated and ventilated. But there is a seam running right down the middle of the seat back, which is not particularly comfortable. It looks nice, but you’ve got to sit there.

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Still, the LaCrosse is a car that just might catch the fancy of a younger generation, someone who might find not buying a Toyota (or Lexus) product a sign of rebellion. (And I never thought that I would have the words “Buick” and “rebellion” in the same sentence.) The vehicle as driven has an MSRP of $33,015 and an additional destination charge of $750. It had three options: a Harman/Kardon audio system/navigation/backup camera for $1,995; a capacious power sunroof for $995; Red Jewel tintcoat paint, $325.

Don’t get me started on the faux Ventiports on the hood, however. . . .

Selected specs:

Engine: 3/6-liter V6 with variable valve timing and direct injection

Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed

Horsepower: 280 @ 6,300 rpm

Torque: 259 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm

Length: 197 in.

Wheelbase: 111.7 in.

Width: 73.1 in.

Height: 59.2 in.

Fuel economy (mpg): 17 city; 27 highway

MSRP: $33,015 (plus $750 destination charge)