If you're looking for signs that Buick truly has turned over a new leaf look no further than the 2009 Buick LaCrosse. Roundly criticized as being too middle-of-the-road upon its introduction, the 2009 LaCrosse's metamorphosis displays a stylish new look and offers more standard and optional features. The new LaCrosse also boasts the option of a powerful V8 engine, an enticing feature not offered by the segment's leaders. And while it may not be ready to overtake the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry in sales, in the ever-competitive mid-size car game the LaCrosse is ready to move from benchwarmer to first-string. For Buick, it's exactly the direction its products need to be headed.
YOU'LL LIKE THIS CAR IF...
If you're looking for a comfortable family sedan with good power, subtle style and a clean interior, the 2009 Buick LaCrosse should be at the top of your list. The performance-oriented Super trim offers a 300-horsepower V8, a rarity in this class and price range.
YOU MAY NOT LIKE THIS CAR IF...
Though handsome, the LaCrosse breaks no new ground in the areas of styling or interior advancement. Rear-seat headroom is still a bit tight for taller passengers, and driving enthusiasts will probably not find much to like outside of the stable ride and adequate cornering ability.
WHAT'S SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THIS CAR
For 2009, heated side mirrors are made standard on all models, while the CX trim has its wheel covers replaced by 16-inch painted aluminum wheels. Bluetooth hands-free phone communication is now optional across the line. The CSX trim has been discontinued.
The 2009 LaCrosse benefits greatly from a stiffer chassis and a driver-friendly suspension setup. The 3.8-liter V6 in the CX and CXL is a strong performer, but under hard acceleration sounds awfully rowdy. Although fuel consumption does suffer considerably, for a truly spirited driving dynamic, the 300-horsepower, 5.3-liter V8 found in the Super is the engine of choice. The LaCrosse feels confident at all speeds and, though it won't appeal to driving enthusiasts, most people will find the car's precise steering and well-controlled suspension quite satisfying. From the driver's seat, you'll find the gauges and audio controls to be intelligently arranged and well marked for both day and night driving.
OUR FAVORITE FEATURES
The standard factory-installed remote starter lets you start the car from as far away as 195 feet.
Optional heated seats are a welcome feature for those who live in colder climates.
The 2009 Buick LaCrosse's interior shows a continuing evolution toward better quality, design and comfort. The dash and instrument cluster are leaps and bounds above the hard, bland plastics found in Buick's last generation family sedans, and the control knobs show an attention to detail worthy of the Buick name. Firm foam seats are covered in tasteful cloth or optional leather. The LaCrosse is available in six- or five-passenger versions – the former has a column shifter, the latter a console-mounted shifter. It's a shame Buick limits the interior color choices to beige, black and gray; this is one sedan that could really shine with a few bold interior color schemes.
The 2009 Buick LaCrosse's clean, streamlined sheetmetal will offend few. Last year's styling upgrades carry over to this year, touting touches such as chrome mirrors and door pulls that impart a more luxurious appearance. Thin front and rear roof pillars keep blind spots to a minimum, but spotting the sloping hood's leading edge can be difficult. The LaCrosse's large trunk is easily accessible thanks to the low lift-over height, with the trunk's opening being even with the rear bumper. Anyone who's had to lift a set of golf clubs up and over a high-walled trunk will appreciate the LaCrosse's back-friendly design.
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
The 2009 Buick LaCrosse CX trim includes four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), OnStar, side-curtain airbags, factory remote start, XM Satellite Radio, tire pressure monitoring system, Driver Information Center, AM/FM stereo with CD, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-way power driver's seat, telescoping steering wheel with built-in audio controls, heated side mirrors and 16-inch wheels. The CXL adds power driver's lumbar support, leather seats and alloy wheels. The Super model adds a 300-horsepower V8 engine, 18-inch wheels, leather seats with embossed inserts, a rear spoiler, Bilstein shocks and StabiliTrak.
Options vary by trim and include a power sunroof six-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, MP3 audio, Bluetooth hands-free communication, rear spoiler and StabiliTrak stability control (CXS).
UNDER THE HOOD
As the 2009 Buick LaCrosse is not intended to be a sports car, most drivers will find the base engine more than adequate for daily commutes. The Super option, though pricey, delivers 300 horsepower via a 5.3-liter V8 engine equipped with GM's Active Fuel Management System (AFM), which cuts fuel to four of the eight cylinders when less power is required, thus resulting in less fuel consumption. When more power is needed the system returns fuel to all cylinders in a seamless transition undetectable to the driver.
200 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
230 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/28
300 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
323 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24
The base 2009 Buick LaCrosse CX starts around $26,000, while the CXL is nearly $29,000. The sporty Super starts around $34,500 and, when fully loaded, tops out just under $36,500. In order to ensure you get a good deal on your new LaCrosse, before you set out to purchase be sure to arm yourself with the New Car Blue Book Value, which will show the typical transaction price being paid for the LaCrosse in your area. Kelley Blue Book expects the LaCrosse to maintain residual values slightly below those of the Hyundai Sonata V6 and Chrysler 300, and far below those of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima.