When we picked the 2010 Buick LaCrosse as our Drivers’ Choice Best Luxury Car of the Year, we felt this V6 game changer was the first Detroit sedan that could really give Lexus a run for their money. But is that still true for the new four-cylinder LaCrosse? That’s right, a near full-size premium sedan with a standard four-banger! New fuel economy standards just might make this the wave of the future. If the LaCrosse is already there, are we happy about it or not?

The idea of offering a car like the 2010 LaCrosse with a four-cylinder engine will surely turn off some traditional Buick buyers. But that’s not who this car is aimed at. Younger buyers are more likely to be receptive to this fuel economy move as long as the four-cylinder is also responsive. Indeed, the 2.4-liter soon to be standard on both LaCrosse CX and CXL is not just any four-cylinder. At 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque, we praised this twin cam Ecotec’s flexibility in both the Equinox and Terrain crossovers.

Its advanced Direct Fuel Injection system enables a higher compression ratio for both better power and economy. It also reduces cold-start emissions up to 25 percent. Combined will a standard six-speed automatic with manual shift mode, and you have a right to expect some pretty impressive mileage numbers, and they are.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the LaCrosse 2.4 are 19 city and a Class Best 30 highway on regular gas.  We achieved a satisfying 26.8 miles per gallon of regular in real world driving.  The 2.4’s Energy Impact Score is 14.9 barrels of oil consumed per year with an annual Carbon Footprint of 8.1 tons of CO2. So, overall, the LaCrosse 2.4 is about 10% greener than the LaCrosse V6 we tested last fall.

As to the LaCrosse with a V6, the 3.0-liter that was standard will no longer be offered, but the current 280-horsepower 3.6-liter will continue to be an option, standard on the CXS and with all-wheel drive.

Granted, this greener LaCrosse does give up some straight line performance. On the track, it took a long 9.1 seconds from 0 to 60.  That’s a second and a half slower than our V6 test.  The quarter mile was a second back at 16.9, ending at 84 miles per hour. Like most 4-cylinders, this one gets buzzy when really stressed.

There clearly isn’t as much reserve passing power either. Still, around town and during urban commutes, we found the LaCrosse 2.4 to be very acceptable, and were impressed by how much quieter and smoother the engine is here compared to Equinox and Terrain. Buick’s Quiet Tuning really works.

Handling was actually better than we expected. With less weight over the front wheels, the 2.4 LaCrosse displayed a lightness that’s most appealing. Our CX lacked the real time damping and grippier Touring tires of our first LaCrosse test. So, understeer was more pronounced and the variable-effort steering felt less direct. Still, GM’s latest Epsilon chassis does a great job of keeping all four wheels on the same plane.

And in normal driving, the LaCrosse continues to come off as more solid and responsive than its Lexus ES rival, yet it still retains the quiet, plush ride expected of a luxury car. Braking continues to be a fine LaCrosse attribute. Fade free stops from 60 to 0 averaged a concise 120 feet.  That’s even shorter than our V6 test. Again, we credit lighter weight for its good poise, feel solid, and straight tracking.

One more performance note, though not yet available with the 2.4, Buick is also introducing a new HiPer strut suspension.  It decouples front suspension motion from the steering geometry in order to greatly reduce torque steer, and improve bump steer, so both ride and handling are enhanced.

The 4-cylinder LaCrosse CX boasts the same sleek Asian-penned styling as its up-level brethren. From its scimitar blade-shaped headlamps and waterfall grille to its sleek, low-slung profile, the LaCrosse is an eye-catcher.

The same goes for the interior.  Our LaCrosse CX cabin featured elegant door treatments, a twin-pod instrument cluster, cool blue lighting, graceful center console, and fashionable cloth seat fabrics.

This base CX has a nice roster of standards: eight-way power driver’s seat, cruise, automatic climate, satellite radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and one year of OnStar.

Also, as before, the rear seat is very spacious. And with split-fold seating, trunk capacity is more than adequate for most family cargo needs.

Base pricing for the four-cylinder LaCrosse CX is $26,995, or about $900 less than the outgoing CX V6, while the 2.4 LaCrosse CXL starts at $29,805. The new 4-cylinder expands the LaCrosse line’s breadth of efficiency, performance, and cost. Buick expects 25 percent of LaCrosse customers to opt for the 2.4. Moreover, it puts Buick in a position of responsible leadership in its class. And that’s no small thing.



  • Engine: 2.4-Liter Four-Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 182
  • Torque: 172 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 9.1 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 16.9 Seconds @ 84 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 120 Feet
  • EPA: 19 MPG City/ 30 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 26.8 MPG
  • Energy Impact: 14.9 Barrels Oil/Yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 8.1 Tons/Yr