2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist
You’ve heard the saying, “every little bit helps.” And, these days that is definitely the case, especially when it comes to fuel economy. Well, Buick has added some mpg’s to their beautiful LaCrosse sedan with GM’s eAssist light hybrid system. So, let’s see if a little “electrification” goes a long way.
Now in its third year, the mid-size Buick LaCrosse could certainly use a jolt of interest, and the 2012 LaCrosse with eAssist might just be the spark it needs. It is a modest spark however, with just 15-killowatts of power coming from a small belt-driven motor-generator attached to a direct-injection 2.4-liter Ecotec I4 engine. It adds 15-horsepower and 79 pound feet of torque to the Ecotec’s 182-horsepower and 172 pound feet of torque.
This light hybrid concept is not new, as it’s been kicking around GM since the Saturn Greenline series, and more recently in the Chevrolet Malibu. It has been updated though, and now stores power in lithium-ion batteries located in the trunk, which cuts storage space down to 10.9-cubic feet. Nearly seamless regenerative braking helps keep the batteries topped off.
Little has changed to the LaCrosse’s luxurious and well designed interior, except for a new ECO gauge in the twin-pod I.P.
When it was new for 2010, the LaCrosse set the benchmark for premium sedan interiors. The modern elegance of the wrap-around theme includes a flowing center stack, attractive wood grain, and exposed stitching. But, the dash can also be a knee basher when getting in and out. Front seats are wide and comfortable, and available with heat and ventilation. The back seats aren’t quite as comfy, but rear leg room is good.
An optional 11-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system supplies plenty of decibels. The infotainment system is a bit overwhelming at first with its mix of touch-screen and buttons, but well-designed steering wheel controls help a lot.
Without a doubt the LaCrosse loves long distance touring. So, hard drive Navigation, Head-up display, and Side Blind Zone Alert are useful options, as is a back-up camera, for parking.
The eAssist system is not designed to drive the front wheels alone. But, with its automatic start-stop function, it does allow the gas engine to shut down at stops and when coasting down, yet re-start almost instantaneously. It is one of the smoothest idle stop systems out there.
And speaking of smooth, when it comes to styling, the LaCrosse is about as silky as it gets. All of the traditional Buick elements are in place, from the waterfall grille to the now hood-mounted portholes. It’s a classy look, spiced up with optional HID’s, a high belt-line, carefully used chrome trim, LED tail lights, and 17-inch alloy wheels wearing high mileage tires. Underbody aerodynamics have been improved, and electronically controlled grille shutters optimize wind resistance.
But, eAssist is no barnstormer. Our LaCrosse lumbered off the line, reaching 60 in 8.7-seconds. That’s over a second slower than the V6 LaCrosse, but 4-tenths quicker than the previous I4. Indeed it felt peppier than times indicated. Thankfully, there’s a true 6-speed automatic transmission, and not a CVT. It provides smooth but slow shifts on our way to the end of the ¼ mile in 16.8-seconds at 84 miles-per-hour. Coming to a halt from 60 was equally smooth, as well as stable with a good average stopping distance of 125-feet, courtesy of all-disc ABS brakes
The Lacrosse was the first modern Buick sedan to value both ride and handling. It glides down the highway but never wallows; despite some early under steer, cornering measures up well for a mid-size sedan with luxury intentions. Buick’s impressive HiPer Strut setup is not available with eAssist, still, the traditional strut front and four-link rear suspension keeps the LaCrosse solid and composed. Weight transfers well, but steering is heavy without much feel.
But, the LaCrosse eAssist is mostly about better fuel economy. So, what are those Government Fuel Economy Ratings? Well, they’re almost 40% better than the V6 LaCrosse, and 25% better than the outgoing 4-cylinder as well, coming in at 25-City, 36-Highway. We averaged 29.1 miles-per-gallon of Regular in mixed driving without effort. A much better than average Energy Impact Score is just 11.4-barrels of oil consumed per year, while emitting just 5.1 annual tons of CO2.
But eAssist doesn’t seriously jack up the prices so payback comes quickly; in fact, eAssist is now the base LaCrosse coming in at $31,030.
While we were already big fans of the Buick LaCrosse, the addition of eAssist has made us even more so. It offers help where most of us need it most… in our wallets, by providing additional fuel economy without a lot of additional cost. Power hungry buyers can always opt for the V6. As for us, we’ll choose the eAssist, as a little electrification indeed goes a long way.
- Engine: 2.4-liter Ecotec I4
- Horsepower: 182
- Torque: 172 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 8.7 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 16.8 seconds @ 84 mph
- EPA: 25 mpg city/ 36 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 5.1 tons/yr
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT
It’s An SUV On A Track, Deal With It
When we started testing cars 43-years ago, hot rod SUVs like this Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT were not on our radar. Back in those days, utility vehicles were trucks and Porsches were cars. But times have changed, and the only place to make sense of it all is at a racetrack, so hop in and join us for some high-performance haulin’.
Now, most would say the high-performance SUV is a relatively new phenomenon, but we’ve been testing them for over 30-years now, going back to the GMC Typhoon. If you don’t remember that one, we’d suggest Googling it, purely for the nostalgia of it, as this 2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is on a totally different level.
This SUV is an SUV in shape only, as a lot of its hardware as well as the driving experience are much more akin to a pure sports car… ah la the 911.
Starting with the Coupe version of Porsche’s largest SUV, which benefits from a mid-cycle styling refresh for ’24, the Turbo GT adds a carbon-fiber roof, big wing with side planes, rear diffuser, and a sport exhaust system with titanium tailpipes.
Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control is also included, making body-roll almost non-existent; and with the help of a new two-valve air suspension setup it was all traction all the time through the high-speed turns of Savannah’s Roebling Road Raceway. Though unlike last gen, if you’re aggressive enough with the throttle, you can get the rear to step out on you a little. Rear-axle steering is also included and the best praise we could heap on steering feel and feedback through corners is that it feels like a Porsche.
Tires are also wider than before: 315/35 Pirelli P Zeros in back, mounted on 22-inch GT Design wheels. The brakes behind are comprised of enormous carbon-ceramic composite discs with monster yellow calipers…
…and they truly were impressive on track, hauling this 5,000-pound, luxury-minded performance utility down from triple-digit speeds lap after lap without wavering.
This SUV is an SUV in shape only, as a lot of its hardware as well as the driving experience are much more akin to a pure sports car... ah la the 911.
Equally impressive is the powerplant that initiates those high speeds, Porsche’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 which cranks out 19 horsepower over last year for a total of 650; torque output remains the same, at 626 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is standard, as is an 8-speed automatic trans, which helps the Turbo GT get up to speed in a hurry; 3.1-seconds to 60, to be exact. That’s a couple of tenths slower than the first-gen Turbo GT we tested 2 years ago, but we’ll chalk that up to testing that one on a well-prepped drag strip versus this trip down Roebling Road’s slippery front straightaway on a 40-degree day. And it gained time back quickly, as our 11.3-second quarter-mile time was only a tenth slower, finishing at 124 mph.
Other notable changes for ’24 include a new dash and control layout for the interior. The highlight is a new 12.6-inch curved digital gauge display; it’s joined by a central touchscreen that sits higher up and is nestled into the dash more than before.
No more actual shifter in the console, as it’s been replaced with Porsche’s toggle switch gear sector which resides on the dash to the left of the touchscreen. That means a new console layout with additional storage space and new controls. While none of that helps lower lap times, it all provides a much more useful and better overall environment than before, for that time spent behind the wheel commuting or just sitting in traffic.
Front and rear seats are comfortable yet sporty feeling; and while it does do a lot of SUV-like things pretty well, the coupe body shape does limit rear cargo capacity to 20.3 cubic feet, expanding to 52.4 with rear seatbacks folded; and the central-mounted exhaust does negate adding a tow hitch.
No matter how you look at it, the Cayenne Turbo GT is an insane vehicle, but it also comes with an insane price tag, starting at $197,950. So essentially, that’s six-figures worth of high-performance hardware jammed into an already impressively capable standard Cayenne… an SUV made much better with comprehensive updates front to back for all ’24 Porsche Cayennes.
It easily remains the standard bearer for luxury-minded utility vehicles, evidenced by recently earning our Drivers’ Choice Award for Best Luxury Utility. But it’s this 2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT that really impresses the most as the ultimate track-focused SUV money can buy. You may not need it, but you know you want it!
- Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8
- Horsepower: 650
- 0-60 mph: 3.1-seconds
- Starting Price: $197,950
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 625 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 11.3-seconds at 124 mph