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2010 Buick LaCrosse: Not Just For Old People

2010-buick-lacrosse-03.jpgIt’s no secret that General Motors is in need of an image makeover, and the Buick brand especially.  The name has become synonymous with the elderly in recent years.  In fact, the last cool car that Buick came out with could arguably be the GSX from the 70s.  Plus, the fact that their last attempt to make the brand cool involved leveraging the image of Tiger Woods isn’t exactly doing them any favors nowadays.  So, what do we make of a new Buick LaCrosse with sumptuous curves that just might turn the heads of people under 70?The styling of the 2010 Buick LaCrosse is by far the biggest improvement over the previous models.  To say that the old LaCrosse wasn’t all that pretty is about the same as saying that the sun will rise in the east.  Both are such truisms that they no longer need to be pointed out.  But the new LaCrosse is bucking that trend, thanks to joint development between Buick engineers in the United States and one of G.M.’s Chinese design teams.2010-buick-lacrosse-06.jpgThe sweeping roofline definitely takes some cues from other premium car manufacturers, and gives the LaCrosse an aura of speed balanced with gravitas.  The old LaCrosse was a bit bulky and awkward, and while the new model has similar dimensions, it manages to turn that size into an asset.  The wheel arches and quarter panels are no longer bulging lumps, but rather well-cut shoulders.  Those shoulders cover 18-inch wheels on most models of the LaCrosse, but the top-line CXS model gets 19-inchers.The interior has been similarly upgraded.  The new cabin will seat five adults without any problems.  The old LaCrosse was able to accomplish this same feat, but people will actually want to get into the 2010 model.  The leather upholstery is well made and the wood accents gleam.  Those accents wrap around the cabin, creating the illusion of a forward moving cockpit.  And while that’s great for the driver, the backseat gets plenty of love as well.  In fact, with a leg room measurement of 40.5 inches, the LaCrosse is in the upper echelon of the segment when it comes to fitting adults in the back seat, as some premium sedans have measurements as low as 36 inches (we’re looking at you, Lexus ES350).2010-buick-lacrosse-04.jpgOkay, so there’s good looks, a revamped and comfortable interior, and a real chance for the 2010 LaCrosse to re-inspire confidence (and interest) in the Buick badge.  Is there anything wrong?  Yes.  And the problem is under the hood.  Base models will feature a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine, but most will end up with a 3.0-liter V6.  And both of these are woefully inadequate.  The new LaCrosse weighs about 4,000 pounds (depending on trim level), and that’s just too much weight for those engines to push around with any sort of pep.  The engines aren’t bad in and of themselves, and have been great fits in other G.M. models, but this isn’t one of them.  The top-level CXS gets a 3.6-liter V6 that has 280 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque, which is about what you need for the weight of this car.2010-buick-lacrosse-16.jpgAnd the engine lineup is indicative of the big problem the Buick brand, and indeed most all General Motors models, face.  Yes, there are some incredible G.M. cars on the market, but unfortunately most of those models are the top trim level vehicles that deliver the same value as other cars can for less money.  The 2010 Buick LaCrosse is a definitely a big step in the right direction, but its shortcomings only serve to illustrate just how far the brand still has to go.Pictures of the 2010 Buick LaCrosse

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