New Car Review: 2013 Buick LaCrosse

Red 2013 Buick LaCrosse on rooftop garage against downtown buildings
The 2013 Buick LaCrosse.

Almost three years ago, we reviewed the then-new Buick LaCrosse and came up with the conclusion that while their advertising was targeting Lexus, the car itself was close in a lot of ways but only won when price got factored in. That Lacrosse was the CXL model and it ended up costing $31,000 and change...which put it nearly 10 grand below a comparably equipped Lexus ES350.

Well, Buick has dumped the direct hit on Lexus from their advertising, and now has five trim levels...LaCrosse (base, which starts at $31,660), Leather ($33,870), Premium I ($35,285), Premium II (also $35,285) and Touring ($39,240). As you'd expect, Touring is loaded...to the point that the only two options on our test car were rear-seat mounted thorax air bags ($350) and the Crystal Red paint ($325). With $875 destination charge, the bottom line shows $40,790.

Since our last drive in a LaCrosse, the V6's power has been increased from 255 horses to 303...a noticeable improvement. And gas mileage has even ticked up a bit...still 17 city, but 26 highway has now become 27.

The extra 9 grand on the price sticker from 2 years ago brings not only the power and fuel economy increases, but 19 inch wheels, all-season tires, a continuously variable chassis with real-time damping and sport mode selectivity and a ton of tech to keep you out of trouble (side blind zone alert and a head-up display).

2013 Buick LaCrosse interior
The 2013 Buick LaCrosse interior.

The interior is stunning...a wonderful mix of colors and shapes....and while the soft bits like the leather and the hard bits like the real wood feel great, the surfaces you'll touch most...the buttons controlling windows, locks, HVAC and audio functions...feel like GM parts bin stuff.  That's not the stinging condemnation it was just a few years ago, but it's not going to compare well with Lexus, either. And that's last year's ES350 we're talking about. There's a new one for 2013 that we'll be in shortly.

At $40,000, far more so than at $31,000, Buick has to get every last detail right to be a no-brainer for people who might otherwise buy Lexus. They're not there yet. But if there were no Lexus, this would be a car in a class of one. That's how far Buick has moved the ball. Let's hope they keep moving it.