BAY HARBOR, Mich. -- We're scooting along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan on Route 119 out of Bay Harbor to sample the get-up-and-go attitude of Buick's 2015 LaCrosse, a mid-size luxury sedan that splits into four trim editions with two powertrain choices and front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive traction.
Looking oh-so-sharp in a windswept package drawn with taut lines and keen edgework, LaCrosse sports a chrome-crusted waterfall grille and round projector-type headlamps on front corners with wing-shaped LED daytime running lamps plus Buick signature portholes cut into the front hood's dual canted character lines.
The 5-seat passenger compartment appears contemporary and tasteful with form-fitting seats in place and an optional Ultra Luxury Interior Package which applies semi-aniline full leather seats, synthetic suede headliner and genuine Tamo Ash wood trimwork.
LaCrosse's front-wheel-drive platform -- a version of GM's global mid-size architecture formerly called Epsilon -- was designed in Europe and features a wheelbase which extends to 111.7 inches and a wheel track that's wide at 61.7 inches front and 62.0 inches rear.
A fully independent suspension includes MacPherson struts up front and twin-tube dampers with gas-charged valving and a hollow direct-acting stabilizer bar. In the rear, base editions with 17- or 18-inch tires use a 4-link H-arm arrangement for tight wheel control, while models with 19- or 20-inch tires add real-time active dampening and sport mode selectivity.
Brakes include a large disc at every wheel linked to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and a brake assist system (BAS), plus electronic traction control (ETC) and the StabiliTrak electronic stability device.
LaCrosse has two powertrain choices for 2015 issues -- a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine rigged with 'eAssist' battery booster or a forceful 3.6-liter V6 that runs on 87-octane gasoline or E85 ethanol.
LaCrosse's eAssist version teams a thrifty but conventional 2.4-liter 4-cylinder Ecotec engine that sips 87-octane gasoline with a lithium-ion battery system and electric motor-generator to provide power assistance to the gas engine and improve fuel economy numbers.
The aluminum-block 4-cylinder engine, with dual overhead cams (DOHC), direct injection (DI) technology and variable valve timing (VVT), connects to a 6-speed automatic transaxle, GM's Hydra-Matic 6T40.
The lithium-ion battery system and electric motor-generator enable the Ecotec engine to shut off when the vehicle stops but automatically restart when the driver releases the brake pedal. The Ecotec engine also ceases to run temporarily when the vehicle decelerates yet it kicks in again when the driver steps on the go-pedal.
The 115-volt battery contributes approximately 11 kW (15 hp) of electric power assistance and 15 kW of regenerative braking power. Combined output for the Ecotec engine with eAssist equipment amounts to 182 hp at 6700 rpm with torque of 172 lb-ft at 4900 rpm. The estimated fuel economy scores tally to 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.
A DOHC 3.6-liter V6 with DI and VVT applies to LaCrosse's top trim issues. The V6 develops 304 hp at 6800 rpm with torque rising to 264 lb-ft at 5300 rpm. Transaxle is GM's Hydra-Matic 6T70 6-speed automatic with tap-up/tap-down driver shift control. LaCrosse with the V6 aboard earns EPA fuel scores of 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
The front-wheel-drive architecture works for all LaCrosse editions, although there's optional Haldex on-demand electronically controlled all-wheel-drive equipment available for the V6. The V6 AWD version achieves fuel economy numbers of 17/26 mpg (city/highway).
LaCrosse 2015 skews to four issues: Base, Leather, Premium I and Premium II. The V6 is available on all save Base trim, yet it's standard on Premium II. Haldex AWD equipment is available on Leather and Premium I models.
LaCrosse Base edition provides 17-inch alloy wheels, heated and power outside rearview mirrors, a remote keyless entry system and remote start, twin-zone automatic climate controls, cloth upholstery, 8-way power driver seat plus 4-way power lumbar, split-folding rear seatbacks, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera system, Bluetooth connectivity and the Buick IntelliLink 8-inch color touch-screen radio coupled to a 7-speaker premium audio system.
Buick marks the MSRP figures for 2015 LaCrosse models in a range from $33,635 to $40,500.