$5,190 - $6,208

2009 Buick LaCrosse Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Buick LaCrosse was new.


Performance: 7.3

The Buick LaCrosse offers a pleasingly smooth ride, but its handling is loose enough to elicit many reviewer complaints. Of its two available engines, the V6 model lacks the power to move the car well, but the V8 offers enough thrust to pass on the highway with little effort. All models come with the same four-speed automatic transmission -- which is a missed opportunity for Buick. GM has competitive five- and six-speed automatics in its other midsize cars, which save gas. The LaCrosse lags the pack in fuel economy, mostly because GM chose to leave this car out when it updated the rest of its lineup with more efficient transmissions.

  • "Like its LeSabre and Century predecessors, the 2009 Buick LaCrosse was engineered to offer an agreeable balance between a supple ride and confident handling." -- Edmunds
  • "I wasn't driving the LaCrosse Super like a sports car, but rather like the powerful sedan that it's pitched to be. The engine was up for the challenge, but the suspension wasn't. All of that power is packed into the front wheels, instead of the rear ones, and that limits performance." -- Detroit News
  • "Driving enthusiasts will probably not find much to like outside of the stable ride and adequate cornering ability." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The 3.8-liter V6 that powers CX and CXL LaCrosse models leaves a lot of reviewers disappointed, lacking true highway passing power. It manages an EPA rating of 17/28 mpg city/highway. The 5.3-liter V8 in the Super LaCrosse is a different story, offering enough power to overtake other cars easily and a brisk leap off of the line at stoplights, but only a 16/24 mpg rating.

  • "Although noisy and unrefined for this class, the standard V6 in CX and CXL models offers a pleasing blend of performance and fuel economy. Asphalt-burners will want to slide behind the wheel of the V8-powered Super, which leaps when the throttle is booted." -- Edmunds
  • "The 3.8-liter engine provides brisk takeoffs but lacks passing power. The transmission is generally smooth but requires a deep stab of the throttle to downshift for passing punch." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Super's 5.3-liter, 300-horsepower V-8 delivers a jolt of energy leaving the light or pulling out to pass, a vast improvement over LaCrosse's standard V-6 pair for those who live by the theory that you never have too much horsepower." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "Both engines work with a 4-speed automatic transmission, although a more modern 5-speed unit would be preferred." -- Orlando Sentinel

Handling and Braking

The 2009 Buick LaCrosse is tuned for comfort, with a smooth ride that absorbs bumps with little drama. But that same gentle tuning leaves it less than nimble. Many reviewers complain of numb steering and a large turning radius. The brakes seem to please most reviewers, though a few note that they don't perform as well when wet.

  • "Compared to more maneuverable and borderline-nimble entries like the Honda Accord and Pontiac G8, the LaCrosse's handling capabilities leave much to be desired. The more firmly sprung LaCrosse Super is a step in the right direction, but the other models exhibit excessive body roll and generally numb steering." -- Edmunds
  •  -"The steering feels overassisted in CXL but is otherwise direct and fairly responsive. Those models also exhibit notable body lean in turns and tend to noseplow in aggressive cornering." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The LaCrosse feels confident at all speeds and, though it won't appeal to driving enthusiasts, most people will find the car's precise steering and well-controlled suspension quite satisfying." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Its 198-inch body rolled through the bumps quietly, but the ride felt soft and squishy. On city streets, the car's body rolled heavily in turns and swayed back and forth when accelerating quickly or braking hard." -- Detroit News

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