$7,487 - $9,116

2011 Buick LaCrosse Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Buick LaCrosse was new.


Performance: 8.4

In the recent past, Buicks were known as cars best-suited for the right lane. Their ride was a throwback to an earlier time, and they lagged well behind the performance of most modern sedans. All that has changed. Now, test drivers say the LaCrosse is a capable performer. It offers confident acceleration with either of its two available engines, and while it doesn't handle with the sharpness of a sport sedan, reviewers say it handles as well as any family sedan and should easily meet the needs of most drivers.

  • "While gearheads like those on the Autoblog staff are almost always looking for more power and more torque, the reality is that most would-be buyers will likely be completely satisfied with the performance of the four-cylinder LaCrosse. It certainly won't be an embarrassment or rolling roadblock." -- Autoblog
  • "The LaCrosse is no sport sedan, but it's not meant to be one. And as one might expect from a Buick, the car does ride beautifully." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The LaCrosse moves out when pushed, but its capabilities stop short of an all-out sport sedan's - fine by me, seeing as no one ever wanted Buick to build the next BMW." -- Cars.com
  • "The LaCrosse drives as well, if not better than, a [Cadillac] CTS during non-spirited driving." -- Road and Track

Acceleration and Power

The LaCrosse is available with a choice either a four- or six-cylinder engine. A 2.4 liter four-cylinder unit making 182 horsepower drives the front-wheel drive CX and CXL models, while a larger 3.6-liter V6 engine putting out 280 horsepower powers CXL models with all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive CXS editions. Reviewers like both engines. While the four-cylinder offers better fuel economy, a few reviewers say serious power hounds may want to sacrifice gas mileage for power and opt for the V6. However, for most buyers, the four-cylinder offers a nice combination of performance and economy. The only transmission offered is a six-speed automatic. The EPA has not yet tested the 2011 model LaCrosse but gave the similar 2010 LaCrosse a 19/30 mpg rating when equipped with the four-cylinder engine, and 17/27 mpg with the front-wheel drive V6.

  • "The four has enough grunt to allow the LaCrosse to safely merge into freeway traffic. However, on a two-lane road, you might want to wait for a slightly longer straight before attempting a pass than you would with a V6 model. " -- Autoblog
  • "The CXS gets off the mark smoothly, and it hits 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds -- reasonably quick -- but the extra weight doesn't help it in corners and there is the inevitable tendency of a front-drive car to overwhelm the tires and understeer." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "During my test-drive, I liked the larger 3.6-liter V-6. ... It just gave the LaCrosse the gusto I expect in a large sedan." -- Detroit News

Handling and Braking

Buicks have a reputation as ponderous, floaty cars. The 2011 LaCrosse goes a long way toward erasing it. While most reviewers say that the LaCrosse isn’t quite a European sport sedan, they also say that many import buyers who aren't looking for sporty performance would be comfortable with the handling of the LaCrosse.

Still, those looking for a sedan that handles well in tight corners might want to look toward true sport sedans like the Cadillac CTS, or upscale trim levels of sporty family cars, like the Mazda6 Grand Touring edition.

Few reviewers have tested the all-wheel drive available on the CXL edition, making it difficult to evaluate its performance.

  • "While the LaCrosse has ride and handling characteristics that reflect its German engineering heritage, no one could reasonably describe the four-cylinder as a sports sedan." -- Autoblog
  • "Another big change for the LaCrosse is Buick's determination to leave soft and floaty rides behind. The ride is smooth but not too hard or too soft. Baby Bear must have calibrated the real-time active dampening suspension found on the top-of-the-line CXS model because it feels just right." -- Detroit News
  • "The steering has a good balance of feel, weighting and precision." -- Road and Track
  • "The steering wheel turns with Lexus-like smoothness; in parking lots, turning is a two-fingered affair. On curvier roads, handling isn't as razor-sharp as a genuine sport sedan - there's more steering slop and body roll on curvy roads, for example, than in a TL or Infiniti G37 - but Buick fans may find this a step in the more athletic direction." -- Cars.com
  • "The steering of the LaCrosse is direct and the polar opposite of Buicks in the past. A sneeze at freeway speed could cause a lane change if you're not careful." -- AutoWeek

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