2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist followup review: Watching the gas gauge again

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist

In our first review of the 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, we found it a quiet, comfortable and smooth riding, fuel efficient sedan. In other words, what one would expect from Buick of late.

To wit, Buick’s “Quiet Tuning” technology is more than a marketing gimmick, and the suspension is competent and controlled though not that of a sport sedan, which would likely lack the smoothness of the LaCrosse.

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist grille

The 2012 Buick LaCrosse sports its own version of the Buick family "waterfall" grille. (click to enlarge)

Buick didn’t skimp on design or luxury touches in the LaCrosse either. The exterior is handsome and nicely integrates the Buick “waterfall grille.” Our other CarBuzzard reviewer took issue with the glued-on Buick Ventiports and called for their dismissal. The Ventiports, little faux vents Buick has applied to the hoods or fenders of its vehicles for going on sixty years, are a Buick tradition, however.  Could a Buick design really abandon them and stay a Buck design?

The interior is, in a word, classy. The wraparound contours are accented with genuine stitching and soft touch surfaces abound. The seats are wide and cushy, with generous elbow and leg room. The eight-inch color display for the standard audio system is beautiful, with clear details and a full spectrum of colors for its standard functions, which include AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 with seven speakers standard. Our test LaCrosse, however, had the $600 optional Harman/Kardon audio package with 11 speakers and 384 watts power.

 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist interior

The 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist interior is soft touch and has stitched panels on the dash. (click to enlarge)

Unlike our earlier test vehicle, however, the LaCrosse tested for this test did not have the optional navigation system. However the standard equipment OnStar (free for the first six months) includes turn-by-turn navigation. This system involves a person at the other end of the OnStar line. You tell the OnStar operator where you want to go and he (in our case) programs directions to that destination into the onboard OnStar system. Then the typical disembodied voice announces turn by turn and an arrow is displayed on the info center between the tachometer and speedometer. It works, but there’s no map and you can’t program the system yourself, as with a traditional (already “traditional”?)navigation system, and it’s annoying to ask a stranger every time you need directions.

As with the earlier tested LaCrosse eAssist, as well as the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco recently reviewed, our test vehicle was powered by the eAssist system that includes a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric boost motor. We found the sensory elements—OK, the sounds—to be very similar to those of the Malibu Eco, which should be expected, and ditto the acceleration.

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist engine

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist engine (click to enlarge)

The lure of eAssist , of course, is fuel economy, and we were particularly interested to see how this test of the 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist compared with our earlier reviews of the LaCrosse eAssist as well as the Malibu Eco. Cutting, as they say, to the chase:

As we’ve noted before, hilly terrain plays havoc with fuel economy, especially steep hills with stop signs at the bottom that soak up all the kinetic energy the car built up during the climb. We’ll note, too, that we recorded 32 mpg at highway speeds. No doubt if our highway speeds were equal to those of the EPA, we might actually achieved the EPA estimated 36 mpg highway fuel economy.  For the record, the EPA says city mpg for the 2012 Buick Lacrosse eAssist is 25 mpg city and 29 mpg combined.

And that, of course, while being Buick quiet, comfortable and smooth riding.

2012 Buick LaCross eAssist window sticker

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist (click to enlarge)

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist (click to enlarge)

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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