The 2019 Buick LaCrosse represents the end of an era. Quiet and comfortable, the 2019 LaCrosse will be the last of Buick’s big sedans, at least for now, as the brand turns its focus to crossover SUVs.
Following a 2017 redesign, the LaCrosse was updated a year later, introducing a mild hybrid powertrain. A new Sport Touring model joins the lineup for the 2019 model year, wearing a black mesh grille, subtle rear spoiler, and 19-inch Midnight Silver wheels. A new air ionizer is standard in the Avenir edition.
Of the six trim levels, four (base 1SV, Preferred, Essence, Premium) are equipped with a mild-hybrid powertrain, which pairs a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor to boost fuel economy, though it cannot be driven on battery power alone. Coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission, the system is rated at 194 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque.
Sport Touring and opulent Avenir versions have a conventional powertrain. The 3.6-liter V-6 engine makes 310 horsepower, mating with a 9-speed automatic. Essence and Premium models can get the V-6 engine as an alternative to the eAssist mild-hybrid system.
Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available for several trim levels.
Although official crash-test data is impressive, Buick makes most active-safety features options. The NHTSA gave the 2019 LaCrosse a five-star overall score, including five stars for frontal and side impacts, as well as for rollover prevention (a calculated figure). Not many vehicles manage five stars in every category.
The IIHS gave the LaCrosse mostly “Good” crash-test scores, except for the more stringent small-overlap test on the passenger side (which has not been rated). The LaCrosse also earned a “Superior” rating, providing the available automatic emergency braking system is installed. Headlights rated “Poor” keep the LaCrosse from earning an IIHS Top Safety Pick award.
Adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are limited to the top Avenir edition, as part of a $1,690 Driver Confidence II option package. Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts are standard on Premium and Avenir levels.
Despite the restrictions on active-safety technology, Buick’s biggest sedan offers sufficient style, refinement, and compelling options to compete against more-costly luxury automobiles.
Prices do not include $925 destination charge.
Base 1SV ($29,570) holds the 2.5-liter eAssist engine with front-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes synthetic leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, power front seats, HID headlights, eight-speaker audio, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Black and white are the only colors available.
Preferred ($33,670) adds a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel and a cargo net.
Essence ($36,370) gets leather-appointed seat trim.
Essence V6 AWD ($41,070) substitutes a V-6 engine and all-wheel drive. Heated front seats and a driver-seat memory are included.
Premium ($38,670) has front-drive with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Included are a heated steering wheel, cooled front seats with lumbar adjustment and massaging, head-up display, forward-collision warnings, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts.
Premium V6 AWD ($43,470) substitutes the 3.6-liter V-6 and all-wheel drive.
Sport Touring V6 FWD ($39,370) comes with a black mesh grille, rear spoiler, and 19-inch wheels.
Avenir V6 ($44,870 with front-drive, $47,070 with all-wheel drive) includes a unique mesh grille, panoramic moonroof, navigation, and wireless smartphone charging.
In style and design, the Buick LaCrosse bears flagship looks. A combination of exterior curves and refined interior help Buick’s biggest sedan stand apart in a crowded category. Design details manage to conceal the sedan’s size: Sweeping headlights, a large grille, and curvy hood soften the front-end look. The rear end is clean and simple, with attractive downward-curving taillights.
Clean and understated, the LaCrosse cabin promises a comfortable experience. Solid fit and finish, greatly improved over the years, is demonstrated by evident attention to detail. Helped by soft-touch materials, the LaCrosse feels classy at every trim level.
Power front seats and convincing synthetic leather give even the base model a luxury aura. Few hints of the sedan’s moderate entry-level price can be seen. Moving up the trim-level scale brings lovely perforated leather.
The sweeping roofline shrinks head and leg room in the rear seat, but there’s enough shoulder room to allow three-abreast seating.
Controls are carefully placed on the nearly-symmetrical dashboard, which centers around a sizable touchscreen for the excellent infotainment system.
Trunk space measures 15 cubic feet (14.3 in 4-cylinder eAssist versions). Nicely-shaped, the trunk benefits from a large opening. Thoughtful in-cabin storage is dominated by a big bin at the base of the center console.
Quiet-running and on the tame side, the LaCrosse delivers a traditional Buick experience. Soft and comfortable overall, the refined sedan delivers a satisfying ride and handles adeptly.
Pushed hard, it can even feel like a performance sedan, but LaCrosse functions best as a sedate premium cruiser with solid driving dynamics. Despite big-car looks, it can maneuver with surprising agility.
Acceleration is strong with V-6 power, even with all seats occupied. Quick steering helps each LaCrosse feel almost athletic, handling well through curves. Ride and handling are best with standard 18-inch tires rather than optional 20-inchers, with their less-flexible sidewalls.
As expected from Buick, sound deadening provides a hushed, nearly cocoon-like experience. Fuel economy is in accord with competitors. The eAssist hybrid powertrain trails full-hybrid systems, EPA-rated at 25/35 mpg City/Highway, or 29 mpg Combined. The V-6 version is EPA-rated at 21/30/24 mpg. All-wheel drive cuts those numbers by 1 mpg in each category.
Attractive styling joins with an extensive standard-equipment list and broad selection of available features to make the Buick LaCrosse worthy of consideration. The Essence trim may be the best value, adding safety features and cabin comforts while keeping the price reasonably low.
Driving impressions by TheCarConnection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.