BUICK RESHAPES ITS MIDSIZE LINEUP WITH 2005 LaCROSSE
Buick is reshaping its midsize passenger car lineup with a new premium sedan - the 2005 LaCrosse - with a totally new look, a powerful new engine and notably improved ride and handling.
Mark D. Hines, marketing director for Buick's midsize cars, said the new model is so changed compared with Regal and Century, the sedans it replaces, that a new name is appropriate. The name LaCrosse has been associated with Buick since it appeared on a concept model in 2000.
The 2005 LaCrosse, introduced at the 2004 Chicago Auto Show, will go on sale in dealer showrooms in the fall of 2004.
LaCrosse, featuring an all-new exterior and interior design, marks a renewed emphasis on Buick passenger cars after the division focused its attention on creating a new market presence in trucks.
"At Buick, we decided to dramatically widen our customer base into trucks and so we brought out the Rendezvous crossover for 2002, the Rainier SUV for 2004 and the Terraza crossover sport van for 2005," said Hines. "In each case, we have offered refined vehicles that reflect Buick's traditional strengths.
"But Buick has been successful for 100 years primarily because it has produced great passenger cars - and LaCrosse is the first of a new lineup of cars that will demonstrate how we are going to build on our strengths as we move into our second century," he said.
"Our cars will be more powerful than ever. They will be quieter than our competition. They will be beautiful and elegant. And they will feature ride and handling that is smooth and at the same time agile and responsive."
Buick's officials have said the future lineup - forecast to be split evenly between cars and truck-based models - could include a new full-size sedan, a rear-wheel-drive flagship sedan and an elegant convertible. Details on future models will be announced later.
LaCrosse is assembled at GM's assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, which has been recognized in a major independent study as being at the very top in quality.
"LaCrosse is a very important model for Buick," said Hines. "Not only does it set the stage for renewal of our entire car line, but it replaces two models - Regal and Century - that account for almost half of Buick car sales. LaCrosse represents four key attributes that Buick will continue to emphasize: smooth power, elegant design, expertly crafted interiors and a comfortable yet responsive ride."
Here are some of LaCrosse's key attributes, starting with power:
New V-6 engine delivers 240 horsepower:
LaCrosse debuts in three versions - the well-equipped CX, elegantly appointed CXL and performance-oriented CXS - with two engine choices.
Standard in the CXS is a new aluminum engine, the 3.6L V-6 VVT (variable valve timing), that delivers an estimated 240 horsepower and 230 lb.-ft. of torque and estimated fuel economy of 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. One of a new generation of "high feature" General Motors powerplants, this premium engine has dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Its fully variable intake and exhaust valve timing achieves outstanding flexibility, delivering 90 percent of the engine's peak torque where it is most useful, between 1600 rpm and 6000 rpm.
The result is an engine that "delivers impressive power across a wide range of driving conditions, while being extremely smooth and quiet," said Tim Cyrus, global V-6 chief engineer for GM Powertrain. This is the first North American application of the sophisticated global V-6 in a front-drive sedan.
The other LaCrosse versions, CX and CXL, are powered by one of the most renowned engines in GM's lineup, the 3.8L 3800 V-6, now in Series III form. The award-winning 3800, generating an estimated 200 horsepower and 225 lb.-ft. of torque, has long been a favorite of Buick owners in the flagship Park Avenue, full-size LeSabre and midsize Regal. Among its upgrades is an electronic throttle control, which improves engine response and fuel efficiency while reducing complexity, as well as structural upgrades for quieter operation. Estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.
More agile ride and handling:
Extensive refinements have been engineered into LaCrosse's architecture to enhance overall ride and handling. The suspension tuning is 80 percent new, compared with Regal. Other improvements include rebound damper bumpers that are four times longer for improved cushioning; retuned power steering systems for improved response and more precise on-center feel at higher speeds; and a new aluminum engine cradle and mounting system for quieter and smoother powertrain performance. LaCrosse also has a new four-wheel-disc braking system that is larger and more durable. The result is an agile car with confident road-holding ability that is equally as comfortable on challenging mountain roads as it is on a desert freeway.
Wheel sizes are increased by an inch to 16 inches on CX and CXL, compared with Regal, and to 17 inches on the performance-oriented CXS. LaCrosse has higher performance, lower aspect ratio tires with a specially formulated tread pattern and three levels of traction control including GM's StabiliTrak stability enhancement system - a first for a midsize Buick.
The standard suspension's springs are about 20 percent stiffer than before, and there are higher rate front and rear stabilizers for improved roll resistance and a quieter, smoother ride. A Gran Touring suspension, standard on CXS, has even larger stabilizer bars and more controlled handling characteristics.
'QuietTuning' for new levels of quietness:
Significant emphasis was placed on Buick's goal of providing best-in-class quietness. This initiative, called "QuietTuning,"' is an all-encompassing approach to reduce unwanted noise and vibration levels even further throughout the entire body structure.
Specific examples include the use of:
Exterior design: sleek and elegant
- Acoustical laminate on windshield and front side glass.
- Quiet Steel laminate on the front-of-dash body area.
- Expanded baffles in the roof pillars to block noise paths.
- Extensive use of melt-on sound deadener throughout the entire lower body structure.
- A sound-absorbing interior carpet backing and additional headliner pad coverage.
- Specifically designed acoustical engine covers and revised exhaust tuning to reduce high-frequency noise.
- A hood insulator pad.
- A sound-absorbing layer under the instrument panel top pad and rear parcel shelf.
- Minimized body panel gaps, additional foam inserts and redesigned seals and gaskets to further reduce wind noise.
LaCrosse's designers, creating a totally new exterior, sculpted a sleek shape that gives the new model a strong front appearance and an elegant and dramatic presence from any angle. Notable features include a larger, more modern rendition of Buick's elliptical, vertical-bar grille framed by four headlamps and sculpted forms in the hood directly above the headlamps that sweep back toward the windshield.
Precision body panel fits and a tight fender-to-tire relationship underscore LaCrosse's high quality engineering and its agile appearance. Chrome accents and the jewel-like design of the headlamps and taillamps reinforce LaCrosse's premium positioning.
Interior design: highly crafted comfort and six-passenger convenience
Buick's focus on creating a highly crafted, attention-to-detail appearance is reflected in LaCrosse's interior. Its clean, ergonomic design makes use of high-quality soft-touch materials, as well as tasteful chrome and woodgrain accents. The overall effect is an environment that is elegant and comfortable. LaCrosse also has more rear legroom than previous midsize Buicks, thanks to a 1.5-inch increase in wheelbase. Front and rear hip room is also increased.
LaCrosse is available in either a five- or six-passenger configuration. Five-passenger models are equipped with a wide center armrest with deep storage area and console-mounted gearshift lever. Six-passenger models feature a "flip and fold" seatback cushion that can be converted into a spacious center console/armrest with large storage bin. The shift lever in six-passenger models is mounted on the steering column.
"For those who need the extra passenger space, LaCrosse's six-passenger configuration is another significant competitive advantage over the import competition," said Hines.
While LaCrosse CX has cloth seats, the CXL and CXS have premium leather seat surfaces sewn in a "gathered stitch" French seam pattern for durability and an elegant appearance.
New safety and security features:
In addition to the all-new four-wheel-disc brake system, key safety and security features that are standard on LaCrosse include:
- A new front dual-stage air bag system for enhanced out-of-position passenger protection.
- A stronger "safety cage" structure including the new full-perimeter aluminum engine cradle designed to direct impact forces away from passengers.
- GM's OnStar driver assistance and navigation system, including a one-year subscription to its "Safe & Sound" plan.
- PASSLock III theft deterrent system with engine immobilizer.
New optional safety/security features include:
- Side curtain air bags that deploy from the roof rail down to the vehicle's beltline. v
- GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control system.
- Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist that detects objects behind the vehicle and sounds a warning when the vehicle is being backed up.
- Factory-installed remote starting system - a first for any Buick car -- with a range of up to 500 feet and an automatic ventilation control feature.
- Premium features throughout
Other standard features in keeping with LaCrosse's position as a premium sedan include remote keyless entry, a power driver's seat, automatic programmable power door locks with lockout protection, power windows with express-down driver's window, six-speaker stereo radio with CD player and full interior illumination with delayed entry/exit lighting and theater-style dimming.
Among options are a power sliding sunroof, heated seats, steering-wheel-mounted audio and climate controls and stereo system upgrades including in-dash six-disc CD changer, MP3 player, Concert Sound III and XM Satellite Radio (continental U.S. only).
Story by Buick