Buick uses its Quiet Tuning program to reduce, tune out, absorb, cover up and mask noise sources all through the car.
Interior quality and appearance are enhanced by reducing the number of individual trim pieces, which makes everything fit better and gives the cabin a richer, higher grade look.
Optional features upgrade this car to a cut above, making for a truly complete, safe, all-weather family car.
Rear-seat legroom is generous, thanks to a relatively long wheelbase of 110 inches.
The center stack is finished a mica-flecked flat black, with a trip computer and driver information system that's easy to put through its menu.
Among them are a remote starting system that will work from up to 500 feet away, OnStar, XM Satellite Radio, and StabiliTrak; if we were ordering a LaCrosse, we would add all of these excellent systems.
Buick's Quiet Tuning has made LaCrosse one of the quietest cars in the class.
However, the information panel is so glossy that it's hard to read in early morning or late afternoon light.
It's all very nicely presented, and relatively sporty looking.
My 6-foot, 4-inch frame can sit behind a 6-foot, 4-inch driver with plenty of room to spare.
Quiet Tuning uses specially engineered parts and adds sound insulation in the engine, on the firewall, under the toeboard, inside the wheel wells and in the roof.
The Buick LaCrosse features a roomy, comfortable cabin with a general look of quality.
The entire dashboard is decorated with a very good imitation woodgrain.
The instruments and controls are white on black, and each of the three round dials is wringed in chrome and set into a deeply tunneled instrument panel.
The standard front bucket seats, clad in leather in the CXL and CXS, feature a new type of stitching, and newly developed silk-impregnated vinyl on the seat side panels emulates the look and feel of leather.
All three LaCrosse models come with a four-speed automatic transmission.
As mentioned, the LaCrosse handles quite well.
Both of the available V6 engines have been tuned to give a nice, healthy growl on full throttle, but disappear into the background in high-gear cruising.
For the most part, the LaCrosse rides smoothly, though we admit being a little disappointed in the ride quality on L.A.'s Interstate 405.
StabiliTrak includes a traction-control function and also improves driver control during emergency or evasive maneuvers.
The newer 3.6-liter V6 that comes on the CXS revs more freely and produces more power despite its smaller size: 240 horsepower at 6000 rpm.
The standard 3.8-liter engine that comes on the CX and CXL is smooth and quiet and is rated to get 29 miles per gallon on the highway.
Three different traction control systems are offered: CX and CXL versions use a speed-based setup that works with engine torque and fuel cutoff.
We found the CSX more sporty to drive on winding roads in Northern Michigan.
A thoroughly modern engine, the 3.6-liter features all-aluminum construction, double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder with continuously variable valve timing, and electronic throttle control.
Even when squealing around curves, we found it maintained good composure, not losing its poise the way older American sedans tend to do.
Here, the LaCrosse suffered some vibration and the ride quality wasn't nearly as smooth as we think a Buick should be.
In short, it could do all the things shown in the Buick commercials.
It has terrific body roll control, meaning it's not bouncing and yawing around when pushed harder on rural roads.
It offered good transient response, meaning it could change directions quickly in hard left-right-left maneuvers.
It works flawlessly.
It's a bumpy section of one of the busiest freeways in the world that really tests a smooth ride.
It's a gutsy V6 that generates strong torque, meaning you get good acceleration performance without having to rev it up much.
It's rated at 200 horsepower at 5200 rpm, and 230 pound-feet of torque at 4000.
Its torque curve is also flatter, peaking with 225 pound-feet at 2000 rpm, but delivering 90 percent of that peak between 1500 and 6000 rpm.
Mash the gas pedal and she goes.
The commercials showing the pair of matching Buicks doing pirouettes might be pushing it a bit, but the LaCrosse CXS does indeed handle far better than we would have guessed and responds quite well to hard driving though most buyers probably won't drive like that.
The CXS comes with GM's full-range electronic traction control, which also selectively applies the brakes at one or more wheels as needed to restore traction.
The CXS gets a special Gran Touring suspension with stiffer front and rear stabilizers, as well as Magnasteer electric power steering.
The grip from the tires is tenacious.
The optional StabiliTrak suspension package comes with more sophisticated Magnasteer II power steering.
The steering has the same good feel and turn-in power as in the other Lacrosse models, but the ratio is quicker.
The steering is quite precise, really biting into the pavement when you want to turn.
The suspension used in the CX and CXS is about 20 percent stiffer than in the old Regal or Century, with larger stabilizer bars, so the LaCrosse handles better than those cars.
This helps eliminate front wheelspin when accelerating on slippery surfaces, providing more stable control.
This is an older cast-iron V6, but it's been thoroughly upgraded internally to reduce mechanical noise and features electronic throttle control.
This is perhaps a trade-off of the responsive handling.
We highly recommend getting the optional Stabili.
We later pushed one of these cars hard on some tight, bumpy canyon roads outside Los Angeles and found it handles quite well.
What that means is that you've always got good, strong power on tap in any situation.
To improve crash safety and reduce noise, Buick used generous amounts of expensive, high-strength steel, a magnesium cross beam behind the instrument panel, another cross beam behind the rear seats, steel reinforcements in the rocker panels, an interlocking door latch system, high-strength steel door beams, a double-thick Quiet Steel floor pan and firewall, and structural foam in the front fenders.
Construction quality looks good.
CX models can be identified by a grained, graphite-color finish on the rocker panels underneath the doors, while this panel is body color on CXL and CXS.
A single, slender chrome spear decorates the doors.
A tiny third side window behind the C-pillar adds some visual interest, while at the rear, a discernible dent in the decklid ties the taillamps together and recalls the more adventurous surface development that characterized Buicks of the early 1960s.
And LaCrosse's headlamps are said to be 35-percent brighter.
Body, door, and fender gaps on the LaCrosse are all noticeably smaller than on the previous Regal and Century models.
LaCrosse is unmistakably a Buick, with its trademark vertical-bar waterfall grille, long nose, long slopes and simple body curves.
Otherwise, the base CX has almost no decoration at all, beyond the bolt-on faux alloy covers for its 16-inch steel wheels.
XM Satellite Radio shares a single antenna with the standard OnStar system.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Jim McCraw filed this report from Pellston, Michigan, with Mitch McCullough reporting from Los Angeles.
Buick's long tradition of fine sedans is well-served and continued by the LaCrosse.
It's a quiet car that impressed us with its steering precision and handling crispness.
The interior has been given extra attention and that has paid off handsomely.