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Buick LaCrosse

2015 Buick LaCrosse 1SL AWD

Base Price: $33,560
Price as tested: $45,315

If upscale without pretentiousness is what you are looking for in a full-size sedan, the Buick LaCrosse fills the bill.

In GM’s pecking order, Buick is its “premium” brand, slotting in between Chevrolet and Cadillac. Oldsmobile and Pontiac used to2015 Buick LaCrosse 1SL AWD crowd into that same area until their demise. Back then finding some daylight between Oldsmobile and Buick was a challenge. Today, Buick’s mission as a luxury alternative is somewhat clearer and more focused. Think of LaCrosse as a high-end sedan for drivers who aren’t comfortable being associated with a luxury marque. Believe it or not, those people exist.

That most people don’t view Buick as a luxury brand doesn’t mean its products don’t deliver a luxury experience. You don’t need to spend much road time in the LaCrosse to appreciate its smooth, quiet, luxurious performance. It’s ride is pliant without being cushy. Its suspension sucks up road imperfections like a sponge; yet, it steers and handles like a smaller car. Its cabin is whisper quiet. This is a top-flight passenger experience.

2015 Buick LaCrosse 1SL AWDThere are four degrees of LaCrosse beginning with its base model. As if to reinforce its premium credentials, Buick arms its $33,560 entry-level LaCrosse with full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated outboard mirrors, power multi-adjustable driver’s seat, rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, eight-inch touchscreen, and a seven-speaker audio system with CD player and iPod interface.

The remaining trim levels build on the base with the Leather, Premium 1 and Premium 2 versions. The LaCrosse Buick dropped off for me to drive for a week was a $39,755 Premium 2. By the time you reach this point on the trim ladder perforated leather seating, heated-ventilated front seats, push-button start/remote start, heated steering wheel, power rear sunshade, an 11-speaker Bose surround-sound system, and OnStar with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot are all standard.

Additionally, my test LaCrosse had $5,560 in options like forward-collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, adaptive head lights, head-up display, adaptive cruise control, and power moonroof.

While LaCrosse’s exterior lines are elegant, its cabin really elevates the total ownership experience. Because China has a decades-long love affair 2015 Buick LaCrossewith the brand, Buick had high hopes for LaCrosse there. In fact, China-based designers penned the LaCrosse’s cabin. It really blurs the thin line between premium and luxury. Its high-end appearance, though, doesn’t interfere with utility or ease of use. Everything is easy to find and operate. The Intellilink interface, available in one form or another across GM’s product lineup, can be a bit frustrating to operate; but practice helps. There is plenty of interior space front and rear. One measurement of a luxury sedan is its rear-seat legroom; here LaCrosse excels. It has five inches more backseat legroom than the Lexus LS460.

Get-up-and-go comes from one of two power sources: a 182-horsepower hybrid setup that’s standard in the base and Leather trims or a 304-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 standard on Premium trims as well as the AWD Leather. I’ve driven both power systems, but my latest LaCrosse had the V6. Providing more than enough thrust, the V6 is quiet and remarkably fuel efficient for a full-size sedan. The EPA estimates it its mileage at 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. Opting for the $1,075 AWD system decreases mileage a little to 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. Hybrid versions only come as front-wheel drive. The EPA numbers are 25 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined.

That there are people out there confused about exactly what Buick represents is no reason to dismiss it. LaCrosse blends comfort, high technology, good looks and a dynamic V6 into up-level packaging that won’t necessarily turn heads, but will be quite at home at the club. And, it does all this for less loot than luxury brands.