2017 Buick LaCrosse Is America’s Azera

Buick wants to turn a new page with their 2017 LaCrosse flagship sedan that was unveiled today at the LA Auto Show, but can it succeed?

The tri-shield brand tells us that the LaCrosse was “influenced by the dramatic cues” of the Buick Avenir Concept from the 2015 Detroit auto show, which is true to some degree, but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired, as it lacks the dynamic appeal of the study.

Unfortunately, Buick doesn’t seem to be interested at this point in creating a true flagship with a production version of the larger and more imposing Avenir.

“We have no plans to bring that in,” Buick chief Duncan Aldred said of the Avenir to Autonews. “We’re absolutely delighted with the LaCrosse being the flagship.”

Frankly, the front of the LaCrosse gives the impression of a bloated Opel Astra, while the profile with it’s so-called “sweepspear” design that adds a slightly more pronounced shoulder line above the rear wheel seems like a forced attempt at giving the car some character.

It’s as if GM had Opel designers turn a Chevy Impala into a Buick rival for Hyundai’s Azera, though, if you ask Buick, you’ll get a very different response.

“The new LaCrosse is drop-dead gorgeous and signals the next phase of Buick’s international momentum,” says Aldred. “Its quietness, comfort and connectivity were developed to set new standards in the segment, supported by technologies not offered on competitors such as the Lexus ES.”

The interior doesn’t stray too far away from GM’s current design standards, with Buick employing plenty of leather and decorative wood accents throughout. The dashboard is fairly uncluttered with a frameless 8-inch-diagonal color touchscreen located at the center console.

Moving away from the styling that can be subjective, the 2017 LaCrosse rides on GM’s new global midsize platform that uses lighter high-strength steels to shed 300 pounds (136kg) over its predecessor. New features include a five-link rear suspension, as well as available a HiPer Strut front suspension and an electronically controlled Continuous Damping Control active suspension.

It has a similar footprint to the outgoing model, as it’s only 0.6 inches (15mm) longer, 0.4 inches (10mm) wider and 1.6 inches (40mm) taller, but Buick has shortened both overhangs, pushing the wheels closer to the bumpers.

While Buick was expected to add at least one turbocharged unit, the new LaCrosse will be offered exclusively with a 3.6-liter V6 at launch. It belongs to GM’s second generation of DOHC V6 engine family and incorporates Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) and Stop/Start technology, producing 305hp and 268 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to a new eight-speed automatic transmission that drives the front or optionally, all four wheels via Buick’s first twin-clutch AWD system.

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