The 2014 Buick LaCrosse is animated by a 3.6-liter V6. It’s pictured with a metallic Midnight Amethyst exterior color and 20-inch premium painted alloy wheels.(Photo: Provided by Buick)
Let’s be clear, drinking and driving is a bad idea — especially if you are a car. However, toasting one’s interior with shades of sangria is fairly divine — especially if you are a Buick. A new Ultra Luxury Interior package for the full-size LaCrosse adds prestige and pomp to an already great sedan.
If you don’t like the purple-burgundy color of sangria, you’ll think the designers were stumbling drunk when they selected semi-aniline leather seats, dash trim and door panels in that color. I like the hue, and the quality of the leather is above par. I am especially fond of the comfortable, yet supportive seats — heated and cooled up front, tall and supportive in the rear with legroom to impress the Queen.
Ladling on more luxury, there’s liberal application of authentic Shadow Tamo Ash wood and ebony suede for the headliner. A sunroof with rear pane lets in the light.
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All of the craftsmanship accompanies technological wonders. Drivers get a reconfigurable LCD instrument cluster, heads-up display and easy access to the Buick Intellilink infotainment system. Individual touchpads control each front passenger’s temperature. Bose audio streams from Bluetooth-enabled smartphones or USB input.
Related: Buick gives itself a reboot
Despite Buick’s grandma image, LaCrosse is loaded with enough technology to unsettle European automakers. Safety protections include adaptive cruise control with full auto brake, forward-collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, side blind-zone alert and lane-departure warning systems.
LaCrosse already was a beautiful car, with its sweep-spear styling, chrome waterfall grille and long arching roofline. For 2014, stylists gave it a little nip n’ tuck that involved a bolder grille, six portholes repositioned to the sides and updated taillamps (portholes continue to be must-haves on customer surveys).
Casey Williams takes us on a test drive of the 2014 Buick LaCrosse. (Frank Espich/The Star)
Dual rectangular exhaust tips, LED taillamps and 19-inch alloys give it the presence of a well-dressed linebacker. Choose Carbon Black Metallic and tint the windows for a sleek look.
Moving this fashion show is a 304-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. While the throaty exhaust is the perfect tone of aggressive refinement, don’t stomp on the big pedal too hard. Fuel economy is rated just17/26 mpg city/highway.
The big sedan keeps a couple of tricks hid under its skirt. As under Corvettes and Ferraris, Magnetic Ride Control instantly adjusts the suspension and a near-magical transformation from comfortable ride to taming sharp curves and rising crests — better than a car this big has a right to behave. Come off a crest going into a corner and the suspension catches the car and quickly transitions to the next maneuver.
Newly- available all-wheel-drive gives reassurance on the highway and can shove the car through a foot of snow.
If you have not driven (or ridden in) a full-size Buick in years, the LaCrosse will come as a shock. Especially with the Ultra Luxury Package; it has legitimate high-end comfort, technology, stylish sheetmetal and a chassis on par with the world’s best. Settle in with three friends for a thousand-mile drive or sneak away to challenge some menacing two-lanes.
And if sangria isn’t to your taste, pick another color. It will still be a great car.
An as-tested price of $50,060 puts our test car against the Lexus ES, Lincoln MKZ, Chrysler 300 and Hyundai Genesis.
Email your car questions to Indianapolis-based automotive journalist Casey Williams at Media BUICK LaCROSSE
Basics: Five-passenger, AWD sedan.
Powertrain: 304 hp 3.6-liter V6, six-speed automatic transmission.
Suspension f/r: Electronic Ind/Ind.
Wheels: 19-inch/19-inch f/r.
Brakes: Disc/disc fr/rr.
Must-have features: Comfort, technology.
Fuel economy: 17/26 mpg city/hwy.
Assembly: Kansas City, Kan.
Base/as-tested price: $33,535/$50,060.
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