I’m a huge fan of Buick and love that we get to drive them on some of our family travel adventures. People think that I own one, at least that happens to be the case on social media. It appears that there’s a bunch of Instagram Buick lovers as well and it’s fun to see enthusiasts join us on our journey.
Our most recent Buick adventure was in the dead of winter in New England and we got it all: snow, ice, damp air and below zero temperatures every night. We decided to go with the LaCrosse 2016 model, which includes a boat load of bells and whistles, including one of my favorites: heated seats. It’s not as if heated seats are a unique feature in the luxury car category, but not all of them warm up quickly – not the case with Buick. Within a few minutes, our bottoms were toasty warm.
While everyone who has either grown up in the Northeast or spent a lot of time there knows, it can be biting in February between the slush and wind chill that sends shivers up and down your spine. It was around 30 degrees or so a few days before we flew into JFK and on the tails of a major snowstorm, which thankfully we missed. As we made our way off the Delta Airlines ramp and felt the gust of wind chill our bones, we knew it was going to be a rough week. Let’s just say that Buick made it better — yes, really.
We picked up the LaCrosse just outside the airport and one of the things we noticed right away, was how quickly the car heated up. Not only were the seats cozy and warm, but within minutes the interior of the car was homey fairly quickly.
The Ritz Carlton Westchester bell hop team sent our LaCrosse into a warm garage on the first night so her engine didn’t have to endure those rough temperatures. You laugh of course, but those of you who are car nerds know, your car quickly becomes part of the family, at least it does for me. I have always named my cars and they somehow take on a personality of their own, just like my iRobot Roomba Rocky already has as he zips around the house cleaning our floors.
Our white LaCrosse which still didn’t have a name, blended right into the snowy background as we made our way out of New York and into rural Connecticut where we spent a very cold night in Pomfret, a small village that hasn’t changed much since it was founded in 1713. In fact, there was a lot of gleam and shine all around, brought out by a cold and clear blue sky against a winter sun.
Shine extended into urban areas as well with the LaCrosse – it’s a statement car. We think it’s a solid, reliable buy in the luxury car category with loads of comfort, safety and technology built in. I remember when Anthony was zipping around in his black Camaro a couple years back and while it may have given him a bit of an ego boost from driving it, it was as uncomfortable to drive as it was sitting in the passenger seat.
Not the case with the full-sized Buick LaCrosse, which is as comfy as the Buick Enclave, another model we tested out, which isn’t quite as good on gas mileage as the LaCrosse. That said, we’d highly recommend the Buick Enclave as a great family buy – it performed flawlessly last summer when we took it to the Adirondacks for a l’il adventure.
Smart Technology at the Helm
Inside, advanced technology takes over. The new Apple Car Play seamlessly integrates your smartphone with Buick IntelliLink and we took full advantage of the 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot powered by OnStar. From the main menu, you have several choices, including Hands-Free Calling, Turn by Turn Directions, On Star Info, Virtual Advisor and Wifi Settings. The wifi is so simple to set up and yet we made it more complicated than it needed to be. In other words, we somehow figured it would be a long drawn out process to enable and it literally took seconds once we clicked on wifi settings from the main menu to access the code to get our laptops up and running. And, it worked seamlessly.
Voila – our SSID and our password!! We were quickly up and running, which was great for me in the passenger seat. The connection was also fast enough for me to quickly and easily upload photos onto our server — in fact, I’d argue that it was faster than our Comcast service at home.
You can play your favorite music through the Bose premium speakers (Bravo Buick) or connect your smartphone to access contacts, music, and more directions through Buick IntelliLink using just your voice. We tested it out on two different occasions, once during rough weather and once when it was sunny and clear out, just to see if weather impacted the performance. In both cases, the access and performance was equal and it was fun to discover new experiences and access new music we normally don’t listen to.
The LaCrosse has eAssist technology which helps to conserve fuel and their All-Wheel Drive helps you stay in control while in the rain, sleet and snow — we had all three during our trip and can honestly say – two thumbs up!
Buick IntelliLink also has an eight-inch-diagonal touch screen that can be easily customized to house your frequently used features. YAY for better natural language voice recognition technology than we’ve experienced in cars in the past — you can make call or play music using commands. Our LaCrosse model had both Pandora and SiriusXM Radio, which Anthony became addicted to by the end of our trip. While I was raving about the heated seats that warmed me up in just a few minutes, he went on (and on) about Pandora and SiriusXM Radio access, which works poorly on our smart phones when we’re on the road.
Apparently Apple Car Play is brand new for their 2016 models. Essentially you use it inside the car to connect your smartphone with Buick IntelliLink (see above). It seamlessly integrates applications such as navigation, hands-free text messaging, contact lists and entertainment apps for news or music onto the eight-inch-diagonal IntelliLink radio display.
The feature we used quite a bit was the built in IntelliLink with Navigation and the real-time NavTraffic data and directions help. While it wasn’t necessary on this particular trip, you can save favorite routes and destinations as well. All of this is accessible using voice commands, which is a godsend when you’re navigating other things or trying to juggle kids needs in the back seat.
Aside from cool tech, the LaCrosse has eight way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats, dual-zone climate control (essential for Anthony and I since he’s always hot and I’m always cold), an E-Z key passive entry system, inside rear view auto-dimming mirror with memory settings (wish I had this on my car at home), HiPer Strut front suspension, outside heated power adjusted mirrors with LED indicators (another “great” in the Northeast during winter months), heated steering wheel (OH YES), a remote vehicle starter system, another godsend for colder months, HID Headlamps and Fog Lamps (oh so lovely on those early cold mornings).
The headlamps and fog lamps are optional, but a great feature. The HID (high-intensity-discharge) xenon headlamps are brighter than traditional headlamps and swivel left or right in the direction you want to turn. Fog lamps illuminate your path in low-visibility, a huge benefit if you travel in rural areas early morning or late night, which we did on this particular trip.
The Buick LaCrosse also comes with a standard six month trial subscription to OnStar. OnStar Basic Plan, available for five years beginning with vehicle delivery, offers OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics, Dealer Maintenance Notification and access to RemoteLink Key Fob Services to remotely start, lock/unlock your vehicle and activate your horn and lights from anywhere. For any woman driving solo, especially with kids in the car, these features bring peace of mind.
Then, there are features I think are essentials for a luxury family car. Safety, safety, safety….
Safety Alert Seat: when a collision avoidance technology like Lane Departure Warning triggers an alert, the Safety Alert Seat issues a warning of its own. The front, left or right seat bolster gently vibrates to signal the direction of the approaching hazard, so you can stay aware of your surroundings without having to take your eyes off the road.
Side Blind Zone Alert: this nifty add-on issues a visual warning when a vehicle enters your blind zone. When you’re changing lanes, Lane Change Alert uses radar to help watch for and warn you of vehicles approaching from behind. I love this!
Rear Cross Traffic Alert: When you’re backing out of a parking space, Rear Cross Traffic Alert technology uses radar to detect vehicles approaching your car and alerts you within 65 feet of either side.
Lane Departure Warning: Their Lane Departure Warning technology provides an audible and visual alert should you drift out of your lane when you haven’t activated a turn signal. It’s there to help you to stay the course, instead of straying into someone else’s.
Forward Collision Alert: Its Forward Collision Alert technology helps to prevent frontal crashes by sensing when you are approaching a vehicle in front of you too quickly, and alerts you with both an audible and visual warning.
Front Automatic Breaking: This feature senses when a crash is imminent and then can automatically brake to help you reduce crash damage or help avoid colliding with the vehicle ahead in some low speed situations.
There’s also the EZ Key Passive Entry System, which automatically senses your approach, unlocks your doors and turns on the interior lights, all without your needing to remove your key fob from a pocket or purse. Note that the entry system is not automatic since you DO need to touch the button on the door handle, however it does lock when you walk away from the vehicle.
Rear Parking Assist: while Buick considers this a technology benefit and add-on, hands down, it’s one of my favorite safety features. It detects the distance between your back bumper and objects within eight feet behind it, and then beeps to indicate how close you’re getting. Available Rear Vision Camera shows you live images of what’s behind you on the eight-inch-diagonal Color Touch Radio screen and user-friendly guides help you better navigate while backing up. Oh so cool – love love love this!!!! This is a must have if you live in a city like we do.
I also love the rear vision cameras and universal home remote features, which definitely fall under safety. They are a must have for women who drive unknown roads alone. Note that not all the features listed here are automatics in the basic LaCrosse but can be added on as you wish. See how cool it was to use Rear Parking Assist to view the New England winter countryside after fresh fallen snow. (taken on an iPhone so the quality isn’t top notch)
Ahhh Yes Performance
Sports Mode Selectivity: Their ever so awesome Sport Mode is built into the gearshift for a more responsive and enhanced driving experience. Sport Mode heightens suspension and steering feel and holds transmission shift points for a more assertive feel. In addition, continuously variable real-time damping provides a smoother ride.
An Engine that Roars….Quietly: the LaCrosse has a powerful E85-capable V6 VVT engine with an impressive 304 hp, which is standard on the LaCrosse 1SB and 1SL models. Also, available with the 2.4L ECOTEC 4-cylinder engine, the innovative eAssist Engine Technology helps achieve an EPA-estimated 36 mpg highway, which means great gas mileage for those longer hauls.
All Wheel Drive: as noted above, this is great at maintaining control during bad weather conditions, such as rain, sleet or snow. The intelligent system constantly monitors traction and sends power to wheels with the most grip. Their electronic limited-slip differential allows torque to be split between the rear wheels for even more safety and security.
All Things Luxury Interior
First of all, the car just feels luxurious, inside and out. Inside, the leather heated seats and spaciousness are prevalent: the dashboard, the easy to navigate screens, the gorgeous paneling and the clean natural lines in its design throughout.
Heads Up Display: rather than take your eyes off the road, the innovative Head-Up Display projects information onto the driver’s-side windshield. Lots of built in safety in this car, another reason I find it a fabulous family buy. You can customize the display to instantly access various kinds of vehicle data such as speed or radio settings, compass bearing, temperature or directions.
We talked about the heated and eight-way power adjustable front passenger and driver seats already but did I mention the massive room in the front and back seats, making it one of the most comfortable cars to drive? It’s spacious, making every drive feel that much more luxurious. Also, their Ultra Luxury Package includes real Tamo-ash wood trim, ebony accents, moon roof, seats made of supple, sangria-hued leather and an ultra suede headliner. Sweet!
Their QuietTuning Technology works to block and absorb outside noise and vibration, which means not only driving with extreme comfort and space, but enjoying a quiet ride as well. I LOVE this feature.
One of these days, we’ll test out the Buick Cascada convertible (they make them in my favorite blue with tons of other great color choices as well), a more viable option during warmer months and when we don’t have two kids in tow.
Two thumbs up for the Buick LaCrosse!! More information on specs, features and prices can be found at http://www.buick.com/lacrosse-full-size-luxury-sedan.html and other model choices at http://www.buick.com/.