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LA show: Buick uncovers LaCrosse

Contact sport: The Buick LaCrosse carries design elements from the Avenir concept that made its debut at the Detroit motor show in January.

Buick's new-generation LaCrosse points to possible future Holden models

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Buick logo19 Nov 2015

BUICK ripped the covers off its all-new LaCrosse at the Los Angeles motor show overnight, revealing a large sedan that seemingly ticks most of the boxes for a potential Holden Commodore or Caprice replacement.

As expected, the LaCrosse carries design cues from the striking Avenir concept from this year's Detroit motor show – a car that was designed and built at the GM Australia Design studio in Melbourne.

It is believed that the Port Melbourne-based design and engineering team did not have a direct hand in shaping or developing the LaCrosse, although former Holden design director Andrew Smith, who was GM executive director for Buick and Cadillac design, oversaw the closing stages of the project.

Holden’s senior manager of external communications, Kate Lonsdale, said Holden had nothing to announce about the big sedan.

“The Buick LaCrosse is a stunning vehicle,” she said. “However, Holden have no future product announcements to make in relation to this latest reveal.”

The LaCrosse replaces the five-year-old second-generation version in the United States, while a version of the car could end up wearing Holden badges once the local car-maker shuts its Australian manufacturing operations by the end of 2017, potentially as a Commodore or Caprice replacement.

It is built on GM's global front/all-wheel drive E2XX architecture that will also underpin the next-gen Opel Insignia/Buick Regal, another model that is mooted as a possible Commodore replacement in 2018.

The dimensions of the LaCrosse place it between the VF Commodore and the long-wheelbase Caprice.

At 5017mm long it is 67mm longer than Commodore and 143mm shorter than Caprice, while the 2905mm wheelbase is 10mm shorter than that of the VF and 104mm shorter than Caprice.

Its 1859mm width is 39mm narrower than the Aussie-built pair, while its 1460mm height is about 10mm lower than both of them.

In terms of interior space, the LaCrosse has a little more legroom than the Commodore but can't compete with the Caprice, while headroom in the front and the rear is better in the Australian models.

Buick said in a release that the LaCrosse will compete in its US home market with the likes of the Lexus ES and the Lincoln MKZ. A facelifted version of the latter was also revealed overnight at LA.

The LaCrosse will be offered in both front- and all-wheel drive configurations and is powered by a 3.6-litre V6 delivering 227kW at 6800rpm and 363Nm at 5200rpm, paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy and emissions figures are yet to be released, but the LaCrosse comes standard with idle-stop and Active Fuel Management which deactivates two of the sedan's six cylinders under light-load driving conditions.

Up front, the FWD and AWD LaCrosse uses a MacPherson strut suspension set-up with coil-over-spring while at the rear it uses a new five-link system when matched with 18-inch aluminium wheels. If the FWD is optioned with 20-inch hoops, then it adds Continuous Damping Control to the front and rear.

The use of press-hardened high-strength steels and lighter sound-absorbing materials have made for a 136kg weight reduction over the outgoing model, according to Buick.

Noise, vibration and harshness levels have improved, thanks to active noise cancellation, acoustic wheelhouse liners, triple-sealed doors and better noise-path sealing, while the new suspension set-up also helps keep road noise out, says Buick. The LaCrosse is the first new Buick to feature the brand's new corporate identity, previewed by the Avenir. This includes a new grille design, a bigger glasshouse and a reinterpretation of the signature body-side design element.

Inside, LaCrosse gains a floating centre console and a sweeping dashboard, improved storage space, along with high-end details such as French stitching on the seats and instrument panel, as well as aluminium sill plates and wood trim, depending on the variant.

Comfort and infotainment tech includes ambient lighting, heated steering wheel, an electric sun-shade, Bose audio system, eight-way heated and ventilated front seats, and the latest version of the Buick IntelliLink system that is housed in a frameless 8.0-inch colour touchscreen.

This also houses climate controls which has reduced the need for a number of buttons on the lower centre stack.

Other new tech includes a head-up display, wireless device charging, an Electronic Precision Shift which uses a toggle motion to change gears, and optional Teen Driving Technology system that encourages safe driving by muting the audio when the seatbelts are not being worn and gives visual and audible warnings if the speed exceeds a pre-determined level. It also provides a report card for parents to assess.

In terms of safety, the LaCrosse has 10 airbags, a front pedestrian braking system, lane-keep assist, automatic parking assist, adaptive cruise control, a forward collision alert, reversing camera, blind-spot and lane-change alert and forward automatic braking.

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