The Comfort Story
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The Comfort Story
The CX is more comfortable than the higher trim levels I've driven, for one reason: the cloth seats. It's not the upholstery itself; it's the seat design. Both I and another editor found the leather driver's seat uncomfortable enough to be a deal-breaker. There was a preponderance of lumbar support, even when that adjustment was backed off all the way. I can usually find reasonable comfort in a test car; not that one. The CX's cloth seat isn't exceptionally comfortable — the front of the cushion could tilt down farther, and there's a lot of lumbar support here, too — but it's definitely workable. (Lumbar adjustment is optional on this seat, but we didn't have it.)
I was pleased with how comfortable the CX rides, for two reasons: First, it's a Buick, and the brand might easily have tried to make the LaCrosse something it's not — a sport sedan with an overly firm suspension — trying to appeal to the younger buyers it admittedly seeks. Buick didn't; it's comfortable, as I believe it should be. Second, I've driven the CXS trim level equipped with 18-inch wheels, and I thought it was too choppy. The CX's 17-inch wheels (steel is standard, but we had the optional alloys on our test car) made for a more comfortable and model-appropriate ride.
On the downside, these tires were very noisy, especially on grooved pavement, in an otherwise quiet car.
The LaCrosse's cabin quality is among the best GM has to offer. The cloth upholstery isn't a knockout, and some of our editors thought it seemed out of place on a supposed premium car, but I'm not sure faux leather is intrinsically better. The center control panel is far less busy and more ergonomic than the jumble of controls you get with the optional navigation system. Unfortunately, one reason for the reduced clutter is the deletion of buttons for the heated and ventilated front seats that came with the leather in our previous test car. The cloth seats sacrifice the feature.
Rolling Ding Factory
I noticed another anomaly that didn't stand out in previous tests: a flawed interior handle design. Doors usually have an unlatch handle and a separate grab handle nearby for closing the door. The LaCrosse's grab handle is tucked under the armrest, and the problem with that is that the grab handle is also the means to stop the door after you push it open to get out. You might not realize it, but when you park next to another car or obstacle, unlatch the door and push it open, you then stop it by grabbing the handle. The LaCrosse's design makes it too hard to grab after you've pushed it. I noted a similar problem in the Ford Explorer a few years ago, and it was addressed in the next model year. Until Buick takes a second look at this design, I'm not parking next to any LaCrosses.
Since our previous review, the LaCrosse has been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and it performed very well. It's a Top Safety Pick because it scored Good, the top rating, in front, side and rear crash tests, as well as in the roof-strength test, which measures rollover protection. It also has a standard electronic stability system, as required.