One in an occasional series reviewing consumer vehicles.
When you are driving from Southern California to Tempe, Arizona, for an Angels spring training game, you and your back appreciate doing so in luxury.
In this regard, the 2017 Buick Lacrosse Premium FWD is a game changer.
But let me get my one quibble out of the way before we play ball. My first experience with my test vehicle involved moving it from the street in front of my house to the driveway. That's when I got my first look at the "electronic precision shifter." I can't recall ever using a shifter that involves pressing a button while pushing it either to the left (for reverse) and downward (into gear), let alone with a separate button at the top of the shifter for putting it in park. Perhaps it's my California public education, but I found this confusing and, frankly, annoying, although I'm sure with 1,000 more tries I'll get the hang of it.
Besides, there are so many other plusses in this thing. First and foremost, it drives so smoothly, something that was immediately proven to me when I passed over a patch of road diced up by recent heavy rains. My teeth chatter from the vibration when I drive over that same stretch in my every-day sedan, but while you could slightly hear the Lacrosse's tires, 18-inch wheels, shocks and suspension taking the bumps, you could not feel it in the passenger compartment. When the road was smooth or crunchy, it felt like you were riding on air.
Plus, this Lacrosse is the quietest vehicle I have driven in some time, despite a beefy 3.6-liter, V6 engine and responsive eight-speed automatic transmission. When I really noticed the active noise cancellation system quieting the great outdoors was while listening out of the 11 speakers to what was coming through the Bose audio system, be it talk or music from the Buick Intellilink or SiriusXM radios or my own iPhone (via Bluetooth streaming). Thankfully, the Lacrosse also features wireless charging, and though I could not figure out how to set it up while in motion, you can turn the car into a wireless hotspot.
So, yes, it was a very nice half dozen or so hour trip over to the Phoenix Valley, which you can imagine produced all manner of traffic conditions, from wide open highway to stop-and-go jams. And yet, when I finally arrived at my destination, I was not sick of being behind the wheel, an illness I normally contract after so many hours behind the wheel of other jalopies.
I wish this win streak could have been extended to my and your Halos of Anaheim, who were clobbered in a Sunday afternoon spring training game at Diablos Stadium in Tempe by the visiting Cincinnati Reds. At least our party had great seats on the third-base side.
Better to get back to my ride. The miles per gallon is listed at 21 city and 31 highway for a combined 25 mpg, and the Lacrosse gets a 5 for a fuel economy/greenhouse gas rating and a 6 for a smog rating, with 10 being best on both charts. All I can say is that leaving OC with an almost full tank, I filled up once in Quartzsite after crossing into Arizona, drove all around the Phoenix Valley for a couple days because we have relatives there, filled up again in Quartzsite on the way back and still had plenty of fuel left when the Lacrosse was picked up.
Among the other standard features are: four wheel antilock brakes and disc, Duralife rotars; a keyless start/stop system; Ultrasonic rear park assist; forward collision alert; rear cross traffic alert; lane keep assist; lane change alert with side blind zone alert; rear vision camera; 18-inch ultra bight, machined-faced aluminum wheels; articulating, high intensity discharge headlamps; front lower grille shutters; cap-less fuel fill port; fascia integrated exhaust; and, get this, TEN!!! air bags.
But wait, there's more: heating and ventilation controls for each front seat; memory settings for each front seat, outside mirror and the power-steering column; power tilt and telescopic for the steering column; eight way power seat adjustments for the driver; heated, auto dimming, turn signal indicator outside mirrors; and OnStar (with five-year basic plan and three months of renewable service for automatic crash response, navigation and more). Considering all of that, the $41,065 standard price does not seem that high, especially when compared to what's on the stickers of similar cars in the Lacrosse class.
However, my test car included these extras: that white frost Tricoat paint job; Driver Confidence Package (adaptive cruise control with full-speed range; automatic parking assist; front automatic braking; front pedestrian detection); Sun and Shade Package (power sunroof with second row skylight and power rear sunshade); Sights and Sounds Package (navigation and the Bose 11-speaker Centerpoint Surround Sound system). The standard audio system on the Lacrosse includes eight speakers.
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With those extras, the price tag shoots up to $47,370.
My favorite feature is standard, and I totally discovered it by accident. I reached down to re-adjust the power driver seat while in motion around Phoenix when I accidentally pushed an unfamiliar button. Suddenly, I felt my lower back being pushed in. I figured I'd tripped a lumbar positioning control—until I next experienced a little rub of my middle back, followed by my shoulder blades' area. This lasted several minutes.
Once I stopped, I went to the glove box to fetch the owner's manual and, sure enough, the Lacrosse features driver and front passenger massage features, with four strength settings, standard.
Needless to say, I got another massage during the ride back home. Perhaps we'll get full body rubs should Buick ever release a driverless Lacrosse.