Thursday, July 5, 2018

Meet the new 2019 Buick LaCrosse ST.

A red 2019 Buick LaCrosse ST speeds past an office complex.
Photo: Buick Pressroom
Chevrolet may be moving in the direction of phasing out larger sedans like the Impala, but look on the bright side: we still have the Buick LaCrosse.

Personally, my taste has always run most toward the first-generation Buick LaCrosse, which clearly shared many styling cues with the last-generation Buick Riviera coupe—an example of which I am a proud owner.

Starting in 2010 the LaCrosse design, while still nice, changed—not for the better in my humble opinion. For one thing, Buick came down with at least a mild case of the oversized grille disease that is still infecting so many automakers.

Nevertheless, LaCrosse is a fine looking car and remains one of the brighter spots in the large sedan market.

This week, GM announced that a new sport touring model is joining the Buick LaCrosse lineup. The automaker characterized the LaCrosse ST as “a new style statement,” emphasizing design elements like a body-color grille surround and side vents—contrasting with the chrome embellishments on other LaCrosse trim levels.

Other accoutrements for the LaCrosse ST include what the announcement describes as “a subtle rear spoiler,” a black mesh grille, and 19-inch “midnight silver” wheels. Trim-level branding consists of an ST badge on the trunk lid.

“The LaCrosse ST emphasizes the importance of design, while also complementing the safety, refinement and technology of our flagship sedan,” said Phil Brook, vice president of Buick and GMC Marketing, in a July 2 statement. “The LaCrosse exemplifies what we mean by attainable luxury, offering Buick’s signature QuietTuning, spirited and efficient performance and the latest in-car connectivity all at a tremendous value to customers.”

In terms of its looks, the Buick LaCrosse probably did not need all that much in terms of trim enhancements—although these are nice changes. Deleting the chrome grill gives the design a more integrated, sportier look and helps diffuse a remaining—and in many ways exaggerated and undeserved—reputation for Buicks as cars for older people.

More impressive to me, however, as a fan of Buick’s generations of legendary V6 powerplants of days gone by, is the 310-horsepower 3.6L V6 engine, standard in the LaCrosse ST. While the GM 3.6L engine, in it’s earliest generations, seemed prone to more reliability issues than did the simpler cast-iron-block 3800 motors they replaced, the kinks appear to have been sorted out over the years.

And while 310 horsepower isn’t earth-shattering by today’s standards, it’s plenty for a full-size luxury sedan and—let’s face it—it’s more than most drivers will ever need. 310 horsepower isn’t bad at all for a naturally aspirated motor.

But it might be nice to see what Buick could do with a supercharged or turbocharged option for the LaCrosse ST.

While you’re at it, GM, for goodness╩╝ sake: create a 2-door version and slap a Riviera badge on it. Surely there would be at least some market for a full-size 2-door personal luxury coupe—especially with a supercharged or turbo V6. They could make it a special-order-only option if they’re concerned about limited demand.

The GM announcement did not provide details on when the Buick LaCrosse ST,  which starts at US$40,295, will begin showing up at dealerships, but it did say that the new ST package was joining the lineup this summer.

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