Hybrids, Turbos, and an Amazing Back Seat
A super-luxurious version of the 2017 Buick LaCrosse exists—just not in the North America. The automaker’s popularity in China helps justify market-specific changes, as luxury car buyers there have different priorities. After driving the new LaCrosse recently, I learned about how the Chinese model differs from the American. car.
Keep reading for more on the Chinese-spec 2017 Buick LaCrosse, and ask yourself: How many of these features would you be willing to pay for?
The LaCrosse Hybrid
Remember the low-volume Buick LaCrosse eAssist model from the outgoing car? That not-a-hybrid four-cylinder wasn’t nearly as advanced as the hybrid system available in the Chinese-spec 2017 Buick LaCrosse. We’ve appreciated the same basic system in the U.S.-spec 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and wonder how well a full hybrid could compete with the hybridized Lincoln MKZ and Lexus ES 300h. For now, the 2017 LaCrosse in North American dealerships will be powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 with an estimated 310 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque and standard engine stop-start.
Turbos and a Dual-Clutch Transmission
Two turbocharged power plants are offered on the Chinese-spec 2017 LaCrosse, and although we’d love to see the hybrid make its way over to the North America, I’d pass on the two turbo-fours, thanks to the U.S.-spec model’s powerful-enough V-6. The Chinese version’s 20T model gets GM’s 1.5-liter turbo-four, which makes 163 hp and 184 lb-ft in the Chevrolet Malibu. Unlike that car, however, the Chinese LaCrosse 20T uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Then there’s the 28T model with a version of a 2.0-liter turbo-four that’s good for 250 hp and 258 lb-ft in the Malibu.
Get Comfortable Back There
Owning a luxury car in China doesn’t always mean driving one, as you can hire a chauffeur to deal with stop-and-go traffic. To impress back-seat passengers, Buick’s Chinese LaCrosse features rear seats that recline and have heating and cooling functions. There’s also a button on the side of the front passenger seat to move it forward and an available controller between the two rear outboard seats for everything from HVAC controls to the radio and the rear windshield’s sunshade. But there’s one more surprise-and-delight feature for rear-seat customers of the Chinese car. …
Have a (Rear-Seat) Massage
The U.S.-spec 2017 LaCrosse’s front seats now have a massage feature on higher trims. What distinguishes the Chinese car is its addition of rear-seat massagers, too. Some customers didn’t like how aggressive the massaging feature was on the last-generation Chinese LaCrosse, so a layer of foam in the seats assures the experience isn’t over the top.
USB x 4
The 2017 American Buick LaCrosse has two USB ports parked side-by-side in the center console armrest storage area, plus a 12-volt outlet for the rear seats and a full 120-volt plug on the highest trim. The Chinese model replaces those rear-seat power options for two more USB ports. Which layout would you prefer?
Suede inserts in the leather seats add another upscale touch (and extra cost) to the Chinese LaCrosse. Perhaps a few years down the line, we’ll see a special edition U.S.-market LaCrosse with such an option.
The Chinese LaCrosse will have more interior color options, including saddle brown. Aside from the black-on-black interior, the 2017 cars I saw at a drive event looked good, but I’d definitely prefer a saddle brown color over the nice but lighter-in-hue Brandy option on American cars.
Guess Which Market Offers Bigger Wheels
Buick will offer 17-, 18-, and 19-inch wheels on the Chinese car, making 20s an accessory. One representative tells us the focus on ride quality and fuel efficiency explains the change; American cars are offered with 18s or 20s. I’d recommend the 20-inch option, which comes with a different suspension and nearly as quiet a ride but with more steering feel.
Keeping in mind how much more expensive some features would make the U.S.-spec model, which of these Chinese-spec features would you like to see on the 2017 Buick LaCrosse?