2010 Buick LaCrosse CX 4-Cylinder – Hot!

2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS
2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS

2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS

2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS

Now that you’re well versed in LaCrosse goings-on, let’s get to the specifics of the 2.4-liter CX. This 3800-plus-pound sedan is motivated by a mere 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque, but even so, the LaCrosse can get out of its own way. Beyond just moving this big four-door, the direct-injected 2.4-liter has enough power to facilitate safe passing maneuvers on two-lane roads. It’s rated for decent mileage, at 19 mpg city and 30 on the highway, so what more could you ask for? Well, that depends on what you’re seeking.

If you’re looking at the four-cylinder because it’s the cheapest way to get into a LaCrosse (at $26,995) and you desire a nice, comfy car wherein performance or mechanicals are of no importance, then by all means, go for it. But if you’re looking at the LaCrosse as an entry-luxury car, then you should step up to the 3.6-liter V-6.

During our drive in rural Virginia, the LaCrosse CX exhibited the same annoyances with its transmission that we’ve encountered in the Chevrolet Equinox equipped with the same powertrain. The six-speed automatic is obviously programmed for fuel economy above all else and thus is constantly changing ratios. Shift up, shift down, back up again, and back down; the box is as annoying as a twitching eyelid, swapping gears on the slightest incline or even gust of wind. It wouldn’t be so bad if the changes were seamless, but they are felt, and the transmission in our example even stumbled over itself a couple of times, causing a hard jolt in the cabin. Speaking of cabin disturbances, in fifth or sixth gear, we found that the 2.4-liter often sounded like a diesel, producing a low rumble that vibrated the floorboards. Our car was a preproduction build, so we hope this was an isolated case; all that NVH certainly contradicts the smooth luxury rep the LaCrosse is trying to cultivate.

We will admit that ordering the smaller motor does have a benefit beyond fuel economy, as the steering lightens up a bit with less weight over the front and offers better on-center feel than in the V-6 cars. The LaCrosse has a solid structure that can actually take a twist in the road with some confidence, although the huge A-pillars hinder visibility, especially in left-handers.

The LaCrosse, of course, isn’t intended as a performance machine. It’s supposed to be a luxury car where disturbances are minimal—if they’re there at all. But given our early disappointment with the refinement of this drivetrain and the fact that its fuel-economy gains over front-wheel-drive V-6 models are minimal—2 mpg city and 3 mpg highway—stepping up to a couple extra cylinders makes sense if you can afford it. We look forward to testing a production LaCrosse CX to see if that opinion changes.

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