Vehicle Comparison: The 2012 Buick LaCrosse vs. 2012 Lexus ES 350
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Over the last 10 years, the Buick brand has undergone a dramatic renaissance, offering popular and critically-acclaimed vehicles with eye-catching design, engaged handling and technologically advanced, fuel-efficient V6 and four-cylinder powerplants.
A prime example is the 2012 Buick LaCrosse (MSRP $30,170), a stylish, entry-level luxury sedan loaded with next-generation technology that includes expertly-tuned handling, class-leading fuel efficiency, safety, luxury and value. After driving the new LaCrosse, respected automotive research source Edmunds.com noted, “Boasting modern styling, an elegant interior and impressive driving dynamics, the LaCrosse quickly became one of our favorite entry-level luxury sedans.”
The 2012 Lexus ES 350 (MSRP $36,725), built on the Toyota Camry platform, is a traditional entry-level luxury sedan that offers luxury accommodations packed into less room for quite a bit more money. It offers a single V6 engine, a single trim and a front-drive-only configuration.
Perhaps the most anticipated new feature and advantage the 2012 LaCrosse has over the Lexus is in the powertrain department. Buick eAssist light electrification technology is standard in the 2012 LaCrosse. This innovative drivetrain blends an all-new, 2.4-liter Ecotec inline four-cylinder engine with a state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery and an electric motor-generator to return impressive power (182 hp, 172 lb/ft of torque) and even more impressive fuel economy: 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. In comparison, the Lexus ES 350 is EPA-estimated at 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, which is about the same as the front-drive V6 LaCrosse.
Not only are LaCrosse eAssist mileage figures a 25 percent improvement over the previous 2.4-liter engine, but the 115-volt air-cooled battery system in the 2012 LaCrosse also provides the Ecotec engine with 15 of its 182 total hp output, and 15 kW of regenerative braking power. For the silky-smooth, seamless shifting that Buick is known for, a next generation six-speed automatic with tap-up/tap-down Driver Shift Control is paired with the eAssist 2.4-liter.
For customers seeking a more powerful alternative, the LaCrosse can be equipped with a muscular, direct injection 3.6-liter V6 good for 303 hp, a 23 hp improvement over the 2011 LaCrosse, and 264 lb/ft of torque. The V6 in the ES 350 offers just 268 hp and 248 lb/ft of torque. In addition, the LaCrosse offers available all-wheel-drive – a feature lacking in the Lexus.
Buick has always been known for its superior, quiet and comfortable highway ride. It’s also a characteristic of the Lexus ES 350. However, the LaCrosse distances itself from the ES 350 with its superior handling.
Not only does the 2012 LaCrosse easily outhandle the comparatively numb and clumsy ES 350 in corners, but the LaCrosse is actually one of the best-handling entry-level luxury sedans on the market. Because of its redesigned suspension and lighter-weight four-cylinder and V6 engines, the 2012 LaCrosse actually has an element of sportiness – a characteristic completely lacking in the Lexus.
The automotive press agrees. In reviewing the 2012 ES 350, the editors at Edmunds wrote, “If you do find yourself on a curvy road, know that the ES’s wallowy handling and numb steering will be notable drawbacks.” Of the LaCrosse, Edmunds said, “Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the 2012 Buick LaCrosse is the driving experience. The steering feels precise, and handling is significantly better than you’d expect, without sacrificing the plush ride quality one expects of a luxury sedan.”
Once inside the 2012 LaCrosse, occupants are welcomed with a tasteful, well-executed interior with eye-catching contours and high quality materials that cost thousands more in the ES 350. Once night falls, the cabin’s tasteful ice-blue LED ambient lighting gives the LaCrosse an additional feel of opulence clearly lacking in the Lexus. Not only is the LaCrosse well-appointed, it’s also exceptionally spacious in both front and rear seats, with more head and legroom than the Lexus.
The 2012 LaCrosse is available with a host of premium luxury features, including heated and ventilated leather front seats, hands-free Bluetooth integration, remote keyless entry and ignition, an 11-speaker harman/kardon surround-sound audio system, rearview camera, rear-seat DVD entertainment system and navigation. Lexus also offers these features, but adding them skyrockets the cost thousands of dollars higher than the LaCrosse – a vehicle with a base price already thousands less than the Lexus.
The popular OnStar system is a leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services. Available exclusively in GM vehicles, OnStar delivers everything from Advanced Crash Response, to automatically summon emergency personnel in the event of an accident, to Stolen Vehicle Location and Slowdown, which can remotely cut engine power to help authorities safely recover the stolen vehicle.
The 2012 Buick LaCrosse ranks among the safest sedans in its class, returning a perfect five-star performance in federal crash testing. The LaCrosse comes loaded with standard safety features like six airbags, four-wheel disc Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with brake assist and traction control, StabiliTrak electronic stability control with Traction Control and rollover mitigation, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
Costing thousands less than the 2012 ES 350, the 2012 Buick LaCrosse really is the complete entry-level luxury sedan package. It delivers innovative technology, eye-catching style, class-leading safety and fuel efficiency, better, more athletic handling and supreme comfort. It offers 30,000 miles of extra powertrain warranty coverage over the Lexus, as well.
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