The 2005 LaCrosse is the launch car for what General Motors hopes will be a product-led transformation for Buick during the next five years.
Beginning with the LaCrosse, "Buicks will be more powerful, more agile, quieter, more elegant, more comfortable - in short, more of what Buick stood for for more than 100 years," said Gary Cowger, president of GM North America.
"It is a transformation that will be every bit as dramatic as what has taken place at Cadillac."
Cowger spoke during the LaCrosse's debut on Wednesday, Feb. 4.
Pricing for the LaCrosse has not been announced, but the base CX model is expected to sticker in the $22,000 to $24,000 range, said one GM insider. Two other LaCrosse models also will be offered: a high-trim CXL model and a performance-oriented CXS.
The mid-sized, front-drive LaCrosse replaces the Century and Regal, which together account for nearly half of Buick's car sales. The LaCrosse shares a platform with the 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix. Sales begin this fall.
"There is a lot at stake here, so LaCrosse needs to make a strong statement," Cowger said.
Engineers concentrated on reducing noise to Lexus-like levels. There is a sound-deadening cover on the engine, and the windshield and side windows are laminated. Sound-absorbing materials have been put inside the door panels, under the floor and cargo areas and behind the instrument panel.
The LaCrosse's body shell and underside were beefed up to reduce noise, vibration and harshness.
Engineers also focused on improving gap tolerances between body panels and other components. Consumer studies show that tight gap tolerances between body panels and other components, such as lights and mirrors, favorably influence quality perceptions.
On the inside, extensive use of brushed aluminum accents, leather, soft-touch materials on door panels and the instrument panel also reinforce the sense of luxury.
"The result of such close attention to detail is an overall impression of high quality," said GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz.
GM's new 240-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 will be standard on the sporty LaCrosse CXS. The engine produces 230 pounds-feet of torque and features variable valve timing, dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder.
Other LaCrosse models will be equipped with GM's 200-hp, 3.8-liter V-6, which develops 225 pounds-feet of torque.