General Motors said prices for the 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist, which is expected to boost highway fuel economy up to 25 percent over the current model, will begin at $30,820, including freight.
eAssist, paired with a 2.4-liter engine, will be the standard powertrain when the 2012 LaCrosse goes on sale in late summer. The eAssist system combines a lithium ion battery and an electric motor-generator that enables regenerative braking.
The powertrain will generate 182 hp and fuel economy estimated by Buick to be 25 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. On the 2011 LaCrosse, the 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine also was rated at 182 hp -- and 19 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
The 2011 LaCrosse carries a base price of $27,990, including freight, or $2,830 less than the 2012 model with eAssist.
Buick is counting on eAssist to appeal to buyers seeking higher fuel economy without a significant price penalty or a decrease in performance.
LaCrosse sales are off 7 percent this year to 23,362 units through May, in part reflecting higher gasoline prices.
GM says the LaCrosse with eAssist will deliver better highway fuel economy than the higher-priced Lexus HS hybrid, Lincoln MKZ hybrid, and nonhybrids such as the Acura TL, Lexus ES 350 and Lincoln MKS.
The eAssist system also will be available on the 2012 Buick Regal this year.
While eAssist is the standard powertrain on the LaCrosse, a new and more powerful version of GM's direct-injection 3.6-liter V-6 will be available at no extra cost on some LaCrosse trim levels.
The front-wheel-drive model with the 3.6-liter engine generates 303 hp, an improvement of 23 hp. An all-wheel drive version, which hasn't been rated, also will be available.
For 2012, GM redesigned the 3.6-liter engine's integrated cylinder head and exhaust manifold, and composite intake manifold, to reduce its weight by more than 20 pounds, while boosting horsepower without a penalty in fuel efficiency.
GM says the direct-injected engine also warms up faster, helping cut emissions of unburned hydrocarbons by up to 25 percent.
Buick said new standard features on the LaCrosse include dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, a full-color driver information center and Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Later in the year, LaCrosse with eAssist will come with standard Buick IntelliLink, which uses Bluetooth or USB to connect a smart phone to a new 8-inch, high-resolution, full-color touch screen display radio.
IntelliLink will enhance Buick's current Bluetooth and USB capabilities, allowing smart phone control through voice activation and controls mounted on the steering wheel.
It also will enable streaming stereo audio from the phone through services such as Internet radio.