2012 Buick LaCrosse Gets Standard Hybrid System, 37 mpg Highway

2012 Buick Lacrosse

Every day we edge closer to the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, and every day we seem to get another jaw-dropping fuel-economy figure from an automaker.

Today, GM surprised us with a new standard powertrain for the 2012 Buick LaCrosse that’ll allow it to achieve 25/37 mpg city/highway. Combined horsepower is rated at 182 hp.

The new powertrain involves a traditional four-cylinder, automatic transmission and GM’s new mild hybrid system, dubbed “eAssist.”

It’s a similar system to the Chevy Malibu Hybrid, which returned mileage of 26/34 mpg. The Malibu Hybrid is no longer made.

The LaCrosse’s system, however, uses a lithium-ion battery pack, a small 15-horsepower electric motor, regenerative braking, a fuel cutoff system and start-stop technology to achieve a 25% fuel-economy gain over the 2011 LaCrosse that’s equipped with the four-cylinder (19/30 mpg).

The new lithium-ion battery pack compromises truck space now only 10.9 cubic feet versus the 2011 LaCrosse’s 13.3 cubic feet, which is already quite small for the class. Split folding rear seats are still included. This feature often isn’t found in hybrid sedans.

Along with the powertrain improvements, the LaCrosse with the eAssist system gets aerodynamic body panels underneath the car and low-rolling-resistance tires. It also has a lower grille that closes at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics, which is a similar system that’s found on the upcoming Chevy Cruze Eco model.

On the inside, the eAssist LaCrosse will get an instrument panel that helps the driver achieve the most fuel-efficient driving like similar systems in other hybrids. Compared with its competition – the 2011 Lexus ES 350 (19/27 mpg), 2011 Acura TL (18/26 mpg) and 2011 Lincoln MKZ (18/27 mpg) the new LaCrosse blows them out of the water. Lincoln does offer a MKZ Hybrid (41/36 mpg) at the same price as the base V-6 MKZ, which will probably be the closest competitor for this Buick.

We’ve tested both the four-cylinder LaCrosse and the Malibu Hybrid and both felt modestly powered or underpowered for their size. Hopefully, the 2012 LaCrosse gains a bit more power to match the impressive mileage.

GM says the mild hybrid system will come standard on the base LaCrosse, which will start at less than $30,000. Expect the model to go on sale next summer.

Comments 

Amuro Ray

See, this is what's really puzzling me with Buick/GM - why do a half-ass hybrid system and think that this is good enuf? Ford got it right with the MKZ. Full hybrid. Great mileage on both city and hwy. ABSOLUTELY NO COMPETITOR. Sure there's a price difference, but, hello, we aren't talking no-frills cars here.

My guess is that GM is trying to avoid the licensing fees to both Toyota and Alex Severinsky with this gottabe-a-joke system.

Rockaby

At 182 hp, I'd almost expect a normal engine to make that fuel economy, if not maybe 1-2 mpg less.

Wow this looks great. The "only for old people" Buick stereotype is fading every year.

SB

@AR, Actually I think it is a brilliant idea and has a lot of common sense. BAS is one technology that can be very profitable very quickly when implemented across a wide range of platforms. This equipment will be STANDARD, not some premium option like on the MKZ. Toota, ford etc. are in big trouble with this severinsky and I am glad GM did not fall into the same pit as well.

Amuro Ray

@ Bernard,

"Only for old people" is not a stereotype. Research done by JD Powers & NSHTA (I think, it's the insurance one) shows over 60 years old for Buick owners. Those results were from just 6 months ago too! One research showed a drop from 72 to 61, whereas the other showed an increase of 62 to 65! (I'm recalling this info from memory.)

Not sure where u r getting the "fading every year" idea...maybe a X'mas wish 4 da fanboys?

Amuro Ray

@SB,

I don't have a crystal ball, so u could be right. However, based on what has happened to GM with the previous e-Assist...they all failed (Malibu, Aura, etc.). When people looked at it, they may think "25 mpg for a hybrid?"

Remember, most hybrid owners are willing to pay a reasonable premium. It's gonnabe interesting to see how the same (well, similar) system will be successful in a full-size/premium vehicle, when it fails miserably on the mid-sizes.

Why do automakers still insist on using those horrible gooseneck hinges on the trunk? At least with the battery taking up space they could have upgraded.

I was wondering when the gen 2 mild hybrid would come out. To boost ecomomy by 25% without the premium of a full hybrid is pretty impressive. The payback of such a system should be faster as well. Since it is a light(er) system, the car is not taxed by the extra weight that a full hybrid has to lug around on the highway. The smaller lithium batteries don't sacrifice the pass-through is quite a plus as well. I'm curious to read reviews about this layout.

sheth

AR:

Be quiet please. Just drop the American car hating.

This car will be the BASE model. Its not going to be an add on to an existing I4 model. There will be no Lacrosse with the 2.4L only next year so this car wont have the same issue as the Malibu hybid. No base model, plus better efficiency equals a recipe for success. The Malibu didnt do well because it was more than the base model while yielding ONLY a 2mpg improvement. This car has no base model and yields a 5mpg city and 7mpg highway improvement over the current base car. THAT is noteworthy, especially when there is no price premium associated with it. How in the world can THAT be a bad idea? GM believes that they can move more units with a mild hybrid system delivering a 25% gain in economy for a low price than they can with a full hybrid system costing $3k-$5k. If you subtract Prius, hybrid model sales are not huge. While they generate a lot of publicity they dont generate a lot of sales. This could be a compromise that leads to volume sales. The current I4 lacrosse makes little sense, but THIS makes a lot of sense.

Again, this wont fail because its the ONLY four cylinder option on the lacrosse, not a second option. If you want an I4 Lacrosse in 2011 this will be your choice.

James:

simple, the decklid pops up with the hinges. Thats why BMW, MB and others use this design. They dont crush cargo when designed properly. The cheaper designs (Camry, Accord, etc.) crush cargo when the trunk is closed.

Al G.

I love what GM is doing with this car. It's nice to see a hybid version of a car not being sold at the top trim line but as the base car. I think it will do well.

Casey

All I see is Buick making an already boring car more boring. If I wanted a hybrid I'd buy a proven one from Ford or Toyota not one from GM based on a hybrid system that's already been proven to be antiquated.

JM

I really think that calling this eAssist is a much better term for the system rather than 'Hybrid.' to me, a hybrid can propel itself on electricity, i.e. truly use two forms of fuel. since this electric motor is merely giving the gas engine more power and allowing it to be more relaxed, it really is just helping out rather than being another source of 'fuel'

Amuro Ray

@JM,

A name is just a name, it doesn't mask the fundamental principle underneath. This is a hybrid system, and may I refer you to our government's epa definition:

http://fueleconomy.gov/feg/hybridtech.shtml

Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) combine the benefits of gasoline engines and electric motors and can be configured to obtain different objectives...

and pay particular attention to the following:

Electric Motor Drive/Assist. The electric motor provides additional power to assist the engine in accelerating, passing, or hill climbing. This allows a smaller, more efficient engine to be used. In some vehicles, the motor alone provides power for low-speed driving conditions where internal combustion engines are least efficient.

Thus, a hybrid engine - the electric motor portion, doesn't necessary have to propel the vehicle; by just simply providing power in assisting the ICE, that is defined as a hybrid (or hybrid system).

Your statement "since this electric motor is merely giving the gas engine more power and allowing it to be more relaxed, it really is just helping out" has almost the same wording as the govt's, and is being defined as a hybrid by epa.

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