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April 26, 2010

Test Drive: 2010 Buick LaCrosse Test Drive with "HiPer" Strut front end suspension

2010-Buick-LaCrosse01x1000 Buick has introduced a new front suspension technology and I was one of the lucky invitees to test drive this new feature in the 2010 Buick LaCrosse in the Virginia countryside.  (Actually, I was asked to cover this media event and share my experience with our community).  I'm not particularly savvy when it comes to understanding all the detailed technical features of a car, but I thought this new technology was actually pretty straight-forward.  As a mom and auto repair shop owner, my perspective might provide our readers with more insight on whether this car is suited for them and if the new technology is worth all the media buzz. 

The new "HiPer Strut" front-end suspension is based on the more common and widely used MacPherson strut assembly, but it decreases the Kingpin axis angle by about 5%.  The decreased angle allows for a bigger tire "contact patch" and negative camber which directly influences handling.  They've also added a "yoke" that cradles the inside of the assembly which appears to give it more support and stability.  This newer technology reduces torque steering (the pulling you sometimes feel from your steering wheel) and cuts down the vibrations and noise in the interior.  Buick then adds in their ECOtec engine technology that delivers impressive gas mileage combined with insulation to quiet engine noise.  Buick's goal with these improvements is to deliver a "smoother, more controlled and more linear driving experience." Sounds great, but the big question is, "How does it feel compared to a model without this new technology?"

2010-Buick-LaCrosse-rearx1000 The first Buick I tested was a four-cylinder LaCrosse  with no HiPer Strut suspension.  Since I am a small-framed person I am more comfortable in a smaller, sportier car.  It did take me a while to adjust to the bigger, wider frame.  It handled surprisingly well for a heavy car and actually had some very smooth transmission calibration (shifting).  I thought it still had some side-to-side swaying on some of the tighter corners, but I expected some of that with such a big car.  The engine didn't seem to struggle with the heft of the vehicle, but didn't have a lot of umph to it either.  I would still feel safe on the road, though, and thought it would suffice in those instances when I'd have to floor it.

Next up was the four-cylinder all-wheel-drive version with the HiPer strut. I immediately sensed a big difference with the HiPer strut.   The steering seemed tighter, and more controlled.  I could definitely feel the road better, however, it still seemed a little "loose" around the corners and a bit top-heavy.  

2010_Buick_Lacrosse_front-interiorx1000 Finally, I tested the 2010 Buick Lacrosse CSX V-6 with the HiPer strut--saving best for last!  I could tell the engine was more powerful right away. (After this ride, I decided immediately that I would not choose the four-cylinder!)  This model had the optional 19-inch wheels which probably contributed to the difference.  I could really feel the road, yet the ride was incredibly smooth!  Wow! I would certainly compare this to some of the European cars I've driven.

2010_Buick_Lacrosse_interiorx1000 After testing the different models, I would certainly buy into the new technology.  I could feel the difference and enjoyed the ride better since I felt more in control.  That's not all, though.  There are some other features that added to the whole experience:  super-roomy interior with a vast trunk, GPS with a big, easy to use touch screen, and the illuminated interior trim.  I preferred the leather interior, but thought the cloth option was a very tasteful color that blended well with the dash and other components. The heads-up display was a bit distracting, but a convenient feature once I adjusted the display and got used to it.  In regards to aesthetics, I thought the smooth, clean lines made it an attractive car.  After this driving experience and doing some more research on what Buick has to offer, I must say that I am impressed.  With pricing beginning around $27,000, I'll betcha we'll all start seeing more LaCrosses out there!

Judy_Curry_askpatty Judy Curry
Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing - Curry's Auto Service

Judy Curry is co-founder of Curry's Auto Service, one of the largest and most successful independent automotive service and repair companies in the Washington, DC, area, with five facilities throughout Northern Virginia and plans to open four more facilities in the next 18 months.

Judy, who holds a B.S. in Communications and Management from George Mason University, is the marketing guru for Curry's Auto. She has learned about automobiles from her husband Matt, who has worked in the auto industry since he was 15. With 60% of car maintenance decisions made by women, Judy recognizes the value in addressing the unique needs of women drivers. She was instrumental in Curry's becoming the first auto service center in Virginia to receive the AskPatty 'female friendly facility' certification.

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