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Buick LaCrosse and Ford EcoSport


By Kelly Foss

mycardata.com

Buick LaCrosse | STARTING PRICE: $29,595

The LaCrosse is a midsize luxury sedan made by General Motors’ Buick brand. The vehicle is upscale, quiet and smooth, possessing many advanced technologies. The 2018 models showcase several significant changes.

Think of the LaCrosse as fitting between a Toyota Avalon and a Lexus ES350. Even though the starting price of the LaCrosse is just below $30,000, less than the two aforementioned competitors, a fully loaded one can come in at over $50K. With the advent of the upcoming Avenir sub-brand lineup of premium models, the price will go even higher. Fundamentally, the LaCrosse is a very comfortable premium midsize sedan. It looks good, drives and handles very well and is very very quiet inside.

For 2018, some significant changes are coming. Whereas before the car was only offered with the 3.6 V6 engine and a 6 speed automatic transmission, de rigueur for a vehicle in this class, the new one will come equipped with a 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine. That’s a significant change/downgrade, but Buick correspondingly lowered the entry price of the vehicle from $32K to $29.5K.

Rather than having a naked 4 cylinder engine powering this upscale sedan, this version has “eAssist light electrification” added, which has stop/start technology. Note, however, that Buick specifically does not label it as a “hybrid.” The newly revised 3.6 V6 produces a healthy 310 horsepower and is mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission. A seamless all-wheel-drive system is available as an option on the V6 model.

Previous Buicks were quiet and had a “boulevard” ride, meaning they were floaty and imprecise. This new generation has worked hard on sound control and the new models are among the quietest in the industry. By going to more modern materials and using better acoustical analysis, plus employing Bose sound-cancelling technology, the 2018 LaCrosse is both quieter and a welcome 300 pounds lighter than last year’s model.

The floaty boaty ride quality of yesteryear is also long gone. The LaCrosse is a very
fine-handling sedan and the driver feels in control of the vehicle. Because of Buick’s masterful control of the passenger’s environment, occupants don’t feel fatigued or “worn out” either in slow city traffic or after multiple hours on the interstate.

The styling is well done and the interior is roomy and inviting. It possesses the requisite look, function and feel of a proper upscale sedan. But wait! Buick is taking things one step further. Later in 2018 Buick will offer an Avenir version of the LaCrosse. As Buick puts it, “The first-ever LaCrosse Avenir raises the standard of luxury, masterfully blending elevated craftsmanship with premium Buick amenities for an experience that rises above and beyond your expectations.” Avenir is a conscious move by Buick to more effectively challenge its Lexus and Lincoln competitors.

The LaCrosse is a refined premium sedan that has a place in the automotive market. It may just be the perfect car for someone looking for the particular set of attributes that it possesses.

 

Ford EcoSport | STARTING PRICE: $19,995

The EcoSport, a totally new model from Ford, follows the path of several of its competitors. Basically, if an auto manufacturer can make an SUV out of a sedan, it will. The EcoSport is the smallest SUV from Ford and is classified as a subcompact.

There is already an open space in the Ford lineup for the EcoSport. It’s one of the most popular segments in the auto industry and Ford has finally produced a vehicle to represent its brand in that space.

The fusion of a sub-compact car and SUV utility makes this class of vehicle appealing. It has a small vehicle footprint which is ideal for city drivers contending with crowded streets and petite parking spots. Yet these cars are roomy considering their overall dimensions and have an elevated seating position. That gives the driver the false impression that their vehicle is larger than it actually is. In reality, it’s just taller than the sedan version of that same car. But with that tallness, automakers have very skillfully carved out a surprising amount of interior volume. You can fit an amazing amount of stuff inside one of these very small vehicles.

The packaging of the EcoSport is very versatile, meaning that you have a sizeable cargo area in the back which is larger than the trunk of a sedan, plus you can fold down rear seats and enjoy even more floor-to-ceiling, side-to-side space into which you can put lots of stuff.

The tradeoff, however — there is always a tradeoff, by the way — is that they aren’t quite as fast, don’t handle quite as well, the passenger compartment is a bit noisier and the fuel economy is worse than their sedan cousins… but other than that, they’re nearly perfect.

Basically, the car fools you into thinking that it’s bigger than it actually is. Still, it does weigh in at 3,000 pounds, which is substantial for a subcompact and has a total of about 50 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats folded.

The EcoSport’s drivetrain is also unique. The base engine is a “3” cylinder “1 liter” micro turbocharged engine that produces a modest 123 horsepower. The optional 2.0 liter 4 cylinder produces 166 and though the fuel economy is okay, it’s not class leading. There are four models to choose from — S, SE, SES and Titanium —  and you’ll need to select the 2.0 engine to get the AWD option, which in total will cost you about $3,000.

The rear cargo area is accessed by a swing-out side-hinged door vs. an overhead hatch, which actually worked very well when both the Toyota Rav4 and Honda CR-V used them.

The EcoSport is equipped with modern technology features such as Ford’s SYNC 3 package, Android Auto, touch screen controls, USB plugs and charging, etc. Driver assist safety features include rear backup camera, blind spot and cross traffic alter.

The EcoSport is well suited for its market space and with lease deals in the sub- $200 range, it will get lots of customers.

For more information on these and other vehicles, visit mycardata.com.


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