Better fuel economy through eAssist, an upgraded BAS_Start/Stop System. [fimg=left]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2012_Buick_LaCrosse_with_eAssist.jpg[/fimg]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - June 8, 2011 2012 Buick LaCrosse w/ eAssist – $29,960 to start and rated at 37 mpgUS highway. While the 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist is touted to deliver 25 percent better highway fuel economy than the current 2011 LaCrosse, during a colder country road loop, it provided what we would deem ok results eAssist The eAssist system is mated via belt drive to GM’s 2.4L Ecotec DI I4 and next-generation 6-speed AT. The eAssist system uses power stored in the 115V Li-Ion battery to provide an 11 HP electric power boost during heavier acceleration, provides regenerative braking and aggressive fuel cut when slowing and allows for Auto Stop/Start when coming to a stop and subsequent reacceleration. The 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist also incorporates low rolling resistance tires, underbody panels and an active grille shudder that improves fuel economy, aerodynamics and engine warm-up time. Additional new standard features for 2012 include dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, full-color driver information center, and Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Infotainment – Buick’s IntelliLink Later in the year, the 2012 LaCrosse with eAssist will come with Buick’s all-new infotainment system called IntelliLink. The system uses Bluetooth or USB to connect the driver’s Smartphone to a new 8-inch, high-res, full-color touch screen display. IntelliLink allows Smartphone control via voice activation and steering wheel-mounted controls. It also enables streaming stereo audio from the phone through services like PANDORA Internet radio and Stitcher SmartRadio. Most importantly, Buick IntelliLink enables integration of one’s own portable devices with each vehicle’s infotainment system, allowing drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. 2012 Buick LaCrosse Highlights The sedan has 101.7 cu. ft. of passenger volume and was appointed in a very luxurious looking and feeling leather trimmed interior with a faux wood accent panel and what appeared to be an LED light bar spread across the entire right side of the dash. In addition, this may in fact be the quietest mid-sized sedan on the road today. Ride was well controlled and compliant. Road manners for the short test drive felt above its price class. Safety The Buick LaCrosse has earned the right to sit in your drive with an IIHS Top Safety Pick and 5-Star Crash Test Rating on the most stringent crash testing program in the world. Namely the 2011 NHTSA. These were crash tests on the 2011 and there is no reason to believe the 2012 LaCrosse w/ eAssist will be rated any different. 2011 NHTSA 5-Star Crash Test Rating Lowlights – When you begin your smaller mid-sized sedan pricing model at $30,000 +, you have priced yourself over approximately 80% of the mid-sized buyers today. In addition, just like the previous BAS system and all hybrid sedans as of late, the traction battery takes a large portion of the trunk’s available cargo capacity, now at 10.9 cu. ft. from the current 2011 non eAssist equipped variants spacious 16 cu. ft. Trunk’s 10.9 cu. ft. of cargo capacity. Another “issue” is that the BAS/eAssist systems fuel economy additions to your bottom line may not be as significant as the extremely well-calibrated system is to the EPA test cycles. The results received and shown below were only 15.7% above its EPA combined and the worst showing of a number of automobiles from which with a fuel economy study was performed during the MAMA Spring Rally. This drive occurred on the morning of day 2 of the event with no rain and dry roads vs. raining and wet roads when 10 of the 12-vehicle contingent were driven. 2012 Buick LaCrosse w/ eAssist at the MAMA Spring Rally 34.4 mpgUS from the 29 mpgUS combined rated LaCrosse w/ eAssist around an ~ 8-mile loop. Speaking with Steve Poulos, GM’s Global Chief Engineer of the eAssist system during the preview drive, I requested that the new 2012 LaCrosse w/ eAssist be highlighted in the future on a more highway friendly route so as to allow the 6-speed AT’s TC to lock up and the expected highway fuel economy should then truly shine. The eAssist system will also be available on the 2012 Buick Regal later this year.