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Test Drive: 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist

I got my first chance to drive the 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist in October. After posting my initial impressions, a reader commented that he was disappointed with his test drive. He cited tight seats and poor rearward visibility as his chief complaints, and was let down because he waited months for the eAssist’s release.

Well, after a week of driving the 2012 LaCrosse eAssist, it turns out that I agree with his concerns about the visibility. My test car stickered for $36,685 and included options such as a navigation system, backup camera and Buick’s Driver Confidence package, which adds HID headlamps with adaptive lighting, a blind-spot monitoring system and a head-up display.

The LaCrosse has thick roof pillars, and without the backup camera, I agree that throwing this affordable large car in reverse would be a daunting task. I didn’t think visibility was ideal toward the front either, as the Buick’s A-pillars took up a decent chunk of my sightlines during left and right turns.

If you’re shopping the Buick name because you long for the days of expansive bench seats, the LaCrosse may also disappoint. However, at 6’1” I found the front buckets spacious and comfortable, with ample head- and legroom. The back seat also seemed more than accommodating for two adults when four of us piled into the LaCrosse.

If you’re hoping to combine good fuel economy with swift straight-line acceleration, the LaCrosse eAssist may come up short. However, it’s perfectly competent around town and on the highway, and the LaCrosse is more poised on a twisty road than rivals like the Toyota Avalon.

Still, I think the LaCrosse’s mild-hybrid moniker, eAssist, seems like a fad. Much like Polaroid, Betamax and dial-up Internet, I suspect “eAssist” isn’t a term that will continue to conjure up images of cutting-edge technology. Thankfully, Buick didn’t write it anywhere on the car.

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