2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist Sticker Price is $29,960

A somewhat misleading sticker price of $29,960 has been announced for the 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist but strong highway mileage numbers offset that somewhat.

The $29,960 sticker price for the 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist is somewhat misleading because it doesn't include the $860 destination charge. It sounds a lot better to say $29,960 for a price than $30,820, which is going to be the price that Buick dealers charge customers. (It's all smoke and mirrors.)

An equally impressive number for the 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist (henceforth known as the LaCrosse eAssist) is the reported 37 mpg highway fuel economy, which Buick points out is better than the Lexus HS Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (neither of which happen to be spectacular cars by any stretch of the imagination).

The fuel economy boost that LaCrosse with eAssist offers comes from a lithium-ion battery system and electric motor-generator that enables regenerative braking capability. This “light electrification” system also will be available on the 2012 Buick Regal later this year.

Mated to a 2.4L Ecotec direct injection four-cylinder engine and next-generation six-speed automatic transmission, the eAssist system uses power stored in the battery to provide needed electrical boost in various driving scenarios, optimizing engine and transmission operation. An advanced 115V lithium-ion battery and latest-generation 15-kW motor-generator unit help increase fuel economy through:

  • • Regenerative braking, which provides up to 15 kW of electricity to charge the battery
  • • Providing up to 11 kW (15 hp) of electric power assistance during acceleration
  • • Automatic engine shut-off when the vehicle is stopped
  • • Aggressive fuel cut-off during deceleration down to zero vehicle speed, enabled by the torque smoothing provided by the motor-generator unit
  • • Intelligent charge/discharge of the high-voltage battery.

Buick LaCrosse with eAssist technology also features improved underbody aerodynamics and tires optimized for performance and fuel economy, as well as active control of front-end airflow that improves aerodynamics and engine warm-up. Electronically controlled shutters in the lower grille close at higher speeds to push more air over the vehicle, which increases aerodynamic efficiency to enhance fuel economy. All of these technologies increase the eAssist system’s regenerative braking capability, while also improving the vehicle’s efficiency while driving.

Although eAssist is the standard powertrain, a new, more powerful and more efficient version of the direct-injected, E85-capable 3.6L V-6 with variable valve timing, Is available at no additional cost on select trim levels. The front-wheel-drive 3.6L model is rated at an SAE-certified 303 horsepower (226 kW) – an improvement of 23 hp – and 264 lb.-ft. of torque (358 Nm). An all-wheel drive version, which is yet to be rated, also is available.

LaCrosse with eAssist includes an ECO gauge on the instrument panel that continuously responds to driving behavior, enabling the driver to drive with maximum efficiency. It also features a hill-assist system that captures brake pressure to help the driver more comfortably accelerate from a stop on a moderate or steep grade. It does this by greatly reducing the tendency of the vehicle to roll backward with the engine in shut-down mode.

Later in the year, LaCrosse with eAssist will come with standard Buick IntelliLink, which uses Bluetooth or USB to connect the driver’s smartphone to a new 8-inch, high-resolution, full-color touch screen display radio. IntelliLink expands on Buick’s current Bluetooth and USB capabilities to allow 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®.

The eAssist power pack contains the lithium-ion battery pack, the integrated power inverter and 12V power supply. It is located in a compartment between the rear seat and trunk; and it is surprisingly compact and lightweight, weighing only about 65 pounds (29 kg). It still allows rear access to the trunk via the split-folding rear seat – an attribute not shared with other hybrid competitors. Trunk space is slightly reduced when compared with 2011 models with the four-cylinder/six-speed powertrain, but still offers 10.9 cubic feet (307 liters) of storage. An electric fan cools the power pack, drawing air from a vent located in the package tray, behind the rear seat. The fans are designed to be quiet from the cabin.

The eAssist system’s electric motor-generator is mounted to the engine in place of the alternator to provide both motor assist and electric-generating functions through a new engine belt-drive system. The motor-generator is a high-performance, compact induction motor that is liquid-cooled for increased performance and efficiency.

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