The Buick LaCrosse concept is a graceful and stylish
luxury sedan with surprising functionality - it's
quickly converted to a carrier of oversized cargo
when panels open to reveal its pickup-type bed.
This five-passenger sedan combines roominess
and comfort with an elegant exterior design that
immediately says Buick with its "sweepspear" side
profile, vertical-bar grille, "portholes" and
cross-car rear lighting. LaCrosse's most notable
feature is its ability to be quickly transformed
- with a single voice command - from a luxury
car to a light cargo carrier with an open bed.
The back window and trunk lid slide forward to
reveal the cargo area.
Buick General Manager Roger W. Adams characterizes
LaCrosse as the latest evolution of the classic
American luxury sedan. "Our customer research
has identified a desire for added functions,"
Adams said. "But Buick owners aren't interested
in sacrificing room, comfort or style. So we're
striving to give them the best of both worlds.
LaCrosse is a realistic vision of a potential
future Buick flagship vehicle with all of the
comfort of a Buick and much of the functionality
of a pickup."
The standard configuration is a closed sedan
with a large tinted-glass sunroof that can be
opened for star gazing or extra ventilation. In
response to a voice command, LaCrosse's sunroof
retracts and a single assembly that combines the
back window and trunk lid slides forward to convert
the trunk into an open cargo bay. Another voice
command switches the rear seat into an additional
load floor capable of accommodating a Christmas
tree or a grandfather clock.
LaCrosse's power-operated hood opens from the
side to showcase Buick's return to V-8 power.
This 265-horsepower, 4.2-liter version of GM's
premium V-8, which is branded with the Buick name,
is linked to an electronically controlled four-speed
automatic transmission. Notable features are aluminum
block and head construction, chain-driven double
overhead camshafts and four-valve combustion chambers.
Four-wheel independent suspension, Brembo four-wheel
antilock disc brakes and the 21-inch Michelin
run-flat tires give LaCrosse safe and sure-footed
Some of the design features, such as a vertical-bar
grille, sweepspear side sculpture and "portholes,"
are clearly borrowed from Buick's heritage. Other
design touches: Bi-metallic wheel and exhaust-tip
adornments gleam like fine jewelry. Functional
elements behind the clear headlamp lenses are
brightly polished to add sparkle to the front
design. A filigreed accent is draped like a diamond
necklace near the rear edge of LaCrosse's sculpted
hood. LaCrosse's dark red exterior color is described
as "a deep red wine."
David G. Lyon, Buick's design manager at GM Design,
said his team was assigned to create a versatile
sedan/pickup combination by planners who saw a need
for a utilitarian vehicle in Buick's lineup.
The design team took that idea and set out to
create something more - what Lyon described as
a "drop-dead gorgeous" design to turn the utility
vehicle into what could be a beautiful flagship
"We shaped LaCrosse to yield continuously sweeping
lines with no abrupt starts and stops," he said.
"Front and rear surfaces are dramatically curved
to carry the viewer's eyes around the car in one
LaCrosse was created basically on the architecture
of Buick's 2000 Park Avenue luxury sedan. It's
shorter than Park Avenue but has similar interior
space. However, its 121.7-inch wheelbase is greater
by 7.9 inches. Benjamin Jimenez, lead exterior
designer, said moving the front wheels forward
and sharply creasing the top of the fenders "maximizes
visual impact and adds tension to the car's sweepspear
side sculpture." He describes the tension of the
design as comparable to drawing a cloth tightly
over a frame.
LaCrosse is not only a test bed for new ideas
and aesthetics, it also celebrates Buick's heritage.
LaCrosse has a broad stance and prominent 21-inch
wheels that provide a contemporary appearance
and a solid base for the sleek roofline.
Said Lyon: "Every maker is striving for its
own distinctive look. Studying Buick's long history,
we discovered assets that will give future Buicks
instant recognition. A great example is LaCrosse's
vertical-bar grille which is the modern rendition
of a design Harley Earl (General Motors' first
design chief) created for the 1938 Buick Y-job,
considered the industry's first true 'dream' car.
Of course, that vertical-bar treatment became
famous on Buicks of the 1940s and early '50s and
has been a design cue on many recent Buicks."
The sweepspear side sculpture is another example.
The first sweepspear, which appeared on some 1949
Roadmasters, was a bright metal side decoration
that began in the front fender as a slim horizontal
molding and became wider as it swept in a downward
curve along the doors. It dipped to the base of
the leading edge of the rear fender, and then
kicked up over the rear wheel openings. The look,
echoed in side sculpture, became prominent in
"Portholes" (officially called ventiports) -
another classic Buick design cue, this one also
dating to 1949 - are functional as well as decorative,
venting LaCrosse's engine compartment. And cross-car
rear lighting, also a Buick brand cue, repeats
the strong elliptical theme at the front of LaCrosse.
According to David G. Lyon, Buick's design manager
at GM Design, "LaCrosse is a preview of Buick's
look for the near future. Our intention is to bring
glamour and drama back into car design."
Buick General Manager Roger W. Adams linked
LaCrosse to Buick's most recent concept vehicles,
the 1998 Signia, a multiple-activity vehicle,
and the 1999 Cielo, a "no-compromise" convertible
with hard roof panels that retract on permanent
roof rails into the rear compartment. (Cielo is
pronounced see-A-low and means "sky" in Spanish).
"LaCrosse builds on Buick's brand heritage and
the Signia and Cielo concepts to define a potential
direction for our future flagship," said Adams.
"The sheer creativity embodied within this no-compromise
design demonstrates how we expect to deliver exceptional
comfort, style and functionality in the same highly
Vehicle type: five-passenger family sedan
with advanced features and enhanced versatility
Chassis layout: transversely-mounted engine,
Construction: unibody with rubber-isolated
front and rear subframe and multiple roof and cargo
Engine: 4.2-liter DOHC 32-valve V-8.
Horsepower: 265 at 5600 rpm (est.)
Torque: 284 lb-ft at 4000 rpm (est.)
Transaxle: Hydramatic 4T80E, electronically
controlled four-speed automatic
Steering system: Magnetic variable-effort,
rack-and-pinion with computer-controlled power assist
Front suspension: strut type, coil springs,
Rear suspension: semi-trailing arm with toe-control
links, coil springs (with air-assist automatic leveling),
Brake system: four vented and cross-drilled
Brembo discs, Brembo four-piston calipers, ABS, power
Wheels: 9.0x21-inch polished aluminum with
Tires: Michelin run-flat
Dimensions: (in./mm. except where noted)
Track, f/r: 65.4/1660 / 64.8/1646
Cargo load floor: 40.0x96.0 / 1016x2438
Source: Buick Motor Division
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