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  The Buick LaCrosse Concept/Show Car »
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."

Clever Transformer

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.

V-8 Propulsion

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 performance.

Design Touches

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 for Buick.

"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 harmonious gesture."

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 the 1950s.

"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 versatile automobile."

Vehicle type: five-passenger family sedan with advanced features and enhanced versatility

Chassis layout: transversely-mounted engine, front-wheel drive

Construction: unibody with rubber-isolated front and rear subframe and multiple roof and cargo bay configurations

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, anti-roll bar

Rear suspension: semi-trailing arm with toe-control links, coil springs (with air-assist automatic leveling), anti-roll bar

Brake system: four vented and cross-drilled Brembo discs, Brembo four-piston calipers, ABS, power assist

Wheels: 9.0x21-inch polished aluminum with brass-toned accents

Tires: Michelin run-flat

Dimensions: (in./mm. except where noted)

Wheelbase: 121.7x3090

Length: 204.4x5192

Width: 76.9x1952

Height: 57.5x1461.3

Track, f/r: 65.4/1660 / 64.8/1646

Cargo load floor: 40.0x96.0 / 1016x2438

Source: Buick Motor Division
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