In a bid to boost the appeal of its flagship sedan, Buick is giving its 2017 Buick LaCrosse flagship an update that includes a nine-speed transmission and an optional hybrid powertrain.
The news comes from GM Authority, which got a peak at a LaCrosse 2018 order guide showing the deletion of the eight-speed in the current car with a nine-speed already used by Chevrolet's mid-size Malibu, a transmission that comes with a taller differential ratio.
The new hybrid powertrain is a parallel setup that uses an electric motor to bump power output over and above that of the 2.5L four-cylinder with which it shares the engine bay. Again, it's a similar arrangement to the one used in the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu, but that Chev makes do with a much smaller, 1.8L engine, so it's clear LaCrosse Hybrid will have significantly more than the Malibu's 182 total horsepower, but we can only speculate what kind of power the gas-electric LaCrosse will make. Given the 3.6L V6 available now makes 310 hp, we guess the hybrid will come in somewhere around 250 hp and be offered as a lower-priced entry-level model. And it will probably use the six-speed automatic that handles transmission duties in the Malibu Hybrid.
We suspect these changes were part of Buick's plan for the LaCrosse all along, but surely the GM upscale brand is hoping for anything that might generate renewed North American interest in this sedan, which has been a slow seller in recent months despite a handsome redesign introduced for the 2017 model year. Cushy sedans like the LaCrosse are built primarily for the Chinese market as upscale manufacturers focus on the crossovers and SUVs that continue to grow market share on this continent.