Print 16 comment(s) - last by Wolfpup.. on Jun 14 at 9:27 AM

Grandma's car gets eAssist
New LaCrosse will start at under $30,000

Technology is allowing automakers to produce vehicles that are fuel efficient while at the same time providing impressive performance. In past years, performance and fuel economy weren't generally found in the same vehicles. One of the latest vehicles to embrace hybrid technology to deliver improved fuel economy and performance is the Buick LaCrosse with eAssist, which we have previously covered on DailyTech.

The 2012 LaCrosse with eAssist uses a new generation BAS hybrid system that was first covered in November of last year. Buick has now confirmed the price on the LaCrosse with eAssist for the 2012 model year with eAssist. The vehicle will start at $29,960 before a destination charge of $860. The eAssist tech allows the car to deliver 25% better highway fuel economy than the current LaCrosse model.

For comparison, the base 2011 LaCrosse without eAssist started at $27,130.

“LaCrosse with eAssist is the smart choice for those who want great fuel economy without sacrificing the driving dynamics and passenger comfort that have made Buick the fastest-growing major automotive brand in the United States,” said Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of Buick Marketing.

The eAssist tech allows the LaCrosse with eAssist to achieve 37 mpg on the highway, which is better than the Lexus HS 250h Hybrid and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Its city fuel economy of 25 mpg, however, falls well below that of those two competitors. The 2012 LaCrosse vehicle uses a new lithium-ion battery system and an electric motor-generator that allows for regenerative braking. The light electrification system inside the LaCrosse will also be offered on the 2012 Buick Regal later in the year.

The eAssist tech is paired with an 180hp 2.4-liter inline-4 engine that uses direct injection. An AWD version of the vehicle will also be offered, but the power numbers are not rated at this time.

“LaCrosse with eAssist is the most advanced LaCrosse to date,” DiSalle said. “The winning combination of advanced technology, no-compromise driving performance and luxurious style and passenger comfort stand to make LaCrosse with eAssist a must-have sedan.”

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I don't understand how this works.
By MrTeal on 6/10/2011 1:44:29 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously question, how is this able to raise the mileage from 30 to 37 MPG with a mild hybrid like this? On a long trip I could see that there might be some benefit while passing, but how do you recharge the batteries when there really isn't any braking to speak of?

Or is it just that this fits in very nicely with the EPA test cycle, and you wouldn't see anything near these gains is you're doing 200 miles between stops at normal highway speeds?

By MrTeal on 6/10/2011 1:49:34 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and I think you transposed the numbers in the price of the base Lacrosse. That should be $27,130, not $21,730.

RE: I don't understand how this works.
By Flunk on 6/10/2011 2:15:03 PM , Rating: 2
It's perfectly possible. I'm sure you could conceivably tune a conventional LaCrosse to get 37MPG on the highway if you optimized for fuel consumption at the cost of performance. You would be amazed the fuel consumption numbers you can get if you don't care that it takes 20 seconds to get up to 60mph.

By MrTeal on 6/10/2011 2:24:29 PM , Rating: 2
I suppose I made the assumption that they wouldn't cripple performance between the two models. Like you say, that might not be the case.

Looking at the Highway fuel economy test, it is definitely more city-like than most of the highway driving I do. Only testing for 10 miles with an average speed of 48 MPH is more like in town freeway driving.

RE: I don't understand how this works.
By soydios on 6/10/2011 4:03:50 PM , Rating: 1
Atkinson cycle engine?

RE: I don't understand how this works.
By GulWestfale on 6/10/2011 8:35:30 PM , Rating: 2
i think the worst part here s the name: 'eAssist' sounds more like a device created to help buick's geriatric customers than a mild hybrid system.

By DNAgent on 6/11/2011 1:51:37 AM , Rating: 2
that was my first thought when I saw the headline...

By Philippine Mango on 6/11/2011 2:41:40 AM , Rating: 3
Clearly, you've been distracted by the red herring which is the highway fuel economy and the association with this vehicle being a hybrid.. This e-assist version of the Buick Lacrosse is a hybrid, a semi-mild hybrid. What does this mean? It means it gets better highway and city fuel economy.. How does it do this? If you don't know how it does this, then you should really be asking yourself, how does any hybrid do this? If you compare the Civic Hybrid with the Civic non hybrid or the Fusion Hybrid with the Fusion non hybrid, it's the same thing, better city and highway fuel economy.. In fact, pretty much every hybrid based on the standard model gets better fuel economy both in the city and highway..

We all know hybrids do well in the city because they employ technologies like start stop, use the electric motors for low load situations and or provide assist during acceleration, etc. etc. but get confused on why the hybrid version gets better fuel economy on the highway when most of these things can't really be taken advantage of in this situation.

What's actually happening is that they're giving fuel economy oriented models a transmission with gear ratios that favor fuel economy over acceleration. Now if the vehicle has similar 0-60 times as the non hybrid, then it's the battery assist during hard acceleration that allows the vehicle with taller gear ratios that would normally be slower to have the same performance as the vehicle with the shorter gear ratios.. Otherwise, the hybrid model tends to be a bit slower because these gear ratios while great for saving fuel, don't lend themselves to doing 0-whatever sprints.

So, if you're wondering if this kind of fuel economy is possible with a non hybrid version of these vehicles, the answer is yes. For reference, the e-assist Lacrosse doesn't get better fuel economy just on the highway, it also does better in the city.. (19mpg city, 30mpg hwy for NON hybrid in case you're wondering.)

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