Buick owners are among the oldest in the market, but GM plans to change that. The 2010 LaCrosse has what it takes, if younger shoppers get behind the wheel to see for themselves.

It’s the all-new version of the Allure, which was always called LaCrosse in the U.S. (the Canadian name was changed because it’s a naughty slang term in French). It’s expensive to sell a car under two names, and GM should have called it LaCrosse all along. At least it’s finally smartened up.

It’s also smartened up about putting out the right stuff. Allure — which was made in Oshawa, but production has moved to Kansas — was an OK car. LaCrosse is a really good one.

A 3.0-litre V6 powers the base CX, which starts at $32,745, and the mid-range CXL, at $34,745. The CXL is also the only one that adds all-wheel-drive, at $38,245. The top-line CXS uses a 3.6-litre V6 and starts at $40,745.

At 255 horsepower, the 3.0 isn’t as strong as the 280-horsepower 3.6, and you can feel a few shift points where the transmission is tuned more for fuel economy than for performance.

If your wallet can take it, though, the top-line CXS offers the greatest driving pleasure. You can load it as high as $50,340 when you throw in every available option, including navigation, rear-seat DVD with headrest-mounted screens, sunroof and rear seat side airbags. They’re fine, but it’s the $895 Touring Package that you really want. It adds 19-inch wheels, H-arm rear suspension (also used on the AWD model) for better stability, and an automatic suspension that adapts for road conditions.

A tester so equipped hugged the curves on a winding road, taking corners smoothly and soaking up bumps without feeling floaty.

LaCrosse is also built in Korea and China for those markets. Buick is a luxury brand in China and owners are often chauffeur-driven, so the back seat is exceptionally roomy and comfortable.

The interior blends traditional and modern; available technology features include side blind zone alert, adaptive headlights that turn with the wheels, and a head-up display that projects the vehicle speed onto the windshield.

There is some room for improvement. More soft-touch plastics would be nice, and the A-pillars are very wide and create a blind spot. My biggest complaint is with the shift lever, which pulls back too far, making it tough to use the manual shift mode.

2010 Buick LaCrosse
Type: Four-door sedan
Price: from $32, 745
Engine: 3.0L V6/3.6L V6
HP: 255/280

• Excellent handling
• Good blend of the traditional and the modern

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