2019 Audi A4 vs. 2019 Buick LaCrosse

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A4 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Buick LaCrosse doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The A4’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The A4 has a standard Audi Backguard System that uses a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Audi Backguard System moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The A4 has standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The A4 Prestige has a standard Top and Corner View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The LaCrosse only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the A4 and the LaCrosse have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Audi A4 is safer than the Buick LaCrosse:

 

A4

LaCrosse

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

236

320

Neck Injury Risk

25%

34.8%

Neck Stress

119 lbs.

195 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

324/341 lbs.

346/354 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Audi A4 is safer than the Buick LaCrosse:

 

A4

LaCrosse

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

172

187

Chest Movement

1.1 inches

1.3 inches

Abdominal Force

219 G’s

280 G’s

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

277

368

Spine Acceleration

56 G’s

66 G’s

Hip Force

777 lbs.

851 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

15 inches

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A4 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The LaCrosse was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

The A4’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the LaCrosse’s (12 vs. 6 years).

Reliability

The Audi A4’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the LaCrosse’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the A4’s reliability 19 points higher than the LaCrosse.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 12 places higher in reliability than Buick.

Engine

The A4 40 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 49 lbs.-ft. more torque (236 vs. 187) than the LaCrosse’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The A4 45 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 5 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 268) than the LaCrosse’s optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the A4 45 TFSI is faster than the Buick LaCrosse V6:

 

A4

LaCrosse

Zero to 60 MPH

5 sec

6.1 sec

Quarter Mile

13.7 sec

14.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100.4 MPH

97.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A4 gets better fuel mileage than the LaCrosse:

 

 

A4

LaCrosse

 

FWD

 

n/a

25 city/35 hwy

eAssist 4 cyl./Auto

 

40 TFSI/Auto

27 city/34 hwy

20 city/30 hwy

V6/Auto

AWD

45 TFSI/Auto

23 city/34 hwy

20 city/29 hwy

V6/Auto

Transmission

The A4 offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

The A4 Auto’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A4’s brake rotors are larger than those on the LaCrosse:

 

A4

A4 Quattro

LaCrosse eAssist

LaCrosse V6

Front Rotors

12.4 inches

13.3 inches

11.8 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

11.3 inches

11.3 inches

The A4’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the LaCrosse are solid, not vented.

The A4 stops much shorter than the LaCrosse:

 

A4

LaCrosse

 

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

173 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The A4’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the LaCrosse Essence/Premium/Avenir’s optional 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The A4’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (56% to 44%) than the LaCrosse’s (58.6% to 41.4%). This gives the A4 more stable handling and braking.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the LaCrosse Premium pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.5 seconds quicker than the LaCrosse Premium (25.3 seconds @ .74 average G’s vs. 26.8 seconds @ .66 average G’s).

Chassis

The A4 is 11.4 inches shorter than the LaCrosse, making the A4 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the A4 Prestige Quattro is quieter than the LaCrosse Premium:

 

A4

LaCrosse

Full-Throttle

70 dB

75 dB

70 MPH Cruising

63 dB

68 dB

Passenger Space

The A4 has .5 inches more front headroom and .2 inches more rear headroom than the LaCrosse.

Cargo Capacity

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the A4. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the A4 has a standard power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer a power trunk.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the A4 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the LaCrosse. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Buick. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 21% lower rating, Buick is ranked 9th.

Ergonomics

The A4’s front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The LaCrosse’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the A4 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. The driver of the LaCrosse can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The A4 has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The A4’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The LaCrosse’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A4 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The A4’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the LaCrosse’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A4 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the A4 Prestige detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The A4 has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats are only available on the LaCrosse Sport Touring/Essence/Premium/Avenir. The A4 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the LaCrosse.

Economic Advantages

The A4 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the A4 will retain 46.36% to 48.7% of its original price after five years, while the LaCrosse only retains 23.54% to 40.34%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A4 is less expensive to operate than the LaCrosse because it costs $279 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the A4 than the LaCrosse, including $51 less for front brake pads, $437 less for a timing belt/chain and $505 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® chose the Audi A4 as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the A4 first among compact premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The LaCrosse isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Audi A4/S4 outsold the Buick LaCrosse by over two to one during the 2018 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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