2020 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe vs. 2019 Buick LaCrosse

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe offers an optional Side and Top 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 4 Series Gran Coupe 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 seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available all wheel drive.

Warranty

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the LaCrosse’s (12 vs. 6 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 4 Series Gran Coupe for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Buick only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the LaCrosse.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 4 Series Gran Coupe first among compact premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The LaCrosse isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Buick vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, Buick is ranked 16th, below the industry average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 11 places higher in reliability than Buick.

Engine

The 430i Gran Coupe’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 54 more horsepower (248 vs. 194) and 71 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 187) than the LaCrosse’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The 440i Gran Coupe’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 10 more horsepower (320 vs. 310) and 62 lbs.-ft. more torque (330 vs. 268) than the LaCrosse’s optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the 430i Gran Coupe is faster than the Buick LaCrosse:

4 Series

LaCrosse eAssist

LaCrosse V6

Zero to 30 MPH

2 sec

2.9 sec

n/a

Zero to 60 MPH

5.7 sec

7.8 sec

5.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.9 sec

22.4 sec

14.5 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.8 sec

8.2 sec

6.1 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.6 sec

4.2 sec

n/a

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.3 sec

6.1 sec

n/a

Quarter Mile

14.3 sec

16.3 sec

14.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98 MPH

86 MPH

100 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 4 Series Gran Coupe gets better fuel mileage than the LaCrosse:

MPG

4 Series Gran Coupe

RWD

430i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

23 city/34 hwy

440i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

AWD

430i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/31 hwy

440i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

LaCrosse

FWD

3.6 DOHC V6

20 city/30 hwy

AWD

3.6 DOHC V6

20 city/29 hwy

Regardless of its engine, regenerative brakes improve the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. Buick only offers a regenerative brake system on the LaCrosse eAssist.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s brake rotors are larger than those on the LaCrosse:

430i

440i

LaCrosse eAssist

LaCrosse V6

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

11.8 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

11.3 inches

11.3 inches

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’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 4 Series Gran Coupe stops much shorter than the LaCrosse:

4 Series

LaCrosse

70 to 0 MPH

162 feet

173 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the LaCrosse’s standard 50 series tires. The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s optional 255/35R19 rear tires have a lower 35 series profile than the LaCrosse Essence/Premium/Avenir’s optional 40 series tires.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 4 Series Gran Coupe can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.1% to 49.9%) than the LaCrosse’s (58.6% to 41.4%). This gives the 4 Series Gran Coupe more stable handling and braking.

The 430i Gran Coupe handles at .89 G’s, while the LaCrosse Essence pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s turning circle is .9 feet tighter than the LaCrosse’s (37.1 feet vs. 38 feet).

Chassis

The 4 Series Gran Coupe is 1 foot, 2.8 inches shorter than the LaCrosse, making the 4 Series Gran Coupe easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the 430i Gran Coupe xDrive is quieter than the LaCrosse Premium:

4 Series

LaCrosse

Full-Throttle

73 dB

75 dB

70 MPH Cruising

65 dB

68 dB

Passenger Space

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has 1.5 inches more front headroom and .2 inches more front legroom than the LaCrosse.

Cargo Capacity

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has a larger trunk with its rear seat up than the LaCrosse (17 vs. 15 cubic feet). The 4 Series Gran Coupe has a larger trunk with its rear seat up than the LaCrosse eAssist (17 vs. 14.3 cubic feet).

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s hatch uses gas strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the LaCrosse’s useful trunk space.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the 4 Series Gran Coupe. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s power liftgate can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 4 Series Gran Coupe 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.

Ergonomics

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’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 4 Series Gran Coupe the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the LaCrosse can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Comfort Access standard on the 4 Series Gran Coupe allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Buick LaCrosse’s Keyless Access doesn’t unlock the trunk.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe 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 4 Series Gran Coupe’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.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 4 Series Gran Coupe offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 4 Series Gran Coupe detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

Both the 4 Series Gran Coupe and the LaCrosse offer available heated front seats. The 4 Series Gran Coupe also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the LaCrosse.

Model Availability

The BMW 4 Series comes in coupe, convertible and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Buick LaCrosse isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the 4 Series Gran Coupe owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the 4 Series Gran Coupe with a number “1” insurance rate while the LaCrosse is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 4 Series Gran Coupe will retain 47.49% to 50.4% 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 4 Series Gran Coupe is less expensive to operate than the LaCrosse because it costs $310 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the 4 Series Gran Coupe than the LaCrosse, including $28 less for front brake pads, $212 less for a fuel pump, $186 less for front struts and $188 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The 4 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2014. The LaCrosse has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 4 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2014. The LaCrosse has never been an “All Star.”

The BMW 4 Series outsold the Buick LaCrosse by over two to one during 2018.

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

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