Buick LaCrosse Tuning

"All you need to know about performance parts and tuning the Buick LaCrosse engine!"

One car that keeps cropping up in emails and questions we get sent, is the LaCrosse, and what parts work best on it. So we've put together this how-to guide which goes over what we feel are the primary areas you should tune and outline which modifications we feel are the best.

This mid sized sedan offers quite a lot and is proving to attract quite a following. In the Buick model lineup, this model is a fair step up from the Regal.

The Buick LaCrosse are fantastic to work on and with the best uprated parts like ECU maps, turbo upgrades, and camshafts you will noticeably enhance your driving experience.

In this article we examine LaCrosse tuning and provide tips on the optimum modifications for your car.

History of the LaCrosse Engine

First generation (2005)

  • 2.4 L LE5 I4  & 3.0 L LZD V6 (Only offered in China)
  • 3.6 L LY7 V6
  • 3.8 L L26 V6
  • 5.3 L LS4 V8

Transmission: 4-speed 4T65-E automatic, 4-speed 4T65E-HD automatic, 6-speed automatic

Second generation (2010)

The second revision saw major changes, pushing the LaCrosse to the poster boy of the Buick sedan lineup. It was based on a longer wheelbase Epsilon platform and shares this with the Saab 9-5 and Insignia.

  • 2.0 L LTG I4 (turbo gasoline) (China)
  • 2.4 L LAF I4
  • 2.4 L LE5 I4 (turbo gasoline) (China)
  • 2.4 L LUK I4
  • 3.0 L LF1 V6
  • 3.6 L LLT V6
  • 3.6 L LFX V6

Transmission: 6-speed GM 6T40, GM 6T45, GM 6T70 automatic

  • CX 2.4 L Ecotec 182hp (136kW) 172 lbft (233 N⋅m)
  • CX, CXL 3.0 L LF1 V6 (2,994 cc (183 cu in)) 255hp (190kW @6,950 rpm 217 lbft (294 N⋅m @5,600 rpm
  • CXS 3.6 L LLT V6 (3,564 cc (217 cu in)) 280hp (209kW @6,400 rpm 259 lbft (351 N⋅m @5,200 rpm

2011

  • CX, CXL (FWD) 2.4 L Ecotec I4 182hp (136kW) 172 lbft (233 N⋅m)
  • CXL, CXS 3.6 L LLT V6 (3,564 cc (217 cu in)) 280hp (209kW @6,400 rpm 259 lbft (351 N⋅m @5,200 rpm
    2012-2016
  • FWD (Base–Premium 1) 2.4 L Ecotec I4 with eAssist 182hp (136kW) 172 lbft (233 N⋅m)
  • FWD (except Base), AWD 3.6 L LFX V6 (3,564 cc (217 cu in)) 303hp (226kW @6,800 rpm 264 lbft (358 N⋅m @5,300 rpm

Third generation (2017)

The third generation LaCrosse used the same E2XX platform as the 2016–present Chevrolet Impala. The platform ensured the new model was lighter than the previous model.

  • 3.6-liter direct-injection VVT V6 engine (LGX 310hp / 282 lb-ft), with stop-start and cylinder deactivation.
  • 1.3 L L3T I3 (turbo)
  • 1.5 L LFV I4 (turbo)
  • 2.0 L LTG I4 (turbo)
  • 2.0 L LSY I4 (turbo)
  • 2.5 L LHN  (Hybrid gasoline/electric) (North America)
  • 3.6 L LGX DI V6 (gasoline)

 

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

 

LaCrosse Engine Tuning.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your LaCrosse. Be sure to subscribe and support our new channel.

Best mods for your LaCrosse

  1. Brake Upgrades - Improve your LaCrosse's stopping power should be high on your agenda.
  2. Air Induction and Sports Exhausts - Please note that on their own these mods won't ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  3. Flowing and porting the engine head - for larger gains, you will get better flow and make a more efficient engine if you do this to support your other mods.
  4. Fast road cams are generally the biggest mechanical mod upgrade, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they are doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  5. Tunes - LaCrosse remapping provides the biggest gains compared to cost, aftermarket ECU upgrades, and inline Tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  6. LaCrosse Handling Mods (suspension) - Fitting a more sporty Suspension kit greatly enhances your LaCrosse road holding and cornering. Coilovers and Bushings are the usual go to mods
  7. Turbo upgrades - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. Typically one of the most costly upgrades it offers big gains.

LaCrosse Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Lighter flywheelSuspension upgrade (drop 25mm - 44 mm.), Remap, Alloy wheels, Panel air filter, Sports exhaust.

These are mods that can literally be bolted on and work. They are often basic, do-it-yourself modifications, however, many will have very little effect directly on the car's performance.

A real stage one mod is a stand-alone mod, but there is nothing stopping you from adding more to your car, and we strongly advise you to do so because the power gains are exponentially cumulative.

That is, the sum of power gains is more than the sum of the individual sections. For example, by combining a sports exhaust (2bhp), an air intake (4bhp), and a remap (15bhp), you can achieve a power gain of 30bhp rather than just 21bhp if you just added them together.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: fuel pump upgrades, high flow fuel injector, Ported and polished head, Power/Sport clutch, Fast road cam.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Sports gearbox, Engine balancing, Competition cam.

The LaCrosse engines are fantastic to work on and thankfully there are quite a few choices of modifications and performance parts about.

LaCrosse Handling/Suspension upgrades

Improving the handling for many people first priority in your LaCrosse tuning project.

Check that the original bushings are in good condition, the no 1 handling problem on the LaCrosse is down to worn suspension bushings and mounts, these cause excessive play in the suspension.

Fully adjustable suspension allows you to fine tune the handling of your LaCrosse greatly enhancing your drive.

We suggest that you fit motorsport suspension and lower the car by 25mm - 44 mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with motorsport suspension.

Uprated Bushes

Enhancements to the bushings: Things you need to know

It is possible to connect the LaCrosse's suspension components around the chassis of the LaCrosse using poly bushes, which are replacements for the rubber mounts. The rubber ones will degrade with time and need replacing anyway so why not upgrade.

Installing new OEM rubber bushings may dramatically improve the performance of your car.

It's probable that the ride may be a touch rougher because to the stronger polyurethane bushes, but they'll last longer and maintain tighter handling.

They may also hasten the depreciation of other suspension components due to the increased vibration and play.

With a new set of poly bushes, the excessive play associated with rubber bushes may be eliminated.

Rarer and older models may only have polyurethane versions of the main bushes available as aftermarket bushing kits, however the majority of recent models have a complete set of suspension bushes for all parts of your suspension mounts.

You may be able to have custom bushes created to suit your needs.

A frequent misconception is that the best setup would be a non-adjustable suspension system that lowers the vehicle by 50mm purchased from a franchised component shop.

Vendors may claim that their LaCrosse suspension kits are compatible with any or all model year LaCrosses.

The 'one size fits all' approach is obviously a flawed assumption when it comes to adequately supporting a diverse variety of cars. Engine weights and trim levels, and even alloy rims will affect the handling and require different suspension setups.

How low should you go on the LaCrosse?

TorqueCars research and testing indicate that the maximum suspension drop for most road vehicles is 26 - 38 millimetres, whereas the maximum suspension drop for hot hatchbacks with lower OEM suspension is 18 millimetres.

These tolerances may be drastically lowered if the wheel size is changed. Even with 16 or 17-inch wheels and conventional suspension, lowering the vehicle may create a slew of issues.

Because the LaCrosse is lower, less air travels under it, which may aid in stability; nonetheless, the main goal should always be to enhance handling. It is critical to use the proper shocks when employing lower springs buying matched components as a kit.

Putting slight negative camber on the wheels and a few degrees of toe (in for better stability or out to improve cornering), will greatly benefit your LaCrosse in handling and cornering.

LaCrosse Brake Mods

Adding larger brake discs and better brake pads will make for dramatically improved stopping.

Please note that some performance pads can grind and will need to be really hot before they bite.

In every day driving the brakes are only applied now and then so won't be all that effective so select friction pads which don't need to be really hot.

LaCrosse Brake Mods

Adding larger brake discs and better high performance brake pads will make for dramatically enhanced braking.

Please note that motorsport friction pads can be noisier and will need to be hot before they are effective.

On a road car the brakes are occasionally used so won't be as effective at slowing you up so specify brake pads that work well in daily use.

Tuning the Buick LaCrosse and best LaCrosse performance parts.

Best LaCrosse upgrades & Mods

The best LaCrosse tuning mods on an engine are obviously the ones that give the best value for money.

We won't be swayed by popular LaCrosse tuning mods, they need to be cost effective.

Getting a fast road cam will come into their own at higher RPM power so are more suited to petrol engines, than diesel ones. Most cars will see peak power increases through performance camshafts on most engines. So altering your LaCrosse camshaft will make a difference to the engine torque. Choosing a higher performance camshaft profile raises the torque|torque curve|power curve|power range accordingly.

Fast road camshafts commonly boost the performance across the rpm range, you might lose a little low-end bhp but the higher rpm power will be higher.

Competition camshafts, boost the higher rpm power band but as a result, the car will not idle smoothly and low-end power nearly always suffers.

A Motorsport and race camshaft will just annoy you whilst driving in heavy traffic.

You should ideally match your power band to your typical driving style so for a car driven daily stick with a shorter duration LaCrosse camshaft

Different LaCrosse engines respond better to different camshaft durations than others.

The engine timing and injectors and fuel pump also have a large bearing on the torque gains you'll hit.

Longer valve durations can alter the torque band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

LaCrosse Engine mapping

ECU mapping will help fully realize the full potential of all the tuning parts you've done to your LaCrosse.

(Sometimes flashing the ECU is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.) It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but your results may differs on the tuning parts you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

Forcing more air and fuel into each cylinder is the aim to any tuning project.

Your intake manifold transmits the air during the suck phase from the filter and allow it to be fed into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

The shape and flow rate of the Intake headers can make a noticeable effect on to fuel mixing and power on the LaCrosse.

Most intake headers are ripe for an upgrade, although a few makers provide reasonably well designed intake headers.

Increasing the LaCrosse valve size, getting LaCrosse port enlargement and head flowing will also improve bhp, and importantly will make space for a greater bhp increase on other upgrades.

Fuelling

Don't omit to look at the fuelling when you are increasing the performance - it makes the car more thirsty.

We would recommend you to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% to the flow rate when specifying an injector, which takes into account injector deterioration and affords a bit of spare capacity should the engine need more fuel.

We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

All the following flywheel power targets will assume an injector duty cycle of 80% and a base of 58psi of fuel pressure at idle.

4 Cylinder turbocharged engines

  • 58 PSI 340cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 511cc/min 300hp

4 Cylinder NASP engines

  • 58 PSI 285cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 426cc/min 300hp
  • 58 PSI 568cc/min 400hp

4 Cylinder supercharged engines

  • 58 PSI 312cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 468cc/min 300hp
  • 58 PSI 625cc/min 400hp

6 Cylinder NASP engines

  • 58 PSI 189cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 284cc/min 300hp
  • 58 PSI 378cc/min 400hp

6 Cylinder turbocharged engines

  • 58 PSI 227cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 341cc/min 300hp
  • 58 PSI 454cc/min 400hp

LaCrosse Performance Exhausts

You should look to replace your exhaust if the existing exhaust is actually causing a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts you'll find the flow rate is ok even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Do not go with the widest exhaust you can buy you'll reduce the exhaust flow rate - the best for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Common exhaust restrictions are in the catalyst installed, so adding a faster flowing race aftermarket version unlocks that lost power.

A sports catalyst pretty much removes this restriction, thanks to its larger size and surface area, and will effectively raise the performance to levels you would expect without having a catalyst installed. This keeps the car road legal and will remove the restriction due to its higher internal surface area and design.

The alternative catless mod or catalyst removal should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars (and in some you can't even replace a working catalyst).

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the LaCrosse

The LaCrosse engines are generally reliable and solid as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

Regular oil changes are vital on the LaCrosse, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

LaCrosse Alloy wheel upgrades.

Because alloys are lighter they improve performance and they will help to cool the brake disks. We can't go into too much detail here about tires but they are how the car puts the power down on the road so are a critical choice. directional tread pattern tires work well on LaCrosse, and make a big difference over budget tires. Large LaCrosse alloy wheels can decrease performance. If you get big alloy wheels you will be changing your final drive ratio.

Due to this we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 16 inches, although we know some of our members have fitted larger wheels with no problems.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss LaCrosse options in more detail with our LaCrosse owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Buick tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

If you want to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your LaCrosse engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss LaCrosse tuning options in more detail with our LaCrosse owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Buick tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

We appreciate your taking the time to tell us what our members have got up to and which tuning parts work best for them on each model of car. Comments are used to improve the accuracy of these LaCrosse articles which are continually updated.

PLEASE HELP: I NEED YOUR DONATIONS TO COVER THE COSTS OF RUNNING THIS SITE AND KEEP IT RUNNING. I do not charge you to access this website and it saves most TorqueCars readers $100's each year - but we are NON PROFIT and not even covering our costs. To keep us running PLEASE Donate here

If you liked this page please share it with your friends, drop a link to it in your favourite forum or use the bookmarking options to save it to your social media profile.

Feedback - What do You Think?

Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

Help us improve, leave a suggestion or tip

Your Constructive comments on this article


Please watch this video on our new YouTube channel.



Member Benefits

Join our forum today and benefit from over 300,000 posts on tuning styling and friendly car banter.

You will also have full access to the modifed car gallery, project car updates and exclusive member only areas.

(All car owners of all ages and from all countries are welcome).


BMW 335i - 2021 COTY

We gave the BMW 335i our coveted car of the year award, read more about this awesome car and see why 335i Tuning Guide

Tips for N54 Tuning

Tips for N55 Tuning

Popular articles

Diesel tuning
Remapping the ECU
double clutching
Induction Kits
Customize a car
Chip Tuning
Modified car insurance
Track day insurance cover
Remap Diesels
MPG calculator
Clearing a DPF
Horizon 5 tuning


Engine Cooling

Guide to Essential Engine Cooling Mods
Read more...

Engine Balancing

Engine Balancing – balancing pistons, rods and crank.
Read more...

Spray Art2

Stunning sprayed art on car body panels
Read more...

Carbon Fibre

Carbon fibre bonnets and body panels.
Read more...

Rust Removal

How to remove rust and treating rust on cars
Read more...

Best Car P2

Our look at the best coupe, classic, automatic, and Diesel cars
Read more...

MPG Calculator

MPG calculator UK miles per Gallon – calculate MPG
Read more...