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LA 2010: Buick LaCrosse eAssist Mild-Hybrid Gives 25 Percent Fuel Economy Jump

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Buick's LA Auto Show press conference included the launch of two new vehicles that span the gamut from performance to fuel economy. Along with the new Regal GS performance mode, Buick also announced the introduction of the mild-hybrid LaCrosse – dubbed the LaCrosse eAssist.

Taking a page out of Honda's playbook, the LaCrosse eAssist uses a relatively low-tech hybrid setup, combined with a rather advanced lithium-ion battery, to achieve 25-mpg city and 37-mpg on the highway. Those are very impressive numbers for a full-size luxury sedan.

This isn't a two-mode hybrid system so the eAssist LaCrosse can't operate on electric power alone, but it is a simple, compact and less expensive powertrain.

Using a 115-volt lithium ion battery and 15-kilowatt electric motor, the eAssist LaCrosse gets 25 percent better fuel economy, with an electric bump of 15-hp and 79 ft-lbs of torque helping out the 182-hp and 172 ft-lbs 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. The car also makes used of a 6-speed automatic transmission, rather than a CVT. Like Honda's IMA setup, the eAssist uses regenerative braking and a start/stop system.

Additional upgrades are also used to bump-up fuel economy, namely added underbody panels to help make the car more aerodynamic, as well as shutters inside the front grille than can close of at highway speeds.

Inside the car gets funky hybrid dash that shows the operation of the hybrid system and an eco-meter to display how "green" your driving is. The system itself is light weight, tipping the scales at just 65 lbs and thanks to its compact size, there's still a passthrough from the trunk to the rear seats.

All 4-cylinder 2012 LaCrosse models will get the eAssist technology standard, with pricing set to start at close to $30,000.

More: LA 2010: Buick LaCrosse eAssist Mild-Hybrid Gives 25 Percent Fuel Economy Jump on AutoGuide.com.

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