Buick has made relative waves with its decision to equip the 2012 LaCrosse with a mild hybrid system as standard kit, but the automaker also has updated the LaCrosse’s optional V-6 for those who want more power. The LaCrosse’s new engine, which will also power the 2012 Chevrolet Impala, features the same 3.6-liter displacement and direct injection as the 2011 model’s V-6, but has been massaged to produce 303 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque— improvements of 23 hp and 5 lb-ft. The 2012’s V-6’s power bump is due largely to a new cylinder-head design, larger intake valves, and new longer-duration intake camshafts.

The new engine also employs several weight-saving measures, including an integrated cylinder head and exhaust manifold, a composite intake manifold, and lightweight connecting rods that shed 20.5 pounds relative to the 2011 LaCrosse’s V-6. Fuel efficiency for front-wheel-drive models powered by the new 3.6-liter remains the same as the 2011 model; the V-6 LaCrosse is EPA rated at 17 and 27 mpg city/hwy. The best part of the new V-6? It will be a no-cost option on certain trim levels when the 2012 Buick LaCrosse goes on sale later this summer.

By Alexander Stoklosa