Those who have experienced Buick’s keyless entry system (as seen on the Buick LaCrosse, for example) have GM technical fellow and Buick inventor Dave Proefke to thank for the convenience. Proefke and his team are responsible for engineering the feature, which allows the driver to lock, unlock, and start a vehicle without taking the key fob out of a purse or pocket.
But besides the various convenience aspects, the keyless entry system also incorporates many precautionary features that aren’t readily apparent to the everyday driver. For instance, the system prevents the driver from being locked out of the car by refusing to lock doors, all while sending out an audible alert when the key fob was left inside the vehicle. In this respect, the system tries to anticipate the driver’s actions and predict the next logical set of events.
What’s more, the system is also highly secure: a common myth is that someone is capable of capturing a key fob signal in order to break into and subsequently steal a vehicle. With advanced key fob technology used by GM, signals to and from the car (and the key fob) are encrypted and change with each button press — making stealing the signals (also known as sniffing) virtually impossible.
If you’re itching to experience the keyless entry system for yourself, look for it on the Buick LaCrosse — where it is available on the CXL trim level while being standard on the CXS. Other vehicles include the Buick Regal Turbo and the Cadillac SRX.
“In the future, the functions that are on the key fob could be built into smartphone apps,” says Proefke. “Also, key fobs will become smaller and more jewelry-like and could even be worn.”
The GM Authority Take
After spending some time with this keyless entry system on a 2010 Buick LaCrosse, I walked away disappointed with its overall functionality. Having driven a 2010 Lexus ES350 equipped with the Lexus equivalent keyless entry system for almost a year, the system in the Buick seemed too slow to react to my commands when locking or unlocking the car using the mechanisms in the LaCrosse’s door handles.
What’s more, the system’s “lock” button (on the door handle of the LaCrosse) doesn’t provide any physical feedback (such as the physical press of the button) — forcing me to press the button several times to make sure that my input to lock the doors was recognized. Furthermore, when unlocking the LaCrosse’s door by approaching the vehicle and pulling on the door handle (with the key fob in my pocket), the system seemed too slow to react to my action — and, as with locking the vehicle — resulted in my having to pull the handle several times to get the system to recognize my action. It pains me to say this, but these issues simply did not exist on the Lexus: the system on the ES350 was lightning fast, never faulted, and never required me to repeat my action.
In my opinion, Mr. Proefke and his team have some catching up to do in order to play in the same arena as the best keyless entry systems (such as the ones from Lexus). But that isn’t to say that I’m not grateful for their efforts — keep up the innovations, guys — and how about offering the system in the Regal, Enclave, and Verano, as well? Heck, even the Chevy Cruze will offer it as an option starting with the 2012 model year.