Big things hinge on the little frame of the Buick Verano. I was
at the Detroit Auto Show in 2011 when General Motors unveiled its
first-ever compact sedan. The Verano represents a concerted effort
by GM to concentrate on smaller, luxury vehicles. The fact that the
Verano is assembled in Michigan makes it even more vital.
Needless to say, I was excited to finally get behind the wheel.
First impressions are always important in my profession, and my first thought of the Verano was that it had that Buick look, but with a younger, hipper appearance. Inside, the same familiar Buick luxury awaits (and that is a good thing).
As I mentioned, the exterior of the Verano portrays a youthful appearance. Buick's other two sedans (the Lacrosse and the Regal) present in a more mature, elegant way while the Verano has a sculpted, understated appearance. It's still definitely a Buick, as judged by its waterfall-like grille, but the sides and the rear give it a different look from the fleet.
To continue its whimsical feel, Buick names the interior of the Verano I tested a hip name like Choccachino. Tannish-brown leather is accented with wood grain -- typical of Buick, for sure, but with a little more modern appeal.
Where the Verano excels is something that may go unnoticed. Turn off the radio, cruise up to highway speeds, and listen. You won't hear a thing -- not wind, not passing semis, not road noise. The Verano is one of the quietest, most comfortable rides of any small sedan, or any sedan for that matter. This is accomplished by using extra-thick glass on both the front windshield and the rear window. Buick also adds extra sound-absorbing materials in the doors and engine to muffle the sound. And it works!
Being quiet only goes so far, if the engine performance or handling isn't there.
Fortunately, the Verano continues down a road that the Regal blazed, where GM uses every resource at its disposal, including their German brand Opel. This German influence is apparent in the Verano's finely-tuned engine. Using direct injection technology, the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine generates 180 horsepower. While not a blazer, the Verano's power is adequate.
The six-speed automatic transmission works flawlessly with the electric power steering offering a cool and calm driving experience. StabiliTrak and traction control contribute to the compact, responsive ride.
Unlike the Regal, there is no turbo version of the Verano. If one is ever produced, it would make the Verano a real hot shot.
Because of its size, the Verano manages to average about 25 MPG, with an EPA estimate of 21 city/32 highway. In a week's worth of mostly highway driving, I averaged about 29 MPG.
The Verano, unlike other Buick models, aims at an affordable car buyer segment. Starting MSRP for the base model Verano is $22,585. My tester came in at $27,345, which is still in the median for a luxury car of its size. The Buick Verano has a lot of things going for it. As it struggles to find its identity and audience, the Verano deserves a second look for those interested in a quiet, youthful, luxurious compact sedan.
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