2012 Buick Verano

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Date Posted: May 14, 2012
By Zack Spencer

Buick introduces a compact luxury sedan based on the award winning Chevy Cruze platform with excellent results.

The Scoop

Buick is trying to open up a market that was until now limited to one car. The compact, near-luxury market has until now been occupied by the Acura CSX, which has just been retired and replaced by the 2013 Acura ILX. Honda basically takes the capable Civic and turns it into an Acura by adding different suspension tuning, interior and exterior updates. Buick is following a similar path by using the very popular and award winning Chevrolet Cruze and turning it into a Buick. It should be pointed out that the Cruze is already a supremely smooth and comfortable car; in fact I chose it as one of my top ten cars from last year, because of the relaxed and graceful approach it has for daily duty. The Buick version, called Verano, builds on this smooth and refined attitude, to produce a car that is remarkably refined and luxurious especially for the price.

The Skin

Starting at just $22,595, the Verano is accessible to a wide number of buyers but at the same time could be placed in no-mans-land. Not a thrifty compact car, not perceived as a true luxury car, and not a midsized car, the Verano might fall through the cracks, but it should be considered. The designers at GM should be applauded for not falling into old habits of placing a different badge on essentially the same car. This Buick might be based on the Cruze but it looks like a smaller version of the classy Regal sedan. The signature Buick waterfall grille and requisite portholes (ventiports) on the hood are not overdone, as is the chrome trim on the front, side and back. The base model comes with 17-inch wheels, in order to get the 18-inch wheels found on this test unit the buyers will need to order them for $270 or select the top model with leather.

The Cockpit

To call this a compact car is a bit misleading. Yes it competes with other ''compacts'' but in reality has mid-sized car dimensions, so buyers looking at a midsized car should consider this Verano. The overall shape of the dash is similar to the Cruze but the interior too has been tweaked enough by the designers to give this car its own feel. Soft touch materials are used well on the dash, doors and centre arm rests. The centre console is covered in a rubberized material that looks good and feels almost soft. Chrome has been used to accent but not overpower the inside. There are different packages inside the Verano line that add extra electronic features and seat options. To get a nicely equipped car the convenience and comfort packages should be added to include Bluetooth, leather steering wheel, duel climate control, park assist, large centre monitor and power seats, to name a few. To get leather, the top most expensive, $27,620 model needs to be purchased but at this price it is close to the cheapest $27,790 Acura ILX, making it a relative bargain.

The Ride

Buick has taken a refined approach to the exterior and interior but kept the biggest changes to the way the Verano rides. To say that this car is a surprise is an understatement. On the road, the cabin is church quiet due to Buick's ''Quiet Tuning'' approach, which provides triple sealed doors, duel-density carpets and acoustic glass. The sum total is what buyers of luxury cars are looking for-- insulation from the outside world. The second half to the luxury car experience is a smooth and supple ride. Today's luxury isn't about floating along the road, rather a beautifully dampened approach that lets in just the right amount of road feedback but coddles the occupants. Buick has absolutely nailed this combination; this car is a pleasure to use for any daily duty. There is more than enough power thanks to a 180hp 2.4L engine that is only heard under harder acceleration and helps the Verano cruise with ease. As the KM's roll by and the occupants get to enjoy the great seats and entertainment system.

Verdict

What a lot of buyers might not be aware of is Buick's long history as a quality brand. Consistently ranked above average in JD Power and Associates three-year dependability study, Buick is a brand to consider if you place quality high on your shopping considerations. The added power and interior features along with the Quiet Tuning approach this Verano offers over the Cruze makes it an alternative for higher-end compact buyers. The real market for this car should be people who are in the market for a mid-sized car like the Altima, Sonata, and Accord etc. With only slightly smaller dimensions, this car includes a healthy amount of content and more luxurious ride for less money. For true luxury buyers, I'm not sure that most people will consider Buick when they shop in the luxury space, the brand just doesn't have the cache that marques like Lexus, Cadillac, BMW and others provide. It would be a shame if buyers of any of the above-mentioned categories overlook this car because it is one of the best cars I have driven this year.

The Good, The Bad

Good:

Buick hit the nail on the head with this luxury car.

Bad:

Unfortunately the Verano might fall through the cracks.

The Lowdown

Power: 180hp 2.4L 4-cylinder

Fill-up: 9.9L/6.2L/100km (city/highway)

Backup: 4-year/80,000km

Sticker price: $22,595-$27,620

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