Auto Review: An all-new Buick for spring

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Fri., Apr. 6, 2012
- Contributed Photo

We’ve been saying this for a while, but it bears repeating: The Buick nameplate no longer means just big, luxurious cars that are supremely comfortable yet aren’t much fun on a twisty back road. There has been a transformation taking place, and while the luxury is still a critical part of the equation, the venerable GM division offers some very “Euro”-flavored machines that are a real pleasure to drive on challenging roads. The Buick Verano is an all-new machine that, in Buick’s words, is, “Buick’s first luxury sedan designed to compete in the compact luxury segment.” In days where fuel economy is an important consideration in every segment, the Verano not only is poised to deliver luxury and driving entertainment, it’s also designed to be efficient with a gallon of gas.

Of course, whenever one of your design objectives is fuel-efficiency, you start with a powertrain that uses the latest technological advancements in pursuit of this goal. The front-drive Verano is powered by a Direct Injection Ecotec 2.4-liter Inline Four engine that produces 180 horsepower. Later on, a Turbocharged 2-liter Four will also be available. The lone transmission is a six-speed automatic, once again designed to utilize power as efficiently as possible for both quick acceleration and especially good highway mileage. Repeated runs to 60 mph arrived in an average of 8.17 seconds, and while shifting was smooth, it was sometimes reluctant to downshift when passing unless you really encouraged it. Otherwise, the drivetrain was very refined and unusually quiet (especially for a car in this size class). GM worked hard on this, and uses lots of advanced sound-reduction materials in the car, including triple-sealed doors.

Ride quality is very satisfying, in that the car delivers both a smooth Buick-like ride while maintaining a degree of firmness and control that makes it fun to hustle around on curvy blacktop. Chalk this up to some clever suspension engineering, including a “Z-Link” rear suspension and “decoupled” front MacPherson struts to help isolate the chassis from road irregularities. Braking performance is good, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control and 10 standard air bags help to both prevent accidents and protect you in the event that one takes place.

The interior of the Verano is well-finished and armed with the latest infotainment technology, including GM’s Intellilink system that uses voice recognition software for hands-free electronics operation. The upholstery is a smart mix of leatherette front side bolsters and ribbon fabric in the sport front buckets, delivering that always desirable mix of comfort and lateral support.  Rear seat passengers are also treated to comfortable seating, but room is not great by Buick standards (this is a compact, after all). That said, the rear doors open wide for easy access and the 14.2-cubic-foot trunk is deep and can hold a decent amount of luggage.

The 2012 Buick Verano FWD 1SG is EPA rated 21 MPG city/32 highway and we averaged 26.7 MPG in our week with the vehicle. With options, our sticker came to $24,670.

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