By on April 15, 2012

What is a Buick? Having saved the brand, GM must now figure out what to do with it. Traditionally Buick occupied the middle ground between Chevrolet and Cadillac, originally closer to the latter but from the 1970s onwards dangerously close to the former, which had expanded upwards in lockstep with archrival Ford. Aesthetically, Buicks have been the yin to Cadillac’s yang, curvier, less aggressive, and potentially more appealing to women. (Or metrosexuals? Did women ever drive a significant number of Rivs and Park Avenues?) Logically, there ought to be a position within this position for a compact car. Some people want a softly styled, upscale car, but don’t need a large car. But successfully fielding a car in this position has been tricky. The Lexus HS finds only a couple hundred takers each month. Jaguar abandoned the segment a few years ago, and Volvo quit it more recently. So does the Buick Verano stand a chance?

Looks

A car needn’t be beautiful to sell—but it doesn’t hurt. Based on spy shots of prototypes I expected the Verano to be downright ugly, with an overly raked windshield and its requisite windowlettes throwing off the proportions. But in production form, with appropriately styled 18-inch alloy wheels (GM has for once made the right size wheel the only size), the Verano is a handsome car. No Jaguar, but certainly more attractive than the HS and more upscale than the Chevrolet Cruze (with which it shares a platform). But it’s not the strikingly attractive car it could have been. Will many people notice the compact Buick on the street? Will any of them have a “gotta have it” reaction? One thing is certain: the Verano won’t step on the Cadillac ATS’s toes.

Luxury

The Verano’s interior isn’t as nice as that of the Lexus, but is a half-step up from that of the Chevrolet Cruze. You’ll find no cheap bits, yet the sense lingers that this isn’t quite a premium car. While intelligent design stylishly inserts a soft-touch face into the hard plastic instrument panel, the overly hard, overly thin door pulls seem pedestrian. The seats, though comfortable and supportive, lack power recline. Even compact Mazdas and Suzukis—hardly makes known for luxury—offer this feature. Can a car be “premium” without it? Rear seat legroom is marginal for adults, though ample space for feet beneath the front seats helps. A non sequitur: the steering wheel is too thick, which could turn off many potential female buyers.

Powah

Luxury car buyers don’t typically make runs for the redline. But this is entirely the point: they don’t want to feel the need to go anywhere near the redline. Instead, they want a car’s acceleration to feel effortless and for its engine to be felt but not heard. The Verano’s 180-horsepower 2.4-liter engine is stronger than the Cruze’s 138-horsepower 1.4 turbo, but it’s also naturally aspirated with a high (4,900 rpm) torque peak. To move 3,300 pounds of compact Buick, the four has to rev. It’s willing and able to do this, and with a modicum of refinement, but like the styling the engine isn’t going to inspire people to reach for their checkbooks. GM plans to also offer the Verano with a 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo, and this engine should be a better fit for the car’s mission.

Economy

So far we have nothing making Buick’s new compact sedan a “must have,” but also nothing that’s likely fatal. But then, as Ed Niedermeyer pointed out in his thorough evaluation of the Verano, there’s fuel economy. EPA ratings of 22 city and 31 highway don’t even compare well to four-cylinder midsize cars, much less other compacts. In suburban driving, the trip computer usually reported between 20 and 25, with high 20s happening only with favorable traffic signals and a feather-light right foot. Even the two-ton, 240-horsepower, all-wheel-drive 528i does a bit better (in my real-world testing as well as on the window sticker). Of course, the Lexus HS has sold poorly despite 35/34 ratings, so fuel economy isn’t everything.

Ride and Handling

The biggest surprise here is how the Verano rides and handles. It’s more tightly damped than a Chevrolet Cruze, with nary a hint of the float that once typified Buicks. Yet the car’s ride is still comfortable, with admirable composure over rough pavement. You’ll feel and hear the bumps and divots, but not overly much (this is a VERY quiet car), and they’re quickly dispatched. Hard cornering flushes out moderate amounts of body roll and front tire scrub, but overall the car is well controlled. The largest killjoys are visibility-impeding A-pillars and numb steering. Fix the last, and they’d about have the chassis where it needs to be—if people can get their heads around the idea of an athletic Buick. (Lexus can’t seem to overcome a similar perceptual challenge.)

Pricing

Some good stuff so far, but nothing outstanding. Sow how is the compact Buick outselling the compact Lexus by nearly an order of magnitude (2,497 in March)? Pricing. A leather-upholstered Verano like the one tested lists for $26,850. For a sunroof add $900, for nav $795. Not cheap, surely. After adjusting for feature differences (with TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool) the compact Buick checks in about $2,000 above a Cruze or Focus. But this leaves it about $5,000 below an Acura TSX and nearly $12,000 below a Lexus HS 250h (details). Even if we allow a generous $4,000 for the HS’s hybrid bits, the reason for the car’s slow sales becomes clear.

The midsize Buick Regal is about $3,000 more. Notably, its sales in March were down about 1,000 from a year ago. The suffering will increase once the Verano is available with a more powerful engine (assuming reasonable pricing). The new car’s sales suddenly seem less impressive.

Verdict

The Buick Verano, like the larger Regal, is positioned a quarter-step above the related Chevrolet. A little more style, slightly upgraded materials, a smattering of additional features, moderately firmer suspension tuning, a two-grand bump on the window sticker. A pleasant car, even surprisingly so in some areas (quietness, suspension tuning), but not an outstanding one. Not enough of an upgrade to directly compete with Acura, Lexus, and the Europeans, but not priced to directly compete with them, either. The upside: no direct competitors. The downside: no direct competitors—potential buyers might have trouble categorizing the cars. In appearance, content, and pricing the Verano (like other Buicks) is much closer to the related Chevrolet than to its alleged competitors. While this minimized the effort required to create it, GM should do what it takes to split the difference more evenly.

Buick provided the car with insurance and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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110 Comments on “Review: Buick Verano Take Two...”


  • avatar
    th009

    Another good review, Michael.

    In theory the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series are in the same segment — but they surely appeal to different buyers than the Verano (and than their respective German competitors as well). The upcoming A3 sedan might be a different matter, though.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. The 1er is a coupe/convertible, the current A3 a small wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        Toucan

        > the current A3 a small wagon.

        Which doesn’t stop it from competing with the Buick.

        And I just cannot see a single reason to get the similarly priced Verano over the A3. Best FWD chassis, exceptional 2.0T engine, lightning fast and well programmed DSG, cohesive and impressive styling, upscale Audi presence, better real life fuel efficiency with tons more power all over the rev range. And roomier interior.

        Choosing a good German car over anything else may be disputable if it is significantly more expensive. Then the value question arises. But in this case, it is a no-brainer.

        Congratulations to GM on the Verano fuel economy. The point of downscaling a car is to save on fuel but if one size larger cars manage same or better EPA numbers, what’s the point actually?

      • 0 avatar
        vbofw

        Toucan, no Audis in the US have Volkswagen’s DSG, including the A3

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        What about the S tronic® dual-clutch automatic transmission in the TT?

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Toucan VW’s DSG is great, but not available in an A3.

        Wrt to why someone would choose the Buick:
        1- German cars are generally of lower quality, VW/Audi products in particular.
        2- Verano is NOT similarly priced with the A3, which has a base price for the least expensive automatic of $6,155 (26%)more!
        Verano=$23,470
        A3 auto= $29,625

        The A3, with standard turbo 2.0L does offers 20 more HP and 36 ft-lb more torque, but does not match Verano’s fuel economy in any gas configuration.

        The diesel does well on MPG, but has a $31,125 base.

        The Verano Turbo is expected to be at least 50HP more than the A3, and will still be a lot less expensive.

        These could be reasons to choose the Buick, though I doubt there is a lot of cross shopping with the price differential.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @CJin SD- Upon further review, you are correct!
        Audi’s S-tronic automatic is a DSG, and it is a great trans, especially for a performance enthusiast. The launch feel may not please traditional automatic owners, based on my experienc in a TT. The S-tronic is rated 4MPG less than Verano on the hwy, though it is kind of apples to oranges comparison, since the Audi is only turbo which is not yet available on Verano.

      • 0 avatar
        Toucan

        > The A3, with standard turbo 2.0L does offers
        > 20 more HP and 36 ft-lb more torque, but does
        > not match Verano’s fuel economy in any gas configuration.

        EPA Combined is 24 MPG for A3 S-tronic and 25 MPG for Verano so the cars are level. Only the Audi plays in a different league performance wise.

        By the way, Edmunds got 0-60 in 9 sec and 20 mpg combined from their Verano. Impressive numbers for a “premium” compact sedan, gotta be said!

        > 2- Verano is NOT similarly priced with the A3,
        > which has a base price for the least expensive
        > automatic of $6,155 (26%)more!

        OK OK… but factor in the performance, looks, DSG fun, badge and it’s worth it ;)

        > The Verano Turbo is expected to be at least 50HP
        > more than the A3, and will still be a lot less expensive.

        Sonata Turbo is some 70HP stronger than the A4 2.0T yet slower. Some cars put their power down onto the paper, other down onto the road.

        > These could be reasons to choose the Buick, though I doubt
        > there is a lot of cross shopping with the price differential.

        OK, I agree it is cheaper.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Toucan I agree a similarly price diesel knocks the tar out of Verano, but its really apples and oranges from a powertrain standpoint.

      • 0 avatar
        jhott997

        vbofw:
        Vw’s DSG is most certainly in the Audi; TT and A3 to be precise. Longitudinal version in the S4.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Toucan- I agree that the current powertrain lineup in the A3 is more exciting for the enthusiast, and you have to pay for it!

      • 0 avatar
        vbofw

        my mistake re: the A3 and DSG. I think I’m trigger-happy from all the people who say the 2013 A4 will have a dual-clutcher.

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      My 2007 A3 S-Line 6 speed manual 2.0T averages 28.5 mpg and I bet it is a lot more fun to drive. Audi does supply a DSG with the A3, not sure if it’s the same as the VW, but those that have it like it very much. And stop dissing Audi quality, at 65.000 miles mine has been trouble free, the interior is still nice and no squeaks.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @fredtal- I love that trans too, and your experience proves how good cars are these days. Audi did fall about 14 places on long term dependability ratings and the Germans, excluding Porsche and BMW, are generally not as good as GM or Ford these days, though. The continual shuffling of the top quality ranks proves that most cars today are of pretty high quality.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Interesting car, wonder what the price premium will be for the turbo model and if you’ll be able to get the turbo without too many options.

    Does the Cruze actually have a more generous backseat?

  • avatar
    audiphile

    This car needs a small turbo-diesel and manual or DSG transmission and it would make more sense.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I looked at one of these recently but with an eye to the future – as possible used car fodder in 4 to 5 years for daughter number one. I figure the combination of safety gear, enough umpf to get out of its own way but not enough to get into serious trouble, the general reliability of the 2.4 under the hood and Buick service are all good things. What’s $26K today is probably around $10K in 4 to 5 years – which is the price range I’d be looking at.

    I’m looking at a ton of C-segment cars right now for the same reason, they all have their merits. If a manual version of the Verano appeared it would move much higher on my list. Very hard to text and shift.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I dislike the references to “women” and “metrosexuals”, whatever that means, but it doesn’t sound good and appears judgmental to me. A car can appeal to anyone, it just depends what an individual is looking for.

    Wifey and I checked one out, along with the rest of the Buick lineup at our recent auto show and were very impressed.

    If a comparison must be made, I compare the Verano to the Lexus version of the Corolla. So what? Don’t like it, don’t buy one. As to hard plastic on the dash, an ample supply of air bags makes the padding somewhat redundant, but SOME padding would certainly up the appeal ante, I’m sure.

    Aside from what I regard as a snarky comment, another very good review. Keep ‘em coming.

    • 0 avatar

      No judgement involved at all. I certainly believe people should buy whatever car appeals to them, and never accuse someone of lacking masculinity based on their choice of a car.

      Also note that my actual words were “more appealing to women,” which isn’t the same as “less appealing to men,” much less “not appealing to men.” Jaguars and Infinitis tend to have curvy designs. Plenty of men buy both, especially men who tend to like stylish things. But their designs also make them more appealing to women, who tend to like angular, aggressive designs like Cadillac’s “art and science” less than men do. (I must admit I have no numbers, just what I’ve heard from people who research such things.) In all of these cases my language is intentionally relative.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        I hear you, Michael – the time to edit already expired when I was going to adjust my comment, so I clearly meant no offense, especially since I record all my car goings-on on True Delta!

        Honest-hearted reviews are one of the chief reasons I joined TTAC almost two years ago, still the best car site on the web – along with “Curbside Classic”, of course.

        Thanks for clarifying.

    • 0 avatar
      Maxseven

      I do like the references. The Verano is clearly an feminine-looking car, more specifically of the senior-citzen variety. The smooth belt-line rake angle along the long axis make the car look ass-heavy. The negative angle of the trunk to the bumper below increases the “wimp” factor. The nose section is too rounded, ill-defined and further projects a look of a soft and gentle car. The Verano has no haunch. The entire perimeter of the car’s skirt metal has an exaggerated radius, adding to a tucked, weak stance. Wheel arches are ‘tented’, and should have positive offset with a more aggressive radius merging inward to the side body panels. Lastly the wheels/tires have a negative offset to the wheel arches, and GM’s designers didn’t compensate by flaring the base of front air-dam assembly. Overall, the car lacks timeless design aesthetics, and will quickly look dated.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I don’t know who this car is for. If someone wants a Buick, they can get a Regal for the same price. I just drove by the Buick dealer around the corner. Fairly well-equipped Regals are redtagged at around 22k. Loaded ones for $25. The GS models were sticker priced. I suspect they won’t actually sell for anywhere near that. Who is going to pay more for less car with the Verano?

    • 0 avatar

      Judging from the sales figures, about 1,000 people who would have otherwise bought a Regal bought a Verano instead last month. Sticker to sticker, the Verano is about $3,000 less, though as you note discounts and incentives narrow the gap. They won’t be as large on a new model like the Verano, though this would change if they started piling up.

      • 0 avatar
        seanx37

        But isn’t this an issue at all of GM? You can get heavily discounted Impalas for the same or less than a Cruse. The Malibu leaves the dealers for less than the Cruse as well. I suspect that a lot of CTS’s will be sold for less than the ATS too. I don’t get it.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        You can also get a Fusion for less than a Focus, or a Focus less than a Fiesta. And that’s just one example.

        This kind of overlap is not unique to GM.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      My neighbor traded in a Northstar V8 SRX for a Verano. He loves it.

    • 0 avatar
      The Walking Eye

      I chose a Regal over the Verano. They’re practically the same with the Regal being a little bigger overall and the Verano having a bigger trunk, if ever so slightly. I’m actually not sure why the Verano exists when the Regal is there and barely bigger.

      I got a Regal on a 2 year lease with no money down and rebates of ~$5k. My residual is $17K. It was cheaper to lease and buy at expiration than buy outright. Didn’t even need to use my GMS number cause they could beat that price, significantly.

      EDIT:

      Oh, and I get free XM, free OnStar, and free maintenance for the life of the lease. It was cheaper to do this deal than buy out my Impreza.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Where do you live? Everything I’ve looked at says the GS is below cost with your numbers.

  • avatar
    ehaase

    I think Lucerne, LeSabre, Century, etc. buyers ready to downsize will be the primary purchasers of Veranos. I would consider one if the fuel economy were about 3 mpg better.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    MK, how does this compare in terms of how it drives to the slightly cheaper but still relatively upscale and more fuel efficient Focus Titanium (with the obvious exception of the gearbox)? Also how about a Sonata or Optima, which would seem to match the car in fuel efficiency but in a bigger and perhaps more stylish package? Do the Koreans in their higher trim level feels as upscale as the Buick? I think fuel efficiency is a big deal, as that would be the main reason for getting a “premium” small car…upscale look, feel and driving experience without the higher cost of ownership.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I suspect the forthcoming Acura ILX(? – ima just call it the CSX Mark II) will be the closest the Verano has to a direct competitor in size, price, and mission, and even then, it’ll probably be relatively firm and tech-oriented enough that the two will never be cross-shopped.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      If IIRC the new ILX’s MSRP is 27K and goes up from there, sounds like the Verano’s is 22K. Knowing GM as I do, they will probably put enough cash on the hood so their loaded Verano will be around the 22-23K mark for the loaded model, I doubt Acura will do the same. Despite the technophile bits in the Civic clone, is it going to be worth 5K to acquire them? People should learn to cross shop…

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Right now Veranos within 300 miles of me are listing for 23K to almost 30K for every possible option. But this is still tax time and car prices are stupid right now.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Fair enough – the CSX started around 25k (CDN), which is reasonably close to the Verano’s base price here. It still wouldn’t surprise me if we got a decontented ILX up here, to keep that price down. The fuel economy advantage and driving dynamics would help offset the cost difference.

        And, come to think of it, the Jetta can be optioned up quite a bit – performance and economy should be virtually identical to the Verano, and would have more space (albeit with a cheaper, more spartan interior).

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        I agree car prices are just stupid, not just now but since the beginning of 2011. I checked Buick’s websites and the advertised offers just suck on it. I wonder what a loaded one would go out for on a regular buy?

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Maymar… I didn’t think a about the Jetta, and Volkswagen is making a big push in the US for market share. If they price is correctly it could be a real threat to both models.

    • 0 avatar

      I wondered if I should mention the TSX in the review, since the ILX is coming. But the Verano’s interior and exterior dimensions are actually closer to those of the TSX–with the notable exception of shoulder room. Then again, while the ILX is a half-size smaller than the TSX on the outside, the two are similar in terms of interior dimensions.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    I know it’s not something a lot of people clamor for (I do), but how quiet is this car compared to other cars in its segment? How does its “quietness” compare to other Buicks? Other luxury brands?

    Perhaps I’m just getting old but a quiet interior is pretty high up on the list of requirements for my next car.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Hey I’m 35 and I like a quiet car. Maybe a little exhaust growl but I don’t want it to sound like the engine is in my lap.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Agreed. Although what sort of growl can you get from a 4 banger?

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Not much unless you’re like the idiot kid next door with a giant fart cannon muffler on his Integra. In my book exhaust notes 8>6>4.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        28-cars-later,

        Drive a Porsche 944 with the factory exhaust system. They have a lovely growl.

        Personally, I like the exhaust note of a good naturally aspirated inline 6 more than most others. Quality can play a much stronger role than cylinder count. Of the two cars I drive the most, the one with 4 cylinders sounds much more interesting and mechanical than the one with 6 cylinders, but the 6 in question is a V6 that is supercharged and noise suppressed to the point that it has all the character of an industrial unit. On the other hand, I’d be the last to claim that a slant-6 powered Duster sounds remotely as pleasing as a Duster 340. BMWs with naturally aspirated 6s sounded better than V8 BMWs for any level of tuning. In other words, an E39 M5 sounded better than a 528i, but not as good as an E46 M3.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Ironically CJ my mechanic gets a 944 in every so often he hates working on.. I think its 87, cherry red, looks pretty clean but I know has higher miles. Next time I see it I’ll ask him if I can take it around the block, or at the very least rev it in the bay so I can hear what your talking about.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        My mother had an ’87 924S from ’86-2004. It was a mechanical twin to a base 944 of the same year. I loved the sounds it made, but it was too much of an upkeep challenge in spite of only having about 42K miles when she sold it. There were too many expensive maintenance requirements that were calendar scheduled rather than mileage based. Timing and balance shaft belts replacements don’t amortize well when they’re 2,000 miles apart, seeing as most of the miles were put on the car between 1986 and 1991. She’s still lamenting getting rid of it, and has no affection for the BMW 325is that replaced it. That one’s a low mileage, high headache car too, so she’s replacing it with something that won’t make most of its trips to a shop.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        “Fart cannon”…I just can’t get enough of that phrase and crack up every time someone uses it!

      • 0 avatar
        supremebrougham

        This reminded me of something my grandmother said to me a few weeks ago. We were riding around in my new 4 cylinder Escape, and Grandma made the comment, “I like the sound of this thing when it takes off!” I was surprised as Grandpa never bought anything that didn’t have a V8, so that was all she was used to.

      • 0 avatar
        Trend-Shifter

        I think that Porsche 944 growl has a lot to do with the 4 cylinder being 2.7 liters! That’s gotta be flowing exhaust like a Kenworth!

        BTW… The Verano does nothing for me. However that’s a contrarian indicator which means it will be a success!

        It looks like the Verano grill will fit right into a Cruze. How long before that is on ebay?

      • 0 avatar

        For me, its not engine noise…its road/tire noise. Such a deal breaker…and a huge appeal of the Verano. Every semi-luxury car I’ve been in has seem to suffer from road noise of some extent. The Acura TSX and Infiniti G37x for example. Both quiet…but more road noise than I was expecting. The Outback has little road noise, but mostly because its stupid frameless windows make so much wind noise it drowns out anything else.

      • 0 avatar
        portablenuke

        @28-cars-later

        4s can growl pretty nicely. They aren’t in the same league as a V8, but they don’t have to sound like a sewing machine.

        My favorite is the SVT Focus.

    • 0 avatar

      As stated in the review, the Verano is VERY quiet. Compact cars don’t get any quieter. I actually feared getting tickets in this car more than in the CTS-V because you feel like you’re going much slower than you actually are.

    • 0 avatar
      The Walking Eye

      I test drove both the Verano and the Regal (bought the Regal) and they’re pretty much the same on noise levels. The Verano is noticeably quieter than the Cruze (test drove the 2LT for 20ish miles). I can’t comment on other luxury cars, though.

      I get next to no road noise on anything that’s not concrete or asphalt where you can see the grains or is noticeably old (grey). There’s a touch of wind noise that’s noticeable on new asphalt. My app for my phone reads about 65-70 dB whereas the Cruze was reading 10 to 20 dB higher, IIRC and YMMV on a free app. I can cruise with the stereo on 10 and still hear it just fine (goes up to about 40 or 50).

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    As someone who’s first car was a Buick Skylark, I really want to like this car. I sat in one at NAIAS and I did rather like it. The one thing that drives me crazy about this car though is that dreadful A-pillar with that windowlet, it throws the proportions off. Who at GM decided that this was a good look???

  • avatar
    Speed3

    It will be interesting to see how the ’13 Verano fairs with GM’s new 2.5L engine (more power, and I am assuming better mpg). I see its most direct competitor to be fully loaded Civics and Acura’s forthcoming ILX. Also a fully loaded VW Jetta would be a direct competitor except it seems that VW is going down market to gain sales.

    All in all, I don’t see Buick being a “just barely premium” brand as a bad strategy. Its a unique niche to stake out somewhere between fully loaded toyotas, fords, hondas, and Acuras, Volvos, and Infinitis.

    I’d love to get the 5 door hatch and coupe from Opel. Also, the Astra sedan looks much better from spy shots. Buick should follow suit

  • avatar
    VA Terrapin

    Why compare the Verano to the Lexus HS when the Lexus CT is thousands cheaper and a much better seller?

    • 0 avatar
      alluster

      Yup, the Lexus CT is probably the best to compare against the Verano. They both have similar interior proportions and sell in similar numbers. 2230 for the Lexus vs 2500 for the Buick. The Lexus is probably the better value here. It costs around $29,000 vs $27,000 for a similarly equipped leather Verano not to mention $3000 to $4000 worth of Hybrid Tech plus has an average $400 discount vs minus $61 for the Verano.

    • 0 avatar

      The CT is a hatchback and over a foot shorter in length. It also has even less legroom than the Buick. Equip both with leather and the Buick is about $7,000 less, a sizeable difference.

  • avatar
    alluster

    The Verano is not exceptionally good at anything to be a pioneer of a new segment. The styling is average and so is the content and MPG. I fail to see how it belongs in the Buick lineup. It will do very well given the price. Sales have been growing steadily as the car is being stocked at dealerships. 700 in Jan, 1600 in Feb and 2600 in March. According to GM, 25% sold are red, 50% of the buyers are new to GM, the top 3 markets for the car are NYC, Philly and Chicago (places where GM could use some market share), and 50% opt for the top spec 1SL model. Also its one of the very few cars with negative discounts, ATP is higher than MSRP.

    IMO what Buick needs is not another generically styled volume sedan but a perception changer. Buick is going after Lexus too hard it has failed to create an identity of its own. It has enough 4 door sedans with 4 banger’s. What it needs is a kappa based roadster/coupe to compete with the Genesis coupe/FRS and 370 Z.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      Agreed, what is a Buick (or a Cadillac for that matter) supposed to be anymore? Since 2000 they have gone from 3800 powered mid-size and larger sedans to overweight-looking turbo 4cyl Opel variants. So what *is* a Buick? I think they need to look hard at themselves and as you suggested and come up with a game changer. I think its time for the Riviera to come back and knock the socks off of people. Nothing as big as the last generation, but nothing as small as Verano either, something akin to a Regal coupe and for heaven’s sake put the 3.6 for some oomph in it, not another turbo ecotec.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        We know a Buick is supposed to be upscale from a Chevrolet.

        And we know Buick is going after Lexus. But isn’t Lexus ALSO going after BMW and Mercedes?

        I sort of think why not let Buick and Cadillac compete? Let them both go after Lexus, Mercedes and BMW.

        It must be difficult for Buick being in the middle knowing they cannot step on Cadillac’s toes. Personally, if there were a Cadillac and a Buick in the same segment and I was in the market, I’d probably go for the Buick instead since they are a little bit more modest.

        Having three distinct brands is difficult.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        So if a Buick is an upscale Chevrolet, throwing aside the logistics and politics, why does there even need to be a Buick brand? Why can’t Chevrolet just offer what the Buick has in upper trim packages? Its like you said, having three distinct brands is difficult. I think what Buick/Pontiac used to offer were models and engines Chevrolet did not. The largest Chevrolet sedan post 1996 I believe was the W-body Impala. What powered Impala? The Chevrolet derived 60 degree 3400/3500/3900 V6. What did Buick/Pontiac offer? The W-body Regal/Century/Grand Prix with standard 3100 V6 or the optional Buick 3800 90 degree V6 depending on trim package/year. They also offered the larger H-body Park Ave/Lesabre/Bonneville until 2005 and later the Lucerne until 2011. These models were distinctly not offered to Chevrolet in order to push people upmarket, so at one time at least, there was somewhat of a difference between a Buick and a Chevrolet sedan. If this is no longer going to be the case I don’t see Buick succeeding much in North America. I think three three remaining brands had better set up some rules and identities if all are going to keep the lights on. Personally I think Cadillac needs to get off of the Catera Touring X kool-aid and start building really premium segment cars again. Buick wants to chase Lexus, than Cadillac should chase Jaguar/Bentley/Mercedes. I don’t see this happening though, GM is too busy ‘diluting’ its brands as one person said with Opel or Daewoo designs. How many North American models are *not* designed by those two divisions is a good question. Innovate or die GM.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @28-cars-later- Why is there a Buick? Because they provide plus volumes with higher profit. The same reason there is a GMC.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        So Buick is just added profit eh Doc? Won’t disagree. Seems a shame though because it seems to be at one time it was more than just an upmarket Chevy.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @28-cars-later

        I suppose Buick is an upmarket Chevrolet like Lexus/Toyota, VW/Audi,Nissan/Infiniti,Honda/Acura, Ford/Lincoln, and has always been, to some degree. They at least have distinct styling, unlike the recent past, and different engines, at least in the case of Verano.

        It would be great to see a larger Buick, and a speciality car like a Riviera. I something like that out, but don’t hear anything about them coming either.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Agreed Doc, I too would love to see a Riv, perhaps a Buick equivalent to the CTS Coupe in FWD?

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Buick NEEDs to be selling Opels to get some of the traditional import buyers into the dealer. That keeps Buick from competing with Cadillac. Let Buick sell Opel derivatives and Caddy selling RWD American style.

        I for one have zero interest in the Caddys or RWD daily drivers or the Caddy styling of late. I would however seriously consider a Buick/Opel derivative wagon i.e. what Opel already sells in Europe. I want a sporty four cylinder and a chassis well suited to that four cylinder i.e. not bloated and heavy like so many of GM’s products over the years.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Buick NEEDs to be selling Opels to get some of the traditional import buyers into the dealer. That keeps Buick from competing with Cadillac. Let Buick sell Opel derivatives and Caddy selling RWD American style.

        I for one have zero interest in the Caddys or RWD daily drivers or the Caddy styling of late. I would however seriously consider a Buick/Opel derivative wagon i.e. what Opel already sells in Europe. I want a sporty four cylinder and a chassis well suited to that four cylinder i.e. not bloated and heavy like so many of GM’s products over the years.

        We’ll be looking at the 3100lb VW JSW.

      • 0 avatar
        WildcatMatt

        My mom drove a ’72 Riviera boattail when I was a kid, I’ve loved Buicks and Rivieras especially ever since — except during the period when there was no Regal in the stable.

        A comeback for the Riviera would be most welcome in my book.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      Buick is the largest selling brand in China. There are a lot more Chinese than Americans and with their income rising and ours eroding I can see why Buick exists.

      It’s an issue of mind over matter;increasingly they don’t mind and we don’t matter.

  • avatar
    SV

    I think the Verano’s biggest problem is that it is essentially an Opel Astra sedan, a car that, whatever its pretentions, is in the end just a plebeian Golf-Focus rival. It also means the most direct predecessor for this car in the US was a Saturn.

    Considering that, it’s surprisingly convincing overall. The low (for a “premium” car) price helps.

  • avatar
    TW4

    I like the Verano. Really, it seems almost too good to be true. You mean, I can give a manufacturer $5,000 and they will give me engineering upgrades like sound-proofing and chassis/suspension upgrades. I get styling upgrades as well that extend beyond a cheesy looking splitter or a glue-on spoiler. The bummer is the fuel economy, of course.

    To someone like me, Buick is the perfect option so to speak. Instead of paying $25,000-$28,000 for a loaded Cruze, I can get a Buick for roughly the same price. The car is better engineered, and Buick comes with better maintenance servicing as well. That’s the kind of stuff I want to pay for. I don’t want to pay $4,000 for a bin of cheap Chinese electronics.

    My only worry about Buick is that GM seems to be dominated (still) by territorialism. Chevy has not quietly relegated itself to commodity vehicle status, as customers can still option themselves onto the wrong side of silly money for a “standard” brand with ordinary engineering. Cadillac continue to dilute their brand with cars like the ATS, which also puts pressure on Buick. GMC’s attempt to become the “truck brand” was shot down in spectacular fashion, though I can understand Chevy panicking if they couldn’t build Silverados.

    Regardless of whose side you take, GM still looks a bit discombobulated.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      I agree about the territorial-ism, its a big problem. Cadillac should stick to larger sedans in North America (this ATS) and leave the C segment to Buick. Cadillac/Buick do not have the cachet they once had, they will cannibalize from each other unless they can both increase volume at the same time, which I see as unlikely.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      You’ve got Buick being FWD/AWD while Caddy is RWD/AWD (at least until they middies it with the XTS – which should have been a Buick). 2 different customers.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The SRX is available in FWD too.

        I’ve read that most(many? all?) Buick dealerships are also GMC dealerships. That makes their SUV/CUV offerings look like usual GM incrementalism and infighting. Why do GMC Acadias and Terrains share lot space with Buick Enclaves and Encores?

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I agree most Buick dealerships are shared with GMC. But product overlap is limited to Enclave/Acadia – which do look a bit different (not badly badge engineered like Cobalt/G3). The Granite is the twin of the Equinox whilst the Encore is a class size smaller.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        the G3 was an Aveo, the the G5 was the Cobalt.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Terrain is Equinox twin. Granite, if it is still coming, would likely be the twin of the Encore.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        CJ and Doctor Olds – thanks for the typo corrections. The point still stands that their is not much overlap between GMC and Buick.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I still disagree. If you’re trying to establish two distinct brands with their own characters, why have them competing with CUVs at all? The Acadia Enclave is just badge engineered, so same lot competition is inevitable. Meanwhile, they’re both completely undistinguished of their type so having two does little to increase conquest sales. With only one version, it could be better and more distinctive. Whoever gets it should get the rest of the CUVs too.

  • avatar
    jetcal1

    I am considering a Turbo Verano if it becomes available with a stick. I am also going to be looking at the ATS and the Focus SR. All of these cars are now considered to be somewhat compact and will be available with a stick. Considering my 25K of driving per year, I suspect these cars will represent a reasonable trade-off of comfort, performance, mileage and depreciation. I am just curious how Buick will deal with the turbo and if Ford is going to boy-racer the Focus. I looked at an A3, forget it no head room. And I am haunted by my ’02 GTI MTBF of 44 hours.

  • avatar

    Has Buick shaken their image as an old person’s car yet? I’ve been pushing some of the new Buicks on a prospective car buyer and she’s steadfastly said no, claiming they’re now and forever ‘old people’s cars’. This, despite her pushing 60. She wants something more youthful.

    Frankly, I think this or the model above would be a decent travel car, if not for the poor highway mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Interestingly, the average Cruze buyer is 58! This compares to Focus at 53, Corolla at 49, Civic and Elantra at 45, and Jetta at 41. I would have never guessed those numbers myself …

      http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120313/OEM/303139727

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        “I would have never guessed those numbers myself …”

        @th009:

        I have a sinking feeling that’s because we’re (baby boomers) pretty much the last generation that has any money to actually go out and buy a new car. If so, that’s sad…a sign of the times, for sure, and that speaks ill for the future.

      • 0 avatar
        alluster

        @th009 – “Interestingly, the average Cruze buyer is 58! This compares to Focus at 53, Corolla at 49, Civic and Elantra at 45, and Jetta at 41. I would have never guessed those numbers myself …”
        This has to a lot to do with how the cars are priced and their target demographics. The Cruze is a premium compact with lots of sound deadening, an interior and fit and finish that could put a lot of entry level luxury cars to shame. The Corolla and Civic are currently the bargain basement offerings selling solely on price. The Cruze and the new Focus to a lesser extent have people paying more than most mid-size offerings. According to Truecar the most expensive Corolla is cheaper than the base Cruze and the top of the line LTZ Cruze has an average paid price of $24,000, a $6K premium over the top of the line Corolla S with an average price paid of $18,000. No surprise that more expensive cars are going to be bought by older folks. One another reason cash strapped younger buyers are lured by the Corolla/Civic is average discounts of $1500. This price difference is also the reason I believe you can’t judge Cruze’s sales numbers against its competitors. Its better to sell 10K cars at a $5K profit than to sell 30K cars at a $1K profit each.
        Hopefully the younger buyers purchasing the Corolla and Civic turds will aspire to move up to a Cruze for their next purchase.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        That or Civic and Corolla buyers can read so they know the Cruze is the least reliable car in its class while Cruzes are bought by people who’s reward for a lifetime of toil is the worst econobox on the market.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      +1 for the Servo reference, sir. I also think its rather ironic the ‘old’ boomer generation still wants to deny being old with a ‘youthful’ car.

  • avatar
    redav

    It seems this review is more about what the car is supposed to be than what it actually is.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Buick seems to be a rolling identity crisis of late. They just can’t quite figure out what they want to be. The old fogies don’t really like them. The zombie generation wants little to do with them. Traditional sedan buyers are looking elsewhere because there is not a traditional sedan in sight at Buick. The big bloated Enclave has an audience because it’s roomy and more upscale inside than it’s sisters and it seats 8 and seems to be a pretty good compromise to the soccer mom imaged mini van. The LaCrosse tries so hard to be a Lexus (and comes up short in many ways)that most prospective buyers just go and buy the real thing or one of it’s Asian competitors. The Regal should have been a Saturn Aura and tries so hard to be sporty, grown up and European but somehow fails and instead ends up a pricier Malibu with a substandard selection of engines with substandard fuel economy and then there is the Verano which seems to be a question asked by nobody.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      I see the identity crisis partly because of the shuttering of Pontiac. The Verano and Regal could have and should have been Pontiacs. The Lacrosse in my mind is ill suited as a flagship, come up with an LS430 equivalent for Buick (which the Lacrosse is not) keep the Buick SUV because it seems to work, but seriously bring back Pontiac and split the model lineup between the two brands. Youth does not want a sporty Buick, its just not going to work. Buick appeals to conservative stylists and traditional car buyers, and that’s all. Most ordinary people can’t afford or have a practical use for the current Cadillac faux sport lineup. Give them a FWD sporty car such as the previous G6 and Grand Prix and I think it could work again, but not as a Regal. Do not duplicate between grands, keep midsize and smaller Pontiacs, and a few of the larger models as Buicks, this way if you build a loyal base you can offer youthful and mid-life products in the same showroom. Pontiac wasn’t killed because it would not sell, it was killed because it got the raw end of the deal in a Sophie’s Choice melodrama.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        My local Buick GMC used to be Pontiac dealer used to sell far more Pontiacs than Buicks. I’ve noticed since the closure of Pontiac their used car selection has gotten more diverse with Dodges and Nissans making an appearance.

        “Cheap Buicks” seems to be GM response to the loss of Pontiac.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        GM couldn’t command high enough prices for Pontiacs to make money even though their volume was double that of Buick, at least according to the Auto Task Force. GM proposed to keep the brand, with more niche enthusiast vehicles- G8, a lower cost Cad ATS architecture ca and Solstice in a Buick-Pontiac-GMC channel.

        Buicks today command substantially higher prices than Pontiacs were, giving them a business case despite lower volume. Verano accomplishes several purposes. Firstly, it gives the now B-GMC dealers a price class car to help keep some of the former Pontiac customers. Pontiac accounted for 60% of my local B-P-GMC dealer’s sale, pre collapse. Secondly, it helps support the substantial move to smaller vehicles necessary to support CAFE.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Doc Olds – “GM couldn’t command high enough prices for Pontiacs to make money even though their volume was double that of Buick, at least according to the Auto Task Force.” If there’s one thing this administration can do is pass judgement on a for profit corporation on how to spend its money.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @28-cars-later-
        +1 to that!

    • 0 avatar
      alluster

      Ponchoman, Buick doesn’t have an identity crisis. Buick can’t do a complete overhaul and alienate their base looking for quiet, smooth cars with inoffensive designs. The Lacrosse is a huge hit and handily outsells the Lexus ES by 2 to 1 most months. The Enclave is selling in respectable numbers despite being unchanged for the last 6 years. The Regal has won rave reviews from auto journals and critics alike. Both the Regal and Enclave have an average buyers age of 56, closer to the average buyers age of all cars, 51. It will take time for perceptions and brand reputations to change. Buick is on the right track and with new models in the pipeline, we can expect sales to grow dramatically. Buick is commanding $11,000 more per sale in 2012 than it did in 2006. Fleet sales are down to 4% in 2012, compared to 20% in 2011.

      The Verano while bland will appeal to a lot of people who buy equally bland cars like the Avalon, and ES. Its more fuel efficient and quieter, not to mention $6K to $10K cheaper depending on content. If they have no need for the extra room the Avalon and ES offer, I doubt any sane person would not pick the Verano over them and bank the $10K savings. The top 5 cars people cross shop with the Verano are TSX, A3, G25 sedan, Chrysler 200 and Lexus CT. The average age of a Verano buyer is 59 compared to 64 for the Lexus ES and 67 for the Avalon. This will go down further with the Turbo GS models coming on sale. Of course we would like Buick to sell RWD sports cars but that is not what the market demands. Buick has gone from large, floaty v8 land yachts to a mostly 4 cylinder lineup. The Encore will also set new standards for premium compacts CUV’s. With gas prices doing their continuous ascent, Buick would be well placed with fuel efficient offerings.

      The Verano exists solely to capitalize on existing platforms to spread the costs across more models. It brings in $24K to $33K for what is basically a glorified Cruze. The car is already developed for the Chinese market and costs next to nothing to bring it here. Is China’s number 1 seller, not just for Buick but across all brands.

      For the future, I would like to see Buick keep their current lineup to appease their core base while offering sportier trims and also expand their lineup to draw Pontiac and Saturn customers. They would need a 2 door RWD sports car, a midsize cuv to target the RX, a compact AWD sedan and large flagship model. They need to make e-assist standard across the lineup to give Buick a unique identity in the Luxury market. Buick could become the all Hybrid brand. How is that for brand identity.

      For everyone comparing sales volumes of Pontiac to Buick. You need to understand chasing volume is what got GM bankrupt in the first place. Compare the transaction prices of any Buick to its Chevy cousin and you will understand why Buick was kept alive.

  • avatar
    ltcmgm78

    I test-drove the Verano three weeks ago. It was a bottom-of-the-line model. Wasn’t that nuts about its fuel mileage and I told my wife later that when I sat in the car, I felt I had aged 20 years! The transmission had a shifting issue during the test drive. It seemed like it was slipping between gears. The tachometer would leap up a bit on each shift. It felt underpowered to me. It also seems that it “crowds” the Regal in the Buick line-up. I’d reconsider if it got a diesel or a turbocharged gasoline engine.

  • avatar
    Carlsberg1966

    This car harkens back to the great days of the Cadillac Cimmaron and other lame badging exercises GM was supposed to of learned their lesson from how many times over? Its a neither nor. Not particularly sport, not particulary stylish and not really desirable. Would people really buy these over a Lexus or an Acura? Would a 20 something hipster consider the Verano? Please. Its a car Grandma would think is nice as she looked to trade in her aging Crown Vic. I would of liked to see them go old school and bring back the Opel name and build the Astra’s at Orion and sell the hatchback, the combi and the OPC performance variant. I have a 2008 Saturn Astra and its been a great car. Sure Opel’s never have translated well here but it would be a hell of a lot more interesting than this bowzer.

    • 0 avatar
      Maxseven

      Agreed and well said.

    • 0 avatar
      jetcal1

      Carlsberg,
      I partially agree, but I will assume that you will also feel the same way about the Camry/ES350, Nissan Murano/Infiniti, etc. If GM treats the Turbo with some respect then it might be worth looking at. I for one am going to drive it with an open mind and see how it shakes out. Maybe someone has some firing synapses at GM and will be able to do for Buick what DeLorean did for Pontiac. (No, I am not holding my breath.)

      • 0 avatar
        Maxseven

        The only Infiniti that shares the D platform with the Nissan Murano is the new JX and it bears no resemblance to its lesser sibling. The latest generation of the ES350 shares a platform with the Avalon – neither of which I like.

    • 0 avatar

      Clearly are not in touch with the hipster. If anything, the entire purpose of the hipster is to do exactly what their age group DOESN’T do. Their age groups buys Acura, Lexus, Infiniti, etc., which would make the Buick even more appealing. Honestly, as a 23 year-old male I like driving unexpected cars (especially ones that have traits I value, like quiteness and a good ride). I’d buy this Buick before I’d buy an ILX, that’s for sure.

  • avatar

    Have we got any sense of what the reliability of the Verano will be? I assume this is the same 2.4 litre/6 speed auto combo that we see in the Malibu/Regal/Terrain/Equinox/etc. Is this generally seen as a good system?

    I’m helping a friend of mine shop, and she’s bouncing around various Acura (ILX, TSX) options as well as this one, but is concerned about longterm reliability with the Buick.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    You know looking at a couple of these on eBay just now, the interior coloring makes a big difference. The brown color featured here looks fine, but swathed in grey/light grey it appears much cheaper inside. In fact, in grey scale it looks much like a rental car.

    The brown adds a nice richness. It doesn’t really work in black either. The fake plastic aluminum trim bothers me no matter what color it’s in.

  • avatar
    Maxseven

    The Verano has turned out to be a very stinky automobile.


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