By on May 23, 2014

veranoturbo

Reader Davefromcalgary discusses what it’s like to buy the car that everybody asks for, but nobody ever seems to actually purchase: the manual variant of a mainstream sedan.

As the calendar turned from 2013 to 2014, my trusty 2002 Oldsmobile Alero with 296,000 kms (or roughly 184,000 miles) on the clock, took what would turn out to be its last cross country trip. Returning to Calgary on a day where the average air temperature across 1350 kms (840 miles) averaged about -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit), the hydraulic clutch system gradually ceased to function. I managed to get it home, but the third gear synchro soon failed, and the first gear synchro progressively became louder until I finally delivered my trusty Olds to the local Pick n’ Pull.

In the summer of 2012, I had to have that very same hydraulic system serviced at a local shop in Calgary. It is my understanding that prolonged exposure to extreme cold was a known problem for that system, and that previous to this service, which required replacement of the slave cylinder, it had been cold proofed. This same procedure was unfortunately not carried out this time around.

At this point, my Alero was pretty much worth scrap value, having a bad transmission, typical Alero rust, and a rebuilt title. So I made the decision to buy something reasonably new. Up to that point, only one out of the six vehicles I had owned had come into my possession with less than 150,000 kms, or just under 100,000 miles. I generally wrench on my own, up to complex engine or transmission repairs, so I decided to treat myself with a vehicle that hopefully would require only regular maintenance for a while.

As I have mentioned to the likes of CoreyDL, bball40dtw and 28-cars-later, I had a pretty strict set of non-negotiables that my new car had to adhere to; the rest would sort itself out.

My “must have” list is short, but boy does it narrow the field in a hurry.

• Dual Exhaust – Pretty much everyone whom I spoke to about my pending decision told me this is a stupid non-negotiable. However, every vehicle I have ever owned has left my care with dual exhaust, whether it had it prior or not. I simply cannot bear the lopsided look of a lonely single exhaust poking out one side of the car. Furthermore, if I ended up buying or leasing new or on warranty, I know this kind of aftermarket modification wouldn’t fly. Finally, it is really hard to get an aftermarket system that looks like it belongs there, doesn’t ruin the look, and doesn’t introduce annoying tones or resonance.

• V6 or Turbo 4 power – the majority of my past vehicles have been the base engine. While it can be fun to zing a car to redline and enjoy every bit of the tach, I also think it is nice to have effortless power to merge and cruise when you want it. This is the main reason why the Mazda6 never entered consideration. I know the SkyActiv 2.5 is a good engine for what it is, but I was really looking for 240+ hp.

• 6 speed manual – Self-explanatory. However, I also wanted something with a nice ratio spread. It always boggles my mind when the top gear in a decently powerful manual transmission car screams along at highway speeds. I guess the passing power is there, but I can downshift, thanks.

• Convenient audio integration – I pretty much spend all day streaming radio from all over North America on my iPhone using the Tune-In Radio app. At the very least an aux-in jack was required, for cars around the 2008 range.

• Sunroof.

• HVAC must have the floor/defrost split. My mom’s Audi A4 and my dad’s LSS and LeSabre don’t have this setting, and in winter I consider it absolutely non-negotiable.

Some other important questions, such as driven wheels and body style came down as follows:
• Driven wheels was a consideration, but not a decision maker. Sadly, the majority of cars for sale are FWD, and I really wasn’t interested in slip and grip transverse AWD.

• Body style was pretty much destined to be a sedan or coupe. Hatchbacks and CUVs were not really in the running, due to a quirk of mine that really dislikes not having a separate, lockable trunk area. Stuff in the rear of a hatch is accessible via the main doors and I really can’t stand that. (Sorry, Forester XT, GTI, and Legacy GT Wagon.) For Pch101, sadly no small to midsize trucks were on my list. The Tacoma and Frontier simply do not interest me now, and never have, as my primary vehicle anyways. I would definitely consider a Tacoma X-Runner as a secondary vehicle.

So, at this point my two front runners were an 05-09 Legacy GT Sedan, or a 2008+ Accord Coupe V6. I always loved what I call the “hawk-eye” Legacy, as the 2.5 Turbo is a treat, and the Subaru AWD would have been a great companion for my many winter highway trips.  However, the only way to have 6 forward gears and Subaru’s best standard audio was the rare as hen’s teeth Spec-B, which basically proved impossible to find for a reasonable price, and anywhere near to my location. As well, 05lgt and others cast some doubt upon the robustness of the rear suspension and diff of five to ten year old Legacy GTs.

My parents visited in mid-January for an event, and it was suddenly and clearly illuminated that coupes suck for bringing friends along. Combining this with how sick I was of having to do gymnastics just to get out of a tight parking spot, this pretty much eliminated the Accord, despite how sweet the pull of that 3.5L V6 is. I will state categorically that had the Accord sedan been available with the V6/6MT combination, I would have bought it.

A 2009 Lexus IS250 briefly entered the competition, and I even took it for a test drive. My reading of owner’s reviews assured me that with a good set of winter rubber, the Lexus’s excellent RWD driving dynamics would prove quite a treat when the white stuff flew. Sadly, the 2.5 V6 could hardly be described as effortless, though I cast no aspersions on the vehicles smoothness or comfort.

So, at this point, within my maximum of CAD 35,000 or so, the Verano Turbo and Jetta GLI were the only two vehicles left on the list. I test drove both, and found the VW 2.0T/6MT combination subjectively superior to the GM combo. It seemed more responsive across the rev range, in fact feeling as strong at it’s peak as the GM, despite advertising 45 less horsepower. However, the Verano T had better feature content at the price, and the Jetta has single exhaust. Dual tips on one side doesn’t count. I was willing to settle for the slightly smaller Verano. As well, a combination of my general GM bias, and my family’s experience with VW products really swayed me over to the old man brand. All that was left was to book a test drive and see if I actually liked driving the damn thing.

This proved harder than you might suspect. My chosen dealer didn’t have one (not surprising, being that they are western Canada’s volume leader in pickups) and the closest one they had access to was in Edmonton, 3 hours away. However, they did show a 2013 Verano T 6MT locally, but it wasn’t available to them. So, I took matters into my own hands and tracked the vehicle down myself and went to the dealer to whom it belonged. I booked an appointment for a Tuesday evening.

When I showed up, it was a black on black Verano T, fully loaded including nav and the 10 split spoke premium rims. The young salesman, who had given me a pretty thorough walk through in the well-lit service drive through, tossed me the keys, and told me to be back by close. I immediately paired up my iPhone, (remarkably easy) and pulled out on to AB- Hwy 2, heading south towards the outskirts of town so I could evaluate the car’s highway ride, and headlights. I was immediately able to ascertain that the car was indeed effortless to accelerate to highway speeds, enhanced by the fact that the Verano is a very quiet car! Buick advertises their quiet tuning, and, while my reference is a clapped out Alero, it became pretty obvious that this was a very solid feeling automobile.

Any and all reviews I had read of the Verano T praised its power and smooth quiet ride, but universally panned its 6MT as clunky, vague, and a blight on an otherwise well put together car. Now, maybe I have never driven a good MT, or perhaps my standards are a lot lower, but I found the car easy to drive. I had no trouble finding gears, and the clutch action felt fine, though the friction point is pretty high in the pedal travel. I will say that one of the things that sold me on the car was just how familiar it felt to drive. The gear ratios, to me, are well matched to the engines output and I had no trouble operating the mechanism. I was also extremely pleased to find that at 110 kph, the little turbo mill has yet to breach 2000 rpm in 6th gear. This led me to believe that the car would be an effortless highway cruiser.

I used the voice command to dial my dad. We had a quick chat, and his opinion was that the sound quality was slightly better than the Bluetooth headset I usually use, which satisfied that curiosity. I found the infotainment system easy to use. I was able to stream music with little trouble, and the system was even able to display song information in Ukrainian.

The Bose sound system was actually better than the Bose system in my 04 Mazda 6, but was typically underwhelming. I don’t know why, but Bose in cars just doesn’t work. I preferred the “Monsoon” systems in my previous GM vehicles, for sound. Bear in mind though, I am not what you would consider an audiophile; I just know what I like a stereo to sound like. That being said, the connectivity was straightforward, and while it does feature a touch screen, the majority of features can be controlled by the large array of buttons and the large, central push-to-select rotary dial. The HVAC system, though being an auto climate control system, features rotary knobs and toggle switches, and is extremely user friendly. All in all, I would give the Verano top marks for its control interfaces.

I found it reasonably easy to find a driving position that suited me. A colleague of mine who is 6’4” rented a Verano and said he couldn’t get comfortable behind the wheel, but at a stocky 5’6” I was able to get comfortable. The 6’2” salesman sat behind me, and he fit, so I figured I would generally be able to haul my friends around. Though the Verano is sort of short in length, and awkwardly tall, the beltline stays low enough that shoulder check visibility isn’t hampered. This was a serious concern, but taking the car onto Calgary’s expressways assured me that it was easy enough to navigate through traffic. I would like to give special props to the blind spot monitoring system in the side view mirrors, and the cross traffic alert in the backup camera, but also decry the auto dimming rearview mirror with no option to disable the function.

At the end of my 90 minute test drive, I was comfortable that this was the car for me. I still have a list as long as my arm of things that irk me about the car. Basically, the Verano was the car that annoyed me the least while fulfilling my must haves. At this point, I had two dealerships vying for my business. The dealership that had the car, and my chosen dealership. I paid $40 to www.carcostcanada.com, a website which spit out the vehicle’s dealer invoice price. At this point, I dealt over email, and was promised in writing a 2014 Verano T, factory ordered, at invoice +4% profit and my choice of lease incentives, either the current ones or the ones available on delivery. I took that email to my preferred dealership, and we ran the credit check and I gave them a deposit to secure the order. This was at the end of January, and I took delivery of the car on April 5 2014.

As of this writing, I have owned the car for 1.5 months. Part 2 will discuss how the car functions in day-to-day situations.

 

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127 Comments on “Reader Review: Buick Verano Turbo 6-Speed Manual, Part 1...”


  • avatar
    RetroGrouch

    “and the Jetta has single exhaust. Dual tips on one side doesn’t count.”

    I don’t even know what to say.

    My in-laws bought a Verano to replace their Buick Century. I took it for a test drive and was very impressed. Keep in mind I currently own two wagons but only one has a manual box and neither is brown.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Nice detailed review! Nice color choice too.;) What color interior? Look forward to Part 2.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Black.

      The tan didn’t do anything for me.

      The cream/white was nice, but I was worried about keeping it clean, and, the way it was integrated with the trim pieces that remain black was rather poor, in my opinion.

      I was pleasantly surprised by the contrasting stitching used on the black seats.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Good move staying away from the VW. Nice cars, I want to live them, but after owning one…..never… ever… again…

    I’ve never been that impressed with Bose period. The sound is clear to a point, but they never pack any power. Cram a bunch of little speakers in seem to be their philosophy, and while I’m far from some bass-thumping gangsta, if I’m paying that much for a sound system, I want to feel it. I walked into the Bose store about a year or so ago. I’d put the my pair of Sansui SP-Z99 speakers from the 1980′s up against anything in that store (granted, they were about $2,500, in 1980′s money, when new; found at auction for about $50).

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      “No highs, no lows, must be Bose…”

      It’s not that Bose is the worst equipment made, it’s that it’s simply not worth the asking price. Comparable speakers are about half the price.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Buy Other Sound Equipment

      I’ve always found Bose too heavy on bass, no matter how I adjust the settings. Also distorts easily and for lack of a better description, sounds muddy. I don’t consider myself an audiophile either – I just don’t click with Bose. Maybe they aren’t the worst, but if ever there was a company that charged a premium based on marketing and name alone, it’s Bose.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        That’s their trick- there isn’t actually any real low bass, only a big mid bass spike around 60hz so it goes BOOM BOOM which tends to fool people who haven’t experienced great audio.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The 9-speaker Bose system in the Verano Premium really rocks! Whether it is Electronic/ Trance to Jazz/Chill the Bose delivers. It is not just the electronics that make this system work but the extensive sound deadening Buick used to block or isolate NVH.

        http://www.carfanaticsforum.com/thread-11414.html

        http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2011/Nov/1128_BuickVerano.html

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Norm – I swear you are on GM’s payroll. This reads like marketing copy.

          Off topic – is TTAC ever going to do something about comments being truncated at the right margin?

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The Verano works as advertised, and better. It is a car that us Turbo owners with 6-speed can sit at a stoplight with radio and HVAC off and sit in pure silence free from engine vibration. This level of refinement is unmatched in it’s class and classes above it. There is a reason why Verano owns more than 1/3 of sales in it’s segment and doubled Acura ILX sales.

            Buick outsells all near-luxury segements and is just behind luxury makes like Lexus, Mercedes, BMW…

          • 0 avatar
            naterator

            My guess is not – someone at GM’s marketing department would have caught the incorrect usage of our poor abused friend, the apostrophe.

          • 0 avatar
            CRConrad

            They’re not actually truncated, just hidden. You can “paint” a bit of the comment with your mouse, then press “End” or “left-arrow”, and the right-hand part of the text will become visible.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    It is pretty sad when you have to settle when buying a new car, was the regal on the list ?

  • avatar
    Andy

    You certainly chose the right color! (Colour, eh?) And I bet it was fun to factory order to your own specs. I always found the Verano to be bland in photos but really nice in person.

    I ended up with an Accord Sport 6MT. Down on power, but a step up from my last car (mazda3 2.0), and very sweet gearbox. Not many luxury features, but it has all I need (Bluetooth and leather wrapped steering wheel were must haves, beyond that I keep it simple. Don’t even need heated seats here in Texas). It was the huge interior that sold me. I’m 6’2″, and there’s plenty of room for all three kids in back. We leave the Suburban at home now unless we’ve got to carry a LOT of stuff with us.

    And, I totally get your idiosyncratic preference for dual exhaust symmetry. The Accords with single exhaust just look wrong. The bumper is even shaped for a second outlet. It’s nearly as bad as seeing plastic blanks where fog lights belong. Not that I ever actually need fog lights, but I can’t abide the visual cues of a base model car. Plastic door handles, plastic wheel covers, etc.

    Anyway, congrats. Looking forward to part 2.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Did you consider the Buick Regal at all? Turbo power is standard now and for those who want more there’s the GS.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I briefly looked at the Regal. According to GM Canada’s website, I would have had to pass go, inversely collect $8000, and go straight to the GS to get my coveted 6MT. I couldn’t justify the price difference. And, while I think the front end of the Verano is a tad off and the front of the Regal is really nice, the rear of the Regal is…frankly really ugly. Its all droopy and lacks “strength” where as I think the Verano rear end, being more squared off is more handsome over all.

      Personal opinion on the looks, of course.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        So you’re not that swayed by a pretty face but more of an ass man…

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I agree on the Regal’s price. They’re building in those German Opel costs, I think. And it’s too close in size to the cars on either end of it to make it worthwhile. Also, dated now. My sister was considering the Regal, and I told her not to bother. She agreed once she saw the price of one with some options on it.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          I took a shining to the Regal when I was over in China a few months ago. But it’s a bit of a porker for such a small car – over 4,000 pounds for the GS.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            The sad thing is, it isn’t small (about 190″ x 73″. Even worse, it is shaped for no head room in the back seat, so the extra leg room vs smaller cars is wasted.

      • 0 avatar
        naterator

        “inversely collect $8000″…that’s awesome

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      To get the 6MT, he would have had to step into the GS which would have put him over $40k in Canadia, well above his $35k set limit.

      Edit: Dave beat me to it.

    • 0 avatar

      The GS is a sizeable price increase, however…and a more attractive body with better handling is about all you get out of the deal. Having driven in a Regal, space is certainly not something you are spending the additional money on.

      That said, I like both a lot. Were I buying, both would be near the top of my list, and both will be considerations used (but very hard to find, no doubt).

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Scene: Auto manufacturer’s top brass brainstorming why newly introduced model not selling well. After many astute suggestions were rejected for various reasons, one wag said he guessed because that model didn’t have duel exhausts. While everyone stifled a laugh, little did they know that this fellow would soon be on his way to being CEO of the company.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Great review Dave. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Haha, Edmonton, a whole 3-hours away! I go Edmonton to Calgary for lunch sometimes. I used to go to Calgary to put on dance parties leave Edmonton at 4pm then leave Calgary at 2-3am. Nice reveiw, glad to know I’m not the only one who has arcane deal-breakers. THhe Buicks, they are getting may attention lately. Liked the Regal GS Turbo way more than the new Volvo turbo.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I’ve noticed this non-chalance about large distances in Alberta. Everything is so far apart, no one looks at a 3+ hour drive as significant at all. 5+ hour drives to Jasper at the drop of a hat, no problem. At least it’s scenic.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Ha, it wasn’t the distance. I often drive to Edmonton after work and back in the same night. I just figured it would be easier with a local dealership. An Edmonton dealership had to know that even if they sold me a car, that is the last they would see of me. I felt this would diminish my bargaining position.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Very nice review. Before I got my Dart, I test drove a base-model Verano and was impressed by the car; it really is a great car.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t “get my motor going”, so to speak. After having my Crosstour, I was looking for something that made me smile and and felt a little more sporty.

    I have told many people I know that if they’re looking at a luxury car, they really need to look at a Buick.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Great review Dave. I agree with you on the Verano vs Regal, looks. Enjoy your ride.

    BTW.. 266000 klms on a 14 year old Alero, with a branded ownership, in our climate!.. Its nice to hear a positive GM story from a vehicle out of that era.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “a quirk of mine that really dislikes not having a separate, lockable trunk area. Stuff in the rear of a hatch is accessible via the main doors and I really can’t stand that.”

    Um, you know the Verano has folding rear seats?

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Yessir, of this I am aware. I would respond by saying

      1) I have had my car broken into in really nice parts of town. Perhaps I am a bit paranoid, but a 3 box sedan just seems safer to me. Comfort level counts for a lot.
      2) Its not too hard to secure the seats from the trunk side, to at least discourage further prodding. My understanding is that the little things you can do to slow down thieves, even by a bit will convince them to move on to an easier target.

      The Alero had an internal trunk release that was always active. (The Verano’s thankfully disables when the key fob isn’t around.) I never really leave stuff visible in the car. Once I removed all together the Alero’s interior trunk release and also made the seats harder to flip from the cabin (but easy from the trunk), I never had any more problems.

      Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but for better or worse it carried weight in my decision making process.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Confirmed on the safety point. There is no way to disguise the fact that you are carrying stuff in a hatch. Either it’s visible or the conspicuous cargo cover (“Break into this car!”) is in place. I also prefer sedans for this reason.

      • 0 avatar

        I realize that this is now of no importance, but the Alero had a little lockout switch for the trunk release mounted next to the latch under the trunk lid…you slide it over and the button on the door was disabled.

  • avatar
    stodge

    Have they added lumbar adjustment to the Verano yet? I test drove the original and I was shocked to find it didn’t have lumbar adjustment.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      No sir, it does not. This is one of the reasons I put emphasis on making sure I could get comfortable in the seat on the test drive.

      Furthermore, you have really hit on a problem with the Verano. It has a lot of nice features, but many other features are head-scratchingly absent. My guess is that they tried to make it as “premium” as possible, without pricing it out of the reasonable price range you might expect to pay.

      I intend to focus on this in my next installment, but I will give you an example. The vehicle is equipped with keyless entry and start. There is a lock/unlock button on each door handle, but nothing on the trunk lid! So, you can walk up to, enter and drive the car without removing the key from your pocket, but to get into the trunk you have to pull the key out and hit the trunk release. Its a small thing, and a first world problem to be sure, but it just seems like a huge over site to a COMPLETE FEELING implementation of the system.

      Like I said, more on this to come.

      • 0 avatar
        zaxxon25

        On the back of the Malibu next to the center brake light there is a very small button you can push to pop the trunk (as long as you have the keyless entry fob on your person). Surprised there isn’t something similar on the Verano? Looking at the picture I can’t even tell where the 3rd light is on the Verano.

        GM purposely games their features between brands to try and direct you upmarket … for instance rainsense wipers aren’t available on the Malibu or Regal but are on the ATS. And if you want AWD you need to move up to Buick or Cadillac.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          There is definitely no trunk release button there, sadly enough.

          The CHMSL is located in the rear window at roof level.

          (Center High Mount Stop Lamp)

  • avatar
    klossfam

    You have a slightly weird list of requirements…but I liked the detail in the review. I have not driven a Verano but if it beat out a GLI, that is reasonably impressive…I’d never forgo DSG if getting a VW…I like MTs but the DSG trumps a manual in the real world…

  • avatar
    jmo

    Another exceptionally informative and well written review. TTAC is really on a roll lately.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “It always boggles my mind when the top gear in a decently powerful manual transmission car screams along at highway speeds. ”

    A-frickin-men. Nice review, looking forward to part 2.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      +1. My Elantra GT stick screams down the highway at 3000rpms at 80mph.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Pffft. My Element’s doing 3000rpms at 65, although it’s only a 5-speed. And my 6-speed MINI wasn’t much better. Insanity.

        Although there could be some question as to whether either car qualifies as “decently powered”.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I wouldn’t consider 3000rpms at 80mph screaming. Are you comparing this to a diesel or something? That actually sounds like pretty tall gearing for a NA four cylinder.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      For reference:

      My 04 Mazda 6 V6 5 speed turned 2600 rpm at 100 kph (60mph). In a 220 horse V6 powered sedan! It got progressively worse from there. At 120 kph it was well north of 3000. In a V6, that really drove me nuts.

      My brothers 06 GLI 1.8T 6MT is the same. 2600 at 100kph in 6th. Granted, both of those engines were pretty smooth spinning faster, and the 1.8T still returns decent economy at that speed. The Mazda was atrociously thirsty for what it was though.

      All of my GM 4 cyl 5 speed combos turned 2200 or 2300 at 100 kph. Much more reasonable, and I always wondered what they would feel like with a 6th gear. Lo and behold, the Verano seems to have basically taken the same gearing as my old cars and slapped on a very tall 6th gear. yay!

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    personally i like the regal styling better than the verano. both are roughly the same size (duh, who green lighted that?).

    if you are intersted in a regal 6mt and a used or certified vehicle suits your needs 2011-2013 were years when they were offered in gs and non-gs trim. as luxury or near luxury cars the depreciation curve is steep in the first few years and with the traditional buick owner being long in the tooth many of these have low miles and are potentially well cared for.

    i should add that they are rare yes, but not necessarily well sought out so you should be able to get a decent mark down off of the advertised price.

    in the last year i was looking for a different vehicle and the regal made my short list. but with two early teen sons at 6’1″ and 5’11″ and growing the rear seat head room was a deal breaker for us.

  • avatar
    readallover

    I totally agree on how quiet the car is. It handled way better than I expected. But I`d really like to know how a 6 foot 2 inch guy got into that back seat. And dual exhaust or not, that is the ugliest back end on a new car sold today. Reminded me of an old lady with cat`s eye glasses from the 1950`s.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Congrats on being published here at your fave car website! And yay shout-out for me. I understood your requirements more after I bugged you about them. Funny how unimpressive the IS turned out.

    I’m looking forward to the daily use article, and I hope you put your irks in there as well. Oh, and more photos please!

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Thanks Corey. I will be sure to include every pro and con. As a teaser, I am pretty incensed that a car with a sticker closer to 40k than 30k has a freaking prop rod.

      Regarding photos, I am trying to borrow a real camera from someone. All I have is my iPhone 4, it doesn’t take the greatest photos.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I like cell phone pics of cars in reviews. A cell phone camera does the subject no favors, so if it still looks good in those pics it’s a promising sign.

  • avatar

    Great detailed review. I love how you explained your criteria and how cars were narrowed down. Was diesel ever in consideration? You mentioned you wanted effortless pulling power on the highway, and that seems like a good fit. I’ve never been in a Verano, but was impressed by it’s lesser Cruze sibling when it came to NVH. All GM products I’ve been in have done a pretty good job at NVH. It’s too bad the mazda6 didn’t work out. It’s my first new car, but it’s also my first automatic because my wife got tired of rowing her own. Overall a good package, but I agree with you it’s pretty gutless when passing on the freeway.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I can’t think of any diesel models that fit the whole list. No reason a diesel powered car can’t have dual exhaust, but none do as far as I know. Cruze diesel, no manual. Passat diesel, I was worried about the urea tank,as I read they can freeze up in extreme cold. Jetta, well, if I was going to buy a Jetta, it would have been the GLI.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The allure of dual tips wore off for me when I was about 10 and realized that most of the cars that had them anymore just split the pipe behind the axle somewhere. I still appreciate the balanced look, but would probably prefer the extra cost and weight removed instead.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Yeah, I know that it adds nothing in terms of performance.

      I have no problem admitting its STRICTLY for looks :)

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      I actually prefer that my ’13 Malibu has “hidden” duals – a peeve of mine is the carbon stains that quickly accumulate in exposed chrome exhaust tips – and they’ll burn off waxes in short order.

      Even the “4-into-1-into-two” systems are said to add 5-10HP if tuned properly.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The Verano 2.0T has four (4/mufflers/resonators. They are all straight through in design but yet yield more exhaust note than the single muffler with the base 2.4l.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    The Verano was on my list when I was test driving.

    I drove both the turbo and non turbo variants, but with only the automatic transmission. Where I live, rowing your own would be grueling on a day to day basis.

    All be told, for the style of driving I would be doing 95% of the time, the turbo wouldn’t have added anything to my driving experience.

    The car was very enjoyable to drive. Superb ride, taught handling, super quiet, and really easy to drive.

    What I didn’t like were the interior color choices. I didn’t like the fact to get a higher trim level you were stuck with leather seats. I’d prefer a higher grade cloth to leather.

    And lastly, for some strange reason I couldn’t get comfortable in the leather seated higher trim models. Although, the seat comfort in the cloth models was okay.

    So it really boiled down to seat comfort for me. I really don’t like GM seats. Just about any GM car I ride in I feel like I’m falling in on myself.

    Thinking back some more, interior fit and finish seemed a little off. Too many various textures and sheen on the plastics.

    But the car rode and drove very nice. If Buick had added an additional $250 or so of quality to the interior and the seats of the Verano, I probably would have bought one.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    Congrats on finding a Verano Turbo manual. According to Autotrader, there are only nine in dealer stock in the entire US

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I actually didn’t know this car existed. And there is a Buick dealer a few hundred yards from my house.

  • avatar
    blppt

    The GLI probably felt as strong as the Verano because VW/Audi always notoriously underrates the 2.0T (and now, apparently the new 1.8T as well). That GLI you drove was almost certainly putting forth north of 205hp AT THE WHEELS, which means it really should be advertised at 230-240hp.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      The GLI is also about 170 lbs lighter.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The GLI DSG was mentioned in Motor Trend’s Verano Turbo Long-term test and compares favorably but the VW is down on power.

      http://m.motortrend.com/wot/1311_2013_buick_verano_turbo_update_5_justifying_the_automatic.html

      They didn’t like the 6-speed but the staff reported problems working the NAV which leaves some questions on who is reporting. Someone who is used to driving manual transmissions thinks otherwise:

      “…thanks to the slick shifting manual. Buick’s row-it-yourself transaxle is not the same notchy unit found in the Regal, instead this has been lifted from GM’s European lineup and the change is welcome with shift quality equaling the Audi A3 and Acura TSX. (Bold statement I know.) Third pedal effort is fairly similar to the TSX although I actually preferred the predictable and linear engagement of the Buick.”

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/review-2013-buick-verano-turbo-video/

  • avatar
    marmot

    Excellent article. Your writing style is excellent too.

  • avatar
    Stovebolt

    Very nice article. Felt alone with my interest in dual exhausts until now. From childhood consideration of their uneven output on winter days, to the illogic of a single pipe splitting to duals, you reminded me of it all. Well, except for the many annoying pickups and SUVs roaring around Cali (sound and fury, signifying nada). That is not, to paraphrase some Ford exec, the sound of quality.

    One question, though, what is the defroster/heater split that you reference? Different temps top and bottom or what? (I assume it’s not that nanny function that forces external air whenever defrost is on. I prefer to choose my own air source, thank you, unless someone can enlighten me.)

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      (Sorry if it comes across as dumbing this down)

      No, not different temps. In my experience most cars have 5 vent settings. Floor only, floor and dash vent, dash vent only, defrost only, and floor and defrost. In winter, floor/defrost is my go to setting.

      The Verano has three vent buttons, floor, dash and defrost, and I can have multiple buttons selected to achieve this goal. The Alero just had a rotary knob wiuth the above noted settings

      My mom’s 07 A4, and my dads 97 LSS, but even his former 92 LeSabre have auto climate control systems where the only settings are auto, which does God knows what, heat, which sends it all to the floor, vent, strictly out the dash and defrost, which sends it only to the windshield. I find that the heat setting in these instances is inadequate to keep the windows clear, as it takes too much heat to circulate, and the defrost setting alone isn’t that much more effective. Again, small thing but I know what I find works best.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Dave – what other cars with a manual have you owned besides the Alero? I’ve basically dismissed the Verano because of the criticism of the shifter. I’m interested in more context to consider your opinion of it. It would be nice to add it back to my list, because it checks a lot of other boxes for me.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      04 Mazda 6 GT V6 (Ford Duratec 3.0)
      00 Sunfire GT 2.4 Twin Cam
      02 Alero 2.2 Ecotec
      87 S-15, Iron Duke and 4 speed
      98 Grand Am, 2.4 Twin Cam

      Plus I have driven my brothers 04 GLI 1.8T 6MT a fair amount.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Alex Dykes liked the manual on his review:

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/review-2013-buick-verano-turbo-video/

      You could fit Mtech short shifter or retrofit the stock unit with different pickup points like I did.

      http://www.short-shifters.com/mtech-z-shift-f40.html

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Alex Dykes couldn’t get his story straight on the Verano Turbo’s manual. From his ILX review: “As you would expect from the “luxury Civic Si,” the ILX’s shifter action is precise, clutch engagement is nearly perfect and the shifts are short. In contrast, the Verano’s clutch is rubbery, vague and the shift throw is lengthy.”

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/review-2014-acura-ilx-2-4-with-video/

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Was the Focus ST under consideration? I know it doesn’t have dual exhausts as you describe, but twin tips in the center does mean symmetry!

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    TTAC reviews have put two cars back on my potential test drive list this week. That carmax-like concept for new cars that Steve proposed really needs to happen to make this easier.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Just drive them used at carmax. Yours will be used after you buy it. It only doesn’t work with new models and new features.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        A good idea, though about half the cars under consideration are new for ’15 – WRX, GTI, Focus gets a refresh, Mustang is an unlikely outlier, new Accord coupe probably isn’t at carmax yet.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Search yahooautos under Verano Premium for used examples that should be in the sub-US$20K range for the turbo 2.0T. Just have to find color and choice of NAV or sunroof, and option wheels like Dave’s car in the picture at the top.

  • avatar
    gessvt

    “05lgt and others cast some doubt upon the robustness of the rear suspension and diff of five to ten year old Legacy GTs.”

    Haven’t heard of those concerns yet, and I thought I’d heard (and replaced) them all. Can you elaborate 05lgt? Sedan or wagon?

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Hey, if my memory is any good it had something to do with the rear cv joints being prone to failure due to the exhaust cooking them. Anyways, it sounded like a pain, and with the nigh impossibility of finding a SPEC-B sedan, I decided to scratch that off my list.

      05lgt, if you could refresh my memory that would be great.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Good review, I like the way you methodically went about your purchase. Just keep boiling down the options until you find the one that meets most of your needs. Makes for a long happy relationship with your car when you get the one that’s right for you

  • avatar
    nrd515

    This was a nice review. I know two people who recently bought a turbo Verano. Both autos. I’ve driven one of them and it’s not a bad car at all. They are both silver, of course, the nearby dealer lot appears to be about 70% silver at this point. Dull, but unoffensive is apparently the key thought, I suppose. The Verano would be a nice car to drive on a long trip, I suppose.

  • avatar
    JD23

    Will the Trifecta Tune be covered in Part 2 of the review?

  • avatar
    darex

    I’ve never understood this “trunks are more secure” b.s. rational for avoiding hatchbacks. How? Both are only properly accessible from the outside. All hatchbacks have tonneau (privacy) covers nowadays, and both trunks and hatchbacks are EQUALLY as accessible via the “main doors”, using the pass-thru (sedans) or folding down the seats (hatchbacks and also some sedans).

    Geez, I thought MY list of “requirements”/”deal-breakers” was restrictive! Yours, no offense, is pretty illogical and borderline ridiculous in some instances!

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      I would think that most hatchbacks’ claim to cargo space behind the rear seats is all the way to the roof; the volume under the cargo cover is significantly less. With the trunk, it is what it says, but tall items are a no-go.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        That may be true. Marketing is marketing, but at least all tonneau covers are removable, so you have the freedom of choice, which is ALWAYS good. Don’t forget, too, that with trunks, the trunk hinges often limit available space — never true of hatches.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      As with climate control, not all pass-thrus and folding seats are implemented the same. Some cars let you lock them.

      With a hatchback, I’m guessing once you are inside the car, it’s a lot easier to rip the privacy cover off or cut through it than it is to get through properly secured folding seats and pass-thrus.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Lol. Of all the reasons to pass up on good cars.

    In any case, 35KCD huh.

    http://wwwa.autotrader.ca/a/BMW/3+Series/Toronto/Ontario/5_19346362_ON20090105094745219/?ursrc=hl&showcpo=ShowCPO&orup=4_15_303

    Dual exhaust? Check.
    Legitimate room for 4-5 people? Check.
    Snow friendly AWD? Check.
    Sunroof? Check.
    Audio integration? Not sure but probably.

    How one could spend AWD 335xi money on a tarted up economy car, when something like the 335xi fit all their needs and within their budget is beyond me. What a shame.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I thought he decided two doors were a non-starter? Even if he is OK with that, saying a 3-series coupe is good for 4-5 people is quite the stretch. More like two adults and two shorter kids.

      Also, how anyone can say that a car that barely scrapes under the $35k limit with 2.5 years of CPO remaining (at best) and not exactly known for low running running costs is within the budget is beyond me. There is a bit more to it than sticker price.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        A 335xi sedan is probably cheaper. Plus contrary to popular belief the E90s are pretty reliable. Not much less reliable than a Verano anyway.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          According to Truedelta the frequency of repairs of the BMW are double the Verano for 2013. Sample sizes are small, too small to make a conclusion but the 3-series is far from perfect as a tried and true platform. Unlike the second full year of the Verano, repair data for older model BMW 3-series are tripled.

          http://www.truedelta.com/BMW-3-Series/reliability-13/vs-Verano-1086

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Considering the Verano is not a sports car, nor does it pose itself as a sports sedan it competes well just behind the Nissan’s Z car:

          http://www.edmunds.com/buick/verano/2013/road-test-specs.html

          http://www.edmunds.com/nissan/350z/2008/road-test-specs.html

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Hey sportyaccordy

      Thanks for the comments, Legitimate questions to be sure.

      I should have stated it in the article, but I really didn’t want, and straight up can’t afford at this point in my life, a “premium” vehicle, especially a premium German. Even the Lexus was a bit of a stretch, but that is a Toyota, which apparently run better on just regular applications of neglect and petrol.

      I really like and respect the 335i. What is not to like about a 300 ft lbs turbo I6. But, according to bmw.ca, a 2014 335i x-drive starts at $53,000. I am a believer that if you can’t afford to buy it new now, you definitely can’t afford a used one that might require costly repair (warranty not withstanding). I am pretty confident that routine maintenance and parts on the Verano are far more reasonably priced than on the BMW, due to its roots. You point out that the Verano is a tarted up economy car, and I am ok with that, because for me it carries a certain comfort level. I like the car, and I know a bit about whats underneath.

  • avatar
    CRConrad

    “…and I really wasn’t interested in slip and grip transverse AWD.”

    So, the orientation of the engine makes a difference to the “grippiness” of the AWD?

    How does that work, exactly?

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Slip and grip refers to the “front wheel drive until front wheels spin, and then the system transfers power to the rear wheels” type of AWD common to vehicles that are primarily FWD.

  • avatar
    CRConrad

    @davefromcalgary: “… type of AWD common to vehicles that are primarily FWD.”

    Like Audi A4/6/8s?

    Just a wee bit annoyed at the mixing up of “transverse” and “primarily FWD”. Not the same thing, you know.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I am not actually sure what your complaint is. The A4, A6 and A8 have longitudinally mounted engines. Even in basic FWD guise, the A4 engine is mounted north-south.


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