The Truth About Cars » buick verano turbo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:45:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » buick verano turbo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Reader Review: Buick Verano Turbo 6-Speed Manual, Part 2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-buick-verano-turbo-6-speed-manual-part-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-buick-verano-turbo-6-speed-manual-part-2/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 14:18:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=837033 IMG_4567

Reader Davefromcalgary discusses what it’s like to own one of the rarest unicorns in the automotive world: the Buick Verano Turbo with a 6-speed manual. Part 1 discussed the buying process, while Part 2 takes you through the day-to-day ownership of the car.

When ordering a Verano T, there are not many decisions to make. The 1ST package brings most of the goodies to the table including keyless start, Buick’s “IntelliLink” infotainment system, 18” rims and leather seating surfaces. The only remaining options are transmission type, exterior and interior color, rim style, navigation, sunroof, and the typical additional options such as the cargo net, block heater and protection package. GM charges a few hundred dollars for metallic black or red, and $995 for “diamond white tricoat”. Happily, the metallic blue was a no charge option. As well, there are three no cost options for interior color; black, white and tan/brown. I selected the 6MT, sunroof, navigation, upgraded rims, Carbon Blue Metallic paint, ”ebony” black interior, as well as the engine block heater and protection package. The window sticker for this particular car was $37,000 Canadian Dollars including freight and PDI. I gave them a $3000 deposit which was refunded upon delivery, and delivery took a shade over two months

As I alluded to previously, I have mixed feelings on the look of the Verano. At first I wasn’t sure about the chrome “eyebrows” at the rear, but in the grand scheme of things they really don’t bother me. I find the Verano’s rear to be squared off and solid in design, which is excellent given my presence for a more conservative (some say boring) shape. The vestigial spoiler neither adds nor subtracts from the look. It was included in the 1ST package, so that is neither here nor there. I find the rear and rear quarter to be the Verano’s best exterior angles.

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Moving around to the side, Buick has taken care to ensure that the Verano has no black plastic triangles at the front and back of the greenhouse like the Cruze. Buick has accomplished this by including triangular glass “portholes”. While they are thickly framed and don’t add a lot to visibility, the overall shape of the greenhouse glass is pleasant and the chrome trim sets it off well. While the beltline does gently slope upwards towards the rear, I am a big fan of how the thickness of the C-Pillar is roughly constant along its length, accented by a slight lift of the back glass. I find the Verano to be a tad short in length for the height of its hood and trunk lid, but the hood length to cabin length to trunk lid length all seem to work. The car will never be described as sleek, but the proportions come off as inoffensive at the end of the day. It is not a handsome car but it is honest.

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The worst feature of the side profile happens to coincide with the worst feature of the front, namely the grill. When viewed head on, the grill is only slightly odd looking, but it’s not so bad. But, move around to the side and you can see that the leading edge of the hood, rather than forming the top of the grill, runs through the grill. The Verano and Enclave are the only two vehicles I can think of that are styled like this, and in my opinion it looks pretty poor. I would have rather see them move the Buick shield down, and coordinate the grill shape with the hood line, ala Regal. However, I am quite pleased that the hood opens along the grill line, so there are no unpleasant straight body gaps cutting across the hood, as we have seen on other modern cars.

Other than that, like the rest of the car, the front end is generic and unassuming, though not ugly. However, I will say that the traditional Buick portholes on the top of the hood have got to go. I am not a fan of non-functional aero. I am also extremely disappointed by Buick’s placement of blue glass rings around the low beam projectors. The blue visible from legal OEM HID lamps is simply an artifact produced by the cutoff shield, but illegal HID drop-in kits play up this “cool” look, all while blinding those around them. The headlights on the Verano are halogen, and even if they were HID, I don’t believe any of the OEMs should be even tacitly giving illegal blue headlights any sort of positive endorsement.

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I ticked the “Protection Package” on the build sheet because it promised color matched molded splash guards, dealer installed. I did this for three reasons: one, I don’t like following vehicles without them in the rain, two, I don’t like the six foot long chunk of ice on the sills that forms in winter, and three, installing mudflaps on ones own can be difficult, if they are the kind that do not have any alignment tabs. In this case, the molded guards are specific to the car and I am happy with the way they look. The protection package also includes a thick rubber trunk mat and some floor mats, which I don’t need because I bought WeatherTech floor mats. For the record, they provide excellent coverage and don’t slide around, so I give them a thumbs up.

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Opening the hood shows an engine bay with a decent amount of room; understandable given the small displacement inline four. Thankfully, the entire bay isn’t covered by plastic shrouds, like the Lexus IS250. I will say though that the plastic engine cover is maddening, and borderline insulting. It is shaped to look like intake runners for a longitudinal engine, and for whatever reason that just makes me mad. Who do they think they are fooling? Also, it really makes me mad that a car stickering $37,000 is equipped with a prop rod.

The up level split 10-spoke alloys are a $525 upgrade. The standard rim is a twin 5-spoke, and normally I am a die hard 5-spoke fan, but something about the 10 spoke rims on this car just look more upscale, especially since they are slightly greyed out. Overall, I am still glad that I picked the Carbon Blue Paint and upgraded alloys. The car has a confident stance.

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As I mentioned in Part 1, if you can fit in it, the Verano is a nice place to be. The aspect of its interior design that I most appreciate is the simple, symmetrical and most of all, functional design. Starting between the front seats there is a comfortable yet slightly small padded armrest concealing a storage bin, which contains the USB and 3.5mm jacks. Forward of this sits two cup holders large enough for travel mugs but which are also able to secure regular 355mL pop cans. Forward of the cup holders yet behind the stick lies a deep cell phone sized pocket, and the switch for the electronically actuated parking brake. This switch is a pull up to engage and push down to release item. The stickshift itself is a classy little affair, featuring an elongated shape that fits my hand well, and a trigger for defeating the reverse lockout. First and reverse sit abeam one another and I believe this and the trigger should make it easy to rock in the snow without losing momentum. The shifter boot is black with the same white contrasting stitching as the seats. Ahead of the stick shift is a slightly larger deep pocket below the center stack which also houses a 12V outlet.

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The shifter and the center stack are both trimmed with a medium grey glossy trim that I imagine is supposed to emulate metal. Inlaid into this is a dark species of fake wood. All of it has a glossy coating. This trim also accents the door pulls. While it is obvious that the trim is neither genuine metal nor wood, it isn’t in your face fake. This is one of those items that I have decided works in the car, but others might find it cheap or not to their liking. One of the main reasons I am giving it a pass is that it seems reasonably scratch resistant. Other “metal look” plastics in my experience have proved for less robust right off the bat (one example is my former 2004 Mazda 6), and this piece seems like it will hold up. Sadly, my gut instinct is that the rest of the interior will not have this durability. The dash and door panels, where not trimmed with leather are covered in a soft rubber with a fine grained pattern. The switch gear, buttons and other areas of hard plastic are a “matte” black plastic. Both the rubber and the plastics have this quality where if you have sweat or gotten any dirt on your hands at any part of the day, they leave finger prints and smudges and basically look like hell. A gloss plastic and a more vinyl-like substance like in the Alero would be far more durable. Ask me how I know, as the interior of the Alero held up exceedingly well after 12 years and 300k kms. The material selection is definitely the low point of the interior.

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Luckily, the instrument and infotainment layout, to my eye, is excellent. The touch screen is clear, with simple graphics, and displays time, exterior temperature, HVAC info when you change settings, and all available media info. I should note that you don’t need to refer to the touch screen to use the HVAC, it is redundant info. The unit is equipped with RDS for terrestrial radio info and displays track info from MP3 CDs as well as full track info when streaming over Bluetooth or plugged into USB. Of course it also displays data for the SiriusXM system. The nav screen is relatively uncomplicated, and also can send directions to the drivers info screen in the instrument cluster. I should note that the 2014 Verano is equipped with HomeLink.

The infotainment system can be controlled almost entirely using the plethora of buttons below the screen, as well as the push to select rotary knob. The only time you are compelled to use the screen is to bring up certain menus when the nav is in full screen. Of course, you can use the touchscreen for the bulk of the radio operation, if that suits you better. However, I like buttons, and I have already gotten to the point where I can perform basic functions without looking. GM has a few other ‘Link branded systems with fewer to no buttons, but I believe the Verano’s setup is superior. The steering wheel controls are also convenient to use. The push button start is located above the media controls under the screen. Many people have had trouble finding it, but a few have commented (and I agree) that once you know it is there it is a good place for it.

Bluetooth integration works well. Pairing a new device is child’s play. Music quality over Bluetooth is good and call quality is excellent. Voice dialing also has yet to misunderstand me. The system is also capable of displaying your incoming texts (when stopped only), or reading your texts out loud when you are in motion, and surprisingly enough I find it works pretty well.

The HVAC is an automatic type, though it is clearly designed to use the same switchgear for lower spec cars. Because of this, the mix control is a knob with satisfying feedback, the fan speed is a rocker switch and the vent setting is handled by individual buttons for each setting, which can be combined. I find that manual mode works best for commuting, and my feeling is that the auto function will work best for prolonged trips where one click of the temperature knob will adjust multiple settings.

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The instrument cluster rates highly except for the use of blue backlighting. The gauges are large, clear, and easy to read, and Buick gets points for including the temperature gauge. My ideal car would have a full instrument cluster, but alas. I really like the detailing in the speedometer and tach, as the outside bezel has markings for intermediate numerals, and I feel it is styled to resemble a watch bezel. The numerals are backlit but the cluster is also globally lit from inside the pods. Blue backlighting can often be hard to read, which is why I say it lowers the rating, but the extra background lighting actually seems to help in this regard. The driver info screen has the usual items such as average economy, instant economy, trip odometer, tire pressure, voltage, and the Verano has the extra trick of displaying upcoming turns there as well. It is easily controlled from the turn signal stalk. I would like to point out that I dislike the use of a toggle switch rather than a dial for adjusting instrument lighting rheostat. It is so much easier to just scroll the wheel than repeatedly click a toggle.

Were I a buff book author, I would at this point make note that the seats are comfortable and well-trimmed but lack side bolstering. All of this is true, but I don’t drive aggressively enough that I really miss the extra support. The driver seat is power, and while the passenger seat isn’t it goes one extra step by adding manual height adjustment. The only glaring omission of the seating is lumbar support, manual or otherwise. I think this is the source of people not being able to acclimate to the Verano’s chairs. But the contrast stitching certainly looks good, although I am not well versed enough in material quality to know if the leather itself is of decent quality.

At hand storage is decent, with a reasonably sized glove box, the aforementioned center console, and large pockets in each door capable of holding a thick water bottle and then some. The back seat is specious enough for two adults, with a flip down arm rest and cup holders, and a second 12V outlet for the back seat. I mentioned in Part 1 that a 6’-2” gent could sit behind me. This is due to the scallop in the headliner where the sunroof ends. So, the top of his head is kind of stuck up in that space but it is certainly usable.

Overall, the Verano’s interior presents itself well, to this hard luck old GM driver. I do wish I had more basis for comparison to offer, but all I can say at this point is that I think, despite a few quirks, the Verano is a nice place to spend time.

Approach the Verano, and with the key in your pocket you just push one of the door handle buttons and all four doors unlock. However, I am incredibly annoyed that GM did not see fit to include a similar button on the trunk, necessitating you remove the key from your pocket. This is a first world problem to be sure, but it just screams lazy, unfinished execution. One nice feature I appreciate on newer cars is that the door hinges have three detents, handy for those tight parking lots.

Closing the door in a loud area, and the attention to quiet that Buick paid is readily obvious. Firing up the engine produces little noticeable noise from the inside, but do this with the door open and you notice DI clatter as well as the odd rattle before the revs drop down from the fast idle. That being said, it is no worse than any other DI car I have been around of late, such as my colleague’s CX-5.

One feature I really wanted was auto up and auto down windows. The Verano obliges, as the sunroof and windows are fully automatic with the exception of auto up in the rear, which seems cheap but I don’t use the back windows that much. The sunroof isn’t the largest, but it redeems itself by sliding farther into the roof than any other I have seen. Venting the sunroof and cracking the back rear window creates a pleasant and useful cross breeze. The A/C blows cold, and the heat, heated seats and heated steering wheel worked well the few early April mornings they were necessary.

I won’t harp any more on the Bose sound system, as I covered that in Part 1. The infotainment is functional though, and I think GM should get more credit for its ease of use. I wouldn’t say it is the best in the industry, (Derek mentioned to me that uConnect really is that good), but I would say that this is perfectly acceptable. Certainly head and shoulders above CUE and certain irritating features of MyFordTouch.

Releasing the electronic park brake and pulling onto the road (or, if you forget, the car will release the break when it detects you trying to get going), the Verano pulls strongly, while letting very little noise into the cabin. However, despite the claimed peak 260 ft-lbs at 2000rpm, I find it very easy to catch the car flat footed. Turbo lag is present, and I have taken to leaving the car one gear lower than I would normally feel necessary just in case I need to scoot into a gap. It really does not like being asked to accelerate after it has been loping along below 2000 rpm. However, if you are at or slightly above 2500 rpm and you put your foot into it, the car pulls eagerly. This is where I often find myself thinking “this car isn’t THAT fast”, but it is extremely disconcerting because the sensation of speed is muted.

Now I am not saying that this car is all that, but I have found that to really appreciate the amount of power you do have available, you almost have to keep the corner of your eye on the instruments, to put a frame of reference to the feel of what the car is doing. The car is capable of attaining extralegal speeds effortlessly. Despite having a non-independent Watts Link rear suspension, the car handles well, and is very easy to place. Steering is light but direct. However, the handling is really let down by excessive body roll. I found that the Alero on 15” winter tires actually cornered much flatter. 12” disks upfront and 11” disks out back stop the car with extreme prejudice, and I am hopeful that they will not suffer the same sort of warping issues that has plagued small to midsize GM cars in the past.

One feature that I have used but not yet fully come to appreciate is Hill Start Assist. When stopped on an incline, the computer will engage the parking brake to stop you from rolling back when you set off. It works well but I find it is not consistent about which grades on which it engages. I am hoping the owner’s manual will shed more light on the topic, though I keep forgetting to look it up when I am stationary.

With my observations regarding how it drives, please bear in mind that I drive in a fairly relaxed fashion, and full throttle runs to expressway speed limits represent the majority of my hoonage. The good news here is that, this car shows its Buick roots. The ride is comfortable, the car is quiet, and if you don’t feel like driving like a yob, the extra power makes it very easy to drive the car easy and relaxed. I find the stickshift to be precise and easy to use, and the only issue with the clutch is that it is a bit heavy for how high the friction point is, but I quickly got used to it.

The biggest let down in the drive is the 18” rims. I do not know how much they contribute to the cars direct handling, but being P235/45/18, there is not a lot of meat on them. The car does a good job of isolating me from harsh bumps, but the car seems to crash a bit over railway tracks and pot holes. I cannot help but think that a 17” or even a 16” rim would provide a softer ride over rough roads. I will be purchasing a set of 16” alloys and Nokian Hakkapelitta R2 winter tires in fall, and I suspect they will improve the cars composure over harsh bumps.

I gave my impressions of driving the car on an expressway in Part 1, and they haven’t really changed. Despite the gently rising beltline and small rear window, visibility is good and the blind spot warning actually works really well. The car also has forward collision detection, which I have turned off because it seems rather useless. When a car is in range of the system ahead, it illuminates a car shaped icon in the dash. Am I not supposed to be looking forward?

A lane departure warning system is also included, which I also keep disabled. Driving through construction zones causes the system to flip out and convince the car that we are not long for this world. I find being unable to disable the auto dimming rearview mirror extremely detrimental at night. I typically use the high beam setting on manual rear view mirrors sparingly, so I dislike that this is imposed upon me. When dim, you can really make out very little. I really find I appreciate the lane change flash function, I think every modern car should have this. The wipers are the kind that open from the center to the A-pillars. This isn’t a functional problem (yet) but every time I see an early 00’s GM minivan with the wipers stuck “open” I cringe. However, I would like to think that GM has moved past that kind of issue. I would also like to note that, while I don’t find I need and thus don’t ever look at the backup camera screen, I find the rear cross traffic alert to be exceptionally good at helping me back out when parked between two long, tall SUVs or pickup trucks.

I have done a few short highway stints. The car hums along very quietly, While I haven’t yet crossed the vast divide of the Canadian prairies, I feel I am going to be let down by the headlights. Halogen lamps aren’t automatically inferior any more than projectors are inherently superior, but these just don’t seem to have the throw I want on low beam, though the high beams seem adequate.

Fuel economy to date is a lifetime average of 10.5L/100kms (22.4 mpg US). This includes almost no highway. Normally I use the highways around and through Calgary quite a bit, but I have been something of a home body for the last few months. My commute is 12 kms (7.5 miles) one way, and includes two onramps and about half being expressway travel. My driving style since I took delivery has been consistently booting it onto the expressway, but driving normally the rest of the time. My assumptions are that on a strictly highway trip, I should get about 7L/100 kms (33.6 mpg US) highway, and that my traditional 50/50 highway/town should yield about 9.5 L/100 kms (24.75 mpg US). This guess is based on my first tank, which was about half commuting and half looping Calgary’s expressways in my shiny new car. Essentially, the Verano is returning almost identical economy to the Alero, with 100 more hp and 100 more torques on tap.

I have no problem stating that I am happy with my purchase, and that I think this is a well-executed small wanna-be luxury car, despite its quirks. The car has what I categorize as stupid head scratching oversights, such as the prop rod, fake aero, gaudy blue headlight bling, missing trunk lid button, etc., which irk me but I that I can totally live with, at the end of the day. The more major long term questions to me are whether the interior materials will hold up long term, and whether I will find myself hugely at odds with the headlight performance. I am reasonably confident with the running gear, since the 2.0T and F40-6 transmission have been around since 2007 in various iterations.

I really enjoy driving the car, and the one aspect that sold me initially, as well as make it a joy to drive is that the car feels familiar, and felt that way since I first sat in one. The gearing and manual transmission felt similar to the Alero, which is a good thing because I enjoyed wringing that car out. The engine even makes similar noises at the high end of the tach as the 2.2 ECOTEC. Operating the switch gear and infotainment feels second nature, even though it is a few models removed from my previous ride. My new car feels like an old friend, and I think that is a good measure of overall satisfaction. IMG_4565 IMG_4567 IMG_4568 IMG_4569 no plate IMG_4575 IMG_4580 IMG_4585 IMG_4587 IMG_4589 IMG_4590 IMG_4592 IMG_4593 edited

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Reader Review: Buick Verano Turbo 6-Speed Manual, Part 1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/reader-review-buick-verano-turbo-6-speed-manual-part-1/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/reader-review-buick-verano-turbo-6-speed-manual-part-1/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=829257 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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Review: 2013 Buick Verano Turbo (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/review-2013-buick-verano-turbo-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/review-2013-buick-verano-turbo-video/#comments Tue, 19 Feb 2013 14:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=475104

The popular wisdom among folks in the auto-biz of my generation (1970s) is that Buick only exists because of China. Why didn’t GM kill Buick in America and keep it in China? The answer is obvious: you can’t sell your brand on its “Americanness” if it isn’t also sold in America to Americans. Buick then is a brand hunting for a mission. It’s also a brand hunting for fresh customers that don’t remember the Century and Skylark, two abominations firmly burnt into my mind. In attempt to solve these problems Buick has ditched their badge-engineering mantra and is rolling out new products targeted at folks from the 80s and 90s. Forced induction and a manual transmission aren’t new to Buick, but the possibility of a desirable small sedan from the triple-shield is earth shattering. Have they managed it? GM tossed us a set of keys to find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Buick has never been about visual excitement. Even the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera was more exciting than the Buick Century. (Admittedly that’s like saying lidocaine is a more exciting party drug than novocaine.) The Verano doesn’t depart from Buick’s past in the style department wearing the least exciting sheetmetal among its direct competitors. Speaking of competition let’s get that out of the way.Now that Volvo has killed the S40 and there is no sign of the V40 on our shores, the Acura TSX, Acura ILX, Audi A3 and Verano are really the only compact front-driving near-luxury options in America. If you want to expand the pool slightly, you can include the hybrid-only Lexus CT 200h, and maybe (and this is a big maybe) the new Mercedes CLA (which isn’t shipping yet anyway).

Why such limited competition? At 184 inches long, and sharing the FWD setup with the Cruze, the Verano is almost a foot shorter than the Lexus ES, one inch shorter than the Acura TSX and about the same length as the new Mercedes CLA. Although the Verano is essentially the same size as a Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3-Series, let’s be honest, you won’t find these fish in the same pond.

Although the Verano shares platforms with the Chevy Cruze, it isn’t a “Buick Cruze.”Instead it’s the American market twin to the Chinese Buick Excelle GT and the strangely named Opel Astra Limousine. This means the Verano shares little with the Cruze (or any other American market GM product) save for an identical wheelbase and common transmissions. Helping take the Verano up a notch our refrigerator-white tester had perfect panel gaps and a paint job worthy of Lexus. Seriously. My question for you is: is there enough visual flair to differentiate it from GM’s more plebeian offerings? Let us know in the comment section.

Interior

My impression of the interior differed from Michael Karesh’s review of the base Verano last year. Is the Verano Turbo a nicer place to spend your time? No, it all boiled down to color. The Verano Turbo I was send wore Buick’s “Choccachino” interior which replaces the black dash, doors and steering wheel with a dark brown version of the same. (The “Cashmere” interior gets a similar swap). The simple (and no cost) color option changes the interior feel dramatically without changing the quality of the materials. There are still some hard plastics within reach of the driver (like the lower dash and portions of the doors) but I must give kudos to GM for thinking “outside the black.”

Regardless of your color choice, the Verano’s ample button banks feel exceptional for a vehicle with a price range of $23,975-$32,000. While the fake wood isn’t going to fool anyone, it is used tastefully and [thankfully] sparingly in the cabin. On the other hand, the satin “aluminum” trim around the infotainment cluster had me fooled until I looked at the Verano’s spec sheet. While a power driver’s seat is standard on most Verano models, I had hoped the Turbo trim would add a power recline feature and adjustable lumbar to the throne but that still can’t be had for any price. An unexpected nicety is a passenger seat with the same range of motion as the driver’s seat albeit with manual levers. As you would expect from a vehicle in the near-luxury category dual-zone climate control is standard and the heated steering wheel on all leather-clad models is a welcome touch not found on most competitors.

Rear accommodations are rarely a selling point with compact sedans of any description. That being said, the Verano’s rear thrones provide as much head and legroom as the TSX or current Audi A3. Compared with its Chevy platform mate, the Verano’s rear cabin is slightly smaller thanks to thicker front seats and a touch more padding in the rear. Although the seats are no closer to the floor than those in the TSX or A3, the shape of the rear door openings made it easy to hit your head when getting in and out of the back, something to keep in mind if you shuttle adults regularly. Despite being longer than the Cruze, the Verano’s trunk is 10% smaller, although its 14 cubes are identical to the TSX’s trunk and in the same ballpark as most of the small luxury sedans from Europe.

Infotainment

Whichever engineer was in charge of the Verano’s center stack channeled their inner Acura, between the infotainment and HVAC controls there are no less than 41 buttons, 4 knobs and one joystick. Despite the button overload, Buick’s standard 7-inch touchscreen “IntelliLink” system is one of the best on the market combining Buick’s previous interface with improved voice recognition, app integration and snappier response times. (If you want so see the system in action, check out the video at the top of the review.) Much like Infiniti’s infotainment systems, you can either use the knob/joystick control in the dash or you can touch the options on the screen. This arrangement works well giving you the option to minimize fingerprints if you so desire.

Buick’s new software package is the close relative of Chevy’s MyLink system and uses the same intuitive voice recognition system for phone, navigation and complete USB/iDevice control. Compared to the MyFord/MyLincoln Touch elephant in the room, Buick’s voice responses are more natural and polished, entering an address requires fewer commands and the system is much, much more responsive. Base Verano models get an unbranded 6-speaker system while all other models can option up to the 9-speaker, 7-channel Bose system which adds a subwoofer, center speaker and some extra adjustment options. The up-level system was well-balanced as you would expect, but compared to other systems in the near-luxury segment the Bose system doesn’t play as loud without noticeable distortion.

Drivetrain

Instead of the Cruze’s 1.8L naturally aspirated and 1.4L turbo lineup, we get a new 2.4L direct-injection four-cylinder engine and an optional 2.0L direct-injection turbo. The 2.4L “LEA” mill is a new engine for GM, based on their “LE9″ engine with an increased compression ratio and some direct-injection sauce to boost power to 180HP and 171lb-ft. That’s not the engine you want, and it’s not why we borrowed the 2013 Verano. This time it’s all about the turbo.

Strangely this is not the same 2.0L turbo found in the ATS and Malibu, this is an older engine found in the Saturn Sky, Fisker Karma and of course, the Regal GS. This upgraded engine is only found in the top-of-the-line “Verano Premium” which starts at $30,000. When jammed under the hood of the Verano, output drops slightly to 250HP and 260lb-ft of torque. Don’t fret about a few lost ponies, the torque still comes to a boil at 2,000RPM and stays strong all the way up the tach.

On the competition front, the TSX V6 may churn out 280HP and 254lb-ft, but in typical Acura fashion it all arrives at high RPMs. We’re told to expect 208HP and 258 lb-ft from the CLA when it lands and the current A3′s 2.0T engine covers the rear at 200HP and 207lb-ft. Sending power to the front wheels is GM’s ubiquitous 6-speed automatic transaxle, or the an all-new (to America) 6-speed manual transmission making the Buick and the Audi the only cars in this small segment that offer a DIY gear changer.

Drive

If the Regal made you think Buick’s path to sales success was Euro driving manners, you’d be wrong. The Verano is a modern Buick, but a Buick none the less with fairly soft springs and one of the quietest cabins available at any price. Think of it as the FWD compact luxury sedan Lexus never built. Even our “sporty” turbo tester with the manual transmission is on the softer side of most sedans. The downside to the quiet cabin is that you can’t hear the turbo mill revving which is a pity since Buick tuned it to be one of GM’s more pleasing exhaust notes.

With 250 ponies and 260 dollops of twist I had prepared myself in advance for massive torque steer and was pleasantly surprised to find strangely little. A quick inspection of Buick’s PR literature clearly shows that the Verano does not get GM’s lauded HiPer Strut tech favoring a less expensive traditional MacPherson arrangement.

The power bump from the base engine is noticeable in every driving situation causing a serious 2.5 second drop in the 0-60 time and improving driveability across the board. With most of the engine’s torque available just over idle there’s far less downshifting to be done on hilly terrain both with the manual and the up-shift-happy automatic. In our testing we clocked a 0-60 run in 6.5 seconds with me at the shifter and the traction control enabled, this more than a half second faster than my time in the FWD A3 2.0T but slightly behind the TSX V6′s 6.2 second time.

The Verano tips the scales at 3,300lbs, a bit heavier than the Audi A3′s 3,219lbs but substantially lighter than the 3,680lb TSX. The relatively light weight, fairly grippy 235/45R18 all-season rubber and well sorted chassis proved engaging and one might even say nimble on the winding roads of Northern California. The same cannot be said of the steering however which, even in this age of electric power steering, has to be one of the numbest vehicles I have piloted in a long time.

Despite the numb steering the Verano was an eager companion on my mountainous commute on California highways 92, 35, 9 and 17 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.

Compact [near] luxury is about fuel economy as much as discount pricing. The Buick scores 20MPG around town and 31 on the highway with the manual, 21/30 with the automatic and 24 combined with either transmission. This slots the Verano at the top of our small segment essentially matching the FWD A3′s numbers and a few MPGs higher than the TSX V6. Thanks to a tall 6th gear in the manual transmission, the engine barely hits 2,000RPM at 70MPH and contributed to our weekly average of 25.6MPG.

Back in 2008 I argued that Buick should be killed for the sake of the company. I figured any Chinese repercussions could be written off in the bankruptcy proceedings and nobody would miss the tripple-shield. Five years later Buick has created a car that I not only rank above the Acura TSX and Audi A3 for overall performance and value, but also because it was also truly fun to drive and live with for a week. The only problem is that Buick image, which for anyone born in the 1970s and 1980s is full of Centurys and Skylarks.

 

Buick provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.0 Seconds

0-60: 6.5 Seconds

1/4 Mile:15 Seconds at 98 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 25.6MPG over 712 miles

 

2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtsy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Exterior, Front 1/2, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Exterior, rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, 2.0L Direct-Injection Ecotec Turbo Engine, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Engine, 2.0L Turbo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, gauges , Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, gauges , Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, gauges , Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, gauges , Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, driver's side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, Front and Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Infotainment, Buick IntelliLink, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Infotainment, Buick IntelliLink, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Infotainment, Buick IntelliLink, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Infotainment, Buick IntelliLink, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

 

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My Candidate For Murilee’s Ultimate Sleeper: Buick Verano Turbo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/my-candidate-for-murilees-ultimate-sleeper-buick-verano-turbo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/my-candidate-for-murilees-ultimate-sleeper-buick-verano-turbo/#comments Tue, 12 Jun 2012 14:24:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=448596

During the short life of the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, the car unfairly became the butt of jokes for my friends and me. Even though we all knew that it was capable of laying waste to whatever we were driving at the time, it was hard not to mock the seemingly endless yellow examples, driven by an anabolic-addled young construction worker, with his right hand at 12 o’clock, and a bumper sticker professing ancestry from one of the PIGS.

Four years after GM forgot about the best front-driver they ever made, they’ve introduced two FWD machines with the 2.0L Ecotec turbo engine. Both are Buicks. The Regal GS, despite claims of it being “wrong wheel drive” is a very nice car for real world situations. Following the GS is the smaller, more affordable Verano Turbo, seen above.

The Verano Turbo uses a detuned 2.0L Turbo engine, with 250 horsepower rather than 270. No matter. A Trifecta Tune should take care of whatever power deficit exists. In stock form, 60 mph comes up in 6.2 seconds, faster than the claimed figure for the Regal GS. There’s a 6-speed manual gearbox, but no Brembos or Hi-Per Strut suspension like the hot Regal. Then again, the only thing distinguishing the Verano Turbo from the base car is the little badge seen above. This is the Cobalt SS I always wanted; a nicer interior, no yellow paint, no giant wing and a proper back seat. And it’s totally discreet. Forget the V6 Camry. This is my candidate for the best sleeper money can buy.

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