The Truth About Cars » Verano The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Jul 2014 20:52:49 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » Verano Review: 2013 Buick Verano Turbo (Video) Tue, 19 Feb 2013 14:00:38 +0000

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Here’s Something We’ll Never See As A Buick Verano Tue, 19 Jun 2012 13:46:17 +0000 North Americans already get a “hot” version of the Vauxhall/Opel Astra - it just happens to come with a Buick badge. Perhaps the Gods of the Ren Cen will smile on us and bring us a Verano GS using the Astra VXR’s 2.0L Ecotec engine. Because we sure won’t be getting the oil-burner.

The diesel Astra VXR also uses a 2.0L 4-cylinder. The diesel makes 195-horsepower – not far off from something like a Civic Si – but also brings 295 lb-ft to the party. On the European cycle, the VXR diesel returns about 44 mpg, which seems like a far trade off for the slower acceleration times. 60 mph comes up in 7.8 seconds, but the VXR diesel is good for 139 mph. As far as we know, there isn’t another compact out there that can return over 40 mpg, accelerate that fast and avoid looking like a rental car.

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New or Used: No Rondo in the Condo? Thu, 23 Feb 2012 07:00:30 +0000


TTAC commentator DougD writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I put the snowtires on Dad’s 2007 Kia Rondo yesterday, and right on cue we’ve got snow today. While we worked we talked about cars, of course. My parents are in their mid 70′s, Dad bought the Rondo new and there’s a lot to like about it. Upright seating, good ingress for seniors, easy to park in the condo parking spot. It’s been reliable and still looks good, so the Rondo’s held up well.

Unfortunately Mom hasn’t held up quite as well as the Rondo. She’s got some back problems now and finds that the Rondo’s so-so seats, jouncy ride and boomy interior make it a literal pain to be in for more than short trips.

Ideally they’d like to replace it with something that combines the Rondo’s good points with great seats and a serene, quiet ride. They drive about 15,000 miles a year including the 900 mile trip to Myrtle beach each fall. All options are open from something new to a couple of years used.

What should they be looking at? I really have no idea since their wish list is pretty different from my own, but I guess this is the demographic that buys new cars.

Really enjoying your column.

Steve Answers:

It all depends on the size and the spaciousness they seek.

For a small ride with a bit of cushiness, I would test drive a Buick Verano. It seems to be the one small vehicle these days with Rondo like proportions that can provide your folks with a luxurious ride.

To be frank, the small ‘luxury’ car market has struggled for eons on end. From 1990′s Dynastys and Skylarks, to 1980′s Cimarrons and Sevilles. It’s very hard to build this segment into something sustainable for most automakers. The choices in this segment are just slim due to a lack of interest in ‘small’ luxury.

So if they’re willing to consider a midsize, I would opt for a gussied up prior gen Camry or a Lexus ES350. Both cars have rides that are like marshmallows with handling that is direct and easy. They are also the two most popular retiree vehicles I see in West Palm Beach.

Mature folks love these cars.Easy to drive. Soft. Nothing to worry about. It may not be your ideal. But for those who wish to simply go on a magic carpet to their favorite retiree villa, they are optimal vehicles.

Sajeev answers:

You people are quite literally torturing me!  How can I not recommend Panther Love in this case?

I will stop pigeonholing myself. I like Steve’s recommendation of a Buick Verano, even if I’ve never even seen one, much less driven it to know its worth the depreciation.  But the baby Buick reminds me of my time in a Camry LE on a business trip to Long Island, NY.  While I quite enjoy the stealthiness of the SE, the LE earned a bit of respect for its ability to absolutely obliterate bumps and smooth out a long hike down the Interstate.  It made a hectic commute much less so. If I had a bad back…you see my point.

Granted it lacked the isolation of a Panther in the same circumstances, but they are more common, easier to park, easier on fuel and perform well enough compared to a Rondo.  The ride is heavenly for someone like your Mom, it is the best in its class. So do it, go for a 2007-2011 Toyota Camry LE.


Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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Review: 2012 Buick Verano Thu, 03 Nov 2011 22:32:54 +0000

In a luxury market that’s always looking for the next big thing, “Compact Luxury” has become something of a hot trend. And with GM’s Buick brand saved from the bailout-era brand cull, a compact Buick is a key test of whether The General has moved past its bad habits of cynical badge engineering. Thus the 2012 Buick Verano is a hugely important car to The General, not only serving as a bellweather for the health of the Buick brand, but also proving whether or not GM “gets” the tough-to-crack entry-luxury market. So, does the Verano measure up?

From the get-go, it’s clear that GM wanted the Verano to be a clean break from its ignominious past of rebadging Chevy compacts. In sharp contrast from Buick’s last compact, the Skylark which died out in 1998, the Verano hides its Chevrolet roots well from the outside. With only a subtle “hockey stick” character line betraying its Opel roots, the Verano is neither a rebadged Euro-market sedan (like the Regal) nor a “pure” Buick design like the LaCrosse. But it does split the difference between the two designs, marrying a subtle design with a few discrete Buick cues like the hood-mounted ventiports. The overall impression is of a clean, classy car that is, if anything, possibly a bit too substantial and anonymous… which, upon further reflection, makes it quite Buick-like.

Inside, GM’s newfound parts-bin savvy takes center stage: just as the Regal was rebadged from a different market, the Verano’s interior is borrowed but not duplicative. The seats, which are some of the best available in the compact class, are the huge, well-bolstered thrones from the LaCrosse. The IP, which is visually and ergonomically more approachable than the somber, button-laden Regal unit, is borrowed (with a few modifications) from the Opel Astra… which just so happens to be getting a new sedan variant soon. Especially in the warmer, lighter shades that Buick makes available, the soft-touch interior with its subtle chrome accents makes even the LTZ Cruze seem a bit cold and cheesy.

On the other hand, I do have one beef on the materials front. At Chevy’s Centennial event in Detroit a Chevy interior specialist told me that GM’s mass-market brand was moving away from “materials that look like something they’re not,” a direction I find highly laudable. Sadly, GM’s “thoughtful luxury” brand is a bit behind the curve in this respect, employing great swaths of brushed-nickle-look plastic around the IP and elsewhere. Though it looks good from a distance, it takes only the most superficial contact (or even thought) to realize that it’s just another hard plastic. In an interior that otherwise hits its cues well, this is something of a letdown, especially from a brand that seeks to emphasize subtlety and substance.

With the Cruze already earning accolades for being one of the most quiet and refined cars in the Compact segment, one had to wonder just how far GM would go to differentiate the Verano in this respect. The answer: much farther than you’d think. The Verano is packed with more sound-deadening foams and sealants than a Guantanamo Bay interrogation room, adding several hundred 10-15 pounds to its weight (additional weight increases compared to Cruze come from wheels, drivetrain, and additional length, say Buick reps) but delivering a shockingly quiet cabin. Puttering around town in a deathly silence, I rolled my window  down a few times for contrast, and was blown away at the wealth of aural feedback that would flood in only to be blocked when I rolled the window back up again. If you’re looking for a quiet compact, you’d be hard pressed to find a more effectively isolating model than the Verano.

That principle applies to the Verano’s 2.4 liter inline four-cylinder as well. Though frequent drivers of GM products will recognize the unmistakable buzz of an Ecotec under the hood, a special airbox gives the mill a more refined, intake-dominated engine note. Though I’d stop short of calling it musical, it sounds and feels considerably more sweet than any other Ecotec, especially at higher RPMs. Which is where you’ll probably spend quite a bit of time: though this 2.4 also does service in the larger Regal and Malibu sedans, it still has to work hard to hustle 3,300+ lbs of compact car around. Stuck behind a log truck on one of Oregon’s winding two-lane country roads? Make sure you have plenty of room and time to pass, as pickup is adequate rather than luxurious. On the other hand, if you kick back and cruise, said truck could jake-brake for miles without ever disturbing the cabin’s serene ambience.

Normally a Buick tuned for quiet, refined cruising would not be let down by weakness in the engine room. But strangely, the Verano has far more responsive (even twitchy) steering than you might expect, and it rotates around its short wheelbase to an extent that surprises… even coming from the more sport-oriented Regal. Though I personally prefer the Regal, the Verano can be even more fun than a base Regal, which is even more let down by the underwhelming 2.4. There’s no hiding the Verano’s heft, and too much fun will leave it a bit breathless, but there’s more directness and feel from the ZF electric steering rack than you might expect. If you’re looking for some real sport to go with your compact luxury, the Verano may not quite fit the bill… but a forthcoming Verano Coupe is starting to look quite promising.

Perhaps what makes the Verano feel more sporty than I expected is the simple fact that it’s a compact car… because from the driver’s seat it doesn’t feel like one. There’s a good impression of space up front, and the LaCrosse-sourced seats are large and excellent. Unfortunately, the large size of those front seats do cut back on rear-seat legroom, which loses an inch and a half compared to the Cruze (front and rear combined legroom is 76 inches, the same as an Audi A3). As a result, the rear seat impression is considerably less luxurious and less Buick-like than the front-row experience. Is this the price of entry into the compact luxury field?

This brings up another important question, and one that gets to the heart of the Verano’s most basic flaw: why do buyers want a smaller luxury car? Though marketers may bring up a number of reasons, it seems the most key consideration is fuel economy rather than smallness for its own sake. And here the Verano lets down its entire mission: 21/31 (city/highway, GM’s estimate) isn’t even competitive for a midsized car, let alone a compact. For comparison, Audi’s A6, Chrysler’s 300 V6, and BMW’s 528i xDrive and 640i Convertible are all rated at 31 MPG on the freeway or better. Closer to home, Buick’s larger Regal also gets a 31 MPG freeway rating with the same 2.4 liter and even does one better on the freeway with its optional turbo engine.

Of course, the Regal is a very different car than the Verano. Whereas Buick’s compact is a quiet, comfy cruiser with an emphasis on isolation, the Regal is pure Euro-market, with its firm, flat seats, sombre interior and handling-tuned suspension. In other words, the Verano’s engineers hit their brief dead-on: they built a well-executed, refined baby Buick that avoids direct competition with other models in the range. Unfortunately, GM’s managers seemed more intent on building a compact luxury car for its own sake (or for Buick-GMC dealer throughput numbers’ sake) than really understanding why compact luxury appeals to buyers. Until Buick decides to equip Verano with its EcoAssist mild hybrid system, it seems to be a compact luxury car without the key appeal of its segment, namely competitive fuel economy. As the saying goes: great landing, wrong airport.

Buick made the Verano (as well as a Regal for comparison) available for this review at a media event. Buick provided lunch, and later sent a set of water glasses made from old wine bottles to me, to commemorate the event’s presence in Oregon’s Pinot Noir wine country. 

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