2012 Buick Verano
by John Davis
Buick has been working overtime to transform its image from the “old man” car brand of yore, to a much younger demographic in both age and style. So far, all of its new larger products, Enclave, LaCrosse, and Regal have by and large hit the spot with good vibes from the press and public alike.
But not all young, upwardly mobile buyers are into large or even mid-size vehicles. They are also more concerned about fuel economy and the imprint of cars on society than their parents. Indeed, with stronger federal fuel economy standards just around the corner, a lot of premium brands are looking to get more luxury car out of less weight and space. In that vein, the new 2012 Verano compact luxury sedan looks like a smart and even pre-emptive move for Buick.
While the Verano is based on the highly successful Chevrolet Cruze, the Verano is not a case of badge engineering. The two share neither body panels nor powertrains. Taking a styling page right out of the LaCrosse playbook, the Verano sports a deep black-chrome waterfall grille, portholes, and high-beltline aero flanks, just like its larger sibling.
But, then ups the styling ante with features like the Enclave’s blue ringed projector beam headlights, and standard 8-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the slickly styled cabin is literally loaded with 10 standard airbags, steering wheel audio controls, automatic climate controls, and a remote starter. There is a standard 7-inch touch screen display for the stereo. It adds text to OnStar’s available voice navigation, while Buick’s Intellilink allows a high degree of connectivity through Smartphone apps.
Rear seat room is tight for an adult, but then so are most other cars this size. The trunk, however, is family car big.
Since the Verano shares its DNA with the Cruze, there has to be some major commonality. Most of it is out of sight, in the floorpan and in the suspension. That includes the rear Z-Link beam suspension that helps deliver both an impressive smooth ride and very entertaining handling characteristics.
For power, the Verano uses GM’s 2.4-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder engine with 180-horsepower on tap. And the transmission is a 6-speed automatic. Fuel economy is good for a luxury car if no better than average for a compact sedan. Word is that a more powerful turbo Verano is in the pipeline and it might include a manual gearbox.
While Buick has build compact sedans in the past, they were usually intended for entry level buyers willing to accept something less than the brand’s best. The 2012 Buick Verano is a full member of the modern Buick clan, and gives us great expectations that this Detroit marquee is ready for the future.
If you’re in the market for a younger thinking luxury car, and are considering the Buick Verano, be sure to catch our MotorWeek road test on episode #3129 which begins airing March 24, 2012. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “Find Your Station” tab. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on Velocity (Formerly HD Theater) cable channel.