2012 Buick Verano Preview | National Post

2012 Buick Verano Review
2012 Buick Verano Preview
By Graeme Fletcher, National Post
If not for Buick’s popularity in China, the brand could have joined Oldsmobile as a company to remember. However, the coin generated in Asia is allowing the once moribund marque to rebuild its portfolio. The Regal has been received exceptionally well, as has the LaCrosse. The new Verano is likely to exceed expectations. While it’s true this car is based on the Chevrolet Cruze, it is very different. It’s so good, in fact, that it will render the base Buick Regal redundant. The reasons are there for all to see and, more importantly, experience.
First, aside from a more pronounced nose, the Verano looks so much like the Regal it takes an experienced eye to spot the differences – that is until you look at the side profile. The Regal has a character line that resembles a hockey stick. The blade starts just below the side view mirror with the stick’s handle running rearward. The Verano’s runs in the opposite direction. That subtle difference underscores the similarity of the two cars. The same applies to size. The Verano rides on a 2,685-millimetre wheelbase, while the Regal’s wheelbase is 53-mm longer. It really does require the two to be parked side by side to fully appreciate the differences.
There’s more duplication under the hood. The Verano’s powertrain is the same as the Regal’s. In this case, the 2.4-litre Ecotec engine puts out 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, which is one fewer in both cases. In the Verano, it delivers plenty of pep and a zero-to-100-kilometres-an-hour time of 8.7 seconds. The power is then fired through the same six-speed manumatic. It is a slick unit that slips through the gears seamlessly and without the usual muddled shift pattern that kills so many multi-speed boxes. It is such that the Verano is not only wafted to speed quickly, it is done so efficiently – a claimed average of 7.6 litres per 100 km.
Ride-wise, the Verano blends Buick’s traditional softness with the ability to control unwanted body motion. The result is a sporty boulevardier that obeys driver input remarkably well. The electric steering has some real feel to it, while the up-level P235/45R18 tires minimize understeer. It comes together very nicely. I was honestly shocked by the poise the Verano displayed on the drive route.
The cabin is an absolute delight visually and quality-wise. The materials are obviously off the top shelf and the colour combinations brighten up the interior very nicely. Only the basic black puts a damper on things – the chocolate/cappuccino (Choccachino in Buick-speak) combination is very nice. Likewise, the equipment abounds. If you want a fully loaded car, which would include a superior nine-speaker Bose audio system, navigation system and leather seating, it is there to enjoy. On that note, the front seats underwent more than 1,000 hours of engineering to get them right – they are right. Even the entry-level car earns a touch-sensitive screen that eases the chore of switching between the phone functions and the audio settings. There is a price to pay for enjoying the best life has to offer – a loaded Verano will likely push $30,000, which is far from cheap. That stated, it represents a bargain nonetheless.
Where the Verano comes into its own is the quietness of the ride – it outstrips Lexus in this regard. Buick calls it “quiet tuning.” Regardless of what you call it, it works and the work is so extensive it verges on obsessive. For example, the firewall not only features the usual noise blanket under the hood, there is a second blanket on the inner side of the firewall. Likewise between the roof, which has the usual damping mastic applied. In the headliner, there is a thick wad of insulation. Beneath the carpet? More stuff designed to quell noise. Even the speakers have insulation/isolation material behind them and the door panel to block that noise path. Beyond that, the side windows feature laminated glass and the rear windows are thicker than the compact norm. The lengths are, quite frankly, extraordinary, but they work. Surprisingly, the work only adds about seven kilograms of additional mass.
I say it all works because this is the quietest car I have ever driven. Under hard acceleration, the engine sound is so muted it is difficult to hear – set the audio volume on five and you won’t hear it. More impressive was the quietness in the rain. On a soaked road, there was not the slightest hint of the sizzle/splatter that seems so, well, unseemly in many far more expensive cars. As I say, it’s the quietest car I have driven.
As I said off the top, the Verano gives Buick quite a headache, albeit an enjoyable one. The base car starts at $22,595, while the base Regal comes in at $29,995. Aside from a few niceties (leather and such), the biggest difference boils down to rear-seat legroom. That, given the price difference, is going to force Buick to do some lineup shuffling.
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