2012 Buick Verano Review | Toronto Sun

2012 Buick Verano Review
2012 Buick Verano
By Daniel Barron, Toronto Sun
Buick continues to aim for younger buyers with the addition of the brand new 2012 Verano to the automaker’s line-up. Yet despite the vehicle’s aggressive pricing and urban-friendly stature, it feels more staid than both its larger LaCrosse and Regal siblings.
The Verano is the first compact sedan in the Buick line-up, but it gets some help from other models in the General Motors family to give it some instant cred. It’s powered by the tried and true 2.4-litre Ecotec four-cylinder engine, it’s equipped with the ever-improving OnStar system, and it uses the same basic architecture used by the Cruze.
That said, this isn’t just a Buick-badged Cruze. The focus of the Verano is on comfort above all else. Noise, vibration and harshness are virtually non-existent, thanks to engineers’ using everything from liquid-applied sound deadener in specific spots to rubber isolators on joints to a new induction chamber to help keep engine noise from creeping into the cabin.
Believe me; this stuff didn’t go to waste. My co-driver pulls away at the beginning of our ride-and-drive without my even realizing the car has been turned on. Later on, I downshift until the engine is nearly redlining, but can barely make out the high-pitched cry from under the hood. Wind noise, meanwhile, is barely audible at highway speeds and the unpleasant sound of 18-inch tires driving over broken concrete roads is effectively muted.
Buick manages to make the Verano ride soft without being too floaty. Steering isn’t bad, but feels a little numb, especially at low speeds around city streets. A lot of work was put into seat comfort, and while the front seats are strong and supportive, they don’t exactly set a new benchmark. Rear seats are comfortable as well, but if you’re over six feet tall, you’ll be left wanting in the head and knee room department, even with the cut-outs on the back of the front seats.
There’s but one engine and transmission available on every Verano trim level – the aforementioned 2.4-litre, mated to a new six-speed automatic. It’s a good setup when all you want to do is quietly go about your business on the road, but it’s not quite up to the task when called upon for more aggressive manoeuvres.
The transmission is hesitant to move down a sufficient number of gears when you need to, say, pass a logging truck on a two-lane highway, so moving to the sequential shifting mode is a must in a situation such as this.
Driving dynamics aside, it’s difficult to argue how nice the interior looks and feels, with the same leather material used in the LaCrosse, and with a nice array of wood and metal accents throughout.
Cargo space is also mostly average. It has a small centre console cubby and glove compartment, along with seatback pockets and the usual array of cup holders. The trunk is quite spacious for those who need it, and rear seats fold down for extra room.
Although it doesn’t exude cheapness, The Verano could stand to have a few more standard features. A base Hyundai Veloster comes with a rearview camera, push button start and heated front seats. Those are all options on the Verano, which starts at about $3,500 more than Veloster.
Buick didn’t skimp on safety, though. Every model comes standard with 10 airbags, OnStar, and electronic stability control, traction control and antilock brakes.
Canadians love their compact cars, and they have a lot from which to choose in the non-luxury segment. The Verano may not stand out in a lot of ways at first blush, but in reality, it has very few competitors.
Most luxury coupes and sedans aim to be sporty and aggressive, but the Verano is all about comfort and luxury. Buick’s newest entrant also has a big price advantage over the Japanese and European stalwarts, and that’s something else Canadians love – a great deal for a car.
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