2012 Buick Verano Road Test Review

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Judging the 2012 Buick Verano is a tricky proposition. Because of its tidy size, the temptation to gauge the newest small Buick against a performance yardstick is strong. However, given the marque's longstanding penchant for quietness and luxury, one would be remiss in strictly evaluating the Verano in terms of speed and handling.

Because frankly, that really isn't what this new Buick is all about.

Think of a package that's quiet, comfortable, nicely equipped, and in a size that should make it easy to live with in the city. Then stir in some handsome with comfortable on the road, and you'll be closer to this Buick's mission in life.

Evaluated against those parameters, the new Buick Verano excels.

Spend any time around Buick reps, and the predominating line of conversation will inevitably revolve around quiet. To that end, extraordinary pains have been taken to ensure the 2012 Verano fills the bill. Absorptive mats are fitted behind the dash to arrest the intrusion of noise from the engine compartment. The headliner is comprised of five layers, and the floor's carpeting is of varying thickness to selectively dampen sound. Its body structure is both glued and welded, high-strength steel is employed freely, and the exhaust system is tuned to push noise away from the car-while still permitting the engine to breathe freely.

Speaking of the engine, it's a 180-horsepower, direct-injected, 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder powerplant, capable of generating 171 ft-lbs of torque. With it, the 2012 Buick Verano is satisfying off the line-if not exactly quick. The Buick's six-speed automatic transmission is geared to help this, while also enabling the front-driver to return the estimated metric equivalent of 10.7 L/100km in the city and 7.6 on the highway by the U.S. EPA cycle (the more optimistic Canadian cycle shows 9.9 and 6.2 respectively). Given the Verano's 1,500-kilo curb weight, that's respectable, if not exactly outstanding these days.

Underway, the engine is (you guessed it) quiet, developing thrash only at significantly elevated revs under strong acceleration. The six-speed transmission shifts crisply, downshifts readily if asked to do so, and matches revs on downshifts when employed manually.
Steering feel is good, with a decidedly "European" feel. In other words, it's quite accurate, loads up nicely when cornering forces build, and inspires a great deal of assurance in the Verano's capabilities. The brake pedal could be a bit firmer, but the Buick stops confidently. Long story short, the Verano feels substantial going down the road. In a very pleasant way, the Buick feels larger than it actually is.

Which is not to say it handles poorly. While you won't get the same visceral response you'd get from say a Lexus IS, you do feel firmly in control of the car. Body roll is minimal, adhesion is strong and the car just feels, well, if you had to describe it in one word, competent going down the road.

In short, everything about the way the Verano goes says quality.

When it comes to comfort and convenience, the Verano's feature-set is relatively competitive although disappointing is that Bluetooth phone connectivity isn't standard but rather optional with the available Convenience Group. The same is true for Bluetooth audio streaming and satellite radio, although auxiliary and USB inputs are included across the line. Dual zone climate control is also optional, yet the single zone system nevertheless keeps a chosen temperature automatically. The six-way seats are manually adjustable in standard trim, but power can be had. Additionally, a 250-watt 9-speaker Bose audio system can be had and keyless ignition. And leather upholstery is course available, but the entry-level leatherette-with-cloth-inserts seat coverings are quite handsome as well.

Internet enabled apps include Pandora and Stitcher. Both are enabled by Buick's available IntelliLink system, which responds to voice commands. On the tech front, the Verano is straight state of the art.

And really, that's what this new Buick is all about.

In the 2012 Buick Verano, what we have is a thoroughly modern, quiet, comfortable, content-rich, youthful (surprisingly for a Buick), and well-built compact sedan. The crisply styled Verano is both good-looking and easily capable of satisfying the 95 percent of the car-buying public valuing those attributes over outright performance.

2012 Buick Verano pricing starts at $24,090 including destination charges.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Buick, 2012, Verano, $20,000 - $29,999, Compact,

Organizations: Buick

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