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    Review: 2012 Buick Verano



    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    June 20, 2012

    Every year, there’s a new trend in the automotive world. One moment, its crossover mania; the next moment, it’s the coupe sedan. The current fad is compact, near luxury cars. And it’s not only the regular suspects that are getting into it. Luxury manufacturers are getting into the game as well: Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Acura, and even Buick. Buick? Yes, Buick.

    Last year, the tri-shield introduced their new compact car, the Verano. Buick is hoping to take slice out of the growing luxury compact car market. But does a small compact Buick make sense at all?

    Exterior

    At first glance, the Verano looks to be a like shrunken La Crosse. The front end carries Buick’s signature waterfall grill and a set of headlights with a blue tint. On the hood, portholes sit on either side. The side profile carries the same profile from the larger LaCrosse and the standard eighteen inch wheels do a good job of filling in the wheel wells. The back end is short and has a tall trunk lid.

    gallery_10485_432_1454440.png

    One design cue that I didn’t like on the Verano is the chrome bars on top of the taillights. I’m not sure as to why they are there, but those bars add a touch of tackyness. All I would ask is for those chrome bars to be removed or to be color coded to the vehicle.

    Interior

    The Verano’s interior is one of the better ones GM has done in awhile. The dash layout is logical and most of the materials are soft touch and good quality. The only black mark with the dash lies with the “wood” and “metal” trim around the center stack. Come on GM, you’re marketing this as a premium compact car, at least put some better quality “wood” and “metal”.

    gallery_10485_432_829437.png

    Speaking about the center stack, the Verano comes equipped with Buick’s new Intellilink infotainment system. Intellilink provides AM/FM/XM radio, USB and AUX connectivity, and streaming of Pandora and Stitcher Internet Radio. The system had two problems though. After I had used Pandora once and decided to go back to it, the system would play the music but no sound came out. The other problem was when I had iPod connected and would play a certain track, the system would decide to play it at Alvin and the Chipmunks speed. Hopefully GM is working on a fix.

    As for comfort, the Verano delivers it in spades. Passengers sitting in the front will find seats very comfortable and pleased to find them heated. Back seat passengers will find the space somewhat tight. Head and legroom come at a premium. The trunk measures out to 14 cu. ft., about 0.2 cu. ft. less than the large Regal.

    Next, Ride, Drive, and the Verdict


    Ride and Drive

    The Verano comes equipped with GM’s 2.4L four-cylinder producing 180 HP and 172 lb-ft of torque going through a six-speed automatic. Getting off the line and driving around town, the Verano provides respectable power. However, on the freeway and/or when trying to make a pass, the 2.4L feels overworked and underpowered. Thank the Verano’s curb weight of 3,300 lbs for that. Luckily for the Verano, a new 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder is on its way later this year.

    gallery_10485_432_53583.png

    Fuel economy of the 2.4 stands at 21 City/31 Highway/25 Combined. During my week with the Verano, I matched the combined figure of 25. The Verano's closest competitor, the Acura ILX gets better mileage out of its base 2.0L with 24 City/35 Highway/28 Combined and matches the Verano when equipped with an optional 200 HP 2.4L four (22 City/31 Highway/25 Combined).

    Bigger, heavier cars with much more power get similar highway numbers to the Verano (Dodge Charger is one of them), and comparing to the new Acura ILX is natural, but if you're going to do that, you need to compare the power and torque output as well. I haven't driven the ILX 2.0 yet, but I will bet it will be sitting higher in the RPM band than the Verano 2.4L.

    The Verano does come back with one of the quietest rides in the class. Road and wind noise are non-existent, even at highway speed. Also, the Verano ride feels very solid and composed, giving you the feeling you’re in a more expensive vehicle.

    If you feel like having some fun, the Verano is a willing partner. The front MacPherson suspension and rear Z-link setup keep the Verano stable when cornering, and the steering provides a good feel and weight. But don’t push it, the Verano isn’t a Ford Focus or a Dodge Dart, it will fight back.

    Verdict

    Does a compact Buick make sense? Almost. Unfortunately the weak link in the Verano is the 2.4L’s fuel economy. This is a compact car that gets almost the same fuel economy as a full size vehicle equipped with the V6. Hopefully, the turbo engine coming out later this year can rectify this.

    Otherwise, the Verano has a lot going for it: a handsome exterior, a comfortable interior, Buick’s new Intellilink system, and a very quiet ride.

    As the Verano was being driven away, I wondered how long how it would take to for me to save up enough money to get a Verano Turbo. Yeah, the Verano is that good.

    gallery_10485_432_1578738.png

    Cheers:

    Exterior Design

    Interior

    Intellilink

    Quiet Ride

    Jeers:

    Fuel Economy

    Tail light brows

    Year - 2012

    Make - Buick

    Model - Verano

    Trim - 1SL

    Engine - 2.4L DOHC Four-Cylinder

    Driveline - Front Wheel Drive, Six Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM - 180 @ 6200

    Torque @ RPM - 171 @ 4900

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/32/25

    Curb Weight - 3300 lbs

    Location of Manufacture - Lake Orion, Michigan

    Base Price - $25,965.00

    As Tested Price - $26,850.00 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge)

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    My brother's girlfriend just got a Verano- saw it briefly Sunday. No real evaluation, tho I did stick my head inside and did come to focus on the metal trim on the center stack. First impression was that I was impressed it was 1 piece; no seams. Second is that I thought it was in no way tacky or cheap. Oh, it wasn't CNC-d virgin aluminum, but it was still a nice solid piece of material that looked appropriate in where the Verano is segmented, IMO.

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    Hopefully the 2.5L base motor will give a nice little boost in economy and power as well when it arrives.

    The rear eyebrows bug me as well. Atleast the portholes I could remove pretty easily.

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    ^ RE the VentiPorts ~ the hood is stamped/indented where they're mounted (not sure it they're thru-bolted), so it would just look like they were missing.

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    Nice review! I really like this Buick, and can't wait for the Turbo model (let alone a GS model) come to market. I disagree with your sentitments about the wood/metal surround - I think it fits in well with the design - and I like the chrome eyebrows - gives it an angry look to the rear. I agree with your concerns of fuel economy and with the tight rear seat space for adults. Otherwise if I wasn't really into trucks so much I'd be very tempted to see if I could afford one of these new.

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    Well, to look like a baby LaCrosse, it would have to have a sweepspear, not an Astra hockeystick. And the angry taillights and Ventiports give it distinctive character.

    I do like this car and cannot wait for the turbo version to hit the street.

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    Is it me or does the center stack cut into your gas leg room? The picture shows how it arc's into the space and I think for big guys over 6' tall this will pinch the leg room.

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    The Astra's tail lights to me are too generic... the back of the Astra looks like a Volkswagen or some other European car. The Verano's tail lights are love 'em or hate 'em, but I'd take them over the Astra's. Judge for yourself:

    2013-Opel-Astra-Sedan0b-589x344.jpg

    2012_buick_verano_4.jpg

    Now the Astra wagon (sports tourer) is another story:

    278205.jpg

    278206.jpg

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    I think the Buick even with the ugly chrome strips does have more style and it is a love it or hate it style.

    Personally, I think the mean rear look will strike an interest in a group of people here. Now will it be enough to sell in large profitable numbers? I take a wait and see approach.

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    Agreed, the Astra wagon looks better; there's always something awkward about a hatchback (especially one that's designed for space efficiency and is consequently relatively tall) converted into a sedan. The Buick front and rear fascias are overdone, too, IMO.

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    We had looked at one when we were car shopping. We liked the car but the wife wanted something bigger. It is narrow feeling inside but it also is a small car. I think the interior makes you feel like you are in a larger car with out the size. Too often cars this narrow have crap interiors.

    My one fear is that people will see the coming Turbo and want to make it into a GS kind of car. The fact is the Turbo will remain with the softer suspension and is not intended nor claimes to be a sporting sedan. It is just a Verano with more power.

    This has me expecting the Malibu with the same engine will not be an SS.

    I think the power from that engine with the comfort ride will play well with many who have only owned V8 and V6 cars. That is important to people who buy cars in this class as they seldom have owned underpowered cars.

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    Overall you hit a lot of the same points I made about the car. Hyper is right about it playing to people who drive V6 cars and don't want something underpowered. I think I even fall in that category a little bit. I'd get a Cruze and I'd be fine but I think it's a little underpowered and I refuse to drive anything that is slower than what I already have. Even just the 2.4L in a car this size makes a big difference as some of the mags are reporting 7.5sec 0-60 times, which is just not something you really see in compact cars usually unless you plonk down the money for the rediculous "boy racer" edition with the "look at me spoiler" and shopping cart ride quality.

    This car will find its place in the market I believe. It offers an unbelievable amount of value when you measure it up even against other cars like the Civic and Corolla. Why on earth you would buy an up-spec one of those when this gives you so much more car for the money for instance. IIRC they are on track to sell something like 30k of these this year and that is of course taking into account that February and January didn't really hit the stride because the car was literally still being introduced during that time.

    I will say though that the faux metal in the Verano is actually pretty good in my books for the same reasons Balthy listed. I'd certainly place it near the top of the list for fake stainless I've seen in the mass market and even premium price points.

    Edited by vonVeezelsnider
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    really Buick has a nice chance here to establish themselves by bringing all the variants..... 3 door, 5 door, wagon, into a full lineup that would really anchor the brand and give lots for shoppers to look at from matching up to some coupes, to Focus ST competition to Jetta Sportwagen competition.

    Even if they only moved 5,000 wagons of these I think if they can import the other bodies like the 3 door it would totally make the model and brand worth talking about.

    Of course though, how would they sell any Encores if they had a Verano wagon?

    Edited by regfootball
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    I like the idea OF A FULL LINE UP FOR BUICK. I REMEMBER THE MIDSIZED BUICK WAGONS WE HAD RUNNING AROUND AS A KID....

    oops, damned caps lock....

    Your just shouting your love for Buick! :D

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    Everyone keeps mentioning the 2.5L being thrown in as the base engine... the GM order guide for 2013 still mentions the 2.4L as the standard engine. Anyone know if it's 100% definitely getting the 2.5 and if so, where did they hear it?

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    Everyone keeps mentioning the 2.5L being thrown in as the base engine... the GM order guide for 2013 still mentions the 2.4L as the standard engine. Anyone know if it's 100% definitely getting the 2.5 and if so, where did they hear it?

    Still the 2.4L, they are probably going to roll the 2.5L out on a larger scale once they Malibu is launched and underway.

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    • By William Maley
      When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four.
      As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models.  But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet.  The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Kia
      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A
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