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    William Maley

    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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    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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    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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      Tech Galore!
      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
    • By William Maley
      Despite being one of the best sellers in the luxury crossover class, the Lexus RX lacked something many competitors offered; a third-row option. Lexus rectified this a couple of years ago by stretching the RX's body and adding a third-row to create the RX L. I spent some time in the RX 350L Luxury back in the fall to find out if Lexus has another winner or if this a half-baked attempt.
      You can tell the difference between the standard RX to the longer L by looking for a floating roofline treatment. This is due to Lexus blacking part of the c-pillar to help disguise the added bulk. It doesn't fully work as looks somewhat half-baked. At least Lexus was more successful upfront where non F-Sport models get a new mesh insert to replace the horizontal slats, along with a revised bumper. When equipped with the Luxury Package, the RX is a plush and pleasant place to spend time. The leather upholstery feels nice to the touch and the use of contrasting colors (cream and brown in my tester) help make it feel special. Lexus has finally added a touchscreen for the RX's infotainment and it makes a huge difference. Gone are the litany of issues I have noted in previous models such as, Being precise with your finger movements when selecting an item Becoming very distracting to use when on the move Not the most intuitive controller Now using Lexus Enform or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is not an exercise in frustration, but one of ease. My only complaint is that I wished Lexus moved the screen slightly more forwards. It is quite a reach to use the touchscreen. Those sitting in the second row will not have much to complain about as head and legroom are plentiful for most passengers. The same cannot be said for the third-row. Getting back here is difficult as there is not enough a gap when the second-row seat is moved forward. Once back here, space is non-existent with your head touching the headliner and legroom from nothing to something bearable depending on where the second-row is set. The one upside to the longer RX is cargo space. With the third-row seat folded, you get about seven extra cubic feet of space compared to standard RX. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 used in several Lexus and Toyota vehicles.  For the RX 350L, it produces 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. My tester came with all-wheel drive, but front-wheel drive is standard. Performance is adequate as you'll be able to keep up with traffic or make a pass with no issue. Those wanting a bit more performance should look at something like the upcoming Acura MDX or Volvo XC90. Comfort is still a key hallmark to the RX. Bumps and potholes become mere ripples when driven over. There is also a noticeable lack of road and wind coming inside. The RX 350L feels like a stop-gap solution until Lexus finishes up their upcoming three-row crossover due out within the next couple of years. The third-row isn't all useful for carrying passengers and is best to fold down to expand cargo space. If you need a third-row, there are much better options such as the Volvo XC90. But if you really want an RX, stick with the standard two-row version and pocket the cash you saved for something nice. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RX 350L, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: RX
      Trim: 350L Luxury
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve with VVT-iW V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,300
      Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21
      Curb Weight: 4,597 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan
      Base Price: $54,700
      As Tested Price: $63,540 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      12.3" Navigation System/Mark Levinson 15-Speaker Premium Audio System - $3,365.00
      Blind Spot Monitor with Intuitive Parking Assist, Panoramic View Monitor, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert Braking - $1,865.00
      Running Boards - $640.00
      Color Head-Up Display - $600.00
      Second-Row Captain's Chairs - $405.00
      All-Weather Floor Liners with Cargo Mat - $330.00
      Cold Weather Package - $315.00
      Mudguards - $155.00
      Door Edge Guards - $140.00

      View full article
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