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Drew Dowdell

Buick Week: 2013 Buick Verano Turbo First Drive

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December 5th, 2012

Drew Dowdell

Managing Editor - CheerandGears.com

I am running a bit late with today’s Buick Week entry because I spent the day running around the countryside surrounding Atlanta, Georgia putting a few 2013 Buick Encores through the paces. That review will be available for you to tomorrow. In case you missed it, yesterday we went on a First Drive of the 2013 Buick Enclave. On the first day of Buick week I took you on a full review of the 2013 Buick Verano. Today we are going on a first drive of the Buick Verano Turbo.

Buick Week:

Day 1 – 2013 Buick Verano Review

Day 2 – 2013 Buick Enclave First Drive

Day 3 – 2013 Buick Verano Turbo First Drive

This ain't Buick first time at the rodeo...

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Buick has a long history with forced induction engines and arguably more experience than any other US brand. Beyond the legendary Buick GNX and Grand National, Buick produced turbo versions of their Riviera and Regal coupes in the 1980s, super charged Regals, Rivieras, and Park Avenues in the 1990s, and recently reintroduced turbo-charging in the Regal with two performance levels of turbo charged engines in that car.

But those are all larger luxury cars and this is a story about a compact. Did you know that Buick offered a fire cracker version of their compact, J-Body based Buick Skyhawk in 1984? The Turbo was offered only in the T-Type trim, the 1984 Skyhawk T-Type came with a 1.8 liter DOHC turbo-charged 4-cylinder putting out 150 horsepower and 165 lb-ft of torque in a car that weighed in right around 2400lbs. These are excellent power to weight numbers today much less in 1984, when GM’s V8s could not even wheeze out similar horsepower numbers. In 1987, Buick increased the engine’s displacement to a full 2.0 liters, horsepower was up to 165, and torque wrenched in at 175 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm. Production of the Skyhawk ended in 1989. Though relatively unknown, these Skyhawk T-types were fun little compacts that could provide a swift kick in the pants when asked to.

But what's 1984 got to do with me?

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That brings us to the present day. For 2013, Buick is adding a 2.0 liter turbo engine to their compact Verano. With 250 horsepower and 260 ft-lb of torque on tap from the direct injected engine will give you a swift kick in the pants just like that Skyhawk of old could. Weighing in at about 3,300 lbs, the Verano Turbo runs to 60 in 6.2 seconds. Though the mileage penalty (20 city/31 highway – manual) and (21 city / 30 highway – automatic) is minimal over the 2.4 liter powered Verano, Buick does recommend premium fuel, though it will sip regular if needed with a slight performance penalty.

Buick invited me to drive both the manual and automatic transmission versions of the Verano Turbo through the countryside surrounding Louisville, KY.

Visually, there is very little external difference between the Turbo and non-Turbo versions, you just get a rear spoiler, dual chrome-tip exhaust, and an extra badge on the trunk. Inside the story is much the same, save for a set of metallic sport pedals. My main complaint inside the Verano continues in the turbo editions: the lack of power seat recline for the driver and complete lack of power seat adjustment entirely for the passenger. For a car that can easily crest over the $30k mark, these are noticeable absences.

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Buick compacts: Now available in "Faster"

The story of the Verano Turbo is entirely about how it drives. By starting with the already excellent handling of the base Verano and adding the thrust of the turbo charged engine, Buick has created a compact premium sedan that is deceptively quick.

In the manual version, the shifter throws are a bit long, but they are nice and smooth. Once you’re accustomed to the car, relaxed shifting can be a simple two-finger “snick-snick” between gears. Torque comes on strong at low RPM and is maintained up to 5,500 – 6,000 rpm. You never seem to feel out of breath in this car like I had with the non-Turbo version. Turbo lag is minimal and non-car-nerds could be excused for thinking this is a V6 powered car. The clutch is on the light side and won’t wear out your left foot on long drives.

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The automatic transaxle is an upgraded version of the same transmission in the 2.4 liter powered car. Designed to take the higher torque load of the turbo engine, it goes about its work with a lot less flare than the manual transmission equipped Veranos. It does have a driver control mode for manu-matic style shifting, but it really isn't necessary to use even during enthusiastic driving. Leaving the car in drive simply lets the transmission do the job GM programmers designed it to do. Still, if you want to tell it when to shift, down-shifts and up-shifts came in a crisp, business-like manner.

The extra thrust wouldn't be worth much if the Verano couldn't handle it in the corners. Buick firmed up the Verano’s suspension and steering a bit resulting in a car that feels surprisingly well balanced for being front-wheel drive.

On the issue of noise control, Buick actually had to dial back the quiet tuning a little bit because they felt that Verano buyers who opted for the Turbo model would actually want to hear more of the engine while driving. Most of the change comes from exhaust tuning and gives the Verano Turbo a sound that can start the gears turning in a gear head.

Overall the Verano turbo is for the buyer who appreciates the comfort of a premium compact but still want to have the that extra trust to experience an exhilarating run down a country road. Buick is reporting over 50% conquest rate for all Verano models with over 50% of those coming from import brands. Additionally, Buick has seen their average buyer age drop by 7 years over the last 5 years. Buick did not share with me the take rate on Veranos equipped with the 2.0t. but the turbo-boosted 2013 Buick Verano should help Buick turbo-boost those numbers even more in their favor.

Drew Dowdell is Managing Editor of CheersandGears.com and can be reached at Drew.Dowdell@CheersandGears.com or on twitter as @cheersngears

Disclaimer: Buick provided transportation to and accommodations in Louisville, KY for this event.


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Nice write up, sounds like Buick has a true winner that will meet many peoples needs for a compact near luxury ride. This should compete and win sales from Acura, Lexus and Infinity. Nice to see Buick doing to the mid market segment what ATS is doing the top level luxury segment.

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Nice to see a stick available. The two issues I have with this car are the turbo engine it'self and the lack of interior storage, which seems to be common to all the new Buicks. For this small of a car I expect better than V6 mileage and performance. In fact the much larger Accord is quicker and gets a full 4 better highway MPG for about the same coin with world better interior space and similar sport. Still this car is a good start for Buick shoppers and does offer a nice dose of luxury.

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Nice to see a stick available. The two issues I have with this car are the turbo engine it'self and the lack of interior storage, which seems to be common to all the new Buicks. For this small of a car I expect better than V6 mileage and performance. In fact the much larger Accord is quicker and gets a full 4 better highway MPG for about the same coin with world better interior space and similar sport. Still this car is a good start for Buick shoppers and does offer a nice dose of luxury.

Same can be said for the 2.4 ILX w.r.t. Accord.

The car markets are different.

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There is a difference in nimbleness between this and the Accord.

in no way did the 2013 accord or the ones before that ever felt -nimble-. the constant impression that car and driver and such gives of the accord being a sporting car, i just don't get. the accord sucks.

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There is a difference in nimbleness between this and the Accord.

in no way did the 2013 accord or the ones before that ever felt -nimble-. the constant impression that car and driver and such gives of the accord being a sporting car, i just don't get. the accord sucks.

Exactly. The Fusion and Optima are more nimble than the Accord and the Verano Turbo is more nimble than all of them. The ILX may have a slight edge on the Verano Turbo at 8/10th, but below that skill level, no one would be able to tell the difference. The interior and especially the noise level of the Verano is far more premium than the ILX is.

The ILX is for the fart can Civic driver who just got promoted to front end team lead at the local bank branch.

The Verano Turbo is for everyone else who wants a premium car with zest but is more mature about it.

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There is a difference in nimbleness between this and the Accord.

in no way did the 2013 accord or the ones before that ever felt -nimble-. the constant impression that car and driver and such gives of the accord being a sporting car, i just don't get. the accord sucks.

Exactly. The Fusion and Optima are more nimble than the Accord and the Verano Turbo is more nimble than all of them. The ILX may have a slight edge on the Verano Turbo at 8/10th, but below that skill level, no one would be able to tell the difference. The interior and especially the noise level of the Verano is far more premium than the ILX is.

The ILX is for the fart can Civic driver who just got promoted to front end team lead at the local bank branch.

The Verano Turbo is for everyone else who wants a premium car with zest but is more mature about it.

:rofl:

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My point is that you can get a far larger car that IMO is plenty nimble in 2013 Sport trim with more V6 power and better mileage than GM is doing with there smaller turbo 4's. This small of a car should be quicker and easily be able to hit 35 highway MPG. The Fusion and Optima are two more examples of why it would be hard to settle for the cramped Verano.

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I finally drove a Verano, though not a turbo a few days ago. Wanted to like it because the value, quiet and quality of materials but the driving experience was decidedly biased towards comfort and isolation, in the way an ES350 or Lacrosse would be IMO, but a little more agile feeling due to the smaller size.

If they offered a firmer sport suspension/tires on the turbo as an option down the line maybe I'll take one for a spin, or look for availability of aftermarket options.

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There is a difference in nimbleness between this and the Accord.

And the buick IMHO drives much nicer...

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repeat - the new Accord sucks. It is not at all the big to do like the f_ckheads at Car and Driver make it out to be.

It's a pathetic example of bias and probably payola.

I'll lay 16 trillion down right now that the new Mazda6 is a much better car than the new Accord, but the assholes at C/D will still lay claim to the Accord being sliced bread and everything more.

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If you're looking for a nice big family sedan that is efficient, Passat TDI all the way. It feels sorta like an older S-class inside.

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If you're looking for a nice big family sedan that is efficient, Passat TDI all the way. It feels sorta like am older S-class inside.

My neighbor traded in her VW CC for a new black Passat TDI last week. She's very happy with the Passat and likes the fuel mileage she's getting.

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My dad really wants a TDI passat. He loves diesel though. Used to wrench em. He's pretty much had all GM and Cadillacs his entire life. He really wants that Passat TDI.

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The only thing he might miss is the ability to put the spurs into it at highway speeds. The Passat is a big comfy package. If they ever make a larger TDI engine for it, that would really address my only complaint. They could put the Audi 3.0 TDI in, but I suspect Audi wouldn't like that. So make a 2.8 TDI version to use in the Veedubs.

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