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Found 10 results

  1. Drew Dowdell - Managing Editor, CheersandGears.com December 7th, 2012 Today is the final day of Buick Week. So far we’ve looked at the four new or refreshed vehicles in Buick’s lineup. It is kind of hard to believe that the Buick LaCrosse and Buick Regal are now the two oldest designs, in that order, Buick offers. Buick Week: Day 1 - 2013 Buick Verano Review Day 2 - 2013 Buick Enclave First Drive Day 3 - 2013 Buick Verano Turbo First Drive Day 4 - 2013 Buick Encore First Drive Day 5 - Buick to the Future! What is coming: LaCrosse: The current LaCrosse debuted in 2009 as a 2010 model. At just three model years into its current run, the LaCrosse still holds its own, but the competition is increasing and newer, and sales are sagging. The Lexus ES has been refreshed, Hyundai has a very competent entry with their Azera, the Toyota Avalon is all new, and Lincoln has a new MKZ with a broad range of fuel-efficient power trains. We are expecting to see hints of a heavily-updated Buick LaCrosse during the coming auto show season. Regal: Buick’s German-bred sports sedan typically does very well in reviews, but in a rough economy more consumers are opting for the more economical but almost as premium feeling Verano. Buick and Opel are already preparing a refresh of the current model.What is not coming: GNX/Grand National: Buick laughed off the suggestion of a GNX when asked directly. What we’d like to see: It is no secret that around CheersandGears.com there is a desire for more body styles to be offered by the various GM divisions. Buick has a rich history of coupes, wagons, and convertibles, yet they offer none of those body styles at the moment. We humbly submit these suggestions: Image copyright General Motors - Modifications by Andrew Currie Buick Verano Convertible: Based on the Opel Cascada, this convertible can lower its top in 17 seconds at speeds up to 31 miles per hour. The Opel version is powered by a re-worked 1.4T and the new Opel 1.6T with 200 horsepower and 200 lb.-ft. of torque. Stateside, we hope to see the 1.6T and the 250 hp version of the 2.0T from the Verano Turbo. We would prefer to see Buick add this to the Verano lineup to strengthen that brand within Buick rather than bring the Cascada name stateside. Image copyright General Motors - Modifications by Andrew Currie Buick David: Based on the Opel Adam and in homage to the founder of Buick, David Dunbar Buick. This cheeky little compact would be a premium entry in the segment to go up against the likes of the Mini-Cooper, the coming Mercedes A-Class, and Fiat 500 Abarth. In the Opel versions, though there are three engines available, none generate more than 100 horsepower. A direct-injected and turbo-charged engine is said to be coming. So as not to clash with the Chevrolet Sonic, maintain a premium status, and continue with Buick’s history of turbo-charging, we suggest the Buick David come with the 148 horsepower 1.4T from the Buick Encore as the standard engine with the 200 horsepower 1.6T optional. With a target curb weight of just 2,200lbs, this would be a Goliath entry into the premium hot hatch market. Buick is a brand on the move. It is one of the few brands, especially of premium brands, to lower their average buyer age recently. Buick’s average buyer age has dropped 7 years over the past 5 model years. They have increased their sales conquest rate to over 43%, increased sales while reducing the number of models, and two of their four models currently on sale are in segment leadership positions. Drew Dowdell is Managing Editor of CheersandGears.com and can be reached at Drew.Dowdell@CheersandGears.com or on Twitter as @cheersngears *Both the Buick Verano Convertible and Buick David are wishful thinking on our part. They are in no way "news"; of future Buick vehicles. Images of the Buick Verano Convertible and Buick David are based on copyright of General Motors images under Creative Commons license and are not for commercial use or distribution. View full article
  2. Drew Dowdell - Managing Editor, CheersandGears.com December 7th, 2012 Today is the final day of Buick Week. So far we’ve looked at the four new or refreshed vehicles in Buick’s lineup. It is kind of hard to believe that the Buick LaCrosse and Buick Regal are now the two oldest designs, in that order, Buick offers. Buick Week: Day 1 - 2013 Buick Verano Review Day 2 - 2013 Buick Enclave First Drive Day 3 - 2013 Buick Verano Turbo First Drive Day 4 - 2013 Buick Encore First Drive Day 5 - Buick to the Future! What is coming: LaCrosse: The current LaCrosse debuted in 2009 as a 2010 model. At just three model years into its current run, the LaCrosse still holds its own, but the competition is increasing and newer, and sales are sagging. The Lexus ES has been refreshed, Hyundai has a very competent entry with their Azera, the Toyota Avalon is all new, and Lincoln has a new MKZ with a broad range of fuel-efficient power trains. We are expecting to see hints of a heavily-updated Buick LaCrosse during the coming auto show season. Regal: Buick’s German-bred sports sedan typically does very well in reviews, but in a rough economy more consumers are opting for the more economical but almost as premium feeling Verano. Buick and Opel are already preparing a refresh of the current model.What is not coming: GNX/Grand National: Buick laughed off the suggestion of a GNX when asked directly. What we’d like to see: It is no secret that around CheersandGears.com there is a desire for more body styles to be offered by the various GM divisions. Buick has a rich history of coupes, wagons, and convertibles, yet they offer none of those body styles at the moment. We humbly submit these suggestions: Image copyright General Motors - Modifications by Andrew Currie Buick Verano Convertible: Based on the Opel Cascada, this convertible can lower its top in 17 seconds at speeds up to 31 miles per hour. The Opel version is powered by a re-worked 1.4T and the new Opel 1.6T with 200 horsepower and 200 lb.-ft. of torque. Stateside, we hope to see the 1.6T and the 250 hp version of the 2.0T from the Verano Turbo. We would prefer to see Buick add this to the Verano lineup to strengthen that brand within Buick rather than bring the Cascada name stateside. Image copyright General Motors - Modifications by Andrew Currie Buick David: Based on the Opel Adam and in homage to the founder of Buick, David Dunbar Buick. This cheeky little compact would be a premium entry in the segment to go up against the likes of the Mini-Cooper, the coming Mercedes A-Class, and Fiat 500 Abarth. In the Opel versions, though there are three engines available, none generate more than 100 horsepower. A direct-injected and turbo-charged engine is said to be coming. So as not to clash with the Chevrolet Sonic, maintain a premium status, and continue with Buick’s history of turbo-charging, we suggest the Buick David come with the 148 horsepower 1.4T from the Buick Encore as the standard engine with the 200 horsepower 1.6T optional. With a target curb weight of just 2,200lbs, this would be a Goliath entry into the premium hot hatch market. Buick is a brand on the move. It is one of the few brands, especially of premium brands, to lower their average buyer age recently. Buick’s average buyer age has dropped 7 years over the past 5 model years. They have increased their sales conquest rate to over 43%, increased sales while reducing the number of models, and two of their four models currently on sale are in segment leadership positions. Drew Dowdell is Managing Editor of CheersandGears.com and can be reached at Drew.Dowdell@CheersandGears.com or on Twitter as @cheersngears *Both the Buick Verano Convertible and Buick David are wishful thinking on our part. They are in no way "news"; of future Buick vehicles. Images of the Buick Verano Convertible and Buick David are based on copyright of General Motors images under Creative Commons license and are not for commercial use or distribution.
  3. 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... 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? 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. 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. 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.
  4. 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... 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? 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. 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. 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. View full article
  5. December, 6th 2012 Drew Dowdell Managing Editor – CheersandGears.com Day 4 of Buick Week and we're talking about Buick's new 2013 Encore Buick Week: Day 1 – 2013 Buick Verano Review Day 2 – 2013 Buick Enclave First Drive Day 3 – 2013 Buick Verano Turbo First Drive Day 4 - 2013 Buick Encore First Drive Buick is betting that the next big thing in the crossover category is being little. Little SUVs and CUVs in the past have not sold well or grew up in size until their sales numbers increased. A big part of the reason they haven’t sold in the past could be because they were typically penalty boxes in terms of amenities and driving capability. Buick submits their new 2013 Encore as evidence that neither need be true. Does this diminutive CUV have the goods to change people’s minds? Buick invited me to Atlanta, Georgia to prove it to me. Think Small At just 168.5 inches long, the 2013 Buick Encore is the polar opposite of 222.4 inches the Chevrolet Suburban checks in at. In fact, the Encore sits right between Chevrolet's two sub-compact entries, at 4.6 inches shorter than the Chevrolet Sonic sedan sub-compact and 9.5 inches longer than the 5-door version of that car. The Encore wears its size well though, and while it will never be mistaken for a Suburban, it looks bigger than those numbers suggest.In spite of its trim exterior dimensions, Buick has packaged the Encore well to enable a good amount of room. The interior dimensions are fairly close or even equal to larger-on-the-outside competition from the Ford Escape and Volkswagen Tiguan. Me and my two driving buddies from other media outlets had no trouble finding comfortable seating positions. With a wheelbase just a hair over 100 inches, the Encore excels in maneuverability. When I first arrived at the location in Atlanta, I took the Encore for a spin around a shopping complex. The ease of darting around looking for a parking spot will satisfy many an outlet shopper. For those trips to Ikea, the front passenger seat folds flat allowing for long boxes to be brought home. Turning radius is a scant 36.7 feet, about a foot shorter than the Mini-Cooper Countryman. What is a crossover without cup holders? Though the Encore only seats 5, it has 8 beverage holders. Designers included storage pockets everywhere with four bins in the dash, door pockets, rear seat pockets, a bin under the passenger seat, and bins under the rear cargo floor. Up next: The Drive The Drive A tall, narrow, short wheelbase car is not typically a prescription for great handling but Buick manages to overcome this disadvantage. Steering feel from the all-electric power steering is light to the touch at parking lot speeds and firms up for a more sporting feel when under way. Steering response and feel is excellent and would be at home in a sportier car than the Encore. MacPherson struts up front and coil springs with twin-tube shock absorbers tuned specifically to the standard 18” wheels do a great job of keeping the Encore planted in turns and soaking up rough highway pavement, again giving handling feel that would be just as appropriate in an entry level, low-slung sport compact. More in tune with the Encore’s mission, the highway ride again is contrary to the smaller stature. The suspension and Buick’s Quiet-Tuning soak up road noise to create a much quieter cabin than one might be used to in a car of this size. Part of that quiet comes from the Bose active noise canceling (ANC), a first for Buick, installed in the car. The system uses three headliner mounted speakers to detect engine related noise entering the passenger compartment and cancels it out using the audio system’s speakers and sub-woofer. The Buick engineer riding with us told us that the ANC system does its best work when the engine is running above 3,000 rpm. The Quiet-Tuning does have a downside though; on the highway you have to watch your speed because you can easily end up going faster than local law enforcement would like. The 2013 Encore is powered by a 1.4 liter turbo charged Ecotec engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission driving the front or all wheels. It generates 138 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,850 and 4,900 rpm. That may not sound like much, but compared to rivals such as the RAV4, CR-V, and Escape in the next size class up, it is a torque deficiency of no more than 24 ft.-lbs. against vehicles that weigh 300lbs. – 500lbs. more. I would bet that anyone trading from a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 would feel that the Buick Encore is a perkier driver resulting from its lower curb weight and early peak torque curve. Running around town and even under full throttle, the engine is very smooth. I felt the Encore could use more power at full throttle, but again I feel that CR-V and RAV4 owners wouldn’t notice a difference.Buick claims the Encore will be among best fuel economy in the segment with estimated fuel economy of 25 city / 33 highway / 28 combined for front-wheel drive models and 23 city / 30 highway / 26 combined for all-wheel drive models when compared to automatic transmission equipped competitors. Buick is expecting a 5-star crash test rating when the Encore is tested; a justifiable expectation as the Opel Mokka which shares much of the Encore’s structure received top ratings in the Euro NCAP safety tests, including a 100 percent safety rating in the safety assist category for the electronic stability control. The Encore boasts a whole host of safety features to get those ratings: 10 standard airbags Collapsible brake pedal Side Blind Zone Alert Rear Cross Traffic Alert Rear Vision Camera Forward Collision Alert (optional) Lane Departure Warning (with Forward Collision Alert) But what’s it cost? One of the bigger stories with the Encore is in the pricing. Unless you are trying to squeeze out every last penny of value per square inch of interior space, the Encore’s pricing is very competitive to the larger crossovers in the next size class up. I already mentioned that next to the Ford Escape and Volkswagen Tiguan, you would give up very little in space in an Encore. Though they start with a Optioning up those vehicles with similar equipment and the Encore starts a large price in various configurations. For example, we built these three example vehicles on their respective manufacturers’ websites: 2013 Ford Escape SEL 4WD - $35,525 1.6L Ecoboost Parking Technology Package Sync with MyFord Touch and Navigation Leather Interior (non-heated seats) Panoramic Sunroof 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4motion - $33,055 2.0T Engine Sunroof Navigation Leatherette interior with heated seats 2013 Buick Encore AWD - $32,035 1.4T Engine Buick IntelliLink w/ Navigation Leather Interior (includes heated seats and steering wheel) Premium Group (Includes safety assist technology, rain sense wipers) Sunroof The prices speak for themselves. Buick is targeting two specific sets of consumers with the 2013 Encore. The first group is young professionals who want to move up to a more premium vehicle from their “first car”. They don’t yet have families and the need for a large crossover, but they do like to sit up higher, have the option for AWD, and fuel economy is a concern. The second group is “empty nesters”; people who no longer need to haul the kids around and do not want to haul around the baggage of a large SUV anymore. They are looking for easy to drive, easy to park, yet still versatile enough to fit their daily lives. Both groups are looking for more premium features in their vehicles but are particularly attracted to refinement.In the 150 miles I logged in the 2013 Encore, I found it to be a perky little SUV with a surprising amount of interior room for its small foot print. The quiet and comfortable ride makes it a suitable long distance companion. This is not a car for gearheads, but for those who want a premium crossover without all the weight associated with the segment. Buick might just be on to something here. Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly listed the Buick Encore as 4.6 inches shorter than the Chevy Sonic hatchback. It is 4.6 inches shorter than the Chevy Sonic Sedan. The Encore is actually 9.5 inches longer than the hatchback. 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 Atlanta, Georgia for this test drive.
  6. December, 6th 2012 Drew Dowdell Managing Editor – CheersandGears.com Day 4 of Buick Week and we're talking about Buick's new 2013 Encore Buick Week: Day 1 – 2013 Buick Verano Review Day 2 – 2013 Buick Enclave First Drive Day 3 – 2013 Buick Verano Turbo First Drive Day 4 - 2013 Buick Encore First Drive Buick is betting that the next big thing in the crossover category is being little. Little SUVs and CUVs in the past have not sold well or grew up in size until their sales numbers increased. A big part of the reason they haven’t sold in the past could be because they were typically penalty boxes in terms of amenities and driving capability. Buick submits their new 2013 Encore as evidence that neither need be true. Does this diminutive CUV have the goods to change people’s minds? Buick invited me to Atlanta, Georgia to prove it to me. Think Small At just 168.5 inches long, the 2013 Buick Encore is the polar opposite of 222.4 inches the Chevrolet Suburban checks in at. In fact, the Encore sits right between Chevrolet's two sub-compact entries, at 4.6 inches shorter than the Chevrolet Sonic sedan sub-compact and 9.5 inches longer than the 5-door version of that car. The Encore wears its size well though, and while it will never be mistaken for a Suburban, it looks bigger than those numbers suggest.In spite of its trim exterior dimensions, Buick has packaged the Encore well to enable a good amount of room. The interior dimensions are fairly close or even equal to larger-on-the-outside competition from the Ford Escape and Volkswagen Tiguan. Me and my two driving buddies from other media outlets had no trouble finding comfortable seating positions. With a wheelbase just a hair over 100 inches, the Encore excels in maneuverability. When I first arrived at the location in Atlanta, I took the Encore for a spin around a shopping complex. The ease of darting around looking for a parking spot will satisfy many an outlet shopper. For those trips to Ikea, the front passenger seat folds flat allowing for long boxes to be brought home. Turning radius is a scant 36.7 feet, about a foot shorter than the Mini-Cooper Countryman. What is a crossover without cup holders? Though the Encore only seats 5, it has 8 beverage holders. Designers included storage pockets everywhere with four bins in the dash, door pockets, rear seat pockets, a bin under the passenger seat, and bins under the rear cargo floor. Up next: The Drive The Drive A tall, narrow, short wheelbase car is not typically a prescription for great handling but Buick manages to overcome this disadvantage. Steering feel from the all-electric power steering is light to the touch at parking lot speeds and firms up for a more sporting feel when under way. Steering response and feel is excellent and would be at home in a sportier car than the Encore. MacPherson struts up front and coil springs with twin-tube shock absorbers tuned specifically to the standard 18” wheels do a great job of keeping the Encore planted in turns and soaking up rough highway pavement, again giving handling feel that would be just as appropriate in an entry level, low-slung sport compact. More in tune with the Encore’s mission, the highway ride again is contrary to the smaller stature. The suspension and Buick’s Quiet-Tuning soak up road noise to create a much quieter cabin than one might be used to in a car of this size. Part of that quiet comes from the Bose active noise canceling (ANC), a first for Buick, installed in the car. The system uses three headliner mounted speakers to detect engine related noise entering the passenger compartment and cancels it out using the audio system’s speakers and sub-woofer. The Buick engineer riding with us told us that the ANC system does its best work when the engine is running above 3,000 rpm. The Quiet-Tuning does have a downside though; on the highway you have to watch your speed because you can easily end up going faster than local law enforcement would like. The 2013 Encore is powered by a 1.4 liter turbo charged Ecotec engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission driving the front or all wheels. It generates 138 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,850 and 4,900 rpm. That may not sound like much, but compared to rivals such as the RAV4, CR-V, and Escape in the next size class up, it is a torque deficiency of no more than 24 ft.-lbs. against vehicles that weigh 300lbs. – 500lbs. more. I would bet that anyone trading from a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 would feel that the Buick Encore is a perkier driver resulting from its lower curb weight and early peak torque curve. Running around town and even under full throttle, the engine is very smooth. I felt the Encore could use more power at full throttle, but again I feel that CR-V and RAV4 owners wouldn’t notice a difference.Buick claims the Encore will be among best fuel economy in the segment with estimated fuel economy of 25 city / 33 highway / 28 combined for front-wheel drive models and 23 city / 30 highway / 26 combined for all-wheel drive models when compared to automatic transmission equipped competitors. Buick is expecting a 5-star crash test rating when the Encore is tested; a justifiable expectation as the Opel Mokka which shares much of the Encore’s structure received top ratings in the Euro NCAP safety tests, including a 100 percent safety rating in the safety assist category for the electronic stability control. The Encore boasts a whole host of safety features to get those ratings: 10 standard airbags Collapsible brake pedal Side Blind Zone Alert Rear Cross Traffic Alert Rear Vision Camera Forward Collision Alert (optional) Lane Departure Warning (with Forward Collision Alert) But what’s it cost? One of the bigger stories with the Encore is in the pricing. Unless you are trying to squeeze out every last penny of value per square inch of interior space, the Encore’s pricing is very competitive to the larger crossovers in the next size class up. I already mentioned that next to the Ford Escape and Volkswagen Tiguan, you would give up very little in space in an Encore. Though they start with a Optioning up those vehicles with similar equipment and the Encore starts a large price in various configurations. For example, we built these three example vehicles on their respective manufacturers’ websites: 2013 Ford Escape SEL 4WD - $35,525 1.6L Ecoboost Parking Technology Package Sync with MyFord Touch and Navigation Leather Interior (non-heated seats) Panoramic Sunroof 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4motion - $33,055 2.0T Engine Sunroof Navigation Leatherette interior with heated seats 2013 Buick Encore AWD - $32,035 1.4T Engine Buick IntelliLink w/ Navigation Leather Interior (includes heated seats and steering wheel) Premium Group (Includes safety assist technology, rain sense wipers) Sunroof The prices speak for themselves. Buick is targeting two specific sets of consumers with the 2013 Encore. The first group is young professionals who want to move up to a more premium vehicle from their “first car”. They don’t yet have families and the need for a large crossover, but they do like to sit up higher, have the option for AWD, and fuel economy is a concern. The second group is “empty nesters”; people who no longer need to haul the kids around and do not want to haul around the baggage of a large SUV anymore. They are looking for easy to drive, easy to park, yet still versatile enough to fit their daily lives. Both groups are looking for more premium features in their vehicles but are particularly attracted to refinement.In the 150 miles I logged in the 2013 Encore, I found it to be a perky little SUV with a surprising amount of interior room for its small foot print. The quiet and comfortable ride makes it a suitable long distance companion. This is not a car for gearheads, but for those who want a premium crossover without all the weight associated with the segment. Buick might just be on to something here. Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly listed the Buick Encore as 4.6 inches shorter than the Chevy Sonic hatchback. It is 4.6 inches shorter than the Chevy Sonic Sedan. The Encore is actually 9.5 inches longer than the hatchback. 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 Atlanta, Georgia for this test drive. View full article
  7. December 4th, 2012 Drew Dowdell Managing Editor - CheersandGears.com Day two of Buick Week. Yesterday we gave you a review of the 2013 Buick Verano, up today is a First Drive of the 2013 Buick Enclave. Buick first introduced their jumbo-sized Enclave crossover in 2007 for the 2008 model year. The Enclave quickly made a name for itself as a true luxury ride and also brought down Buick’s average buyer age dramatically. Though that body generation of Enclave just completed its fifth year on the market, sales remained very strong, reporting around 50k units sold as of the end of November 2012. Enclave’s conquest rate is just about 45% with most trades coming from Lexus, Ford, and Honda. Enclave is able to boast the highest sales in the 3-row Luxury Crossover market. With such good sale results, Buick is understandably reluctant to make huge changes to the Enclave’s formula for the 2013 model year. Buick invited me to Louisville, KY to sample the 2013 Buick Enclave and report back to you on my thoughts. Less cushion, more pushin… We sampled a 2010 Buick Enclave 2 years ago and looking back at my notes, one phrase stood out: “Feels like riding on a cloud, but don’t push it around a corner”. That feeling no longer applies to the 2013 Enclave. While the suspension is still quite supple, it no longer has that vintage Buick floaty feel that the previous Enclave had. Buick fitted the new Enclave with new dual-flow damper front struts. These new struts receive most of the credit for the more athletic moves the Enclave is capable of now. There is no mistaking the Enclave for a CTS-V, but you can take an off-ramp with some authority and not feel like you’ll end up in the weeds.The 3.6 liter V6 carries over, but the 6-speed transmission is heavily revised to address complaints of busy shifting. During my drive, I found the setup to be just about perfect, though I did wish for a little more torque at the low end. Refined style, now with more refinement The Enclave styling complaints response department was likely a lonely place. In this author’s opinion, the previous Enclave was one of the most handsome of luxury crossovers available. While most others try to be edgy and sporty, Buick goes for curvy and classic. In the updated Enclave, all of the main styling themes remain. The all new front clip is capped with a grille that is now more upright and toothier. Those of us who like vintage Buicks might see a hint of the 1949 model in the grille. Gone are the two-tone bodies with a monochrome palette taking their place.The tail lights now use LED and light pipe technology. Difficult to capture with the camera, the tail lights give off an eye catching and haunting glow rather than the harsh LED light you are used to from other models with just LEDs out back. The rear accent lights mimic the eyebrow look we see on the 2013 Buick Verano tail lights. LED accent lighting has been installed up front as well. Inside, designers moved away from wood-look trim and instead incorporated more stitched leather into the design. Layout of the controls is largely the same, but the controls themselves have been updated. The dials of the HVAC controls remind me of the high end NEST home thermostats that are becoming popular. One missed opportunity is the lack of update to the gauge cluster and the monochrome driver information center, the second, which will likely get the most noise in the reviews is the lack, even as an option, of keyless ignition. Aft of the driver, the interior is largely carry over for the second two rows. Pricing for the 2013 Enclave starts at $39,270 including destination charge. The Long and Short Buick realizes they have a market leader in the Enclave and for 2013 sought to simply take what was successful and make it better. From this first drive, they've largely succeeded in that regard. Tomorrow, we take a first drive with both the manual and automatic versions of the Buick Verano Turbo. Disclaimer: Buick provided transportation from Pittsburgh, PA to Louisville, KY and one night of accommodations for this review. View full article
  8. December 4th, 2012 Drew Dowdell Managing Editor - CheersandGears.com Day two of Buick Week. Yesterday we gave you a review of the 2013 Buick Verano, up today is a First Drive of the 2013 Buick Enclave. Buick first introduced their jumbo-sized Enclave crossover in 2007 for the 2008 model year. The Enclave quickly made a name for itself as a true luxury ride and also brought down Buick’s average buyer age dramatically. Though that body generation of Enclave just completed its fifth year on the market, sales remained very strong, reporting around 50k units sold as of the end of November 2012. Enclave’s conquest rate is just about 45% with most trades coming from Lexus, Ford, and Honda. Enclave is able to boast the highest sales in the 3-row Luxury Crossover market. With such good sale results, Buick is understandably reluctant to make huge changes to the Enclave’s formula for the 2013 model year. Buick invited me to Louisville, KY to sample the 2013 Buick Enclave and report back to you on my thoughts. Less cushion, more pushin… We sampled a 2010 Buick Enclave 2 years ago and looking back at my notes, one phrase stood out: “Feels like riding on a cloud, but don’t push it around a corner”. That feeling no longer applies to the 2013 Enclave. While the suspension is still quite supple, it no longer has that vintage Buick floaty feel that the previous Enclave had. Buick fitted the new Enclave with new dual-flow damper front struts. These new struts receive most of the credit for the more athletic moves the Enclave is capable of now. There is no mistaking the Enclave for a CTS-V, but you can take an off-ramp with some authority and not feel like you’ll end up in the weeds.The 3.6 liter V6 carries over, but the 6-speed transmission is heavily revised to address complaints of busy shifting. During my drive, I found the setup to be just about perfect, though I did wish for a little more torque at the low end. Refined style, now with more refinement The Enclave styling complaints response department was likely a lonely place. In this author’s opinion, the previous Enclave was one of the most handsome of luxury crossovers available. While most others try to be edgy and sporty, Buick goes for curvy and classic. In the updated Enclave, all of the main styling themes remain. The all new front clip is capped with a grille that is now more upright and toothier. Those of us who like vintage Buicks might see a hint of the 1949 model in the grille. Gone are the two-tone bodies with a monochrome palette taking their place.The tail lights now use LED and light pipe technology. Difficult to capture with the camera, the tail lights give off an eye catching and haunting glow rather than the harsh LED light you are used to from other models with just LEDs out back. The rear accent lights mimic the eyebrow look we see on the 2013 Buick Verano tail lights. LED accent lighting has been installed up front as well. Inside, designers moved away from wood-look trim and instead incorporated more stitched leather into the design. Layout of the controls is largely the same, but the controls themselves have been updated. The dials of the HVAC controls remind me of the high end NEST home thermostats that are becoming popular. One missed opportunity is the lack of update to the gauge cluster and the monochrome driver information center, the second, which will likely get the most noise in the reviews is the lack, even as an option, of keyless ignition. Aft of the driver, the interior is largely carry over for the second two rows. Pricing for the 2013 Enclave starts at $39,270 including destination charge. The Long and Short Buick realizes they have a market leader in the Enclave and for 2013 sought to simply take what was successful and make it better. From this first drive, they've largely succeeded in that regard. Tomorrow, we take a first drive with both the manual and automatic versions of the Buick Verano Turbo. Disclaimer: Buick provided transportation from Pittsburgh, PA to Louisville, KY and one night of accommodations for this review.
  9. December 3, 2012 Drew Dowdell Managing Editor - CheersandGears.com It is Buick Week here at Cheers and Gears this week and each day we will be featuring an article about one of the new Buicks. We start off with Buick's re-entry to the compact segment, the 2013 Buick Verano. Buick has dabbled in the compact sedan market off and on since the 1960’s. After an initially successful run with the Special/Skylark in 1961, Buick’s compacts quickly grew in size and out of that segment of being true compact cars. In the mid 1960’s, Buick began importing Opels from Germany to sell as a captive, compact Buick-Opel sub-brand. The exchange rate between the Dollar and the Mark conspired with some questionable engineering to keep Opel’s sales low in the US. With the Opel’s failure to catch on, by the end of the 1970s Buick returned to American built, badge-engineered compacts that were shared with nearly every division inside of GM. Buick has technically not sold a car in the compact sedan class since the J-body Skyhawk went out of production in 1989. The 2013 Verano rides on GM’s Delta II compact car platform. There is an instinctual reaction in North America to call the Verano a Buick re-badged Chevrolet Cruze and while the Cruze is a fine compact in its own right, this would be inaccurate. For their new entry to the compact market, Buick went back to its history with Opel and as such, the Buick Verano is a much closer relation to the Opel Astra sedan developed and sold in Europe than it is to the Korean developed Chevy Cruze. Is there really such a thing as a compact luxury car? Contrary to its small stature, the Verano looks the part of a premium compact car. Out front is Buick’s trademark waterfall grille along with portholes on each side of the hood. Along the cleanly styled side, the Verano eschews the sweep spear design cue of its biggest brothers the LaCrosse and Enclave, opting instead for the hockey stick design cue used on the middle sibling, the Buick Regal and their Opel cousins back in the old country. Around back are a pair of angry chrome eyebrows over the tail lights that were hard to digest at first, but I learned to love them over time as they give a very distinctive look that few, if any, cars today have. Filling out the wheel wells are a fairly standard looking set of 18” alloy wheels. My only complaint on the exterior is the overly large license plate cut-out in the front fascia. It is much too large for those of us in front plate states, it is pointless for those of us in rear-plate-only states, and it detracts from the look of the otherwise handsome front end.Inside, however, is where Buick makes its best case yet for a premium car in the compact class. Decked out in a handsome two tone design, the Verano looks the part of a high end luxury car. Plush yet supportive leather seats are an excellent place to spend some hours driving. Finding a comfortable seating position was easy, though I am disappointed that a “premium” car does not have a power seat recline. Front passengers are even more disappointed that they have no power seat at all. In front of the driver is a fairly standard GM steering wheel with all of the familiar controls located at your thumb tips. The gauges glow in indigo blue that has become a bit of a Buick trademark, though the font size of the numbers is a bit small. The engine start/stop button is not in the standard place on the dash, but rather at the top left of the center instrument panel. Even after a week of driving the Verano, I had to think about which button to push to start it up. The HVAC controls are simple enough to operate, but the infotainment system can get a little confusing as sometimes your instinct is to use the hardware buttons and sometimes to use the touch screen. This Verano came with the upgraded Bose 9-speaker sound system and to be honest, considering the $595 up-charge I wasn’t very impressed as it doesn't seem to offer much depth or clarity over the standard GM systems I'm used to. If it isn’t quiet inside, it isn’t a Buick. The quiet-tuning in the Verano really does its job well, keeping road, wind, and engine noise out. We took the Verano from Pittsburgh, PA to Manassas, Virginia for the holiday. In our extensive testing, rear passengers, especially those under the age of 10, during long trips ended up falling asleep about 30 minutes into the ride and slept for most of our 300 mile journeys. I very much enjoyed the quiet serenity in the car during my morning commutes into the city.On our return trip, I was fairly well exhausted and asked my partner, who hates driving and simply doesn’t understand what us car guys are going on about, to drive at least the first half of the trip and then we could switch over. At the half-way point, he wouldn’t give the Verano back! By the time we made it to Pittsburgh, he decided he wanted one. The trunk is deep, with a wide opening for easy access, though you must be mindful of the gooseneck trunk lid supports so they don’t crush your luggage. I did feel that having the backs of the speakers exposed and so visible in the trunk was a glaring omission in the level of finish on this car. But does it have Buick power? Well yes and no. Buick opted for the tried and true 2.4 liter direct injected 4-cylinder producing 180 horsepower at 6700 rpm and 171 lb-ft of torque at 4900 rpm. The gearing in the 6-speed automatic is set up to give you spritely starts and an adequate amount of passing power on the highway. Darting around town can be quite sporty feeling, but try passing on an uphill climb with a full load of passengers and luggage and the Verano gets a bit breathless. You’ll pay for that sporty low-end gearing at the pump with a mediocre 21mpg city EPA rating and an unimpressive 32mpg highway. There are larger vehicles with more power that can beat those figures. On the return of our 367 mile trip, we averaged 27.9mpg with 4 passengers and a full trunk. Calling on its Germanic roots, the Verano handles very well for a front wheel drive compact sedan. While it is tuned for a comfortable ride, it leaves plenty of firmness intact for cornering and overall responsiveness. Has Buick hit the mark in the premium compact market? As far as I’m concerned, the answer is a resounding yes. Buick has been absent from this segment since 1989 but has produced a car that has a premium feel to it and with a price tag starting at just $23,080. For your $23,000 and change, you leave the dealership with a car that acts and feels like a much more expensive model. But no need to take my word for it, Buick went from selling zero compacts per month to selling 3,500 Veranos per month in less than a year. Total sales for 2012 as of November 30th are 36,222. The Acura ILX (1,529/month - 7,658 Jan-Nov) and Audi A3 (400/month - 6,808 Jan-Nov), the Verano's closest competition, aren’t even close. Be sure to stop back tomorrow for a First Drive of the 2013 Buick Enclave. If you like this review, please share it with your friends using the share buttons below. Cheers: Vault quiet Comfortable front seats Good rear leg room for a compact Jeers: Fuel Economy Front license plate space No power front passenger set, not even an option No power driver seat recline Disclaimer: Buick provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2013 Make – Buick Model – Verano Trim – Leather Group with Nav Engine – 2.4L DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four Driveline – Front Wheel Drive, 6-speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 180 HP (@ 6,700 RPM) Torque @ RPM – 171 lb-ft (@ 4,900 RPM) Fuel Economy: City/Highway - 21/32 Curb Weight – 3,300 lbs Base Price - $23,080 As Tested Price - $27,550* (not including $885 destination charge) Drew Dowdell is Managing Editor of CheersandGears.com and can be reached at Drew.Dowdell@CheersandGears.com or on twitter as @CheersnGears View full article
  10. December 3, 2012 Drew Dowdell Managing Editor - CheersandGears.com It is Buick Week here at Cheers and Gears this week and each day we will be featuring an article about one of the new Buicks. We start off with Buick's re-entry to the compact segment, the 2013 Buick Verano. Buick has dabbled in the compact sedan market off and on since the 1960’s. After an initially successful run with the Special/Skylark in 1961, Buick’s compacts quickly grew in size and out of that segment of being true compact cars. In the mid 1960’s, Buick began importing Opels from Germany to sell as a captive, compact Buick-Opel sub-brand. The exchange rate between the Dollar and the Mark conspired with some questionable engineering to keep Opel’s sales low in the US. With the Opel’s failure to catch on, by the end of the 1970s Buick returned to American built, badge-engineered compacts that were shared with nearly every division inside of GM. Buick has technically not sold a car in the compact sedan class since the J-body Skyhawk went out of production in 1989. The 2013 Verano rides on GM’s Delta II compact car platform. There is an instinctual reaction in North America to call the Verano a Buick re-badged Chevrolet Cruze and while the Cruze is a fine compact in its own right, this would be inaccurate. For their new entry to the compact market, Buick went back to its history with Opel and as such, the Buick Verano is a much closer relation to the Opel Astra sedan developed and sold in Europe than it is to the Korean developed Chevy Cruze. Is there really such a thing as a compact luxury car? Contrary to its small stature, the Verano looks the part of a premium compact car. Out front is Buick’s trademark waterfall grille along with portholes on each side of the hood. Along the cleanly styled side, the Verano eschews the sweep spear design cue of its biggest brothers the LaCrosse and Enclave, opting instead for the hockey stick design cue used on the middle sibling, the Buick Regal and their Opel cousins back in the old country. Around back are a pair of angry chrome eyebrows over the tail lights that were hard to digest at first, but I learned to love them over time as they give a very distinctive look that few, if any, cars today have. Filling out the wheel wells are a fairly standard looking set of 18” alloy wheels. My only complaint on the exterior is the overly large license plate cut-out in the front fascia. It is much too large for those of us in front plate states, it is pointless for those of us in rear-plate-only states, and it detracts from the look of the otherwise handsome front end.Inside, however, is where Buick makes its best case yet for a premium car in the compact class. Decked out in a handsome two tone design, the Verano looks the part of a high end luxury car. Plush yet supportive leather seats are an excellent place to spend some hours driving. Finding a comfortable seating position was easy, though I am disappointed that a “premium” car does not have a power seat recline. Front passengers are even more disappointed that they have no power seat at all. In front of the driver is a fairly standard GM steering wheel with all of the familiar controls located at your thumb tips. The gauges glow in indigo blue that has become a bit of a Buick trademark, though the font size of the numbers is a bit small. The engine start/stop button is not in the standard place on the dash, but rather at the top left of the center instrument panel. Even after a week of driving the Verano, I had to think about which button to push to start it up. The HVAC controls are simple enough to operate, but the infotainment system can get a little confusing as sometimes your instinct is to use the hardware buttons and sometimes to use the touch screen. This Verano came with the upgraded Bose 9-speaker sound system and to be honest, considering the $595 up-charge I wasn’t very impressed as it doesn't seem to offer much depth or clarity over the standard GM systems I'm used to. If it isn’t quiet inside, it isn’t a Buick. The quiet-tuning in the Verano really does its job well, keeping road, wind, and engine noise out. We took the Verano from Pittsburgh, PA to Manassas, Virginia for the holiday. In our extensive testing, rear passengers, especially those under the age of 10, during long trips ended up falling asleep about 30 minutes into the ride and slept for most of our 300 mile journeys. I very much enjoyed the quiet serenity in the car during my morning commutes into the city.On our return trip, I was fairly well exhausted and asked my partner, who hates driving and simply doesn’t understand what us car guys are going on about, to drive at least the first half of the trip and then we could switch over. At the half-way point, he wouldn’t give the Verano back! By the time we made it to Pittsburgh, he decided he wanted one. The trunk is deep, with a wide opening for easy access, though you must be mindful of the gooseneck trunk lid supports so they don’t crush your luggage. I did feel that having the backs of the speakers exposed and so visible in the trunk was a glaring omission in the level of finish on this car. But does it have Buick power? Well yes and no. Buick opted for the tried and true 2.4 liter direct injected 4-cylinder producing 180 horsepower at 6700 rpm and 171 lb-ft of torque at 4900 rpm. The gearing in the 6-speed automatic is set up to give you spritely starts and an adequate amount of passing power on the highway. Darting around town can be quite sporty feeling, but try passing on an uphill climb with a full load of passengers and luggage and the Verano gets a bit breathless. You’ll pay for that sporty low-end gearing at the pump with a mediocre 21mpg city EPA rating and an unimpressive 32mpg highway. There are larger vehicles with more power that can beat those figures. On the return of our 367 mile trip, we averaged 27.9mpg with 4 passengers and a full trunk. Calling on its Germanic roots, the Verano handles very well for a front wheel drive compact sedan. While it is tuned for a comfortable ride, it leaves plenty of firmness intact for cornering and overall responsiveness. Has Buick hit the mark in the premium compact market? As far as I’m concerned, the answer is a resounding yes. Buick has been absent from this segment since 1989 but has produced a car that has a premium feel to it and with a price tag starting at just $23,080. For your $23,000 and change, you leave the dealership with a car that acts and feels like a much more expensive model. But no need to take my word for it, Buick went from selling zero compacts per month to selling 3,500 Veranos per month in less than a year. Total sales for 2012 as of November 30th are 36,222. The Acura ILX (1,529/month - 7,658 Jan-Nov) and Audi A3 (400/month - 6,808 Jan-Nov), the Verano's closest competition, aren’t even close. Be sure to stop back tomorrow for a First Drive of the 2013 Buick Enclave. If you like this review, please share it with your friends using the share buttons below. Cheers: Vault quiet Comfortable front seats Good rear leg room for a compact Jeers: Fuel Economy Front license plate space No power front passenger set, not even an option No power driver seat recline Disclaimer: Buick provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2013 Make – Buick Model – Verano Trim – Leather Group with Nav Engine – 2.4L DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four Driveline – Front Wheel Drive, 6-speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 180 HP (@ 6,700 RPM) Torque @ RPM – 171 lb-ft (@ 4,900 RPM) Fuel Economy: City/Highway - 21/32 Curb Weight – 3,300 lbs Base Price - $23,080 As Tested Price - $27,550* (not including $885 destination charge) Drew Dowdell is Managing Editor of CheersandGears.com and can be reached at Drew.Dowdell@CheersandGears.com or on twitter as @CheersnGears

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