April 3, 2012
2012 Buick Verano; photo by Mike Schlee. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
Review by Michael Schlee
Photos by Steve Bond and Buick Canada
2012 Buick Verano
It has been 23 years since Buick last offered a proper compact car. Sure, there was the Skylark of the 1990s, but the 1989 Skyhawk was the last true compact to roll out of a Buick showroom. Since then, Buick has focused on larger, more luxurious vehicles, and recently has begun to carve out a niche in the near luxury segment. Like them or not, the Lacrosse and Regal have established themselves as high-volume sellers that are also succeeding in lowering the average age of Buick owners. To further this momentum, Buick is ready to tackle the near-luxury compact car segment with its all-new Buick Verano.
All new for 2012, the Verano is built on the Delta II platform that is also the basis for the Chevrolet Cruze and European Astra. To automatically write the Verano off as an “old-GM” badge-engineered Cruze, as the Pontiac Pursuit/G5 was to the Chevrolet Cobalt, would be both unfair and inaccurate. Although their platform roots are the same, much of the design, materials and features between the two vehicles differ greatly. Think of the relationship more like that of the Lexus ES 350 to the Toyota Camry or the Acura TL to the Honda Accord.
2012 Buick Verano. Click image to enlarge
Initially, the Buick Verano comes equipped with a single powertrain option: a 2.4L direct-injection four-cylinder motor coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. The front-wheel drive Verano produces 180 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque, which is more than adequate to move its 1,497-kg mass. Enthusiasts may want to wait a year, as the 2013 Verano will offer an optional 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder that sends the power through a choice of six-speed transmissions, manual or automatic.
Don’t get me wrong, though — the Verano is no slouch with the standard 2.4L four-cylinder engine. Power delivery is smooth and linear thanks in part to the terrific six-speed automatic transmission. The engine emits a nice throaty growl at lower rpms but thrashes at the higher end of the spectrum. Thankfully, the engine has useful mid-range torque that will keep you from having to climb the rpms too often.
On the highway, the vehicle turns a subdued 2,000 rpm at 100 km/h and 2,350 rpm at 120 km/h. Over our five-hour drive that was predominately on secondary roads, we achieved an indicated fuel consumption average of 7.5 L/100 km. The Government of Canada officially rates the Buick Verano at 9.9 L/100 km city and 6.2 L/100 km highway.
The Verano I drove was the ‘Leather Edition’ and came with optional 235/45R18 tires mounted on attractive 18-inch rims. Although we were not a test track, the Verano felt very composed in corners and hugged the road better than expected — a trait found in other Delta II vehicles I have tested. The ride is soft, but there is none of the old Buick “floatiness” of the past, and very little body roll in corners.