2012 Buick Verano: Luxury Compact with Summer Name is a Fit for All Seasons
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Winter is upon us and one of the exiting new cars for 2012 carries a summer name and a personality for all seasons. The Buick Verano is a four-door, five passenger compact luxury sedan whose name is the Spanish word for summer.
The front-engine, front-wheel drive Verano is the first compact from Buick since the Skylark ended its run in 1997. Sharing its Delta II platform with the Chevrolet Cruze, Verano was developed along with its sister, the Buick Excelle GT (sold in China) and is built in Orion Township, Michigan.
Not what one expects from traditional Buicks, Verano conveys the contemporary look of the manufacturer’s new face. The compact luxury car is imbued with modern Buick design cues introduced on the Enclave and transmitted through the LaCrosse and Regal. Verano’s arching roofline connects a steeply raked windshield and fast-sloping rear pillars to give the vehicle an elegance not normally seen in compacts. Verano is also highlighted by thin accent strokes of chrome, black chrome waterfall grille and portholes, blue translucent projector beam headlamps, 18-inch forged alloy, polished machine face, sterling silver-finish wheels with 10 dual spokes and a half-dozen premium exterior colors: Crystal Red Tintcoat; White Diamond Tricoat; Black Onyx; Summit White; Quicksilver Metallic and Mocha Bronze.
Weighing in at about 3300 lbs., Verano measures 183.9 inches long, 71.4 inches wide and 58.4 inches high on a 105.7-inch wheelbase and is constructed with a steel body-frame integrated with front and rear crumple zones; galvanized steel front fenders, hood, roof and door panels; one-piece bodyside outer panel and thermal plastic olefin bumper fascias.
Verano gets its power from an Ecotec 2.4-liter DOHC Inline-4 engine mated to a Hydra-Matic 6T45 6-speed automatic transmission. The cast aluminum block and heads direct injection system puts out 180hp and 171 lbs-ft of torque and is EPA estimated at 22mpg in the city and 31mpg on the highway. A week of mixed-use tests showed an average of 26.6mpg.
With a steady power curve, my test Verano accomplished a zero-to-60mph run in 8.3 seconds and a quarter-mile in 16.6 seconds. On the road, acceleration is slow, but reliable, and handling is confident, with little sway, some slight understeer, but good niche performance during quick maneuvers with rack-mounted electric power steering.
Verano’s independent, MacPherson strut-type front suspension with side-loaded strut modules, specifically tuned coil springs and direct-acting stabilizer bar (hollow) provide for a smooth ride, when coupled with the hydraulic ride bushings and specifically adapted compound crank (torsion beam) rear with double-walled, U-shaped profile, Z-link (tunable control arm). Power-assisted four-wheel disc electronic brake force distribution and ABS offer good braking capabilities.
Buick’s signature quiet ride is a Verano feature as quiet-tuning systems, processes and components are built into every facet of the Verano’s architecture. All are designed to block or absorb sound and dampen or eliminate vibrations. The steel front-of-dash panel is sandwiched between two damping mats; nylon baffles are used in various hollow portions of the body structure and filled with sound-absorbing foam that expands when the body enters the paint oven; the headliner comprises five layers of thermal fiber acoustic material, including a premium woven fabric on the visible outer layer; liquid applied sound deadener is robotically applied throughout the body structure to both deaden and dampen unwanted noises and vibrations and sound insulation material between rear-body structural components is made from recycled denim. Additionally, the engine’s intake and exhaust systems are tuned for quiet performance; windshield and side glass are optimized for quietness; and triple-sealed doors feature fiberglass “blankets” that serve as water, airflow and noise barriers.
The upscale interior upscale is well-crafted and is outfitted with such premium items as ice blue ambient lighting inspired by the LaCrosse; an instrument panel that blends with an integrated center stack that houses the infotainment display, climate controls and radio controls; flush-mounted components within the center stack; headliner cover made of a knit material and interior pillar and other moldings are color- and grain-matched to the headliner. A push-button start is standard as are remote starter, automatic climate control, electronic parking brake, power windows with express up/down, steering wheel radio controls and rear defogger. Bluetooth or USB connect with driver’s smart phone to a 7-inch LED high-resolution, full-color touch screen display and included is an upscale XM Satellite radio/CD player.
With seating for five, interior headroom is 38.3 inches in front and 37.8 inches in row two; legroom is a roomy 42 inches in the first row and a tight 33.9 in the rear, with shoulder room at 55.1 and 53.8.
Safety features include a strong body structure to absorb crash energy, 10 standard air bags, anti-lock brakes, Stabilitrak full-function traction control, collapsible pedal system, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and OnStar with Automatic Crash Response and tire pressure monitoring system. An additional safety feature available on 1SG and 1SL models is rear parking assist.
Verano’s invoice is based at $21,682 plus $885 destination charges. Crystal Red Tintcoat exterior added $325; a Cashmere interior with power tilt-sliding sunroof with sunshade added $792 and the Verano as tested invoiced for $22,760 after discounts and incentives.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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