So what defines a Buick? Is it the female sex appeal that we were always told it had? I remember many moons ago when so many women would drive the sexy and curvy Riviera and the Electra deuce and a quarter or the Park Avenue. And how about that Buick Grand National and its electrifying high performance for the guys! This bad boy looked bad to the bone. Most were black, with blackout trim. The interior was finished in a plethora of gray tones, including special fabrics on the Lear seats. And did it scream? OH YES IT DID! So the Buick brand has had its ups and downs for many years but since the mid 2000s there has been a resurgence on that nameplate including now the Verano.
OK, so having said all this and General Motors having saved the brand, they must now figure out what to do with it. For as long as I can remember, the Buick brand ‘sort of’ occupied the middle ground between Chevrolet and Cadillac, although for the last 30 years, Buick has been almost the shadow to Chevrolet and not as close to Cadillac as they once were in the 40s, 50s and 60s; so here comes the new Verano… there has got to be a spot or position within this position for a great and good looking vehicle like this one, don’t you think? Maybe!
Many Buick fans as well as numerous general automotive consumers want a softly styled, upscale car, but don’t need a large car. The challenge or trick has always been to successfully field a car in this position. Take for instance the Lexus HS confronting all kinds of barriers in sale and only able to persuade a couple of hundred new owners each month. Jaguar deserted the segment a few years ago, and Volvo relinquished it more recently. So here is the $64,000 question to GM… does the Buick Verano stand a chance?
Well, for one thing, the folks at Buick shot down the Skylark nameplate as one of their small offerings and put most of their eggs in this one basket – the new Verano – which is hatched from the same egg (pardon the pun) as the Chevrolet Cruze and the Opel Astra with the Delta II architecture. But whereas previous baby Buicks often had too much family resemblance to their GM siblings, this time not only do the Buick and the Chevrolet have unique body panels, but even the greenhouse is different. It is without a doubt a good looking vehicle, and although it feels like Buick still seems to be searching for a cohesive design language that extends beyond the “waterfall grille”, this new model looks nothing like a Cruze.
With its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the Verano was easy to drive and maneuver around small parking lots. This car is by no means a performance car, so if you’re looking for more zip from the Verano, Buick will offer an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 250hp powerplant for 2013, likely to be available at dealerships in late 2012.
When we look in the interior, we find rich-feeling leather with gorgeous contrast stitching, well-padded door panels. The faux-wood trim added a luxurious touch, as did the brushed metal accents and chrome-rimmed gauges on the instrument cluster. The front bucket seats are deeply pocketed and the steering wheel feels good. Buick’s IntelliLink 7″ touch-screen is a joy to play with and handle, it is sharp and brilliant and it has separate audio knobs and buttons. The backseat is a different story – kids or under 6′ tall people are OK… Taller people might be a little cramped in the second row, so keep that in mind if you’ll be driving with tall people in the back seat.
In the safety department, the Verano has it all, from the ten standard airbags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock braking with brake assist, to their signature OnStar Automatic Crash Response.
The Verano comes equipped with many goodies with just their base model at around $23,495 including dual-zone automatic climate control, steering-wheel controls, Bluetooth, a USB input, and the Buick Intellilink touch-screen interface, which includes voice controls as well as Pandora and Stitcher apps. A Convenience Group adds heated side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and rear parking assist, while a Leather Group adds to that heated seats, a driver power seat, Bose surround sound audio, push-button keyless start, and premium leather upholstery. A heated steering wheel and navigational system are among the few options, with a fully loaded Verano priced well under $30,000 – certainly not the price of a Cadillac.
We definitely feel this is one big step in the right direction with the new baby Buick!