NEWBERG, Ore. – We were rather surprised when Buick announced that our drive route for its new entry level sedan would be 200 miles. That sort of test drive meant that Verano developers were confident in the road worthiness of their newest offering.
First, the 2012 Buick Verano is a compact sedan that is aimed at filling what Buick calls the void between luxury and premium brands. It was powered by a direct fuel injection 2.4-liter four cylinder engine that made 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. The engine was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
This is the power plant for any of the Verano’s three trim lines: the Verano starts at $23,470, the Convienience starts at $24,670 and the Leather starts at $26,850. Fully loaded, a Verano will top out at almost $30K.
Four character traits used to develop the Verano were: sculpted design, luxurious interior, responsive performance and quietness. The Verano uses the contemporary design cues that first appeared on the Buick Enclave crossover. It had a waterfall grille, an arching roofline, portholes and blue translucent rings around the headlights.
Of course, it had OnStar turn-by-turn navigation, or the Verano could be equipped with its own navigation system. Bluetooth, heated side view mirrors, heated seats and remote start were among its other creature comforts.
The Verano had ambient lighting, metallic accents that accentuated the wood trim, and knitted headliner fabric that also covered the A pillars; the little stuff that was proof that developers thought about what they were doing.
The back of the front seats were concaved, providing more room for the knees of back seat passengers. Also, the rear doors were relatively wide, easing access into the rear seats, and even the rear seat armrest was wide enough for passengers to use while it housed cups in its cupholders.
With every new vehicle that it introduces, Buick gets back to its heritage of quiet, sophisticated motoring. Laminated glass on the front side windows, five layers of acoustic insulation in the headliner, dual density carpet on the floor, specially tuned air intake and exhaust systems were among the things that Buick engineers used to make the Verano, they said, the quietest car in the segment.
The style, the quality, the quietness notwithstanding, where the Buick Verano really stood out was on the road. There is an abundance of spalled (coarse concrete) used on the state highways here and it makes for a lot of road noise when driving.
With what Buick called quiet tuning, the Verano ran smooth and almost silent. Its 180 horsepower engine went almost unheard even under hard acceleration. The six speed automatic transmission down shifted from sixth to fourth and passed a truck on the highway. And the Verano handled with rifle shot accuracy.
On the tight turns and switch backs, there was no dipping, no sway. On one stretch of long straight undulating road, the Verano came out of the swells just like it went in – level. The suspension was firm without being harsh.
In a phrase, the Verano was fun to drive, two words – fun and drive – that are not normally associated with a Buick.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.