My First Drive
2012 Buick Verano
June 25, 2012
Titus L. (CrunkedRL)
Every now and then a car comes along that is truly a game changer. This car sets the standard for every other vehicle in it’s competing class whether it be through driving dynamics, luxury appointments, technological wizardry or dynamic design. I think this car has finally arrived in the form of the 2012 Buick Verano. I was a little hesitant about test driving this vehicle initially as I’m still trying to overcome the stodgy old Buick stigma from years of yore. I believe beauty can be found in many unique places and when I saw the Verano for the first time in person I thought to myself that the styling was a little conservative or as I like to call it understated elegance. Buick paid really close attention to the finer details of design without being too pretentious. Having driven my 1998 Saturn SL2 for the past 12yrs. I can honestly say that I’m not really into gimmicky flamboyant car designs. I would much rather prefer vehicles of whom designs will age well.
As I scoped out the exterior of the Verano I was immediately drawn in by the premium 18” Manoogian wheels . The wheels look far better in person and in my humble opinion are worth the extra coin over the base alloys. The premium wheels have a grey graphite-like finish which should help in camouflaging brake dust really well. As I made my way into the driver’s seat I found the interior to be nothing short of opulent. Every material from the dash to the door inserts and trim pieces looked and felt very high quality. The screen on the center console was large and very well positioned and the redundant buttons on the center stack looked to be deliberately laid out. To my delight the large clumsy parking brake that one would find in the center console near the cupholders has all but been replaced by a small 1’x1’ electronic parking brake button. This was a very neat unique feature and a welcomed change from the norm. The seats would have to be the most comfortable seats I’ve sat in, in any GM product since my former bosses 1991 Pontiac Bonneville SSE. The driver’s seat hugged my 5’6” frame very well and was really plush----which would be great for over the road driving. Rear seat leg and hip room were adequate for a car this size and even the 6’ plus dealer who road with me on the test drive was able to shoe horn himself in the backseat. I normally do not like for dealers to ride along on a test drive but I wanted to prove a point about the rear seat room compared to other cars in this class.
As I engaged the brake pedal and depressed the push button start I was greeted with the low refined hum of the 2.4l 180hp engine. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about how much better I think the 2.4 engine sounds in the Verano over the Regal. The Regal seems to trumpet a little too loudly that it is powered by a four cylinder engine whereas the Verano seems to have a quiet confidence about itself when it comes to the 2.4l powerpoint. This could be due to the sound deadening materials and/or variations in exhaust notes being emitted by the Verano over the Regal. Over the road the car was unusually quiet so much so that it almost felt as if I was back in the sound chamber at the Honda plant that I toured in Marysville, OH some months back. I had a full panoramic view of everything in front of me while driving the Verano and even the small, often controversial, front corner windows helped to aid in overcoming blind spots. The Verano was able to get up to speed rather quickly and I think most would be really satisfied with the performance of the base 2.4l over the forthcoming 2.0T engine. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about my SL2 is the fact that I can toss it around and maneuver it rather quickly especially in trying to avoid road obstacles. The Verano outpaced my Saturn in every notable driving dynamic. From maneuvering, cornering, speed, agility, and steering wheel feedback the Verano clearly displayed it's european roots. The Verano handled quite well and the steering wheel albeit electronically controlled was very reminiscent of the hydraulic aided steering systems of the past. It provided me just the right amount of feedback without over compensating.
The base model Verano was very well equipped and currently Buick Is offering really great lease rates at $239 a month for 24 months. Of course I’m holding out for the turbocharged Verano set to bow next year.
The Verano overall is a very solid vehicle and in my opinion is at the top of the class in every major category but it does have it’s short comings most notably in the area of storage space. While sitting in the driver’s seat I noticed that storage space throughout the cabin was at a premium. Overhead there was a voided space between to the map lights and sunroof controls. I thought this was a small overhead compartment for sunglasses but to my chagrin the space was just an empty void with a plastic covering. There was a small cubby at the bottom of the center stack, a storage compartment under the armrest and one near the left side of the steering wheel but none of them really yielded a lot of space. I like sunglasses and have collected many over the years but I would be hard pressed to find a space for them in the Verano. The trunk space was I think marginally biggerr than my SL2’s but I probably wouldn’t use this car for hauling a lot of large bulky items anyway.
So I conclude my 'mini' review of the Verano by saying it is a game changer and for some probably a sleeper. For years I have been looking for premium small car to replace my SL2 and I think I’ve found it. I’ve test driven and looked at a few other compacts over the past year including the Ford Focus and most recently the Acura ILX. But to me there is just no comparison to the overall quality, performance, and luxury refinement found in the Verano. I may still be a couple years shy of making this purchase but I don’t know of any other car both present and forthcoming that would sway me from buying a Verano.
Many props to GM for executing such a well thoughtout emmaculately appointed product.
Thanks Dan Tobin Buick for a great potential car buying experience
Elegant, upscale, opulent, interior
Best in class base model equipment package
Eloquently quiet well controlled ride
Seated comfort; some of the best around
Great lease rates available
Storage space is at a premium throughout