Buick Verano Turbo Breezes Quiet as Summer Wind

By Sue Mead, December 8th, 2012

Verano, Buick's two-year-old compact sedan, gets a boost for 2013 -- literally. The entire model line has been freshened up with some added safety and technology features, but the real news is the addition of a turbocharged powertrain, aptly named Verano Turbo. The turbo treatment under the hood punctuates its performance.

Verano means "summer" in Spanish, but Buick gave this name to its new luxury sedan hoping that it would connote an image conveying "upscale and forward-sounding" and, thereby, lure new buyers, especially professional women and Hispanics.

On the outside, the 2013 Verano Turbo has a sports-car-meets-rational-driver look: a steeply raked roofline and short rear end give a nod to one's inner speed demon, while four doors and an ample trunk speak to the reality of workaday driving. The nose, which appears to push forward as though through a headwind, is capped by large, projector-style headlamps and dotted with round fog lamps on the lower part of the grille.

Chrome accents include a black chrome "waterfall" grille design and dual chrome-tipped exhaust pipes. Standard wheels are 18-inch aluminum, with 18-inch alloys available; a rear spoiler is standard.

Inside, Buick's $29,990 turbocharged compact sedan has upgraded features, such as sport-styled pedals, leather seats, heated front seats and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. Wood trim warms up the inviting cabin, while metallic accents look modern and fresh. The cabin also has been specially tuned for acoustics to reduce noise -- Buick says that Verano is the quietest compact sedan on the road today.

The voice-activated IntelliLink audio system, which includes a 9-speaker Bose stereo and touchscreen-controlled infotainment with Pandora Internet radio, is accessed via the center-mounted, full-color screen atop the center stack. A navigation system is available.

The turbocharged Verano is motivated by an Ecotec 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 250 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and gets 260 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm; accessing that much torque at the low end of the tachometer makes quick lane changes and other maneuvers easier on both city roads and highways. This engine was voted one of Ward's 10 Best Engines and the compact's 0-to-60 speed is an impressive 6.2 seconds. Available with both manual and automatic transmissions, Buick says that Verano Turbo is rated at 20/31 mpg city/highway with the six-speed manual transmission; the six-speed automatic includes driver shift control.

We drove the new model on a wonderful collection of country roads near Louisville, Ky. and on highways and ring roads in the city environs. We had recently driven Verano Turbo's lesser-priced and more mainstream cousin, the 2013 Chevy Malibu Turbo, so it was a great opportunity to evaluate this luxury marquee?s uplevel trim and premium materials, and experience the distinguishing driving dynamics.

Outside, we loved the look of Buick's sparkly cues and badging, as well as the sporty dual chrome-tipped exhaust and rear spoiler. Inside, we were impressed by the quality of the standard leather trim in this upscale cabin beset with soft-touch materials and a number of standard premium amenities, as well as advanced safety features. Notable are the 4-way adjustable front headrests; the large, flocked glovebox; the ice-blue ambient LED cabin lighting that lends a quiet and cultured air to the cockpit.

Buick's brand values are described as "beautiful, quiet and comfortable" and each stands out with this new model. Its drive is practically whisper-quiet, with gentle-but-only-slightly-noticeable exhaust tuning, with a refined ride quality as a result of its chassis and steering tuning. Impressive is the 14.3 cu.ft. of cargo room.

Verano Turbo's suspension set-up is engineered with front MacPherson struts and a Watts Z-link rear suspension system, which Buick says is lighter and smaller than traditional components. Rack-and-pinion steering is backed by four-wheel, anti-lock disc brakes.

Ten airbags and OnStar emergency response are standard safety equipment, and Buick has added a rearview camera as standard equipment to the entire Verano lineup for 2013. New is a Front Center Side airbag to provide additional safety protection to front occupants in a crash. Other safety features include Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert?and Rear park assist is available as an option. Verano was awarded a 2012 Top safety Pick from the IIHS.

Specifications

Base price as tested: $29,990
Curb weight 3,300 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Epa mileage rating mpg city, mpg highway
Fuel capacity 15.6 gal.
Horsepower (net) 250 at 5300 rpm
Motor type 16-valve turbo 4-cyl. w/DI
Overall length 183.9 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 260 at 2000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD compact sedan
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