MotoReview: Buick Verano Turbo Premium
Gone are the days of gas guzzling, big behemoth Buick boats with 8-cylinder engines and beautiful bodies decked in endless blinding chrome. Enter a new age, with the new Regal/GS, LaCrosse, and with the addition of the Verano, there’s a pretty solid lineup of cars for Buick. And the Turbo Premium adds a somewhat affordable alternative to the sport line for other luxury brands like Audi’s A4/S4.
Most don’t know it, but Buick is the oldest active domestic car manufacturer in the U.S. today. The company was founded in 1899 by David Dunbar Buick under the name Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company and was later incorporated as the Buick Motor Company by William C. Durant, the creator of General Motors. Buick was General Motors’ first car company so one can only assume there would be no GM without Buick.
Since the early years, Buick has been on the higher end of the GM spectrum, second only to Cadillac, and that still hasn’t changed much.
Fast forward 7-decades or so after the first Buicks hit the streets and the compact executive car was born with the BMW 3-Series. Since then, there have been a number of manufacturers to follow suit. Mercedes built the 190, later called the C-Class. Then Audi released the 80, later the A4. Lexus jumped on board in the late 1990s with the IS and recently the Cadillac ATS made its way into the compact executive segment. Some have even called the Premium Verano a compact executive. Could they be right?
Expectations were really nonexistent before the Verano Turbo arrived, but when it finally pulled into the driveway, it had a deep shine from the Luxo Blue paint and it looked charming gleaming in the sun. This particular car was a brand new Verano Turbo Premium with less than 400-miles on the clock.
The base price is under $24,000. The price as tested for the Verano Turbo Premium? $31,695 which included optional navigation and sunroof, as well as standard goodies like; rear vision camera, blind spot alert, heated seats & steering wheel, 6-months of OnStar, keyless/remote start, leather interior, IntelliLink computer system, 18-inch wheels, fog lamps and much more. After selecting the Turbo in premium trim and pricing out every single option available, you’d still be under $34,000. Try doing that in a Lexus or Audi.
Studying the car reveals that everything is a little different, tweaked, foreign… And that makes sense when you realize the details.
The Verano is built on the GM Delta II platform (developed in Germany) which it shares with the Opel Astra, Chevy Cruze/Volt, and Buick Excelle GT (for the Chinese market), and while its closest North American counterpart is the Chevy Cruze, they do not compare.
For starters, the Verano Turbo gets the same 2.0L Ecotec engine as the Buick Regal GS which produces an impressive and surprising 250-hp, 260 ft-lb torque propelling the car from 0-60mph in just over 6-seconds. And thanks to a pretty unique suspension, the Verano handles turns like a sports car, yet the ride is comfortable and you don’t have to clench every time you hit a bump any larger than a crack.
The car is available in all trims with an automatic transmission, but you’ll have to select the Turbo for a manual. The 6-speed automatic was so responsive and quick to shift, you might be happy with the convenience. Still, I want that manual.
On the inside you get a choice of ebony, cashmere, or choccachino with the leather trimmed interiors. You also get all the bells and whistles you want like that IntelliLink system with standard backup camera and available navigation. Although you’ll most likely have to open the manual the first time using the interface, once you figure it out it’s simple. A few bonuses are the locator for the cheapest nearby gas and the Side Blind Zone Alert which is quite literally a life saver.
Keyless push-button start, an electronic e-brake, and well thought-out touchpoints make the driver feel a bit special, although some more premium material choices and construction in other areas of the interior like the dashboard, armrest, and around the base of the seats would feel more luxurious. And no electric seats for the passenger was a bit of a let down.
Thanks to an interesting construction though, the car gets tons of natural light inside even without the sunroof. There are technically 5-window pillars per side of the car which allows for 2-extra small windows on each side (see second to last image above).
In terms of design, it’s definitely a handsome car but it is a bit too much in areas. For instance, the nonfunctional triple-vent details on the hoods (design cue from older Buicks) and the huge chrome strips above the taillights distract from the otherwise simple exterior design. Same goes for the interior, a few too many details, but it’s still a classy design.
No matter how you’re driving, speeding on the highway or idling at a traffic light, you can barely hear a thing. The car is comfortable, quiet, and smooth. So much in fact that it’s very easy to catch yourself going 85+ without even knowing it. One thing you’ll never worry about; trying to build up speed merging on the highway. There’s plenty of torque to merge safely.
On the back twisty roads is where the Verano really differs from Buicks of the past. It has surprisingly tight steering and excels when cornering. It will go anywhere you put it with ease thanks to electronic power steering and Continental ContiPro tires. You’re not used to a Buick this refined.
At times, you might be reminded of other sectors of the market. With the turbo-charged four banger and build quality, you can sometimes feel like you’re in an Asian car. While driving you can sometimes mistake it for something European. But best of all? American comfort. Once you find a good seating position, you can drive for hours without becoming uncomfortable. The seats hold you in just enough without becoming too constrictive.
And it’s very spacious inside for a compact car. If you have a small family, it’s the perfect size. My family (wife, 2-year old, and dog) ditched the minivan for the weekend and took the Verano instead. Not once were we crammed, even with a car seat and our weekend belongings. The trunk will easily hold a stroller or any luggage you might have.
The Verano is at home pretty much anywhere you take it. It’s what you want it to be when you need it. This is for those who want a good, fun, decent looking car at an affordable price but also, those who could care less about showing off the brand badges to others. In a nutshell, the Verano Turbo is for those who want to get from point-A to point-B fast, comfortably, and enjoyably.
After a pleasant and fun weekend with it (kind of miss it), I would have no trouble recommending the Buick Verano Turbo to anyone in the market.
You can see more photos here.