The 2012 Buick Verano makes a big splash onto the automotive landscape with little competition, going after a niche market of drivers in the US seeking a combination of luxury, features, value, and comfort. Rather than calling Verano a “compact” luxury sedan, we perceive it as a densely packed LaCrosse.
We were able to test just about every aspect of the loaded baby Buick during our one week stint with a nicely equipped Verano. Verano offers very little on the options list, something we’re not used to seeing in typical luxury vehicles.
This when our minds began rolling: Buick created a luxury vehicle for an entirely new segment of the U.S. market, and with equipment offered as options in most vehicles costing twice its price. Our First Drive of the Verano back in October didn’t make this overtly obvious, but with this additional week behind the wheel, we now see where Verano fits along the continuum.
Verano carries with it the current design language of Buick, leaning more toward Enclave and LaCrosse than Regal with its black chrome waterfall grille, monochromatic tri-shield logo of the brand, portholes near the upper portion of the hood, and chrome encapsulating the fog lamps.
Translucent blue rings encircle each projector beam headlamp, adding beauty day or night.
The 2012 Verano’s arching roofline connects to a steeply raked windshield, while the fast-sloping rear pillars provide both an elegant appearance as well as more headroom for rear passengers.
Buick’s designers added inlays of chrome to the door handles, creating a beautiful contrast against its luscious Crystal Red Tintcoat Metallic backdrop. Side windows appear to be an integral solitary pane of glass thanks to mirror finish piano black pillars along with a frame of chrome molding.
Verano’s rear shows off its aggressiveness, with brow lines on the taillights flowing from the rear quarter panels toward the center of the trunk lid. This creates a feisty, contemporary look, standing out proudly in an ocean of lookalike vehicles in a parking lot.
Rounding out the profile of the Verano are standard 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels in a “sterling silver” finish: no steel wheels and no misleading photographs. The 2012 Verano is packed with valuable standard equipment reserved for the options list with other luxury brands. What you see is what you get; Verano doesn’t play games.
Under the hood of the all-new Verano is a 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine producing 180 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. Its mated six-speed automatic was so smooth it could easily pass for a CVT. Engineers designed the engine to be E85 capable, which means the fuel is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline; this fuel has gained minimal popularity throughout Western New York, however.
Our test Verano felt capable and responsive in every situation all week long. From highway merging, to passing, to avoiding the insanities of honking taxis, the Verano maintained its composure and handled with aplomb.
Every 2012 Buick Verano comes with electric power steering, eliminating the conventional hydraulic engine-driven steering system, along with the associated pump and fluid. Steering heft was on the low side, making parking and low-speed driving a cinch, but we would’ve liked to have felt just a tad more weight at higher speeds.
The front suspension of the Verano utilizes a decoupled MacPherson strut suspension, which provides improved separation of extreme road conditions such as potholes from shocking chassis and passengers. The rear suspension setup is a Z-link design, helping Verano’s back end feel tight as it follows the direction in which the front end is pointed; however, we would still prefer a bit more firmness to the suspension.
Over a long highway drive, the Verano’s Driver Information Center reported an average of 32.3 miles per gallon; spot on with the EPA rating. For city driving, the EPA rates the Verano at 21 MPG whereas we obtained 23.8 MPG in almost entirely stop and go, air-conditioned, low-speed driving.
Comfortable, quiet, and ergonomic are words that came to us as we explored the interior of the 2012 Buick Verano. One of the critical components making Verano so luxurious and refined is the Quiet Tuning involved in the vehicle’s engineering.
Quiet Tuning is Buick’s term for a process that involves reducing or blocking sources of noise, cutting out vibrations from the engine and road, and providing a calming environment for the occupants of the vehicle. This is Buick’s best effort to date, with numerous measures taken, including nylon baffles placed in hollow portions of the body structure, sound-absorbing foam that expands when the body enters the paint oven, headliner composed of five layers of thermal fiber acoustic material, triple door seals, thicker windshield and side glass, liquid applied sound deadener throughout the body structure, and tuning of the intake and exhaust systems for quietest performance.
Verano features a very unique injection-molded air intake box divided into small chambers in order to reduce unwanted noise. We’ve never seen this on any car, demonstrating the extent to which the Verano team worked to achieve its goal.
From the moment we opened Verano’s doors, we sensed that everything from the seat design to the layout of the controls was perfectly positioned and placed. Quality and craftsmanship felt top notch, with premium soft-touch materials throughout. Gorgeous ice blue [Lacrosse-inspired] ambient lighting bathed the base of the shifter, cupholders, door handles, and center stack. Rich leathers, warm woods, and metallic accents made the cabin a warm, comfortable, and cozy nest.
Verano’s extraordinary interior takes comfort to the next level via superior seat support. Thick and plush bolsters and cushioning allow driver and passenger to feel perfectly positioned as if on a chiropractic cumulus cloud; side bolsters are so firm that they cradled our bodies through turns like astronauts during launch. If Verano were any more comfortable, we’d owe a co-pay for physical therapy.
The driver’s seat has six way power adjustments, while the passenger makes do with manual controls; but with eight, why complain? When one of our passengers discovered this deficiency, we were apologetic, but he responded, “Who cares? Totally unimportant to me; I love this car!” Buick smartly prioritized and wisely compromised, including more important conveniences such as dual-zone automatic climate control and an electronic parking brake as standard. TheCD loves the easy operation of these electronic parking brakes and how they release automatically when the car is put into gear.
Such sumptuous seats warrant optimal elbow resting locations, and Verano yet again, has it covered. We found the center sliding armrest to be especially comfortable during a long drive, although when slid forward, one of the cup holders is blocked. If you have one coffee mug this is a non- issue; but definitely quirky if your passenger does, too. But once again, the driver reigns, and that’s OK.
This raises the question of storage space, of which the Verano has plenty. Four well-designed door pockets hold at least one can or water bottle each, a good sized cubby sits aft of the shifter, and a two level glovebox [which opens perfectly damped] is great. The sliding armrest reveals a small storage space when folded up, where USB, AUX, and a 12-volt charging port are housed together serving as the electronics storage department.
Rear passengers have a 12-volt outlet available [folding out from the back of the center console], and are able to rest their elbows on a large and comfortable fold-down armrest which incorporates two cup holders.
Rear leg, hip, and head-room was perfect for a six-foot passenger sitting behind a 6 ft tall driver. The rear seat is well contoured and supportive, working well for two adults on a trip, and three for a quick drive.
Verano’s cargo room was a big surprise, offering 15.2 cubic feet of space [with tire inflation kit and standard audio system]. We had 1.2 cubic feet less, due to our tester’s premium sound system, but found the trunk to be pragmatically shaped - easily accommodating a large international travel suitcase, gym bag, garment bag, and numerous miscellaneous odd items.
Buick offers their latest media connectivity system, IntelliLink, as standard equipment on the Verano. There’s no barebones stock head unit, or “upgrade” per se, other than the additional software for navigation. IntelliLink utilizes an LED-backlit, high-resolution touch-screen integrating: applications such as Pandora, improved voice recognition system for audio selections, along with more apps and vehicle systems imbedded within. IntelliLink serves as the visual mode for OnStar’s Turn-by-Turn directions system, clearly displaying the next turn without the distracting visual noise of a full-fledged navi system.
Bluetooth, streaming audio, USB, and auxiliary input are standard; USB and auxiliary input jacks are located in a storage bin under the center armrest. This convenience allows charging cords and devices to be readily tucked away when exiting your Verano.
Visually and physically ergonomic steering-wheel mounted controls are standard, while the dual-zone auto climate control and heated steering wheel buttons are simple to understand and operate.
Topping it all off, Buick makes their remote starter system standard. Our tester had push-button ignition which elevates convenience even further, never fumbling with keys again to unlock doors and start the engine.
Verano comes packed with safety equipment. Buick loaded its Verano to the brim with airbags and computers, utilizing a blend of high and ultra-high strength steel keeping the cabin intact.
Standard are ten airbags, equal only to Chevrolet Cruze. In addition to the usual six, [dual front, side thorax, and side curtain], the Verano is equipped with dual knee and thorax airbags for the rear passengers. If safety is as important to you as it is us, then the Verano wins on this merit alone.
To help prevent the deployment of those inflation devices are four-wheel disc brakes modulated by stability control, traction control, ABS, and brake assist.
In reverse gear, Verano’s ultrasonic sensors offer an invaluable rear parking assist system. Verano will let you know if and when you get too close to a person or object behind you. Parallel parking takes on an entirely different attitude, saying good riddance to the old fashioned guesswork and occasional tapping of the vehicles in front of and behind you.
GM’s phenomenal OnStar system is standard as well. Offering safety, navigation, and peace of mind, the team at OnStar is only a button press away from providing world-class concierge, navigation, and immeasurable safety assistance.
With so many choices available on today’s automotive menu, the 2012 Verano stands out as a unique alternative with no true competition--just yet. Verano has a cabin quieter than that of any vehicle we’ve ever tested, performs great both around town and on long highway drives, and offers levels of technology and [most importantly], safety, that we expect from a vehicle in 2012.
Best of all, Verano is wrapped in a solid and handsome body feeling as comfortable and luxurious as its big brother, LaCrosse.
We love that the Verano is offered with very few options. This means that at $23,470, which includes destination, virtually everything is standard, without being optioned to death - hopefully the wave and direction of the future. Verano, in Spanish, means “summer”: something we all look forward to as a refreshing reward for weathering the storms of winter. This rings true for the Buick Verano, a sweet treat for which many of us have been waiting.