Buick says its new 2012 Verano is the brand's first compact that will bring premium features and luxury characteristics, and after a day spent driving this model, it's hard to argue against that.
The Verano is likely to continue the recent sedan successes that Buick has enjoyed with LaCrosse and Regal. It's got good looks, is exceptionally quiet and performs nicely enough to add a little driving excitement but not so much that it's over the top.
The Beat recently got to check out the Verano in New York City, and took it up the coast into Connecticut on a pleasant autumn day.
On the inside, the Verano's dashboard is logically and neatly arranged. There's a color touchscreen, and an optional SD card-based satellite-navigation system with upgraded audio.
The sound quality of the standard audio system is pretty good, and enhanced by the overall quietness of the car. The standard connectivity and infotainment features offer the best in technology, with Bluetooth for phone and audio being standard, as well as an aux jack plus iPod via USB, SiriusXM (free for 3 months) and the latest of OnStar (free for 6 months). Buick IntelliLink gives specific smartphone integration on the steering wheel and voice control of streaming audio from the phone through services such as Pandora and Stitcher.
The Verano defies easy classification, even though it is billed by Buick as a compact. It has 109 cubic feet of combined trunk and passenger space, pushing the limits of the EPA's "Compact" classification.
So in many ways, the Verano feels more like a midsize sedan. That's very true up front where there's plenty of knee room thanks to the design of the center stack and dashboard. The headroom is good too.
But move to the back seat and you feel much more like you are in a compact, with little leg room.
Trunk space is large, ranging between 14 and 15.2 cubic feet depending on whether or not you get the premium audio upgrade and/or tire inflator kit. The trunk has an open format without awkward niches or humps, and it has a relatively low (29-inch) lift-over height.
There are tons of sound-reducing measures like triple-sealed doors, laminated windshield and front side glass, a five-layer acoustic headliner, fabric-wrapped A-pillars, computer/robot applied goo throughout the body cavity and more.
On the road, the Verano is well-tuned and nice to drive.
The Verano offers a smooth, compliant ride. Not a bit of harshness here.
The Verano's naturally aspirated, direct-injected 2.4-liter 180-horsepower four-cylinder gives straight-ahead power. The engine matches the needs of the car wonderfully.
But EPA fuel economy estimates of 22 mpg city, 31 highway are a bit disappointing.
Conveniences such as push-button parking brake, dual-zone climate control and keyless ignition are standard.
The Verano carries a base price of around $23,470.