2012 Buick Verano Road Test Review
The 2012 Buick Verano continues Buick's revival as a viable luxury brand
Scores High: Quiet and comfortable ride, luxurious interior, strong value, excellent safety ratings
Scores Low: Base engine is neither powerful nor fuel efficient, rear seat accommodates only two comfortably
Total Car Score Analysis
The 2012 Buick Verano earns a mid-pack Total Car Score, as the all-new vehicle effectively carves its own niche within the entry-luxury sedan segment.
We applaud the five-passenger Verano for its upscale interior, smooth ride, impressive safety equipment and many standard accessories. The cabin is quite comfortable for dual front passengers, but those sitting in the rear will tell a different story — it is barely adequate for two and uncomfortably cramped with a third person sharing the bench seat.
Buick doesn't tout its newest four-door as a sport sedan, but we would still prefer a bit more handling prowess, better brake feel and more power under the hood. As configured today, the standard four-cylinder engine is forced to work unnecessarily hard at the expense of fuel economy. A turbocharged model, with upwards of 250 horsepower, is rumored to arrive later this year.
The Buick Verano is all-new for 2012.
To keep pricing low and fuel economy high, Buick fits all Verano models with a naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. The standard gearbox is a six-speed automatic which sends all of its power to the front wheels. With a curb weight of about 3,300 pounds, acceleration is leisurely — the sedan will hit 60 mph in just under 9 seconds.
While acceleration is only middling, the Verano's ride is rather exemplary for this segment. An independent MacPherson strut front suspension is complemented by a torsion beam rear (augmented by a Watts Z-link) to smooth things out for passengers. With standard 18-inch cast aluminum alloy wheels, wearing 235/45R18 all-season tires, handling is secure but not really sporty. There are disc brakes at all corners which effortlessly bring the Buick to a quick and confident stop.
Buick went to great lengths to ensure the Verano’s cabin is library-quiet. As such, the list of sound-deadening techniques reads like an acoustic engineer's birthday list — nylon and foam baffles strategically located inside hollow parts of the chassis, isolated fuel lines, isolated brake lines, two damping mats on the firewall, underbody sound deadener, trunk sound deadener, triple-seal doors, 4.85-mm acoustic-laminated side glass and 5.4-mm acoustic laminated windshield. On the road it all works, effectively keeping the buzz of the four-cylinder engine and most road noise out of the cabin.
According to the EPA, the 2012 Buick Verano will earn 21 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. It is also E85 compatible, but fuel economy drops to 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.
Interior Design and Function
The Verano is an entry-level compact luxury sedan, but Buick has labored to ensure a sense of value and style.
From the driver's seat, the Verano is surprisingly plush (especially with our model's upgraded Leather Group). The driver enjoys a partially-powered seat (the lower cushion is electrically-operated while the backrest is manual), which offers solid bolstering and effective lower back support. The primary analog instrumentation, with white on black characters, is easily visible through the unexpectedly-thick three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel. And, with a short reach to the right, the navigation and HVAC controls are clear and intuitive.
The fit and finish are all well above segment standards, but the sea of small buttons in the center cluster can be confusing at first — there are just too many of them. We also felt the start/stop button, located just below the navigation touchscreen on the flat dashboard, was out of place (we prefer it near the steering column).
Passengers in the Verano’s rear seats will find a bit more to complain about. While they certainly won't lack amenities on the 60/40 split bench, they will face limited legroom — especially if anyone taller than a six-footer has taken up residence in the front seats. Thankfully, sitting back there is tight but not claustrophobic. Headroom is sufficient and small windows in the D-pillar provide an open, airy atmosphere.
The standard six-speaker entertainment system includes Buick's 'IntelliLink' operating system accessed through a 7-inch touchscreen, but our Leather Group model had the premium 9-speaker Bose audio package. It takes a bit of familiarization to understand the menu and countless features, but its audio qualities are superb.
Primary Features and Options
Standard equipment includes cloth upholstery, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering wheel-mounted controls, remote vehicle start, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, OnStar and Buick’s IntelliLink system.
Major equipment groups include the Convenience Group with a six-way power-operated driver's seat, heated outside mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rear parking sensors ($1,200) and the Leather Group with all equipment from the Convenience Group, leather upholstery, Bose premium audio, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, passive entry and push-button start ($3,380).
Stand alone options include special paints (up to $495), an engine block heater ($100), Bose audio ($595), floor mats ($140) and various dealer-installed accessories.
It’s Perfect For…
The 2012 Buick Verano is an excellent car for folks with specific needs.
Those with a tough daily commute will appreciate its luxurious and quiet cabin, combined with a very smooth ride. The sedan is small enough to be nimble, it is easy to park and it achieves excellent safety ratings. Plus its full suite of amenities, including the latest infotainment options, add value and improve in-car connectivity.
Consumers seeking a sport sedan need not apply, as this model is slightly underpowered and its handling is soft at the limit of adhesion — though few target owners, if any, will ever take it that far.
It is best to consider the Buick Verano for what it actually is — a small and capable entry-level luxury car. Measured solely against that ruler, it deserves a standing ovation.
Vehicle Tested: 2012 Buick Verano
Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $23,470
Options on Test Vehicle: Mocha Bronze Metallic Exterior Paint (included), Cachmere leather (included), 18-inch alloy wheels (included), Leather Group ($3,380), Power sunroof ($900), Audio system with navigation ($795) and Destination ($885).
MSRP of Test Vehicle (including destination charge): $29,430
2012 Audi A3
2012 Acura TSX
2012 Lexus IS
2012 Volvo S60
The manufacturer provided Total Car Score this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Photos Courtesy of the manufacturer.