Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Buick Verano Test Drive.
The Verano is an interesting new idea for Buick.
The idea is to offer the same "Buick qualities" in a smaller package.
Mainly to attract a younger audience as well.
It is based on the same architecture as the Chevrolet Cruze. But has a different engine and design.
It is actually a "trunk added" version of the German Opel Astra. Which has been on sale in Europe for a few years.
And in China as the Buick Excelle.
It doesn't look nearly as good and modern as the hatchback version. So this small Buick ends up looking more conservative than the larger Lacrosse. And even looks a bit old next to the much more modern Regal. (Itself an Opel Insignia)
The top picture is the US Verano and the bottom one is from the Opel Astra.
You can see they are pretty much exactly the same.
It is well finished, for the most part. On some GM pictures the wood trim looks pretty bad. But in real life it is very dark and looks quite nice.
The seats are comfortable. Except for the lower back. Where it feels like there is an extra cushion sticking out.
Which is really annoying since there is no control for the lumbar support. (Which in itself is weird...)
And there is no full power adjustment. The backrest is still manual.
Just like in the Cruze, the back seat isn't really roomy. Legroom is pretty limited.
Otherwise, it is comfortable.
Material used are usually very nice and solid. With lots of soft plastics.
I like the darker brush metallic trim used throughout the interior. A much better choice than all the cheap looking silver painted plastic most other cars use.
And better than the plastic chrome used in other Buicks.
Everything you touch feels nice and solid. And the Bose stereo from my test car sounded great.
Although the USB plug had some problems with my iPhone.
But, it's not perfect.
The cheap plastic trim where the key used to be is still there, and in my test car, it wasn't aligned properly.
It just looks a bit out of place...
And, the car doesn't even use a key.
The center armrest also felt pretty cheap while being adjusted.
Buick is advertizing how quiet the car is.
It is, but not much more than the Cruze. Or the Jetta. And I thought the air conditioning was just a bit noisier than usual.
There is plenty of power all the time from the 2.4 Liter engine.
Although the transmission can be a bit rough from 1st to 2nd, and 2nd to 3rd.
Weird considering the luxury mission of the car.
The steering is very light. Too much so. While the steering wheel as a very thick rim that would imply a sporty steering feel.
This thing is so thick it's almost ridiculous...
The Verano is a very nice driving car.
Very comfortable and solid on the road.
It is rated at 21 City and 32 HWY.
I got exactly 21 in the city, but managed 35 on the freeway.
But it is also very generic. The other 2 Buick sedans, Regal and Lacrosse, are more distinctive with much more personality.
And I would stop short of calling it luxurious.
It is missing a few basic things like a lombard support of fully electric seat adjustments. And has a few cheap bits here and there.
Other cars like GM's own Cruze, as well as the Jetta, drive as nice as the small Buick.
The Cruze also gets much better MPG ratings.
I actually think the Cruze and Jetta are its main competition. Unlike GM which mentions the Lexus IS 250 and Acura TSX in the press kit.
The Verano is a very nice car, but not really better than the Cruze.
My test car was a mid model with upgraded stereo and leather. But without a sunroof or navigation.
Priced at $27 345.
A loaded Cruze with everything is about $1000 less.
While a loaded Jetta SEL is about $25 500.
I am not sure the Verano could attract that many new (younger) buyers into Buick showrooms.
(Friends who saw and actually liked the car mostly changed their minds when they found out it was a Buick. And the "but it's actually an Opel" bit takes forever to explain....)
So far, I see it better suited to current Buick customers who want something smaller.
Posted by Vince Burlapp at Wednesday, May 09, 2012