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.


Anonymous said...

Vince for God's sake, get a dictionary or have someone proof your typos or pure mistakes. It is "lumbar" not "Lombard", and it is "thick" not "think" steering wheel. At least, when someone brings up your typos, how about correcting them?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This car would have been adequate in 2004. Just adequate. And I don't care how good fake wood looks. It's fake. And to me, that shows a lack of real commitment, and that Buick is still trying to fool customers. When there is such conspicuous cheapness, it's reasonable to assume that that cheapness extends to the brake pads, fuel pump, HVAC mechanisms, and all the stuff that can't be easily seen.

Anonymous said...

Vince, I am going to stop coming to this site unless you start drafting your reviews in Word, or another word processing program.

They are painful to read, and it takes away from any positive points they might have.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that the other models Buick currently has got more oversight in their development specifically for this brand than this car did.... It DOES appear that they didn't go for young entry-luxury buyers so much as pensioners with this. Its not a bad car, good for the retiree demographic. But with some of its unique problems, it wont be vying for any of Acura's or Lexus's market share.

Anonymous said...

BAH! They typos add character! Vince, don't change a thing!

FusioptimaSX said...

Great car for yesterday...not today. This is what Buick (or Saturn?) needed back in 2005, when the only Choices were the similar in size LaCrosse (Impala version), Century, and Park Avenue. All Mid to full size-Sedans. Verano would have brought new life during that time. Looks like they made a dire mistake with the Astra way back in 2008 by giving it to a Saturn that was eager to replace the ION with basically the same vehicle with a different configuation. The hatches would have been established under buick's wing and we wouldn't be stuck with just the Astra sedan at this point.

Tard said...

This car is so underwhelming it is disgusting. You'd have to be a Buick Morono to buy a Buick Verano.

In fact, this car is so boring the pics put me to sleep.
Sleep, aka slumber ..... aka sLOMBARD.

Carl said...

Buick's press kit is sure optimistic, cross shopping this with a IS250 or TSX? Yeah right...

Soul Brother No. 7 said...

Anonymous said...
Vince, I am going to stop coming to this site unless you start

...road testing cars that aren't GMs or Nissans. Care to mix in a Chrysler or Subaru or Audi or Jag or something?

Anyways, I think Buick is better served not wanting to be Lexus (which is more Audi/BMW/Benz/Caddy territory) and targeting premium cars like Volvo (Acura and Lincoln also fall into this tier) and the higher-end Hyundais. Attract folks who would buy an S60 or Genesis, with something safe, luxurious, and the nice price, but with more balls (say, a whole lot of T-Type turbos), they'd be on to something.

Come on... said...

This is one of the worst reviews I've ever read. Please, use some more paragraph breaks and add in some more typos.

This is completely unprofessional and flat out frustrating to read.

Anonymous said...

Lombard support!! I love it and am sure Clark Gable would approve! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I have two disagreements with your review. First, for image reasons, the Verano will most likely compete against the Acura ILS, not a 'low brow' Cruze or a Jetta with a super-cheap interior. The Verano is being positioned as a small luxury car. The other two as economy cars.

Second, like you said, the Verano is generic looking against other Buicks. Buick may be targeting younger buyers, but they won't bite. This car has no style, no pizzazz and it will be seen as an older-person's Buick, not one younger people will like to be seen in.

Anonymous said...

"The Verano is being positioned as a small luxury car. "

Agreed that that's the attempt. But there's nothing luxury about this. I also agree that this is not going to appeal to a younger audience. I have a feeling that the Verano will simply be bought by geriatrics who will be fine with the idea of a small Buick.

Anonymous said...

I find the speculation that this won't sell to be very interresting. In our area these things are everywhere. They've just barely come out and already they're more popular than cars that are much cheaper--like Camrys, Accords, Altimas and Corollas! GM must be doing SOMETHING right!