Behind the Wheel Buick Verano has spirit
The 2013 Buick Verano Turbo is a stealth car. It looks pretty and rides comfortably. But stomp on the accelerator and this newest Verano sedan takes off.
A full 250 horses come out of the turbocharged four cylinder under the hood, which is a whopping 70 horsepower more than the Verano with its regular engine, a naturally aspirated four cylinder.
Peak torque from the turbo is a healthy 260 foot-pounds and comes on at a low 2,000 rpm compared with 171 foot-pounds of torque at 4,900 rpm in a Verano with non-turbo four cylinder.
And, Buick offers a six-speed manual transmission as a no-cost option with the turbo. A six-speed automatic also is available and is expected to be the most popular transmission.
The new-for-2013 Turbo version of Verano isn’t just a Buick sport statement. After all, Buick already has a Regal GS sedan with the same 2-liter, Ecotec, turbocharged four cylinder that the Verano gets this year.
Rather, the turbo is a welcome alternative to compact sedan buyers who want more zip in their driving than the Verano’s base, 180-horsepower engine can provide.
Just be aware that the Verano Turbo has the lowest government mileage ratings and the highest starting retail price of all Veranos.
Specifically, the federal government fuel economy ratings for the Verano Turbo are 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 31 mpg on the highway. The test car, with manual transmission and the vast majority of driving done in city traffic conditions, averaged just 20.6 mpg. This is akin to the government fuel economy rating of 20 mpg in city driving for a 2013 Ford Explorer with six-cylinder engine and two-wheel drive.
Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, for a front-wheel drive, 2013 Verano Turbo is $30,000. This is with the manual or automatic transmission. In comparison, the starting retail price for a base, 2013 Verano with base engine and automatic transmission is $23,975.
But the base Verano doesn’t include all the standard features, such as leather-trimmed seats, premium Bose sound system with nine speakers, push-button start, power adjustable driver’s seat, heated steering wheel and side, blind-spot monitor, that are found on the Verano Turbo.
Competitors in the premium compact sedan segment include the 2013 Acura ILX, which has a starting MSRP, including destination charge of $26,795 with 150-horsepower four cylinder and $30,095 with 201-horsepower four cylinder and six-speed manual. The government estimates the 201-horsepower, front-wheel drive ILX gets 22/31 mpg. Premium unleaded gasoline is recommended but not required for both the ILX and Verano Turbo.
Another competitor -- the rear-wheel drive 2013 Lexus IS 250 -- starts at $35,960 with 204-horsepower V-6 and six-speed automatic.
The Verano debuted in 2011 as Buick’s smallest car, positioned in size and price below the Buick Lacrosse and Regal sedans.
Company officials said
the Verano is attracting
non-Buick buyers. It’s easy to see why.
The 15.3-foot-long, four-door car is well proportioned and upscale looking. Parked next to an Infiniti GS37 that had a similar white exterior paint, the test Buick looked ritzier than the higher-priced GS.
Some observers quibbled over the way the shiny silver-colored Verano grille was shaped -- they likened it to an insect’s proboscis -- but that was the extent of exterior styling criticisms.
And there were no complaints about the test car’s pleasing ride. Road bumps were well managed while the car’s front MacPherson strut and rear Z-link suspension kept the car closely connected to the pavement without being overly firm or harsh.
This made for easy driving around town on roads that were showing cracks and potholes from winter’s weather.
Best of all, the strong "oomph" supplied at low rpm by the turbo engine came on smoothly, and the test Verano never exhibited torque steer, or the unnerving pulling of the front drive wheels to one side or the other during hard accelerations.
To be sure, the car could reach the rev limits quickly. The tester revved loudly in first gear as it got to 20 miles per hour, for example. And it took quick shifts through a notchy gear shifter to get the 0-to-60-mph performance that car enthusiasts have clocked to be just 6.2 seconds. Note this time is faster than that for the V-6-powered IS 250 from Lexus.
The test Verano Turbo stopped well, too, though the brake pedal had a somewhat spongy feel. The clutch pedal also was a bit light for the driver’s tastes.
Because the Verano Turbo is a version of the Verano with Premium equipment group, it includes all safety features standard. This includes electronic stability control, antilock brakes and Brake Assist as well as rear camera and rear backup assist that alerts a driver to cross traffic as the car is backing up.
An additional standard feature on the turbo sedan is side blind spot monitoring that illuminates an amber light in the outside side mirrors if a vehicle is alongside the Buick. This alerts the driver that it is not safe to change lanes.
The 2013 Verano earned top, five-out-of-five stars for passenger protection in frontal and side crash tests.
Unfortunately, though, Consumer Reports lists
predicted reliability of
the Verano as worse than average.
As in many compact sedans, three adults in the back seat sit close to each other. Legroom of 34.7 inches back there can feel cramped, but it’s more than the 30.6 inches in the back seat of a 2013 Lexus IS.
Too bad rear doors don’t open a bit wider.
Trunk space of 14 cubic feet is accommodating, thanks to a wide trunk opening and fold-down rear seatbacks.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.