and go on sale toward the end of this year as a 2012 model.
This is Buick's third new model in two years, and will join a lineup that already includes the Enclave, LaCrosse and Regal. Befitting Buick's image, the Verano—a mechanical cousin of the new Chevrolet Cruze, which means it's a notch smaller than the Regal—will be quiet and luxurious. To that end, the front-drive Verano will have laminated glass, triple door seals and premium leather upholstery, 10 standard airbags, an available heated steering wheel and the latest OnStar system that permits seamless communication between the Verano and the driver's smartphone.
The standard engine is GM's direct-injected 2.4-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder, which sends 177 bhp and 160 lb.-ft. of torque to the front wheels via a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. Buick says the Verano will hit 60 mph in 8.0 seconds, and get an estimated 31 mpg on the highway. Acceleration, but likely not the mileage, will get better when a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine becomes available at a later date.
Looks like a Buick, Drives Better
With its black chrome waterfall grille, portholes and chrome accents, the 2012 Verano has the looks of a proper Buick, but the blue-tinted projector lamps and profile make it sportier than expected. The same will likely hold true for the suspension, where Buick's traditional ride quality will be kept, although not at the cost of a floaty ride. Front MacPherson struts are complemented by torsion beam rear with a Watts link, a design that doesn't cut into trunk volume but keeps the rear axle better centered while cornering. What does this mean? The rear wheels now do a much better job of precisely following the fronts, for a much more controlled feel. With a 15.5:1 ratio, the electric-assist steering will have a sporty feel, and large disc brakes at all four corners will handle stopping chores, aided by ABS and StabiliTrak stability control.
Via OnStar's remote vehicle access, the Buick Verano driver can do some amazing things with a smartphone. These include keeping tabs on passive entry, the heated steering wheel, the touch-screen nav system and even the Bose sound system with its XM satellite radio. What's more, by downloading an OnStar App, the driver from remote locations can check fuel tank level, range, fuel mileage, remaining oil life, tire pressures and even the odometer reading. This is in addition to other remote-access features such as vehicle locking/unlocking, remote start and a vehicle locator.
Some people might naturally dismiss the new 2012 Buick Verano as nothing more than a luxurious Chevy Cruze with a bigger engine. While there's certainly some truth to that, Buick's history of recent successes (with the Enclave and Regal) make us not so quick to judge this car and eager to find out for ourselves just how good this small new Buick is.