Buick Verano isn’t a One Trick Pony
Buick’s have notoriously been known for an old man’s car. But the new Buick Verano, along with the LaCrosse and other models, are making a serious attempt at changing the company’s brand image. As I got to test drive a Verano, I was mildly impressed, but the Verano is no luxury sedan and it tries too hard to be one.
When you think luxury sedan, you think Mercedes. You think BMW, Audi. You think, Buick? That’s right, Buick. The new Verano is Buick’s latest compact Sedan and it really does look and feel like a luxury car. Until you look closely and find its flaws. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had the impression that Buick owners were elderly men, driving to a retirement home or picking groceries with a frilly pompom flat cap.
But the 2013 Verano is changing that image, and rather shockingly. Firstly, the car’s exterior is definitely an upgrade from old Buicks. They look sporty and although they don’t quite have the class of a Mercedes or flair like a BMW, they are nice looking cars. On the inside, a fully loaded Buick really impresses. The seats are gorgeous beige leather and are fantastically comfortable. For a compact sedan, the driver and passenger seats feel incredibly spacious. The dashboard all fits together and looks luxurious and stylish, and the metallic trim is a subtle touch.
But with all American cars, the first glance is great, but as you seriously look closely, you find flaws. For instance, the Speedometer is nearly impossible to read, and I’m not visually impaired. Cluttered with random ticks and lines with a horribly small and hideous font, I found myself over the speed limit far too often without even noticing.
Also, the new Verano comes with its space age center console, which includes Buick’s IntelliLink system. But the console is cluttered with an assortment of buttons. It’s almost like looking at a box of chocolates; you aren’t sure which one to pick and not sure what any of them do. Even changing radio stations is a pain; the IntelliLink system is horribly unresponsive and I found it crashing frequently. Try changing stations from 88.1 to 99.9. Yeah, good luck, with that. If you haven’t crashed into anything from turning the knob for an hour due to IntelliLink’s lag, your hand will have been paralyzed from Carpel Tunnel.
In the fully loaded version, the keyless start is also available. But I spent at least 5 minutes looking for it. Where exactly was it? You guessed it, on the thousand button console, perfectly camouflaged with all the other senseless buttons.
But it does get better, for the Verano’s greatest feature is the ride. I was afraid the ride would feel harsh and shaky, but the Verano is surprisingly quiet and rides beautifully smooth. If you weren’t paying attention, you would mistake it for an Audi A4. And it’s pretty quick. When you put your foot down, it’s exciting to drive and has a conservative luxury sedan growl. Although the engine isn’t quite as responsive, the Verano is a pleasure to drive and I thoroughly enjoy driving it. All my friends who have ridden in it have enjoyed the smoothness it has offered. It truly feels like a luxury sedan.
The compact version also allows the Verano to be quite practical. Although the gas economy is quite average; Buick claims it will do a combined 25 MPG, I found myself doing a combined 23 MPG. For city driving and parking, the Verano is much smaller than full sedans, which makes parking an absolute breeze. Throw in the rear view camera, blind spot sensors (which are a fantastic touch), and a very decently sized trunk and you have yourself an easy to drive car. But the compact size comes at a cost. The rear passengers will surely feel a squeeze as leg room is significantly decreased if you’re any taller than 5 feet.
Although the car seats five, you will definitely only want to have kids sitting in the back as the leg room is nearly nonexistent. But my biggest problem with the Verano is that it tries too hard to be a luxury car. It doesn’t really feel like it has its own image. When you sit in a BMW, you know it’s a BMW. When you’re in a Mercedes, it feels like German class from the 1950’s. But the Buick just feels like it’s missing something, that certain je ne sais quoi. It doesn’t have its own flavor, it just tastes like vanilla. You don’t like but you don’t hate it. However, most won’t care about the feel of a car. What matters is the Verano’s outstanding price—fully loaded at just over $32,000 (and you’re going to want the Leather Package, at a minimum) or the standard model at just $22,000, the Verano beats the competition for its great price.
This then, is a good car. Its stellar price, great ride, and luxurious interior, make the Verano a pleasure to drive. I could do without the horrible IntelliLink system and remote control console, and sure, the fuel economy is lack luster, but for its flaws, the Verano has been a pleasant surprise. Gone are the days of Buick’s retirees, this is a car for the 30 year old IT consultant and the family man and I encourage anyone to test drive it.
Note：Chu Yi Qian, English to Chinese translation.
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