Forget the celebrity pitchman — the Verano Turbo has mad road skills


ITALIAN-AMERICAN | Fast without being a sport sedan, fuel-efficient without being meek, the Verano Turbo is Buick’s most fun ride in a long while.

CASEY WILLIAMS  | Auto Reviewer


Buick. 250 horsepower, 2 liter Inline 4. 20/31-MPG city/hwy. As-tested price: $30,795.

Just because Shaq and Peyton Manning are getting to know Buick, doesn’t mean anybody else wants to. I mean, do we really think

Shaq and Manning are really going out to their big circle drives and hopping behind the wheels of $30,000 entry-luxury American sedans? I’m saying, “No.”

But drivers looking for authentic luxury should get to know the Buick Verano Turbo, the sportiest Buick this side of a Grand National.

Approach it and you may think you’ve been with it. If the point was to give the smallest Buick the cachet of the larger ones, it worked. From the front, Buick’s waterfall grille, blue light rings, and chrome ventiports on the hood connect it to more expensive siblings. Side swooshes come from the Regal, but the rear chrome eyebrows over the taillamps are unique to Verano. I like the cool little front side windows, but the rear upturn took a few more minutes to adore (not sure I do yet). A subtle rear spoiler, chrome exhaust tip, and 18-in. alloys give the Turbo attitude.

Plop inside and it becomes clear Buick is not about to become the next Volkswagen. It’s comfortably American. Authenticity comes in the details like the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, thick heated leather seats and French stitching on the dash. Ice blue-lit gauges and controls convey contemporary Buick style, as do woodgrain and aluminum finishes on the dash and doors. The available “Choccachino” theme, with contrasting cocoa brown leather, lighter beige trim, and aqua stitching in the seats is delicious. Everything gives the sense it was knitted on Project Runway.

Technology entices all persuasions. Bose audio sounds crisp and clear; Bluetooth connects phones and music. Dual-zone automatic climate control and a tilt/telescoping steering column spoil. Buick’s IntelliLink system enables voice recognition for calling and access to Pandora Internet Radio, Stitcher SmartRadio, SiriusXM and MP3 players through the USB port.

Take a closer look at the interior and you’ll find a surprise under the driver’s dashboard: A third pedal for clutching the six-speed manual transmission. It’s all connected to a 250 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the awesome-cool Buick Regal GS. You have to rev it hard to get power out of it, and the rev limiter is a tough master, but with practice, you can get a real thrill. Greenies will enjoy the 20/31-MPG fuel economy ratings.

Verano is fast, but it’s not really a sport sedan. The suspension is tuned for comfort over carving twisties, but it coasts over rough pavement unflustered. Shifter action is a little clunky and I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to put the reverse release right where your fingers want to flick the stick. It’s cumbersome, but works well once you become acclimated.

Not everybody wants a stiff ride and most aren’t looking for a German sport sedan. It comes up against the Volkswagen Jetta GLI, Acura ILS, Chrysler 200 and the new Mercedes CLA. Buick carved a place by not pretending to be anything other than what it is — a stylish American sedan, sized and tuned for the times. Whether that will be enough has yet to be determined, but Buick definitely put its best wheels forward. Get to know the Verano Turbo. All in, expect to pay $30,795.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 6, 2013.