2012 Buick Verano

Base FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4 auto trans

2012 buick verano Reviews and News

2012 Buick Verano Front Left Side View
"Big as a Buick" is a phrase that rolls easily off the tongue, and for good reason. For decades, one of this stalwart brand's consistent deliverables was sheetmetal and lots of it. That started becoming a problem, however, round about the days of the first gas crisis. Buick, like other GM divisions, rushed out a series of smaller entries, most of them called Skylark -- although a Skyhawk also snuck in there. And most of them were forgettably, or regrettably, restyled versions of cheap Chevrolets.
Those baby Buicks never were very good at distilling the brand's strengths into a smaller package; their only selling point was their smaller package.

A different baby Buick

For its latest attempt at a smaller offering, Buick shot down the Skylark nameplate -- wisely, in my opinion -- and went with something new. The Verano is hatched from the same egg (GM's Delta II architecture) as the Chevrolet Cruze and the Opel Astra. But whereas previous baby Buicks often had too much family resemblance to their GM siblings, this time not only do the Buick and the Chevrolet have unique body panels, but even the greenhouse is different. One might stop short of calling the Verano handsome -- Buick still seems to be searching for a cohesive design language that extends beyond the "waterfall grille" -- but the Verano looks nothing like a Cruze.
That's also true of the interior. The top-spec version features rich-feeling leather and contrast stitching, well-padded door panels, and plenty of wood and dark-metal trim. The front bucket seats are deeply pocketed and the steering wheel feels good. Buick's IntelliLink touch-screen interface is on hand, and it works pretty well. There's a 7-inch touch-screen (standard on all models) but also separate audio knobs and buttons. Speaking of buttons, the center stack has too many and they're too similar -- a situation that's common to most General Motors cars. And while we're picking nits, some of the interior fits were not very good.
Although the cabin is upscale, it is not large. The steeply raked windshield makes for a somewhat closed-in feeling up front, but the real issue is in the rear, where back seat space is tight. A six-foot adult can fit back there, but only just; headroom and legroom are at a premium. The Lexus HS250h is much better in this regard; so too is the only slightly bigger Acura TSX.

Bigger engine, bigger thirst

The Verano's 2.4-liter engine is larger than either of the two available powerplants in the Chevy Cruze. It delivers 180 hp and 171 pound-feet of torque, fed to the front wheels through a well-programmed six-speed automatic. That's a lot more spunk than you get in either of the Cruze engines, both of which are 138-hp. The Verano accelerates smartly, and the normally aspirated four makes for throttle response that's nicely linear.
All of that befits a compact that is more upscale than a workaday Cruze. The problem, though, is that the larger engine takes a toll in fuel economy. The Verano's 21/32 mpg doesn't befit a compact car; in fact, it would be only middling for a mid-size.
Buick's own mid-size Regal gets 25/36 mpg, with the eAssist powertrain, as does the even larger LaCrosse. The Verano does beat the Regal with the base engine and an automatic (19/31 mpg), but not by much. And several mid-size sedans do better than the Verano, most notably the Toyota Camry (25/35 mpg) and the Hyundai Sonata (24/35 mpg). The Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, and Nissan Altima also all beat the Verano figures.

Smaller car, smaller price

Without great gas mileage as a calling card, a smaller Buick has to be a less-expensive Buick, and it is. Prices start at $23,470, which is more than $4000 under a Regal. My test car was the highest of the three trim levels, and included the aforementioned leather, heated seats and steering wheel, passive keyless entry, and rear park assist (but no camera). Add navigation and a sunroof, and you're still under $30k.

A Verano or...?

At the end of our data panel, we're supposed to identify some competitor cars. With the Verano, that was a bit of a head-scratcher. There are the two little Lexus models, the CT200h and the HS250h, but they're hybrids -- so they get significantly better fuel economy but they also cost a lot more. The Audi A3 is a premium compact but it's also a hatchback and it, too, is more expensive. The closest competitor may be the new Acura ILX; it's not out yet but will be soon.
The premium compact category is in its infancy in the U.S. car market. Credit Buick for getting there early. That doesn't mean, however, that its entry will be an easy sell. Buick's baby may be a bargain, but in America, it's hard to make a case for a small car unless it gets significantly better fuel economy than a bigger one.

2012 Buick Verano 1SL

Base price (with destination): $26,850
Price as tested: $27,345
Standard Equipment:
180-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering
Air-conditioning w/dual-zone automatic climate control
Power windows
Power door locks w/remote and passive entry
Keyless ignition
8 airbags
OnStar w/6 months directions & connections, automatic crash response, and turn-by-turn navigation
Leather upholstery
Heated seats
Heated steering wheel
6-way power driver's seat
Bose premium AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system w/9 speakers and USB input
IntiellilLink with 7-inch touch-screen
Steering-wheel-mounted audio controls
Tilt & telescoping steering column
Auto-dimming inside mirror
60/40 split-folding rear seats
Cruise control
Ultrasonic rear parking assist
18-inch wheels
Fog lamps
Options on this vehicle:
White Diamond Tricoat paint - $495
Key options not on vehicle:
Power sunroof - $900
Navigation - $795
Premium 18-inch wheels - $450
Fuel economy:
21 / 32 / 25 mpg
2.4L DOHC I-4
Horsepower: 180 hp @ 6700 rpm
Torque: 171 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm
6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 3300 lb
18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
235/45 R18 Continental ContiProContact tires
Acura ILX
Audi A3
Lexus CT200h
Lexus HS250h
2012 Buick Verano Front Left View
You might think that Buicks are always big, but history tells us that this isn't necessarily so. Way back in 1975, Buick introduced a version of the Chevy Monza called the Skyhawk. It was some twenty inches shorter than any other Buick model at the time and was powered by General Motors' newly resurrected V-6 (the tooling for which had been sold to American Motors in the late '60s). The two-door Skyhawk does not look pretty through our 2012 lens, but then again, not much from 1975 does. The quad-headlamp, rear-wheel-drive hatchback was a quick and easy way for Buick, whose sales plummeted after the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, to sell a more fuel-efficient car. Americans, by and large, would hear nothing of such a cobbled-together contrivance, and Skyhawk sales were but a blip. The nameplate was discontinued after 1980 but was brought back on a front-wheel-drive J-car in 1982. That car sold well, but we'd venture that no Skyhawk will ever grace the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
Fast-forward to the 2011 Detroit auto show, where Buick unveiled the Verano -- which is derived from GM's global Delta platform that also underpins the Chevrolet Cruze compact -- and said that it was ready to compete in the compact luxury-sedan segment against cars such as the Lexus IS250 and the Audi A3. Neither one of those is a particularly big seller, so the comparison does little to dissuade one from thinking that the Verano is chasing after a very narrow slice of the luxury-sedan pie. Nor does it help define who, exactly, Buick's intended Verano audience is. No matter; it didn't cost GM much to create the Verano, because the underlying engineering for the Delta platform had already been done by Opel in Germany for the Astra. All Buick had to do to create a compact sedan to complement its mid-size Regal and its full-size LaCrosse was to run the Cruze through the Buick styling studio and subject it to a full round of Buick's so-called Quiet Tuning ministrations. Presto! The Verano.
The newest Buick joined us for our test-drive program in October to select our 2012 Automobile of the Year and the ten All-Stars featured in this issue. The Verano didn't win a trophy, but it did win the respect of nearly all of the editors and contributors who were on hand, no easy task considering that they were hopping in and out of more than two dozen of the best new cars on the market.
"This seems like an awful lot of car for the money," remarked contributor Preston Lerner. "Lamentably, it's not the kind of car that enthusiasts will want, but that's not Buick's problem. The interior is tasteful, the seats are among the best I've experienced this week, and the brakes have remarkable feel." Columnist Jamie Kitman chimed in: "It is well screwed together, quiet, and peppy enough (just), and it corners respectably, with a good, solid ride and well-controlled body motions. I hate to admit it, but I kind of like it."
Indeed, the Verano drives crisply and predictably, and even if the direct-injected engine drones a bit as the revs rise, it delivers strong, linear acceleration to 100 mph and, Buick says, propels the Verano from 0 to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds. Torque steer isn't a problem, and the steering itself is quick but lacks progressivity. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that's in the Regal GS will soon trickle down to the Verano and be available with a six-speed manual. That will make two front-wheel-drive, stick-shift, turbo Buick sedans. These are clearly not intended for your grandmother.
About that interior: It's good-looking, if perhaps too austere in the black-on-black guise of our test car; fortunately, warmer, richer two-tone combinations are available, and the plastics themselves are pretty decent. "The dash is a little boring," said senior editor Joe Lorio, "and the multitude of flat, black buttons lend a GM corporate look, but functionality is good." Not so good is the button you push to start the car, which looks just like all the other buttons. Forward visibility is admirable, aided by the cutouts in the steeply raked A-pillars. The cabin is indeed quiet, thanks to an abundance of sound-absorbing materials throughout the car, thicker glass than what's in the Cruze, and triple-sealed doors.
The Verano's exterior, Lerner noted, "looks kind of squashed to me." When one of us remarked to design editor Robert Cumberford that the headlights are about ten percent too big, he retorted, "More like 23 percent. And the grille is too big, especially considering it doesn't really funnel any air." The thick chrome strip surrounding the side glass is nice, though, and at least there aren't any dumb retro trios of portholes on the front fenders. That's because they're on top of the hood. Oh, Buick, really?
Despite our quibbles about the Verano's aesthetics, it's clearly no Skyhawk, praise be. Now that the Lucerne is dead, Buick has four vehicles in its lineup (including the Enclave crossover), and you could -- and we would -- easily recommend any one of them to friends and family. Buicks don't have to be big, but they do have to be good.
The Specs
PRICE: $23,470/$26,850 (base/as tested)
ENGINE: 2.4L I-4, 180 hp, 171 lb-ft
DRIVE: Front-wheel
EPA MILEAGE: 21/31 mpg (est.)
2012 Buick Verano
2012 Buick Verano
The need for better fuel economy is pressuring every carmaker, including luxury brands. Thus, it's not too surprising that Buick is introducing its smallest model since the late, unlamented Skylark departed years ago. The Verano, which is available only as a four-door sedan, slots in below the Regal in Buick's lineup. Much has been made of the fact that the Verano is a sibling to the Chevy Cruze, but in fairness, GM has done a lot more to differentiate these siblings than it has with past models. Exterior styling changes go much further than the nose and taillights, extending to the sheetmetal and the glass area. Inside, the Verano gets exclusive dashboard and door panel designs, higher-grade materials, and wood trim. Leather is available, as are a heated steering wheel, a touch-screen navigation system, and keyless ignition. Although the Buick is 2.9 inches longer than the Cruze overall, it rides on the same 105.7-inch wheelbase, and the two cars have similar interior room and trunk space. Buick talks much about the Verano's extensive sound deadening, but the biggest differentiation is under the hood. The Verano's 2.4-liter engine is significantly larger than the Cruze's 1.4-liter and 1.8-liter units, and the Buick's 180 hp is substantially more than the 138 hp cranked out by both Chevy engines. The flip side is that the Buick's 22/31 mpg ratings (preliminary estimates) are significantly lower than the Cruze's. Also unlike the Cruze, the Verano offers an automatic transmission only. A manual may be added when the turbocharged four-cylinder arrives later in 2012.
GM Homeless Coats Veronika Scott
We all have that crafty relative--the one that can turn a cardboard box into a home furnishing, or old pieces of metal into jewelry or art. General Motors is following in that crafty aunt's footsteps by turning excess pieces of sound insulation and turning them into coats for the homeless.
2012 Buick Verano Front Three Quarter
General Motors enjoyed a 15.5-percent year-over-year sales gain in June, with a total of 248,750 vehicles sold last month. That's GM's strongest monthly sales result since September 2008, thanks in part to the fact that all of the company's brands reported double-digit sales gains. The automaker says its sales boom was due in part to the increased availability of credit; GM offered low interest rates and strong incentive deals on many of its models in June.
Spring Hill 3 Millionth Engine
General Motors is celebrating a milestone at its Spring Hill powertrain plant; the former Saturn plant recently produced the 3-millionth Ecotec engine. Two-and-a-half years ago, Spring Hill produced the 2-millionth Ecotec engine. As an increasing number of consumers choose four-cylinder engines over larger engine choices, GM says a $55 million plant investment has helped it meet demand for vehicles powered by the Ecotec four-cylinder engine family.
2012 Buick Verano 1SL Front Left View
I love that the compact car segment is filled with new cars that are only small when judged against the mid-size car segment. In case you didn't notice, the Verano, like the Cruze it's based on, is not really compact. In the same way, the Honda Accord, which is the size of my house, isn't really mid-size.

2012 Buick Verano 1SL

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2012 Buick Verano
2012 Buick Verano
Base FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
21 MPG City | 32 MPG Hwy
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Base FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
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Base FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
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2012 Buick Verano Specifications

Quick Glance:
2.4L I4Engine
Fuel economy City:
21 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
32 MPG
180 hp @ 6700rpm
171 ft lb of torque @ 4900rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats (optional)
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer Rear (optional)
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation
5,000 miles / 48 months
100,000 miles / 60 months
100,000 miles / 72 months
100,000 miles / 60 months
Recall Date
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2012 Chevrolet Camaro, Cruze and Sonic, and model year 2012 Buick Verano vehicles. The driver side frontal air bag has a shorting bar which may intermittently contact the air bag terminals.
If the bar and terminals are contacting each other at the time of a crash necessitating deployment of the driver's frontal air bag, that air bag will not deploy, increasing the driver's risk of injury.
GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the steering wheel air bag coil, free of charge. The safety recall began on February 13, 2013. Owners may contact General Motors at 1-800-521-7300.
Potential Units Affected
General Motors LLC

Recall Date
General Motors is recalling certain model year 2012 Buick Verano, Chevrolet Cruze, and Chevrolet Sonic vehicles. The driver side frontal air bag has a shorting bar which may intermittently contact the air bag terminals.
If the bar and terminals are contacting each other at the time of a crash necessitating deployment of the driver's frontal airbag, that airbag will not deploy, increasing the driver's risk of injury.
General Motors will notify owners, and dealers will replace the steering wheel airbag coil, free of charge. The safety recall began on January 11, 2013. Owners may contact General Motors at 1-800-521-7300.
Potential Units Affected
General Motors LLC

Recall Date
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2012 Buick Verano vehicles manufactured December 2, 2011 to July, 16, 2012, Chevrolet Cruze vehicles manufactured December 7, 2011 to July 25, 2012, Chevrolet Sonic vehicles manufactured December 5, 2011 to August 2, 2012, and Chevrolet Camaro vehicles manufactured December 1, 2011 to June 11, 2012. The driver side frontal air bag has a shorting bar which may intermittently contact the air bag terminals.
If the bar and terminals are contacting each other at the time of a crash necessitating deployment of the driver's frontal air bag, that air bag will not deploy, increasing the driver's risk of injury.
GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the steering wheel air bag coil, free of charge. The recall began on July 25, 2014. Chevrolet owners may contact GM at 1-800-222-1020. Buick owners may contact GM at 1-800-521-7300. Note: This is an expansion of recalls 12V-522 and 13V-023.
Potential Units Affected
General Motors LLC

NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Best Pick
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength

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5-Year Total Cost to Own For The 2012 Buick Verano

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Five Year Cost of Ownership: $28,954 What's This?
Value Rating: Average