For anyone who keeps up with new car reviews, you may notice that GM has been on the up-swing, bringing relevant, value-packed, fun-to drive vehicles back to the American marketplace.
After a week and 700 miles, I can honestly say our time in the 2012 Buick Verano was like a great first date. Comfortable, enjoyable, and particularly memorable, I find ourselves repeatedly singing the praises of its invigorating character.
How does the Buick name manage to suddenly smash its geriatric stereotype and target its product at a younger demographic?
The magic behind the formula lies primarily within the chassis, which is shared with the European market Opel Astra.
Up front sits a pair of decoupled MacPherson struts, with side-loaded modules, tuned coil springs, a hollow stabilizer bar, and hydraulic ride bushings.
In the rear, the Verano utilizes a specifically adapted torsion beam setup, with a double-walled, U-shaped profile, and a tunable control arm (Z-link).
The Electric Power Steering (EPS) system possesses a quick ratio of 15.5:1, and requires barely more than two turns, lock-to-lock.
This particular setup translates to stunningly rapid transitional response, and a playful character which begs you to take freeway off-ramps at super-legal speeds.
The Ecotec provided adequate power in most situations, save for steep uphill grades and rapid highway passing maneuvers.
Enthusiasts should not fear, however, as Buick promises a 250 HP, turbocharged version with a six-speed manual transmission is coming later this year.
I did find the naturally-aspirated Ecotec’s Hydra-Matic 6T45 six-speed automatic transmission a willing and responsive companion.
Plant your right foot to the floor, and the Hydra-Matic responds with lightning-fast shifts, keeping the engine well within its power band.
Overall, the 2012 Buick Verano provided a thoroughly unexpected level of driving enjoyment. Satisfyingly, the typical Buick virtues of quietness, refinement, and value were evermore present in our $27,345 1SL tester.
Keeping a laser-beam focus on competing in a tough market segment, the entry-level-luxury Verano is on our short list for most recommended new vehicles of 2012.
Daniel Buxbaum has had a life-long passion for all things automotive. Dan’s passion for automotive journalism recently secured him a position as customer service director and contributing writer for Parts & People, a multi-region automotive trade publication. Dan also writes for Examiner.com, maintains his own blog (straightlineconcepts.wordpress.com), and is an active member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP).