2012 Buick Verano
Starting MSRP $22,585–$25,965
The all-new 2012 Buick Verano is as new and youthful as it gets for this brand trying to shake off the image of an automaker that caters to grandparents. The Verano's driving mannerisms are neither squishy nor floaty, and I never once left the blinker on too long during my test drive.
The 2012 Verano isn't a land yacht laden with a velour-tufted front bench seat; it's a compact sedan that's a posh everyday car bent on making the driver comfortable, which is something it excels at.
With its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the Verano was easy to drive and maneuver around small parking lots. Take note, it's not a performance car. If you're looking for more zip from the Verano, Buick will offer a Verano Turbo for 2013. Available at dealerships in late 2012, it'll have a 250-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
Because of its compact size — it's based on the Chevrolet Cruze — it's also not the best family hauler, and it's not the sportiest. But it is an affordable luxury car that's quite pretty and quiet as a mouse.
The 2012 Verano base trim has a starting price of $23,470 (including an $885 destination charge). My top-trim test car, which had leather seating, rang up at $26,850.
The Verano has a sporty look, but it doesn't completely abandon its Buick heritage. The sedan has eye-catching chrome accents and a waterfall grille that's found across the Buick lineup.
As you may expect, it's easy for kids to get in and out of the Verano. The doors pulls are lightweight, and the step-in height is a piece of cake for kids. However, the sloped rear doors will surely cause parents to hit their heads when getting smaller kids in and out of child-safety seats. This isn't atypical for sedans but is worth mentioning if you're looking for a vehicle that'll be easy on your head and back.
The five-seater's trunk is surprisingly large for a compact sedan. It can easily handle a week's worth of groceries, though a trip to a membership warehouse might require you to fold the 60/40-split rear seats. A single stroller will easily fit into the trunk, but a double stroller might be too big.
The 2012 Verano has a 180-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection that's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. It gets an EPA-estimated 21/32 mpg city/highway and uses regular gas. It also uses E85 ethanol, but its fuel-economy numbers drop to 15/23 mpg.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some-Good Times
Once inside the Verano, I was a happy camper. It has so many features that it was fun to just sit and play with them. And play I did.
In the front seat, there are two cupholders and a deep bin behind the gearshift that easily held a water bottle. I liked the Cashmere-colored leather seats with the dark brown floor and bottom of the dash. The top of the dash matched the seat color. The faux-wood trim added a luxurious touch, as did the brushed metal accents and chrome-rimmed gauges on the instrument cluster. With its heated driver and front passenger seats, heated steering wheel, power driver's seat, sunroof and remote start, I felt pampered in this car.
Not everything was perfect in the interior. The center stack seems to be composed of nothing but buttons, and there are more buttons on the touch-screen for the IntelliLink multimedia system. Thankfully, they're all clearly labeled.
In the backseat, the kids were comfortable. There are two cupholders in the fold-down armrest and two seatback pockets. The bench was bolstered but not so much so that there were serious child-safety-seat fit issues. Taller people might be a little cramped in the second row, so keep that in mind if you're driving around tall teens.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
The 2012 Buick Verano has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To receive this safety nod, a car must get the highest score of Good in front, side, rear and roof-strength crash tests. The federal government hasn't crash-tested the Verano.
This sedan fits kids in forward-facing car seats pretty well, but rear-facing seats require some compromised legroom for front-row occupants. The two sets of lower Latch anchors are easy to locate, but they're tightly wedged between the seat cushions. Patience will be required with installation — that's for sure. Find out how the 2012 Verano performed in Cars.com's Car Seat Check.
The Verano has standard front-wheel drive, all-disc antilock brakes, an electronic stability system with traction control, 10 airbags, including side-impact airbags for the second row and side curtains for all rows. Rear parking sensors are standard on all trims but the base level. The Verano comes with a free six-month subscription to OnStar.
Get more safety information about the 2012 Buick Verano here.
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