Walkaround and Interior

By December 8, 2011

Walkaround

The Buick Verano is a great looking car, with especially great lines. Beautiful in black. It totally pulls off the wedge look, short-nosed but still sleek. It will be an impressive car to drive around. That's what Buicks have always been, and what they're supposed to be. What's especially impressive about Verano is that it's a compact car.

Hooray! at last General Motors is paying attention to wheels. The new aluminum wheels are graceful 10-spokes, either standard or upgrade.

The trademark portholes appear, never mind that they're not holes. They couldn't go on the side of the fender basically because it's too shapely, so now they're almost horizontal, showing better to tall people.

The headlights are nice, clean, not overdone on the angularity. Even the grille looks okay, unmistakably Buick, not scaled down much. Except never mind again that it too is faux. Just solid black plastic, grooved and coated to make shiny silver vertical slats, not a single peek through to the radiator. Air comes in through invisible black mesh (black or chocolate paint) under the bumper. Grilles are no longer grilles, they've turned into emblems.

The long chrome eyebrows extending way past the taillights, a creative use of chrome, gives the rear end a face, a character, with those mean eyes. The rear fascia is clean, and doesn't detract, though one tester found it bland. One small understated tailpipe. A dark color, like the elegant chocolate (Mocha Bronze Metallic), enhances the lines. In lighter shades, such as the pearlescent White Diamond Tricoat, it looks a bit dated from the rear.

Chrome trim around the window line. Behind the short C pillar there's a small rear quarter-window, more visible from the inside than the outside, on account of being blacked out. It has chrome door handles rather than clean body-colored, but that might be expecting too much. It's a Buick, make no apologies.

Interior Features

The seats offer the kind of bolstering that the cornering ability (we'll get to that) demands. There isn't anything old-man-like about them. The seats were designed from scratch for the Verano, after about 1000 hours of seat time by testers, from large men to small women. Even with all that input and compromise, we'll be darned, they came up with something that's way comfortable and supportive and sporty.

The leather in the Verano Leather model looks real classy in brown, although it's not the richest leather we've ever felt, but what do you want for a $26,000 car that gives you so much else, including a Bose sound system? In the lighter shades it didn't look rich but it didn't look bad.

The cloth seats that come standard are rugged, nothing old-lady-like about them. In fact the cloth is so rugged it's a bit coarse, and over long distances you might wish for leather.

The interior of the base cloth Verano is as nice as the Leather one, for the most part. Graceful grab handles come in a sweet satin bronze with the brown leather interior, so does trim on the doors and center stack; otherwise it's satin aluminum or wood. All the shapes inside are right, especially the center stack with its powerful arc like a big wave, toward the dashboard. The interior materials used for the dash, steering wheel, and some of the door trim is mediocre, average for the class, and looks like hard plastic in places.

The tachometer and speedometer are gorgeous, elegant in ice blue and easy to read. Digital info between them, easy to read but less easy to scroll through, on the left stalk with push-and-twist movements and access tricks like menus and stuff. The center stack has good buttons and dials, no problem to manipulate or understand. Nice armrests including center armrest that slides forward, but the door pockets might be bigger. The start button is just another button on the center stack but we had no trouble finding it.

Rear legroom is scarce; a tall guy behind a tall guy won't work. The specs say 33.9 inches of rear-seat legroom, which is 2.3 inches less than the Mazda3 but 2.3 inches more than the Lexus IS 250. The back seats are good only for occasional use.

The trunk is a decent 15.2 cubic feet in the lesser model with a space-saving spare, but only 14.0 cubic feet in the upper model with a full-size spare and the Bose sound system, two features we would want on our Verano.

We didn't get a chance to test IntelliLink, but we got off on the wrong foot with the navigation system. Biggest street in town, North Springbrook, the nav wouldn't show us. Not under “springbrook,” not under “north,” only under “n springbrook,” third try, back to scratch each time. It makes you learn its language, and if you're lucky you won't keep coming up against these things.

OnStar is standard, so you can always press the OnStar button if you get lost and a real operator will offer to provide directions. More important, if you crash and set your airbag off, the OnStar operator will ask whether you're okay and will direct the rescue squad to your location if you don't respond.