2013 Buick Verano Turbo

2013 Buick Verano Turbo Review

We sample Buick's turbocharged compact sedan.

By: Tim Healey

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: October 15th, 2012

Buick has been trying hard to win over younger buyers, as well as steal buyers from the competition, and the Verano compact has been a cornerstone of that effort.

Adding an optional turbocharged engine to the car gives the Verano a little more sporting cred, as does adding an available manual on turbo-engined cars. Buick needs that in order to overcome its image as a brand for AARP cardholders, and also to give buyers a reason to step up from the Cruze.

Our mission was simple: take to some of Kentucky's most challenging roads and find out if the Verano Turbo offers the sporting flavor that might steal buyers away from the Acura ILX, which is the car's main competition.

For a more lighthearted take, check out our video review of the 2013 Buick Verano Turbo, featuring Sarah.

  • On the Road

    Stomp on the gas, and the 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo gets the car moving quickly, although there's more turbo lag than we'd like. Our time in the manual was limited to some urban driving in Lou-a-vull (that's Louisville to the rest of the world) and we found it to be a tad punchier than the automatic, but not dramatically so--the slushbox is fine for most duty.

    A couple more notes on the manual: clutch takeup is light and the shifter's throws are a tad long.

    Handling is a weird proposition in the Verano Turbo. On the one hand, it's easy to drive fast smoothly, but on the other, the car never feels engaging. The steering is lightly weighted and doesn't offer much feedback (a concession to Buick's customer base, perhaps?) and the car kind of glides from corner to corner without much fuss. Despite those handling flaws, the Verano is still easy to hustle, with little body roll. It has more stickiness than we'd expect in a compact front-driver with luxury intentions (although it's still no sports sedan) and its emergency responsiveness was satisfactory, as we found when a wandering Chihuahua without a healthy self-preservation instinct entered our path. The brakes also did their job nicely, as we found when yet another canine with more fur than brains decided that a close inspection of the Verano's grille was necessary. Don't worry, dog lovers, no mutts were harmed during our testing.

    The ride is smooth, as one might expect from a Buick, but it's not soft like the Buicks of yore. Overall, the Verano is a competent, smooth compact that has a dash of spice, but it just doesn't engage us that way it should. Some sporty suspension tweaks to the turbo would do the trick.

  • Exterior

    Veranos are distinguished from the Chevy Cruze by Buick's trademark hood portholes, Buick's "waterfall" grille, and a few other cues taken from other vehicles in the brand's portfolio, such as curves that remind the viewer of the larger LaCrosse sedan.

    Turbos get a badge proclaiming them as such, as well as a dual exhaust and a rear spoiler.

    Overall, the Verano is a handsome if unremarkable car.

  • Interior

    Other than the sport pedals, the Turbo's interior is virtually unchanged. Turbo models do get premium features that are optional on other Veranos, such as heated seats, a heated steering wheel, premium audio, and Buick's QuietTuning sound deadening.

    That sound deadening does the trick, keeping the car quiet, and the interior materials generally feel appropriate for the class. Headroom and legroom are good upfront, but just are slightly above average in the rear.

  • Fuel Economy & Safety

    In addition to the usual complement of airbags, the Verano has rear-side airbags and front-knee airbags. Blind-spot and rear-cross-traffic alert systems are available.

    Fuel economy is rated at 20 mpg city and 31 mpg highway for the manual Turbo, and 21/30 for the automatic.

  • Final Thoughts

    GM needs to do some more tuning if the company wants the Verano Turbo to seize the compact near-luxury sports sedan crown, but that doesn't mean the Verano is without positives. It's quiet, smooth, quick (ish) off the line, and comfortable.

    All that makes it attractive to the current Buick customer base (which is trending younger)--a base that no longer will settle for cushy rides like the LeSabres of yore, but still chooses quiet near luxury over screaming sportiness.

    The Verano Turbo is a good, if not particularly exciting, car. But it's an excellent Buick. Given the brand's ongoing makeover, that's precisely what GM was aiming for.

  • Specs, Features, Prices

    Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

    Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

    Drive Wheels: Front

    Base Price: $29,105

    Available Features: Rearview camera, blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic detection, leather seats, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, navigation, power sunroof, keyless entry and starting, satellite radio, infotainment system, OnStar.

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