Buick Verano Meets Its Competition

2012 Buick Verano, front

Buick’s new Verano is a stylish compact sedan striving for a niche in what some call the “lower-end luxury brand” segment. Buick hasn’t made a small car like this in 20 years, and from what we read, it should pull in its share of American buyers who want something smaller than but just as nice as the Regal.

Last year, Buick grew 52 percent, the most of any volume brand in the U.S. The company has gotten good at finding and exploiting niche markets for its products, as it did with the beast-like Enclave.

MSRPs of cars like the Lexus IS 250, the Audi A3 and the Acura TSX start a good deal higher than the Verano’s $23,470. The top trim is $29,490—$1,000 less than the Acura TSX and nearly $5,000 less than the IS 250.

Price is only one factor, of course. Built on the Chevrolet Cruze platform, the car is supposed to be super-quiet, as the engineers paid attention to everything from tires to the acoustic-laminated windshield.

2012 Buick Verano, rearThe Verano is not a hyped Cruze, however. It seems to be more of a downsized Regal, but with ancestry clearly owing much to the Opel/Vauxhall Astra sedan. The base engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder producing 180 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is predicted to be 23/31 mpg.

This engine reportedly gives 8-second 0-60 mph times. A zippier 2.0-liter with manual or automatic may be offered later.

However well the Verano handles and performs, it’s never going to compete with the small Audis and BMWs. Rather, Buick has built it for all those Joes and Janes who want something quiet, small and luxurious without having to pay through the nose for it. How many Lexus-lovers can they convert?

One of the best signs that GM is back on its feet is that its marketing group seems to be waking up, like Rip Van Winkle after a long sleep.

Is the new Verano, in your opinion, the right car for Buick at the right time?

—jgoods

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