Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Buick Verano Turbo test drive review. The youthful Buick. BUICK WEEK

When some people hear the name “Buick,” they think of retirees and grandparents.  And while it is hard to argue that point, I am not one of those people.

You see, my first car was a Buick—a 1974 Century 350 Colonnade coupe.  And while that car will never be considered a big-time muscle car or highly sought-after collectable, it sat pretty high on the pedestal to me.  As far as I was concerned, when I got that car in 1987, it was in the same category as a new Regal Grand National, or a ’70 GNX, or a ’65 Riviera Grand Sport. 

So when I was given the opportunity to spend a week with a 2013 Verano Turbo, that chrome tri-shield badge on the steering wheel brought me right back to my youth.  I used to tell people my Century was like a Chevy Malibu, only nicer.  I was describing the Verano as a Chevy Cruze, only nicer.  I even went back to my high school for the first time in decades to have my picture taken in front of the building.

Truth be told, no one who gets behind the wheel of a new Verano Turbo is going to mistake it for a geezermobile.  And it’s not trying to be.  That turbo was hooked up to a little bitty 2.0-liter Ecotech four-banger, which managed to huff out an incredible 250-hp and 260 lb/ft of torque.  Pair that screamin’ little power plant to a six-speed manual transmission (in a Buick … can you believe it?!), and you’ve got yourself a genuinely fun little commuter.

There was a bunch of cool stuff packed into this car.  It was like driving a computer, complete with Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system and navigation, to a back-up camera, to a hill-holder just like an old Studebaker.  Virtually everything in this car was controlled by a button, from the starter button to the parking brake.  About the only thing you couldn’t do with a button was steer it, but there were a bunch of buttons on the steering wheel itself.

So how do you like your music?  AM/FM radio?  Check.  CD player?  Check.  XM Satellite Radio?  Check.  PANDORA Internet Radio?  Check.  Stitcher SmartRadio?  Check.  Music directly off of your phone or MP3 player?  Check and check.  Whatever you preference, it all spills out of some lovely-sounding Bose speakers.

For a small, four-cylinder car like this, fuel mileage was fair.  The EPA estimate is 20-mpg city, 31-mpg highway, 24-mpg combined, and that’s pretty close to what I realized.  That probably even seems worse than it is, because it only has a 15.6 gallon fuel tank, making the range between fill-ups somewhat limited.  But to this car’s credit, it’ll run zero-to-60 in 6.2-seconds.  If you want a little car to be this fun to drive, it just isn’t going to get 40-mpg.

My Verano test car weighed-in at $32,010.  That included a $900 sunroof and $325 Crystal Red paint job.  That’s not small change for a compact car.  But this is no ordinary compact car.  I liked the Verano Turbo so much more after I drove it it’s hard to put into words.  The whole experience was just a really nice surprise.

And the fact that it reminded me of my younger days was an added bonus.

Check out the slideshow below for pictures of my 2013 Verano Turbo test car.  Or click on this link for a nicer version of the slideshow.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you liked it...cause it's actually a SAAB with buick written on it! [SAAB did the engineering on architecture and suspension for this 'family' as well as the new Malibu and kin ]
    So, when describing my 9-3 , do I tell folks its like a buick only nicer?!? ;)