Summertime coffee on the Veranda in the European countryside
Lou Ann Hammond, Mon, 21 Nov 2011 12:11:38 PST
The Verano is an all new car for Buick. Buick is going upscale with a younger buyer than ever before. Now they are going after the compact luxury segment against traditional entries such as the Audi A3, Acura TSX sedan, Infiniti G25 and the Lexus IS 250.
Roger McCormack, Marketing Director for Buick and GMC brands, named off the new product line-up that has changed the face of Buick. The Enclave was introduced in 2007, a LaCrosse and then the Regal. Shortly thereafter the Regal GS came into the line-up. Sales have climbed because of the new product being presented. Forty percent of the Buick buyers are conquest buyers from import owners, Asian import luxury brands such as Lexus and Acura.
I asked McCormack where the name Verano came from. McCormack said that Verano means Summer in Spanish. Yes, but what made Buick decide to call a car Verano. First Buick had to narrow the name pool down to five. Then they held test groups to make sure the name fit the brand. After they found five names that fit the Buick brand they asked the respondents what they thought of the name Verano.
Think of it yourself. Without knowing what the name would be used for, what do you think of when you hear the name Verano? I thought of Veranda. People in the group said "beautiful countryside", "European country, or landscape". A couple of people associated it with coffee. Well no wonder I like the name. I love the idea of drinking a cup of coffee on a Veranda in the summertime, overlooking a European countryside.
The Buick Verano uses the 2.4 liter ecotec engine with direct injection and six-speed automatic powertrain. The engine was one of ten engines in Ward's top ten motors of the year for 2010. The 2.4-liter delivers 180 hp at 6,700 rpm with 171 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,900 rpm enabling 0-60 mph performance at 8.6 seconds.
The customers looking for more ummph will wait for the 2.0-liter turbo engine that will be offered in the future.
Fuel economy is a deciding factor in many households. EPA says the Verano gets 21 city/ 31 highway miles per gallon. The E-assist is not on the Verano yet. Expect it. That would bump these numbers up about twenty-five percent.
Ven Lai is a creative designer for Buick globally. Lai is young and hip, a twenty-something from Florida. Her style is refreshing. Not just because she's young, knowledgable and assertive, but because she is the new General Motors. Lai was instrumental in picking the interior colors for the Verano. I have an interest in color right now because I'm having the exterior and interior of my house repainted.
Lai and I talked about the multiplicity of brown color and trim picks in the Verano. I'd gotten so used to the heavy hand of shiny chrome in GM cars that when I stepped into a Buick without chrome I had to remind myself that it was a GM product. The only color combination I didn't like was the black on black. It lacked the ability to show off the elegant design of the interior.
The three leather interior colors are; Ebony, Cashmere and Choccachino. My favorite interior color was the one I couldn't remember how to pronounce, Choccachino (choke-a-chino). It's a tan, accented with turquoise stitching. Sounds funky, but it's cool. The turquoise is more of a light ice blue that matches the ambient lighting in the instrument panel. The metallic film, that would have been chrome in days gone by, looks copper in this color scheme.
The exterior colors are; Crystal Red Tintcoat, White Diamond Tricoat, Black Onyx, Summit White, Quicksilver Metallic and Mocha Bronze Metallic (later availability).
The exterior is sculpted, the interior is soft to the touch. The A-pillar is soft wrapped. The wood touches are selective, the leather seats comfortable even after four hours of driving. The Verano is based on the same Delta II platform underpinning the Chevy Cruze, but is closer in size to the Regal. The waterfall grille and lines on the side are the same on the Verano as the Regal.
The taillights are accented with chrome eyebrows that uplift the backend. I told Lai that the backend looked bigger, higher because of the chrome accent eyebrows. It was a refreshing placement of chrome.
Standard on the leather model is heated steering wheel and heated seats. Since the day I sat in a car with heated seats I have said I wouldn't buy a car without them. I may have just added a heated steering wheel to that list. Especially when it comes at such a low price.
The remote start function is cool, but even cooler is that when you use the remote start function The Verano's seat heaters automatically activate in temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius), along with the rear defogger on all models and heated outside mirrors. Push-button engine start is standard on the up-level model. All other models use a standard key ignition.
The Verano has nine speakers and is available on all trim levels. Kevin Doak, spokesperson for Bose Corporation, told me that once a car is finishe being built the Bose people come in and make 1,000 acoustical measurements and then decide where and how many speakers there will be in the car.
If you want to know if people will pay more for less look at how expensive the Bose noiseless headphones are. People will pay more for less noise, as long as the value is there. There will be a little more weight in the Verano, 10-15 pounds, but there will be less noise through more padding. A thicker, acoustically laminated glass on the windshield and front windows equates to less noise from the front of the car. The wet side of the door absorbs the sound before it gets past the sheet metal of the door.
If you test drive this car pullover by something noisy, like a leaf blower. Roll your windows up and down and see if you can hear a difference. We did.
Technology has become just as important in luxury vehicles as luxury appointments. The cars we drove were pre-production cars, but the Bose system and quiet tuning are production quality. Intellilink is a voice-activated technology that connects your phone and your music to your car with ease of use. It also gives you turn-by-turn directions in your car.
If you get the NAV system you lose Itellilink which houses Pandora and Stitcher, two of my favorites. Intellilink will be in the Verano first, then LaCrosse and Regal in a couple months. At some point in the near future you will be able to purchase a NAV system and Intellilink together, but not this model year.
I would only use the turn-by-turn when I had to. It would probably be followed up with using On-Star since I haven't had much luck with turn-by-turn in any car manufacturer. In one car, not a GM product, I used turn-by-turn and ended up on terminal road instead of at the airport.
I left a patisserie in Connecticut on turn-by-turn. Sitting at a stop sign I had the option of turning right or left. The compass pointing said West. The turn-by-turn told me to go West. What? and which way would that be? I had to guess which way to turn. I'm a visual person, give me a NAV system with turn-by-turn then I'm more likely to get there. The NAV system would add a backup camera to the beeping sensors.
The Verano is easy to drive. It balances steering and ride comfort. The motor is mounted directly to the rack for direct steering. The roll steer and bump steer have been changed by using a patented design that uses a torsion hollow tube and a stiffening indentation in the rear suspension. The composed Verano has a turning radius of 36 feet.
Buick has incorporated a panic brake assist. It measures the rate at which you press the brake pedal and will apply more brake for you in emergencies. This will activate the structure, restraint systems, and keep you within the limits of your body.
The car will be offered in three models; the 1SO - Verona, 1SG - convenience, 1SL - leather. The all-new 2012 Buick Verano, which goes on sale later this year, will have a starting price of $23,470 including $885 in destination charges. The top model has a suggested retail price of $26,850, including destination charge.