The Buick Verano is all-new for 2012 and carves in its own niche in the new car market as it’s one of the few genuine compact sedans in the near-premium and premium segments. Its closest rivals would be the Acura TSX and--to a lesser extent--the Chrysler 200, though both of these are somewhat bigger than the Verano.
Note, if you can live with a hatchback bodystyle, your list of options expands with some credible rivals such as the Audi A3 and Lexus CT 200h. But if hatchbacks don’t scream premium to you then the Buick may just be the way to go if you’re a luxury buyer looking to downsize.
Before we continue, it should be noted that the Verano is essentially a Chevrolet Cruze with revised styling and a new interior. Buick engineers have gone to great lengths to mask the Verano’s humble underpinnings and after driving the car we think they’ve done a good job.
For starters, the Verano is built in a completely different plant than the Cruze and shares no body panels, as well as no parts above the floorpan. It also benefits from a host of luxury appointments including increased sound-deadening materials, nicer trim, a standard voice-activated touch-screen infotainment system, and true luxury features like a heated steering wheel.
Currently, there’s only one engine on offer: a 180-horsepower, direct-injected 2.4-liter four-cylinder. More options including turbocharged units and a possible hybrid setup are expected further down the track, but for now buyers will have to make do with this four-cylinder.
Fuel economy is nothing to brag about but reasonable for a car of these size and spec. The official EPA ratings are 21/31 mpg city/highway, which makes the Verano better than pretty much any other premium sedan offering bar hybrids like the Lexus HS 250h and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.
It by no means makes the Verano a quick car, so performance fans best look elsewhere, but the six-speed automatic transmission it’s matched to has been fully reworked for quicker yet smoother responses, so it's a very refined combination. Four-wheel disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power, even if the pedal feel is old-lux spongy. Handling is better than you might think, given the Verano's relatively soft ride.
Inside, there’s a surprising amount of space considering the Verano’s compact overall size. There’s generous legroom front and rear, though things can get tight of four taller adults try to fit. Trunk space is large and well-shaped, and rear seatbacks fold forward nearly flat, with a wide opening.
For a more in-depth look at the 2012 Buick Verano check out the full review on our sister site The Car Connection.