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|MAYNARD'S GARAGE- Quietude: Compact Buick Verano is Big on Luxury, Soundproofing|
|Written by Mark Maynard Creative Syndicate|
|Thursday, 30 August 2012 02:17|
Verano's soundproofing treatment sets it apart from other luxury contenders, including the Audi A3, Acura ILX and Lexus IS 250. Pricing starts at $23,470.
A small luxury sedan was an oxymoron not too many years ago. The upsell to bigger and better models was the incentive, particularly among the Detroit Three carmakers. But not so now in this environment of consumers and corporations doing more with less.
The Buick Verano is an ideal representative of a modern entry-level luxury sedan. Verano is a compact five-seater and the smallest sedan in the Buick lineup, behind the Regal and the LaCrosse, a large midsize.
Verano is based on the Chevy Cruze architecture, which is a solid foundation to layer on the Buick treatment. The upgrades include some intricacies of interior design, just enough chrome to make it special, and "Quiet Tuning."
The soundproofing is extensive and uncommon on this size of car but a part of all Buicks. Verano rolls as if barefoot on carpet. The windows and side glass are thick and acousticlaminated.
The attractive headliner of woven fabric has five layers of thermal fiber acoustic material, including recycled cardboard. Triple-sealed doors - - double braced for a solid shut - - are lined with fiberglass "blankets" to keep out water, airflow and noise. There are also nylon baffles, sound-absorbing foam, sound deadener and damping mats in strategic areas to block unwanted noise. Even the intake and exhaust systems are tuned for quiet, and the brake and fuel lines are isolated to prevent vibrations.
All of this goes into the base Verano, which has a starting price of $23,470, including the $885 freight charge from Orion, Mich. The 1SX test car was near top of the line with the leather package and White Diamond Tricoat paint for a total of $27,345. Other factory options include a power sunroof ($900) and a navigation system ($795).
A 250-horsepower, turbocharged model goes on sale this fall for about $30,000. As equipped, the test car was two-tone deluxe. The leather package added such extras as an eight-way manual adjusted front passenger seat (another uncommon extra in some more expensive cars), keyless locking and push-button ignition, heated seats and a heated steering wheel, which may make sense only after you've experienced it.
There is intricacy and detail to the interior design that is clean and neat without gimmicks.
The Choccachino (brown and tan) interior had rich-appearing leather, and the contrasting two-tone plastics were also tasteful and of good quality. Round black gauges with white lettering have an eclipse-like blue halo of lighting behind. The windows have onetouch up and down, there is the very civil electric parking brake and a three-blink signal for lane changing. With Buick Intellilink, the owner can stream music through a smartphone using Internet services such as Pandora radio, Stitcher SmartRadio or any Bluetooth media.
There is no rearview camera offered, but there is rear-park assist (tones).
For those drawn to this car for its contemporary stance and styling, the drivability will be quite acceptable. The suspension is comfortable-firm with steady control. Turning into driveways and stepping over speed bumps has low headtoss.
And this is with a torsionbeam rear suspension, which can be considered a budget system.
But it also allows flat trunk space, which makes the most of 14 cubic feet and a 60/40 folding back seat.
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder has the sophistication of directinjection, double overhead cams, continuous variable valve timing for intake and exhaust and an electric throttle that gives a quick response. Buick claims 0-60 acceleration in 8.6 seconds and fuel economy of 21 mpg city and 32 highway on regular unleaded. (The Chevy Cruze with the same powertrain is almost 200 pounds lighter and gets a little better fuel economy of 22/35.)
Power-assisted four-wheel discs brakes use substantial, vented 11.8-inch front and 11.5- inch rear discs with electronic brake force distribution and ABS. Braking force is absolute but smoothly applied. Steering force is Buick comfortable.
Because this is a compact sedan, the interior headroom and back-seat space will be limiting to some. But for young professionals and others looking to treat themselves, Verano may be the ideal fit.
Mark Maynard is driving in cyberspace at mark.maynard@ utsandiego.com. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage
|Last Updated on Thursday, 30 August 2012 02:35|