This time last week, the 2014 North American International Auto Show was getting underway at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan. For the US automakers, Detroit is their hometown and this show is their time to show off their best and brightest to the world. It only felt proper, then, to arrive in an American-built car. GM was nice enough to provide us a Buick Verano Turbo to make the trip. For us, it was a trip to Motor City. For the Buick, it was a homecoming. The Verano was built less than 20 miles from the show floor in the Orion Assembly plant.
The Vernao debuted at this very show back in 2011. While it has only been in showrooms for two years, the Verano is already the oldest model in Buick’s lineup. This lineup of new cars helped Buick have its best sales year ever in 2013, with the strongest growth in China and the US. The youth of the lineup is also reflected in the average age of its buyers, which has dropped considerably over recent years. As we found with the Turbo, this isn’t your grandparent’s Buick anymore. The only hints of heritage on this Luxo Blue Metallic Verano are the non-functional “portholes” on the hood.
The Verano Turbo isn’t a different model than the base Verano. Rather, the 250hp and 260lb-ft torque Ecotech 2.0L turbocharged engine comes as part of the Premium Group trim. Other trims are equipped a 180hp and 171lb-ft torque 2.4L Ecotech engine. Besides the unique 6-speed automatic or optional 6-speed manual transmission, the drivetrain and running gear of the Verano is identical. Sometimes added luxury just means more everything; more comfort, more technology, and more power. This is Buick’s mindset with the Premium Group.
When you plan on spending 10 hours in a car, comfort is the #1 priority. The Verano’s front seats are wide and supportive for the long haul. For the driver, the thick steering wheel – the same one found in the Camaro – mounted on a tilting and telescoping column, has a commanding yet comfortable layout. The rear seat is set up to be comfortable as well, provided the front seats are pulled forward to provide an adult-level of legroom. With four days worth of luggage for three people stowed in the trunk, there were no complaints of discomfort or lack of space.
Keeping everyone happy and safe over 10 hours is also key. The Verano is quiet and composed on the highway. Road and wind noise are minimal, allowing the superb Bose 9-speaker audio system to fill the void. The Buick Intellilink system manages a host of media inputs through a 7 inch touchscreen. Over the course of the trip, we pushed nearly every button on the Buick’s console. The only two not tested, thankfully, were the hazard lights and the OnStar assist button. In terms of safety, Buick’s lane departure warning and forward collision alert system worked hand-in-hand with the cruise control system. We’re normally not advocates for driver’s aids, but we found it comforting to have systems that are always paying attention. 10 hours is a long time to stay focused, but the Buick didn’t blink. We did have one minor issue when the navigation system refused to recalculate a route home that didn’t involve crossing the border to Canada. In a final act of defiance, the system crashed and rebooted. Other than that incident, it is was smooth sailing.
Driving the Buick Verano is a pleasant experience. The car isn’t set up as a sport sedan, but that doesn’t keep it from feeling connected. The electric steering has good feel and a nice weight. The suspension, while soft enough to flatten winter-bucked roads, communicates enough of the road surface to the driver. The extra power of the turbocharged engine comes across smoothly and quietly. There’s only a hint of turbo noise under acceleration. If we have any complaints at all, it would be with the long travel of the brake pedal. The car is so quiet and composed that speed can sneak up on you. A more responsive brake pedal would have added even more confidence.
We encountered rain, sleet, snow, and occasional sunshine during our trip and the Buick tackled the wide variety of conditions with ease. The only downside to all the adverse conditions was that we were forced refill the washer fluid reservoir on our return trip. There is a comfortable level of predictability behind the wheel of the Verano. It is an easy car to drive, which is a welcome attribute on long trips. And a long trip it was. The Buick accompanied us through two 10-hour days and over 1,580 round-trip miles. The week’s worth of driving returned 24.5mpg. That’s right on the EPA average, but we expected better. We made a few rough mileage calculations between fill-ups and confirmed an average of 25mpg for one tank over the 70mph highways of Ohio.
As we said in our introduction to our trip, the Verano turned out to be the perfect car for the job. The combination of comfort, power, and technology kept us safe and happy. If the mark of a good luxury car is to transport passenger over 1,500 miles and deliver them without an ache or pain, then Buick has succeeded. We had our sights set on Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. Across four state lines and through diverse weather conditions, the Buick Verano got us there and back again.
|2014 Buick Verano Turbo
|Audio System w/ Navigation||$795|
|Premium Sound Group||$650|
|As Tested MSRP||$30,785|