Vital Stats

Turbo 2.0L I4
250 HP / 260 LB-FT
6-Speed Automatic
0-60 Time:
6.2 Seconds
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,550 LBS
14.0 CU-FT
21 City / 30 HWY
Look Who Just Raised The Bar In The Compact Entry-Level Luxury Segment

We first slid behind the wheel of the Buick Verano, the American automaker's entrant in the $25,000 compact luxury segment, one year ago in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest. After motoring through scenic Oregon, we boarded our flight back home quite impressed with the small four-door. In our First Drive review, we mentioned that the General Motors offering had "exceeded our expectations" and that its combination of features and appointments "made a compelling argument for itself."

Our one gripe, however, was aimed at the Verano's standard naturally aspirated (NA) four-cylinder engine. With 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, we found its performance rather lethargic in the 3,300-pound sedan. As we noted, "The power from the 2.4-liter was adequate, but much of its steam was lost above legal speeds when attempting two-lane passing maneuvers."

For 2013, Buick has handily addressed the power deficit by fitting its sedan with GM's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder – an action that packs another 70 horses under the hood. Of course, there were other upgrades and enhancements to accompany the additional muscle.

We just spent a day in the heart of the Bluegrass State, on the other side of the country, putting the 2013 Buick Verano Turbo through its paces. Fall is a near-perfect time to visit Kentucky, and the Buick proved to be an excellent companion for touring the land of horses, tobacco and those wonderful bourbon distilleries.
2013 Buick Verano Turbo side view2013 Buick Verano Turbo front view2013 Buick Verano Turbo rear view

The Verano Turbo is not to be confused with a dedicated athletic sport sedan.

Before we dive into the Verano Turbo, it is important to understand exactly where the four-door is positioned – and where it is not. According to Buick, the Verano Turbo is an entry-level luxury sedan, and the addition of the turbocharged engine is meant to give it more power and a slightly sportier pretense. Its main competitors include the Acura ILX, Audi A3 and, perhaps a bit curiously, the Lexus IS250. Officials told us in no uncertain terms that the Verano Turbo is not to be confused with a dedicated athletic sport sedan like the company's Regal GS. Put another way, the Regal GS is specifically tuned for enthusiasts while the Verano, quite bluntly, is not.

The Verano Turbo is configured with the automaker's Ecotec 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, a nearly identical version of which is found under the hood of the Cadillac ATS and aforementioned Regal. The direct-injected mill is slightly retuned to develop 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, with buyers offered the choice between a six-speed automatic (GM's Hydra-Matic 6T50) and a no-cost six-speed manual (F-40) transmission. While the curb weight with the automatic is about 30 pounds heavier (3,520 pounds vs. 3,550 pounds), GM says both models will accelerate to 60 mph in about 6.2 seconds. That figure makes it the quickest sedan in its little segment.

2013 Buick Verano Turbo engine

A six-second sprint is a tremendous improvement in performance, but it won't cost owners dearly at the pump. The EPA estimates the Verano Turbo with the manual transmission will earn 20 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, while the automatic model will deliver 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway (for reference, the naturally aspirated Verano is rated at a only a slightly higher 21 mpg city and 32 mpg highway).

A six-second sprint is a tremendous improvement in performance, but it won't cost owners dearly at the pump.

The brakes are identical to those on the non-turbo model (single-piston steel calipers clamping down on 11.8-inch ventilated rotors up front and 11.5-inch solid discs in the rear) as is wheel size and tire choice (235/45R18 all-season rubber). To differentiate the Turbo from the standard Verano, Buick is offering two new 18-inch wheel styles with unique finishes.

The suspension, on the other hand, has been reconfigured for the slightly heavier curb weight of the Turbo model (despite its slightly lower displacement, the engine's plumbing and other turbo-related hardware and cooling systems add about 100 pounds to the nose). The architecture remains independent with MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam augmented by a Watts Z-link in the rear, but engineers have stiffened up the damping and spring rates by about 20 percent.

2013 Buick Verano Turbo wheel2013 Buick Verano Turbo rear spoiler2013 Buick Verano Turbo taillight2013 Buick Verano Turbo badge

Cosmetically, the Verano Turbo is differentiated by its small rear decklid spoiler, dual exhaust outlets (an oval on each side), rear "Turbo" badging and the aforementioned wheel styles. Inside the cabin, there are also new sport pedals. Everything else, including the three-spoke steering wheel, is physically identical.

Buick would appear to be making things very difficult for its competitors.

Standard equipment on the Turbo includes everything from the non-turbo Verano, along with that model's Leather (1SL) and Convenience (1SG) packages, groupings that include leather upholstery, heated seats and a heated steering wheel along with a nine-speaker premium Bose audio system.

While it remains hidden upon first glance, Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system is also standard on the Verano Turbo (as it is on all Verano models). The system has been upgraded for 2013 with improved voice recognition and even more satellite radio functionality. A rearview camera is standard too, as is Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. With a base price of $29,990 and a long list of standard equipment, Buick would appear to be making things very difficult for its competitors - assuming the Verano's driving dynamics are equally as impressive.

As it turns out, they are.

2013 Buick Verano Turbo interior2013 Buick Verano Turbo front seats2013 Buick Verano Turbo instrument panel2013 Buick Verano Turbo shifter

During our first drive last year, we found little to complain about the Verano's behavior on the open road. The stiff chassis continues to feel as if it was milled from an ingot of titanium (it is actually unibody steel) and the automaker's obsession with noise reduction again recalls our comment of it being "one quiet little vault" in reference to its eerily silent cabin. The icing on the cake is the comfortable front seats, decent ergonomics (yet we still don't like the high-mounted start/stop button on the center console) and good outward visibility. The second row is a bit less comfortable, but few will complain (for the record, we put an adult in the second row and had to move our front seats up a couple inches to maximize their comfort).

The turbo 2.0-liter is a near-perfect match for the chassis.

The turbocharged engine makes a huge difference from the driver's perspective. It's hard not to, especially when one considers that the boosted engine shaves nearly 2.5 seconds off the standard model's 0-60 time. In terms of acceleration, the Verano goes from being adequate to rather quick. Floor the torque-converter six-speed automatic from a standstill and the front wheels will break free and spin for the better part of 25 mph. The new horsepower and torque completely erases the word "lethargic" from the Verano's dictionary. Even with three male adults on board (a payload of nearly 600 pounds) our heart rate didn't gain a single beat while passing slower traffic on narrow country two-lane roads. Needless to say, the turbo 2.0-liter is a near-perfect match for the chassis.

Buick reportedly tuned the exhaust to make it a bit sportier. It does sing a slightly more exciting tune than that heard from the single pipe in the non-turbo model, but only when one is standing three feet from the pipes at the rear of the sedan. From inside the cabin, the direct-injected four-cylinder soundtrack overpowers everything else.

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2013 Buick Verano Turbo

It's time to give Buick's suspension engineers a nice bonus.

The 20-percent increase in damper/spring stiffness doesn't seem to make that much of a difference compared to the standard model – at least as far as our non-instrumented derrieres can tell. The ride is compliant without being too firm, yet there is still obvious body roll when quickly transitioning from left-to-right and back again (although it's far from annoying, excessive or dangerous). At one point in our drive, the road literally dropped out from under the chassis as we crossed a bridge with a huge dip in the pavement. The Verano Turbo bottomed out as any car would under similar conditions, but the end of suspension travel wasn't felt as a sharp impact in the cabin. Instead, it was just a firm bump. The damping and tuning is about perfect with regards to this vehicle's mission – it's time to give Buick's suspension engineers a nice bonus.

As the Turbo Verano wears the same wheel/tire package as its sibling, ultimate grip and handling hasn't improved much. When we were behind the wheel of the standard Verano last year, we noted "When pushed to the limit, the all-season tires, low-displacement engine and soft suspension all seem to throw in the towel together at about seven-tenths. It performed better than we expected, but it still won't run with the more expensive Acura TSX, Acura ILX, Lexus IS250 or Audi A3 with any of us behind the wheel." Seven-tenths is about right on this new model too, but the welcomed engine power will now allow the Verano Turbo to outrun the TSX (and ILX), IS250 and A3, as it will pull much more strongly out of the corners. To go any quicker, owners will need to upgrade to performance tires.

2013 Buick Verano Turbo rear 3/4 view

The Verano's automatic transmission, with a traditional shift gate (PRND +/-) on the center console, was most effective when left in Drive. The six-speed automatic and the turbo-four get along like best friends, interacting pleasantly nearly all the time. We were frustrated to find a lack of transmission shift paddles on the column or steering wheel (was it a deliberate omission, an oversight or cost cutting?). As a result, manual control means toggling the transmission shifter forward or backwards. We enjoy that about as much as sticking our left arm out the window to signal turns.

We enjoyed the 2012 Verano... but we like the 2013 Verano Turbo a full letter grade more.

On the subject of manual control, we were pleased to find that Buick had brought along a handful of Verano Turbo 6MT models with them to Kentucky. The shifter itself is nicely shaped, looking much like the automatic lever, with a front-mounted trigger locking out Reverse. Rowing through the gears is a smooth affair, and the clutch engages with a positive feel. We'd be hard-pressed to find fault with the manual gearbox, but we also couldn't find a single reason to recommend it over the automatic. Like most of today's modern forced-induction powerplants designed to deliver gobs of torque down low (precisely where an automatic transmission benefits from it), the turbo four under the hood of the Verano Turbo prefers to run on the low side of the tachometer - there is no reward for exceeding 4,500 rpm. As such, the manual gearbox needs to be shifted early and often to extract maximum performance. If that's your type of fun and you prefer the additional interaction, then go ahead and opt for the no-cost 6MT.

We enjoyed the 2012 Verano when we drove it last year, but we like the 2013 Verano Turbo a full letter grade more. The additional horsepower, mild suspension tweaks and other enhancements improve this four-door so effectively that it leaves Acura, Lexus and Audi standing on a noticeably lower platform. The compact entry-level luxury sedan segment appears to have a new leader – and, for the first time ever, it's wearing a Buick badge.

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      (hope this doesn't post twice; page timed out on me...) The only cars I've really driven recently to get a good opinion would be my '06 Volvo, the IS, and my mom's G35 S. I've not been able really get out and thrash the car around yet (I live in Atlanta...and we have gridlock pretty much 24/7), but I'd put handling a step above the Volvo (not by much though; that was a fun car to drive) but below the IS and the G35 (which makes sense to me considering front vs rear wheel drive. Taking cloverleaf on/off ramps are a lot of fun and I've not felt like I was going to lose control. The Regal is a good size larger than anything I've owned before, but it doesn't feel that way when driving it. Heading to the mountains for vacation next week so perhaps I'll be able to really give it a go... I will say this though; the last time I had the IS in for service (quick side note - that's another reason I traded the car; the routine service is not cheap), they gave me an ES as a loaner. It can't hold a candle to the Regal as far as driving/handling.
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is a good car for a segment of buyers that have few other choices with Luxury in this size or price. Most others are either much more expensive or are just cheap tin boxes. The engine in this car is magic as I own one in another GM product with about 40 more HP. Even at 3200 Pounds it gets 25 City and 32 Highway. The key for GM with this car is to get peoples buts in the car and show them what they have. Also I would leave off the Turbo tags as it sends the wrong message to all the idiots that think turbo's are just for performance cars. The enlightened will already understand.
      David M
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think this looks like a very good value for the price. You even have speed that you need for passing.
      • 2 Years Ago
      new Opel Cascada Cabriolet revealed: looks gorgeous
      • 2 Years Ago
      just got these in at our dealership, drives amazing reminds me of my Saab 9-3 but with much better build quality. We have been selling these like hotcakes, all complaints about the regular Verano are now out the window - for the entry luxury it not only is much cheaper than its rivals, but faster, better built, and will probably prove to be more reliable too save for the Acura probably [ecotecs are bulletproof]. Way to go Buick, you are finally giving me a reason to recommend you to customers.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wonder if GMPP will have a tune/exhaust kit for it....
      • 2 Years Ago
      Reskinned/Rebadged Chevey Cruze as a luxury Brand!!?? LOL
        • 2 Years Ago
        Audi, reskinned/rebadged Volkswagens as a luxury brand? LOL Happens all the time.
          • 2 Years Ago
          Don't forget Bentley, also reskinning and rebadging a VW, for triple the price.
        • 2 Years Ago
        The new Acura ILX (which this car competes directly against), is essentially a rebadged Civic.
      • 2 Years Ago
      BuicK USA brand is nothing but Reskinned/Rebadged Opel's. The budget brand from Germany!!. Luxury My ARSSSSSS
        • 2 Years Ago
        your "budget brand" developed some of the best platforms of the whole company, idiot.
        • 2 Years Ago
          Tina Dang
          • 2 Years Ago
          It's even worse, they are based on Chevy cars..... yuck
      • 2 Years Ago
        • 2 Years Ago
        hey Taser you have no clue about this car.. it's a great looking car, quiet and solidly built with plenty of power in spite of the AOL article , hell it wasn't meant to be a race car, there's no problem merging into traffic on the freeway
      • 2 Years Ago
      Where did Buick take you to dinner to write such a stunning review of a mediocre car? Was that written after the 6th or 10th Bud?
      • 2 Years Ago
      It doesnt matter how fast it is...Its not an Audi. It looks like a woman car. Sorry fellas, but does any of us really want to be seen in this lip stick shade, uninspiring car?
        • 2 Years Ago
        Audi's are pretty Gay! So if you want that stigma, go for it big boy!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Anyone under 60yrs old interested in owning a Buick?? Just raise your hand...I'll wait.
        • 2 Years Ago
        They should have fix Pontiac.
        • 2 Years Ago
        I'm 28 and would drive the GS. Someone I went to college with has a new Regal. Also know someone around 30ish with a new LaCrosse. If it's a nice car, I don't care what emblem is on it. Just a few years ago Cadillac was for old people. Although I'd venture to guess not many retirees with plaid pants are the ones driving CTS-V's.
        • 2 Years Ago
        >raised hand<. I'm 38 and traded a 2010 Lexus IS250 for a 2012 Regal Turbo.
        • 2 Years Ago
        *Raises hand on my co-worker and sisters behalf* Co-worker is 41-42 I believe, drives a 2010 Lacrosse CXS. Sister is 33, drives a 2011 Buick Enclave CXL.
        • 2 Years Ago
        i know a few coworkers whom drive buicks and are under 30.
    • Load More Comments