We're tempted to go ahead and call the 2012 Buick Verano a "baby Regal," because the truth is, the two cars are much more alike than you might think. Since the Verano is based off of the Delta II platform (which is relatively large for what General Motors calls a "compact sedan") that also underpins the Chevrolet Cruze, the new Buick's dimensions are awfully close to that of the larger, Epsilon II-based Regal. What's important to note, however, is that while the Verano is Cruze-based, it uses different materials throughout the interior and has a totally different look. GM is convinced there's a market for an entry-level Buick sedan, and the automaker will be showing off its latest creation at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show next week.
At 181-inches long, the Verano may be just over nine inches shorter than the Regal, but it's only about two inches narrower and less than half an inch shorter in height. Buick's design language carries over nicely to the new small sedan, with the front fascia also looking a bit more like the larger LaCrosse sedan. The upward sloping lower character line on the sides are very similar to what we're used to on the Regal, but perhaps the most interesting design cue are the taillamps. We like the angry-looking downward slope to the taillamp design, but even after seeing this car in person at a GM backgrounder, we remain unsure if the chrome eyebrows are a tasteful addition. Stare at an image of the Verano's rump for a few moments, imagine it without the silvery garnishes, and things still look mighty fine to us. The car rides on a set of 17-inch alloy wheels, though larger 18-inch alloys are available on higher-level trims.
Like the Regal, the Verano is only available with front-wheel drive. And also like the Regal, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection lurks underhood and produces 177 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. The Cruze, meanwhile, uses different engines altogether – either a normally aspirated 1.8-liter or a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Interestingly, the Ventiports on the Verano's hood are false advertising, with six holes to suggest there's a six-cylinder engine underhood. Either way, Buick says the larger four-cylinder is estimated to achieve 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. To sweeten the pot, Buick also says that a turbocharged 2.0-liter four will be available after the Verano's initial launch, and while we don't have any details on this engine, we'll bet our bottom dollar that it's exactly the same one that's used in the Regal.
Inside, the interior is exactly what you'd expect of a car that is essentially the lovechild of a Cruze and Regal, with Buick-spec materials and fit-and-finish carried down into a smaller package. Even so, the Verano's cabin is only about two cubic feet less capacious than the larger Regal, and we already know that the Cruze is still plenty comfortable for four full-size adults. In addition to standard OnStar, the Verano will be available with features like push button start, dual-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel and heated leather seats.
Official pricing will surely be announced closer to the car's on-sale date near the end of 2011. If early reports are to be believed, however, expect the Verano to be priced around $21,000 for base models, going as high as $26,000 for cars with all of the trimmings. We'll have more information live from the Detroit Auto Show next week, but in the meantime, check out our high-res gallery and official press release after the break.
[Source: General Motors]
Compact Luxury Entry is Buick's Third New Model in Two Years
DETROIT – The all-new 2012 Buick Verano compact luxury sedan, the brand's third new model in the past two years and first in the compact luxury segment, will be revealed at the North American International Auto Show.
Verano goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2011, the latest model in a product renaissance that began with the Enclave and continued with the LaCrosse and Regal. Like them, Verano is distinguished by luxury and technology, including 10 standard air bags, an available heated steering wheel and a next-generation radio system with OnStar-powered connectivity that enables seamless communication between the Verano and the driver's smart phone.
An Ecotec 2.4L and six-speed automatic powertrain combination is standard and delivers an estimated 177 horsepower (132 kW) and 170 lb.-ft. torque (230 Nm), 0-60 mph performance of 8.0 seconds and an estimated 31 mpg on the highway. A 2.0L turbo engine will be offered in the future.
"Verano expands our lineup, continues Buick's momentum and gives us a great opportunity to attract a new generation of customers with a product that delivers on their expectations for design, performance and technology," said John Schwegman, vice president of Buick marketing. "It is a smart choice that delivers unexpected luxury in a compact sedan – and it will compete head-to-head with competitors from Audi and Lexus."
Five elements infused in Verano that define its character:
• Sculpted design – Refined styling with a sporty profile, blending Buick's signature cues – including a black chrome waterfall grille, blue translucent projector beam headlamps, portholes and chrome accents
• Luxurious interior – Premium seat comfort and support redefined for a compact sedan and matched with upscale, soft-touch materials and premium leather – all complemented by leading-edge infotainment and ambient lighting
• Quiet tuning – The quietest compact sedan on the road – quieter than many midsize and full-size cars – Verano's quietness is supported by acoustical laminated glass, triple door seals, refined chassis dynamics and specially manufactured 17-inch standard forged alloy multi-spoke wheels, which minimize road noise
• Refined and responsive performance – Powerful and efficient Ecotec 2.4L/six-speed automatic powertrain matched with a refined, responsive suspension system, including a sophisticated Watts Z-link rear suspension and four-wheel disc brakes with standard anti-lock brakes, full-function traction control and StabiliTrak electronic stability control
• Purposeful technology – Convenience and safety features that enhance the driving experience and are rare for the segment, including 10 standard air bags, a next-generation radio, touch screen navigation and advanced connectivity technologies powered by OnStar.
Verano carries the modern Buick design cues introduced on the Enclave and interpreted for the LaCrosse and Regal. They include a bold, detailed black chrome waterfall grille, prominent blue translucent projector beam headlamps, portholes, chrome accents, premium wheels and a tailored body-to-wheel relationship. An arching roofline connects a steeply raked windshield and fast-sloping rear pillars to give the car a sporty profile that's complemented by large, 17-inch standard multi-spoke forged alloy sterling silver-finish wheels. Two premium 18-inch wheel designs are available.
"Verano translates Buick's sculptural design language in a new size, with all the refinement and attention to detail pioneered by the Enclave and LaCrosse," said Dave Lyon, design director. "Beyond all that, it's simply a great-looking car. It has great proportions and sophisticated details that will look great for years to come."
Unique to Verano are translucent blue projector-beam headlamps, which give the car a distinctive, upscale appearance. A palette of rich colors enhances the premium look, including Claret Red Tintcoat and White Diamond Tricoat. Other exterior color choices include Black, Olympic White, Switchblade Silver Metallic, Cyber Gray Metallic and Mocha Bronze Metallic.
Complementing Verano's precisely crafted, premium-accented exterior is an interior marked by exceptional seat comfort and support, as well as premium soft-touch materials, including ambient lighting inspired by the LaCrosse. Metallic and wood trims and warm ambient lighting make the cabin an inviting environment.
Neutral and medium titanium colors are offered on interiors with leatherette/fabric seating surfaces, while ebony, cashmere and a unique Choccachino color are offered on the available leather-trimmed interiors. Verano uses the same premium leather material for the seats that is used on the LaCrosse.
The instrument panel blends with an integrated center stack that houses the infotainment display, climate controls and radio controls. Flush-mounted components within the center stack have a gap tolerance of less than 1 mm, while the instrument panel-to-door panel gaps are less than 5 mm. Those tolerances are among the best in class.
Verano's headliner cover is made of a knit material that is one of five layers of an acoustically designed headliner to help quiet the passenger compartment. The interior pillar and other moldings are color- and grain-matched to the headliner.
Additional interior standard and available features include:
• Push-button engine start
• Dual-zone climate control with standard air conditioning (automatic climate control available)
• Heated steering wheel
• Heated leather-appointed seating
• Electronic parking brake
• Console armrest that slides and locks
• Power windows with express up/down in the front and express down in the rear
• Steering wheel radio controls
• Uplevel front and rear reading lamps.
Verano's heated steering wheel and heated seats are linked with the remote start feature. In temperatures lower than 45 F (7 C), the steering wheel heater and seat heaters automatically activate.
Verano delivers the library-quiet driving experience for which Buicks have become known. Quiet-tuning systems, processes and components are built into every facet of the vehicle's architecture. All are designed to block or absorb sound and dampen or eliminate vibrations.
Hydraulic ride bushings, for example, and an isolated engine cradle reduce or eliminate vibration pathways that could be transmitted to the passenger compartment. Similarly, a number of noise-reducing and noise-cancelling technologies are employed throughout the body structure, including:
• The steel front-of-dash panel is sandwiched between two damping mats
• Nylon baffles are used in various hollow portions of the body structure and filled with sound-absorbing foam that expands when the body enters the paint oven
• The headliner comprises five layers of thermal fiber acoustic material, including a premium woven fabric on the visible outer layer
• Patches of sound-damping material are applied strategically throughout the body structure and melt into place when the body passes through the paint oven, allowing the patches to follow the contours of the sheet metal below
• Sound insulation material between rear-body structural components that is made from recycled denim
• Triple-sealed doors that feature fiberglass "blankets" serve as water, airflow and noise barriers. The doors are also beta-braced, meaning they close with a solid, precise sound and no resonance
• Optimized windshield and side glass for quietness, with 5.4-mm-thick laminated windshield and 4.85-mm laminated side glass
• The engine's intake and exhaust systems are tuned for quiet performance
• Isolated brake and fuel lines prevent vibrations.
Even the wheels and tires contribute to Verano's quietness. The standard 17-inch aluminum wheels are manufactured in a unique way to enhance quietness, while the tires minimize road noise.
Refined and responsive performance
A power-dense Ecotec 2.4L four-cylinder, with dual-overhead camshafts, variable valve timing and E85 capability, is the standard engine in the Verano. It produces an estimated 177 horsepower (132 kW) and 170 lb.-ft. of torque (230 Nm). Direct injection technology helps it produce more power with less fuel and lower emissions – including up to 25-percent reduced hydrocarbon emissions when compared with a multi-point fuel injection engine. The engine is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission that helps the Verano deliver an estimated 31 mpg on the highway. Electric power steering and a more efficient transmission design help optimize fuel economy.
The front suspension uses decoupled MacPherson struts for better isolation, providing greater separation of extreme road conditions – large potholes, for example – from everyday driving conditions. At the rear, a technically advanced Watts Z-link design helps center the rear axle during cornering, which helps keep the Verano's handling responses symmetrical on both left-hand and right-hand turns. The linkage's capability to center the axle during cornering delivers a more-balanced driving experience because the rear suspension better follows the lead of the front suspension.
The Z-link design is also lighter and requires less space than a typical fully independent rear suspension. The lower weight contributes to Verano's fuel economy, while the compact design enables more trunk space.
Steering inputs are executed by an electric power steering system, featuring a dual-pinion rack. Electric powering steering helps save fuel because it removes the conventional power steering pump from the engine's driven accessories. Engineers tuned the speed-sensitive system to provide quick, direct reaction to steering actions and a strong on-center feel. The system has a ratio of 15.5:1 and requires only slightly more than two turns, lock to lock.
Stopping power is handled by a four-wheel disc brake system with standard anti-lock and electronic brake force distribution, as well as StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control.
Comprehensive connectivity is enabled by OnStar's remote vehicle access, which makes keeping tabs on the vehicle a breeze from anywhere with a smart phone. Highlights include:
• Passive entry
• Heated steering wheel
• Touch screen navigation system
• Bluetooth connectivity (both phone and audio)
• XM Satellite Radio
• Bose sound system
• Next-generation radio.
Downloading an OnStar app enables the use of remote vehicle features from anywhere in the world. With a few taps, customers can check the:
• Fuel tank level and range
• Fuel mileage
• Remaining oil life
• Tire pressure
• Odometer reading.
Other remote-access features include remote vehicle locking/unlocking, remote vehicle start and a vehicle locator.
The next-generation radio system includes a navigation system, along with USB and auxiliary input jacks, and includes full Bluetooth with streaming audio, structural speech recognition, SMS texts and more. Additional connectivity features include text-to-speech conversion of SMS texts, smart phone app integration (Pandora, Stitcher, etc.) and Gracenote music organization for external devices (USB drives, etc.), including Playlist Plus and Album Art features.
Safety is another component in Verano's technology story. Primary features include:
• Ten standard air bags, including frontal, head curtain side air bags, front and outboard rear-seat side-impact air bags and new knee air bags. The head-curtain side air bags deploy in a rollover crash
• StabiliTrak electronic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes
• Collapsible pedal system, which allows the pedals to detach during a crash to reduce the risk of leg or ankle injuries
• OnStar with Automatic Crash Response.
Verano has a strong, unitized body structure that incorporates 60-percent high-strength steel in key areas to enhance strength and crash protection. It is used to help prevent intrusion into the passenger compartment. Safety development included testing at GM's rollover test facility.