Read The Latest News On Buick & GMC Models!
New Buick Verano will let you have the good life without flaunting it
By Scott Burgess
Driving a fine line.During a 250-mile drive, the Verano handled itself well through mountain roads and effortlessly on highways. The steering wheel also had a nice weighty feel to it and quick return to center. There were times on mountain roads that it was fun. It's a fine line that Buick straddles with its volume vehicles. Sometimes more sportiness is not better. Buick means something different to consumers. There's room in the lineup for a sporty sedan, something the Buick Regal GS does very well. It's the best Pontiac in Buick's fleet. But for me, a Buick needs to keep some of its classic Buick qualities, while embracing the future at the same time. Kind of like Capitalism 2.0 for cars without all of that pesky regulation.
Wind noise at a minimumThe Verano manages to capture both the past and the present without much compromise in between. First, the Verano is Buick quiet. It has a laminated windshield and front side window to beat back much of the wind noise. It has triple-sealed doors and more sound-deadening material than many recording studios. The headliner has five layers of acoustic linings, each designed to absorb, displace or move sound away from the cabin. From hydraulic engine mounts to specially tuned air intakes, every decibel is meticulously monitored to create a quiet cabin. The people in the back seat could never get away with a whisper campaign against the driver.
A classy interiorSome of the soundproofing helps make the interior nicer, such as the cloth wrapped around the A pillars. In fact, the Verano's interior package is extremely pleasing, without being crass. The front seats are larger than most compact cars offer, making it comfortable for even fatter cats behind the wheel. (One of the tricks Buick engineers and designers used was replacing the hand emergency brake with an electronic emergency break. Technically speaking, this is an expensive feature that carmakers avoid whenever possible. But the electronic emergency break allowed the center console to be thinner and thus the front seats wider.) Throughout the cabin, the interior feels solid and luxurious. The biggest disappointments were the instrument gauges, which look more like toys with a flat, overly plastic feel to them and not worthy of this sedan. It also took a few minutes to locate the push-button start, which is on the Verano's center stack and is square, but that's something any drive r would get accustomed to quickly. The brown Choccachino leather-trimmed interior looks stunning. Additionally, the Verano features Buick's newest infotainment system, known as IntelliLink, with Bose Premium Audio and OnStar. IntelliLink uses a full-color LED touch screen to help operate a driver's smartphone. It uses easy-to-understand icons to help navigate the system. The car's amazing ability to block outside noise only makes the stereo that much better. The IntelliLink allows the car's system to operate some apps found on smartphones such as Pandora and Stitcher, both big audio apps that play music and radio programs on demand. The clarity was so good that I finally understood — via Stitcher — that Phil Hendrie is sometimes sarcastic on his program.
Character, but not brashNow, as to the car's looks. No one is going to pelt it with water bottles or fire tear gas at it. The Verano is sharply designed with elegant curves and a steep windshield. It has lots of little pieces of sparkle around it, including those somewhat silly hood vents. It's not overly aggressive but it's certainly not bland. The big grille and bluish projector beam headlights give it a pronounced face with character. The chrome trim around the windows and big 18-inch wheels add just enough polish to the car's silhouette that makes it crisp and clean. The exterior looks nice, but certainly nothing brash or in your face.
New face of luxuryLuxury has taken on a new meaning in America and Buick seems to have found a sweet spot in that bigger meaning. In part, because it has always resided there, it's just taken a while for 99 percent of us to catch up.Buick used to be considered the doctor's car, one that fell somewhere between over the top and basic transportation. The idea was that if a doctor showed up to a house call in a Cadillac, he charged too much. If he showed up in a Chevrolet, he wasn't that good of a doctor. But if he showed up in a Buick, he knew about luxury but chose not to flaunt it. (This doesn't change the fact that the spacious 15.2 cubic feet of trunk space can easily carry a couple of sets of golf clubs.) It's OK to make money. It's OK to have some luxuries in your life. It's OK to protest inequities. And it's certainly OK to own a Verano. It's affordable luxury that everyone can support — all 100 percent of us.
A royal blast: Buick Regal GS gets almost everything right
By Mark Phelan
Detroit Free Press
The GS' 270-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine nearly matches the output of the 3.8-liter turbo V6 in the magnificent 1987 Regal GNX, the last Buick that set enthusiasts' pulses pounding.
The 2012 Regal GS delivers a shot of adrenaline directly to the brand's heart. Its direct-injected turbo produces a tarmac-ripping 295 pound-feet of torque at just 2,400 r.p.m. for effortless acceleration. An adjustable, performance-tuned suspension endows the front-wheel drive GS with exceptional handling and stability. The car also features a good voice-recognition system for phones, audio and other systems. The Regal GS doesn't have memory seats or blind-spot alert, features I expect in a $34,450 midsize sedan. Other than that, Buick's fast and agile new sedan gets everything right.
A look at Buick's wild sideThe 2012 Buick Regal GS blasted down the tight entry ramp; flat, stable and without a hint of torque steer as I accelerated onto I-65 in Tennessee. The powerful 2.0-liter engine transferred its 295 pound-feet of torque smoothly to the road as I raced through the six-speed manual transmission's tight shift pattern and marveled at the car's control.
Over the course of a long, fast drive from Detroit to New Orleans and back, the menacing-looking Regal GS was full of pleasant surprises. Thanks to a trick new front suspension and excellent drivetrain engineering, it was among the best sporty front-wheel sedans I've ever driven.
The Regal GS gives Buick a performance car to run with comparable models from Acura, Audi and Volvo. The GS features a 270-horsepower turbocharged, direct-injection, four-cylinder engine. It's built in Oshawa, Canada, and just went on sale.
Regal GS prices start at $34,450. The base model is extremely well-equipped, but a six-speed manual is the only transmission available at the moment. A six-speed automatic arrives -- at no additional cost -- in the second quarter of 2012.
I tested a GS with an optional power sunroof and a $35,450 sticker. All prices exclude destination charges.
The car competes with other sporty front-wheel drive sedans like the Acura TL and TSX, Audi A4 2.0T, Lincoln MKZ and Volvo S60 T5. The Regal GS' combination of power, price, comfort and performance compares very well to those models. It lacks some features a premium sporty sedan should offer, though.
The Buick's advanced little engine generates more torque than any of the competitors. GM's Hiper strut -- short for high-performance -- front suspension eliminates the torque steer that frequently damages powerful front-drive cars' handling. The steering and suspension can be adjusted for sporty feel and performance. Four-piston Brembo brakes complete the fast and capable package.
The Regal GS' handling and steering are taut and responsive at high speeds and on twisty roads. The attractive interior is trimmed in leather, soft-touch materials and satin-finish chrome. The front seats are comfortable and supportive. The 14.0-cubic-foot trunk is accommodating. Rear legroom is tight, and the front seat could use a bit more storage space for sunglasses, iPods, phones, etc.
The lack of memory for the driver's seat and mirror settings is disappointing in an otherwise excellent car. Blind-spot alert should also be available in a $35,000-plus sporty midsize sedan. The GS I tested had an early version of Buick's Intellilink infotainment system. It's excellent, particularly the voice-recognition capability for phone calls. The touch screen that controls audio, phone and selected Internet sites like Pandora radio works well. The voice control of most audio sources is good, though I was frustrated by the cumbersome procedure to activate my iPod's shuffle mode every time I started the car.
The GS I tested did not have the optional navigation system, which also responds to spoken commands.
The GS' exterior features a lowered ride height, unique body-colored front and rear fascias, 19- or 20-inch multispoke alloy wheels, fat tires and twin trapezoidal exhaust outlets.
It made an impression on the road. Other drivers slipped quickly out of the left lane when the GS loomed in their rearview mirrors.
The Regal GS' EPA fuel economy rating of 19 m.p.g. in the city, 27 on the highway and 22 in combined driving trails the less-powerful TL, TSX, A4 and S60 T5 slightly. However, the EPA tested the GS with regular fuel, while the Acuras and Audi used more expensive premium.
Buick recommends premium to get the engine's full rated output, however. And full power is what the Regal GS is all about. Buick's new sedan is a full-on performance machine that shows the brand has a wild side that's worth getting to know.