What is it? The entry-level Verano will be Buick's smallest offering. It is based on the Chevrolet Cruze., and like its larger brandmate, the Regal, the Verano will use a larger 2.4-liter version of GM's twin-cam Ecotec four-cylinder engine, with direct injection and electric power steering. This engine is estimated to deliver 177 hp in the Verano. Fuel economy is estimated at 22 mpg city and 31 highway. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is expected to be added later, possibly with an available six-speed manual. The Verano will offer such upscale features as a touch-screen navigation system, Bose stereo, and heated steering wheel in higher-trim models. Pricing is expected to run $21,000 to $26,000.
A key focus of the Buick presentation is their focus on making the Verano the quietest car in the class of entry-level luxury vehicles. All of the Quiet Tuning features from other Buick vehicles, such as Liquid Sound Deadening, triple door seals, and acoustical laminated glass will be featured on the Verano.
What is new or notable? The Verano will be the smallest car Buick has built since the demise of the unlamented Skyhawk more than 20 years ago.
CR's take: The Verano helps position Buick as a full-line brand. It provides an upscale, compact sedan for those shying away from sheer size but want luxury appointments and a relatively affordable price in the mid $20,000. As such, it is a rare entry. Good handling and well-suppressed road noise should be even better than in the Chevy Cruze that it is based on.
When will it be available? Fall 2011.