See my review of last year's Verano for a broader overview of the car and its normally aspirated four-cylinder. The turbo comes on the highest of four available trim levels — the Verano Premium, which Buick added for 2013 and which we tested (see the window sticker here). You can also get the Verano in base, Convenience and Leather editions. Compare them here, or compare the 2013 and 2012 Verano here.
Going & Stopping
With its normally aspirated, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic, the Verano has adequate passing power. The turbocharged four-cylinder turns the car into a smooth-revving sleeper. It's one of the quickest Buicks I've ever driven — a list, alas, that does not include the famed GNX of the late 1980s. But the Verano turbo holds its own. The 250-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder launches with some turbo lag, but past 2,700 rpm or so it hurtles the Verano toward redline. You don't feel it coming — and you certainly don't hear it. The drivetrain is whisper-silent at low speeds, with a muted whooshing as the turbo comes alive a few moments after you mash the pedal.
The competing 2.4-liter Acura ILX launches with more immediacy, but the Verano flies ahead once it shakes off the low-rpm lag. Indeed, various enthusiast publications have gotten the stick-shift Buick to hit 60 mph in the 6.5-second range.
About that stick shift: It's a no-charge option over the six-speed automatic, but editors agreed it's a disappointment, with muddier throws than the better stick in Buick's Regal GS. It clunks into 1st gear or Reverse, both far to the left, with stubborn resistance. Going from 2nd to 3rd is a long throw, and the gearing works against you during hard on-ramp charges. First and 2nd are short, but then you land in an abruptly tall 3rd. By 5th gear you've been dumped into lope-along highway rpm. At least there's prodigious-enough torque — 260 pounds-feet at just 2,000 rpm — to muscle ahead. But try to downshift and the drivetrain's accelerator lag hampers any efforts to rev-match. I love manual transmissions as much as the next car guy, but the automatic might be a better choice in the Verano.
Ride & Handling
With the same 18-inch wheels and P235/45R18 tires, the Verano maintains a settled ride that follows in the Buick tradition. Editors were split on steering feel. Some found it spot on — light at low speeds, sharp in the curves — but others found it sloppy. The car still tends toward understeer , but it feels less nose-heavy than the 2.4-liter Verano. Still, quick changes in direction produce noticeable body roll , and the low-tech semi-independent rear suspension, along with our tester's Continental ContiProContact all-season tires, made for plenty of skittishness over bumps. Don't relish those cloverleafs too much; a midcorner expansion joint will have the Verano dancing about.