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Buick Verano offers quiet, fuel savvy luxury

February 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
As fuel efficiency increasingly becomes the name of the game in the car world, Buick has brought out its first compact in a long time - the Verano.

"It's focused on meeting luxury buyers who have decided that they want to move down in size but don't want to lose the amenities of what they're familiar with in their luxury sedans and midsized sedans," said Chuck Russell, a Buick spokesman.

It's a sibling to the Chevy Cruze, which has been very successful so far. Like the Cruze, the Verano has a four-cylinder engine under its hood, good for EPA mileage numbers of 21 in the city and 32 on the highway.

As the Buick brand evolves, it strives to be less old-school American luxury and more continental. For example, they paid special attention to colors and interior materials including soft leather with handsome stitching.

"I think luxury buyers aren't just interested in comfort and luxury. They want the car to be nimble. They want it to be responsive. They want it to have a power train that when they want to move, it moves," said Russell.

One way to make a car luxurious is to make sure it's quiet. There are many different ways to make a car quiet - some better than others. The right way to do it is to engineer it to be quiet in the first place. So, Buick started from the ground up with specific tires, then wheels - both aimed at quietness.

"And then we add in things like liquid-applied sound deadener. We use acoustic laminate windshields and side glass. It really is a holistic vehicle-level approach to how you keep a car quiet," Russell described.

Buick's new small car aims to compete with other small premium sedans but it could end up competing with another Buick - the midsized Regal, which is only a few inches larger in each direction.

Officially, Buick says the two cars are very different, though according to the trade publication Automotive News, some Buick dealers have already expressed concern that they're too close in size.

Still, with rising fuel prices, it's probably better to have too many smaller cars in your showroom these days, rather than not enough.