2012 Buick Verano Driving Impressions

We're pretty much blown away by the great cornering. We drove 250 miles over some great driving roads in the Tillamook Forest, just inland of the Oregon coast. The Verano loved it all and so did we.

One engine, one transmission, and for this kind of money it's great stuff, especially as it delivers 27.5 miles per gallon with the kind of spirited driving we did. The 2.4-liter Ecotec engine with direct injection and variable valve timing makes 180 horsepower and 171pound-feet of torque, and that's enough for lots of fun. It never frustrated us with lack of acceleration, and impressed us with how smooth and quiet quiet quiet it was.

Don't count on a lot of torque at 3000 rpm. Indeed, we found the response sluggish when merging from around a tight onramp into flying Jersey traffic. But the power comes on good once at 4000 rpm and willingly pulls to 6000. Redline is a screaming 6700 rpm.

Fun can't happen without the right transmission, and the new 6-speed automatic complements the package nicely, being smooth and intelligent. It upshifts sharply at 6000 rpm and beyond.

The rear suspension uses an uncommon Z-link, to center the rear axle in turns and help the car achieve balance. Bolted to a frame crossmember, the Z-link consists of a pivoting center link attached via joints at its ends, to links that go to the wheels. It works for us. We found a secret spot with 16 miles of relentless rhythmic curves (and no traffic!), and this Buick put a big smile on our face. The turn-in was so crisp and responsive! We used the firm brakes pretty hard, and they felt good. The upward motion of the suspension was too sharp at times, however.

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