2013 Buick Verano Walk Around

The Buick Verano is a good-looking car. It has a wedge-shaped look with a short nose, but it is still sleek. The trademark portholes appear, never mind that they're not holes. They don't sit on the side of the car. Instead, they are located atop the hood near the windshield. If it's a Buick, it has to have them, just a BMW must have kidney-shaped grilles.

The headlights are simple and attractive, and the grille is the traditional Buick waterfall design finished in chrome and black plastic. Air comes in through invisible black mesh (black or chocolate paint) under the bumper, however.

At the rear, Buick uses chrome creatively, with long chrome eyebrows that highlight and extend past the taillights. This gives the rear end a face. The rear fascia is clean, and it doesn't detract from the look, though one tester found it bland. Non-turbocharged models have one small understated tailpipe, while the turbocharged version gets two, one at each corner. Dark colors enhance the lines, while lighter shades make the rear look a bit dated.

The profile view is highlighted by chrome trim around the window line. Behind the short C pillars are small blacked-out rear quarter-windows that are more visible from the inside than the outside. The aluminum wheels come in two grades and both look graceful with 10-spokes.

Interior

The seats offer the kind of bolstering that the cornering ability demands. There isn't anything old-man-like about them. The seats were designed from scratch for the Verano, after about 1000 hours of seat time by testers, from large men to small women. Even with all that input and compromise, they're comfortable, supportive and sporty.

The cloth seats in the base models are rugged. In fact the cloth is so rugged it's a bit coarse, and over long distances you might wish for leather. The optional leather looks classy in brown. It's not the richest leather we've ever felt, but it's about right for the price point.

Otherwise, the cloth and leather interiors are pretty much the same. The trim is satin bronze, satin aluminum or wood. The interior materials are generally soft to the touch and fairly substantial, but the lower dash and some of the door trim is hard plastic. The environment is generally quite refined, but it's not up the standard set by most European and Japanese cars in this entry-luxury class.

The tachometer and speedometer are attractive, elegant in ice blue and easy to read. Digital information is displayed between the gauges. It is easy to read but less easy to scroll through using the left stalk with push-and-twist movements. The center stack has simple pushbuttons and dials, though there are quite a few of them and they are grouped close together, making specific buttons hard to pick out at a glance. Conveniently, the center armrest slides forward, but its bin is fairly small and the door pockets could be bigger. Buick also provides plenty of small cubbies to put keys, cell phones, and the like.

While the front seats offer plenty of space, rear legroom is scarce; a tall guy behind a tall guy won't work. The specs say 34.7 inches of rear-seat legroom, which is 1.5 inches less than the Mazda3 but 3.1 inches more than the Lexus IS 250. If there's anyone tall in the family, the back seats are best used for children.

The trunk has is fairly large, with 14.3 cubic feet of cargo space in the lower line models. When the Bose sound system is added, that drops slightly to 14.0 cubic feet. A standard split-folding rear seat allows longer items to fit.

Buick's IntelliLink system is standard. It comes with and without a navigation system, and acts as a central control panel for your phone, radio, media players, and navigation system. It also connects with drivers' smartphones to provide access to the Pandora and Stitcher internet radio apps. The system features large icons on the touchscreen and its controls are easy to access and understand. Systems like this are the latest in in-car entertainment, and IntelliLink is certain to offer access to more apps in the future.

GM's OnStar system is standard, so you can always press the OnStar button if you get lost and a real operator will offer to provide directions. More importantly, if you crash and set your airbag off, the OnStar operator will ask if you're okay and will direct the rescue squad to your location if you don't respond.

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