2013 Buick Verano Turbo Update 5: Justifying the Automatic
Although the 2013 Buick Verano with an engine upgrade is powered by a 250-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 with 260 lb-ft of torque, the baby Buick doesn’t pretend to be a sports sedan. Rather, the boosted powerplant adds the much-needed under-hood punch the base 180-hp, 171 lb-ft 2.4-liter I-4 lacks. With the turbo 2.0-liter, the Verano's 0-60 mph time drops to a competitive 6.4 seconds from the base model's 8.3-second time.
Curiously, our not-a-sports-car long-term Verano Premium is equipped with an optional, no-cost six-speed manual gearbox in lieu of the standard six-speed automatic transmission. While the Verano is aimed at a younger audience than its stablemates, a manual transmission doesn’t seem appropriate for the targeted demographic, as shifting your own gears in a non-sport sedan doesn’t scream luxury. In a previous update , we noted, the manual transmission's gearing doesn’t seem to match the engine's power band. Factor in a power drop-off about 500 rpm shy of the 6500 rpm redline and it doesn’t make sense to eke the most rpm out of the engine. An appropriately programmed automatic with better gearing makes more sense, though we haven’t driven the turbo automatic drivetrain
While the manual's gearing seems an odd match for the engine's powerband, the turbocharged 2.0-liter feels strong through the mid-range - especially in third-gear, which can quickly lead to license-revoking speeds due in part to the muted interior that masks the sensation of speed. That muted interior and mid-range punch helped the Verano Turbo beat the Acura ILX 2.4 in a two-car comparison. We said the ILX "should fare well with the Honda faithful, but how many ordinary-Joe buyers are looking for a noisy luxury car you have to rev up to really enjoy?"
Although the Verano's laminated side glass contributes to the quiet ride, the lack of privacy glass means a hot interior when parked in direct sunlight. In one case, with temperatures hovering in the mid-90s Fahrenheit, we found the interior to still be uncomfortably hot a number of minutes after starting the car with the automatic climate control set to automatically cool to the lowest temperature.
Shortly after driving the Verano Turbo, I spent some time in Motor Trend's long-term 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI with a dual-clutch automatic transmission. Despite less power (200 hp, 207 lb-ft), the 200-pound lighter GLI is only a tick off the Verano Turbo's 0-60 mph (6.4 vs. 6.5 seconds) and quarter-mile time (15.0 seconds at 97.7 mph vs. 15.1 seconds at 93.5 mph). While the Verano stops shorter from 60 mph at 119 feet compared to the GLI's 123 feet, the Volkswagen (skidpad: 0.87; figure-eight: 26.5 seconds at 0.69 g) edged out the Verano Turbo (skidpad: 0.82 g; figure-eight: 26.8 seconds at 0.67 g) in handling tests. The GLI is EPA rated 24/32 mpg city/highway compared to the Verano Turbo's 20-21/30-31 mpg rating. At $30,095 as-tested (navigation, HID headlights, leatherette seats, hands-free keyless entry), our GLI long-termer is $690 less than our long-term Verano Turbo.
While the similarly priced and performing Jetta GLI may be a good alternative, an automatic transmission could be the cure for the Verano Turbo's confused behavior .