2013 Buick Verano Turbo road test: Power upgrade adds fun factor to compact luxury sedan

Because of its relaxed demeanor, a driver might actually be surprised to find out the Verano Turbo can turn in that 0-60 mph time of 6.2 seconds and cruise at well over the legal limit seemingly without even breathing hard.

The baby Buick doesn’t gulp gasoline, either. In a week of mostly sensible driving, I averaged a little more than 24 miles per gallon of gasoline.  The EPA predicts that the Verano Turbo with manual shifter will average from 20 miles per gallon in the city to 31 mpg on the highway. Opt for the automatic and the EPA estimates are 21 mpg city/30 highway. Premium fuel is recommended, but not required.

Buick Verano Turbo front bucket seats

Buick Verano Turbo front bucket seats

Traditional enthusiasts might automatically lean toward the do-it-yourself transmission, but after a week in a Verano Turbo so equipped I’m not so sure that’s the best bet.

Clutch take-up is smooth and linear and the shifter moves smoothly through the gears in ordinary driving. But try to slam it up and down through  the gates for maximum performance, and the transmission turns balky, exhibiting a notchiness that fights efforts to guide it quickly from gear to gear.

Based on my earlier experience with a standard Verano, the smooth-shifting, 6-speed automatic transmission seems much more in tune with this Buick’s overall character and Buick’s marketing plan.

Combining to provide the 2013 Buick Verano Turbo’s surprisingly strong driving dynamics are the taut suspension (MacPherson struts in front and a torsion beam at the rear), accurate and communicative electric power steering and strong four-wheel disc brakes.

The upscale demeanor of all Veranos is emphasized by what Buick calls Quiet Tuning. Triple-sealed doors, thicker windshield and side glass, sound-deadening material throughout and special work on the exhaust and intake systems allow the passengers to cruise comfortably in near total isolation from the outside world.

Buick Verano Turbo rear seat

Buick Verano Turbo rear seat

For the base price of $29,105, every 2013 Buick Verano Turbo includes dual-zone climate control, driver and front-passenger heated seats, remote vehicle starter, leather upholstery, driver information center. Bluetooth connectivity for phone and music, 9-speaker premium sound system, heated steering wheel, automatic on/off headlights, satellite radio (free for 3 months), power heated outside mirrors, 7-inch diagonal LED backlit color-touch radio display with Intellilink technology, and more.

Oddly, the driver’s power seat has no power seatback adjuster and the front-passenger seat must be adjusted manually.

However, a comprehensive package of safety features is also standard, including rear-vision camera, blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert and OnStar emergency communication system.

Three options rounded out the test-car package — a sunroof for $900, premium audio system with navigation for  $795 and Crystal Red paint for  $325. Add the $885 delivery charge and the total comes to $32,010.

Over the last few years Buick has been redefining itself with the Enclave luxury crossover vehicle and the full-size luxury LaCrosse and sporty Regal sedans. The 2013 Verano Turbo is a welcome addition to the Buick stable.