That question was posed by a blogger on another site recently and it echoed in my brain when I had a chance to drive a Verano at a press event a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure that it’s even a legitimate question but let’s examine it anyway.
Buick’s previous attempts in the compact segment were pretty dismal. It did well with full- and mid-sized cars throughout the the 1960s and early ‘70s but when General Motors decided that all its divisions should get X- and J-cars things didn’t turn out so well. The earlier, rear-drive Buick version of the X platform, the Apollo, was a decent enough car but didn’t sell well and the 1980s front-drive version, the Skylark . . . well, maybe the less said the better. Ditto for Buick’s J-car, the Skyhawk.
The Verano is a better car than those earlier compacts. It shares its basic platform with the Chevy Cruze which was derived from the Opel Astra which also served as the basis for the late Saturn Astra. The Verano’s styling cues borrow heavily from its larger siblings, the Regal and LaCrosse, and it bears little resemblance to its kissing cousin from Chevrolet.
The Verano is every inch a Buick. A Buick owner from the 1960s would probably feel right at home in this new baby Buick. Interior design and materials exude a feel of quality and just enough flash to look fancy without being ostentatious. If Buick designers were looking to define “near-luxury”, they hit that nail pretty squarely.
The Verano’s true talents show themselves when you take it out on the road and experience the almost eerie smoothness and quiet. Did I say quiet? I meant silence. Noise, vibration and harshness have no place inside the Verano. None.
The Verano isn’t perfect, though. It isn’t particularly roomy, economical or fast. It does handle surprisingly well, however, and for a near-luxury sedan it doesn’t cost a lot – you’d be hard pressed to hit $30,000 no matter how much you optioned it out.
So back to the question: Does Buick need this car?
It isn’t so much Buick that needs a car like this, it’s your 75 year old uncle who keeps scraping the door handles of his ten year old LeSabre on the sides of the garage who needs this car. He’ll want a car that has that Buick feel. He won’t care much that it isn’t especially quick or economical (it will be quicker and more economical than his LeSabre) and he won’t care that rear seat leg room is pretty tight (he never carries passengers back there, anyway).
He does need a car more suited to his diminishing skills and failing eyesight. He needs a car like the Verano.