Laughed at for decades as a poseur luxury brand, the folks at Buick might be the ones chucking now. And that little smirk might turn into an all out bellow as Buick is poised to begin threatening seriously established luxury automakers from Germany and Japan – at least when it comes to the sales race.
At the unveiling of the all new 2012 Verano compact luxury sedan at the Detroit Auto Show, Buick announced that it is now the fastest growing luxury brand in the U.S. with sales spiking 52 percent in 2010. That puts Buick ahead of established brands like Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln and even Audi.
Better yet, 40 percent of Buick sales are conquest, not just from other automakers, but from brands outside General Motors.
Leading the charge for Buick is the LaCrosse, with sales up 120 percent in 2010. Buick aims to grow that further in 2011 with a new eAssist hybrid system that will give the car 37-mph on the highway – way ahead of any competitor. Don’t want a hybrid? No problem: Buick will toss in the V6 as a no charge option.
Another hugely successful model for Buick in 2010 is the Enclave SUV. On sale for 4 years now, 2010 proved to be its best year, up 50 percent in sales.
Certain to help grow Buick further, the new Verano is based on the same platform as the Chevy Cruze and shares many of the same suspension parts including the Watts Z-link rear end that was designed to offer the best attributes of an independent rear suspension (namely, handling and ride comfort) with the best parts of a torsion beam setup (being lighter, less expensive and taking up less space).
Under the hood, the Verano will get GM’s 2.4-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder, delivering a sizable step up in performance over the Cruze. Power is rated at 177-hp and 170 ft-lbs of torque and when matched to a six-speed automatic will achieve 31-mpg on the highway. Buick is also planning to offer a version of its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, which makes 220-hp and 258 ft-lbs of torque in the Regal Turbo. A 0-60 mph time of 8.0 seconds is promised for the base engine, so look for a turbo model that might dip into the 6s.
Inside Buick promises true luxury, although don’t expect too much with a rumored starting price of around $20,000. Still, standard and optional features include a pretty impressive list of goodies like a push-button ignition, dual-zone climate control, heated leather seats and a heated steering wheel.
Perhaps more important is the overall refinement with soft-touch materials throughout, ambient lighting and minimal gaps between panels. Although if Buick is looking for a younger demographic they might have wanted to pass on the woodgrain accenting that’s certain to look as genuine as a made-in-Taiwan Louis Vuitton bag.
Outside the Verano is styled more like the large LaCrosse than the Regal, with a prominent waterfall grille. Standard rolling hardware includes 17-inch wheels, although 18s are optional.
Pricing for the 2012 Buick Verano will be revealed closer to its on-sale date later this year.
Please visit our Buick Verano forums for more news and information at: http://www.veranotalk.com/
GALLERY: 2012 Buick Verano Debut
GALLERY: 2012 Buick Verano
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