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2013 Buick Verano Turbo review:

Buick's compact is good, but not 'luxury-good'

Outside, the projector headlights aren't HIDs -- I don't know who Buick thinks it's fooling with those blue-tinted surrounds.

And our Premium Group turbocharged model is the top of line for the Verano. Base models are available without the benefit of leather seats, keyless entry, or push-button start.

Instrument cluster
The instrument cluster is simple and tasteful. Josh Miller/CNET

All of this considered, I have a hard time calling the Verano a luxurious vehicle. I'd be okay calling it a "premium" car, but I think that Buick is unfairly creating expectation for the Verano. When I hear "luxury," my mind starts drawing comparisons to BMW and Audi, but what Buick has built is a car that sits somewhere between the Chrysler 200 and the Acura ILX on the luxury spectrum. To be fair, the Verano trounces the 200 in power and appointments. To be even fairer, neither the ILX nor the Lexus IS that Buick compares the Verano to are what I'd consider to be luxury vehicles either, but both vehicles offer levels of cabin fit and finish that slightly beat the Verano's.

Buick's IntelliLink infotainment suite
One place that the Verano does shine among its competitors is in the cabin technology department, thanks to its excellent IntelliLink infotainment package, which is standard across all trim levels.

The IntelliLink infotainment system and its 7-inch display are standard on all Veranos. Josh Miller/CNET

This unit is built around a 7-inch touch screen and features a well-designed interface that makes great use of the color display. When you're listening to a SiriusXM Satellite Radio station, the screen is filled with an appropriate background image. The main menu spreads its icons out across two home screens, requiring users to scroll to view all of the audio sources, but IntelliLink allows you to reorganize, show or hide, and reorder the icons to put the most frequently used options near the top of the list.

Standard audio sources include AM/FM radio, the aforementioned SirusXM, CD playback, Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, USB and iPod connectivity, and an auxiliary input.

SiriusXM on IntelliLink
Background images for satellite radio stations are a nice design touch. Josh Miller/CNET

Pay your local Buick dealer an additional $795 and the IntelliLink software gets upgraded to include GPS navigation with a great voice command system that lets drivers input an entire address -- street name, number, city, and state -- in one go without waiting for half a dozen prompts. SiriusXM NavTraffic, NavWeather, stocks, movie times, and sports scores are added to the infotainment bag of tricks and Pandora and Stitcher app integration kick in when a compatible Android or iOS smartphone is paired with the system. The CD player is also upgraded to accept DVD media.

Our Verano was also equipped with a blind-spot monitoring system that illuminates an LED in the side mirrors when an obstruction is detected in the traditional blind spot located near the rear quarter of the car. Rear safety systems include a rearview camera and a rear proximity sensor with cross-traffic alert. The proximity sensor beeps with increasing intensity as the vehicle approaches an obstruction detected by its sonar sensors. While these systems are usually very useful, I found the system's incessant beeping like it was going into cardiac arrest -- despite the fact that there was plenty of space visible on the screen -- to be quite obnoxious.

Rear camera
I found the proximity sensor's beeping to be quite annoying. Josh Miller/CNET

In sum
The 2013 Buick Verano maybe doesn't live up to the claim of luxury, but that doesn't mean that it's not a good car. The interesting thing is that a Buick doesn't really need to be luxurious; that's what Cadillac, GM's real luxury brand, is for, but I digress. The turbocharged Verano sedan compares favorably to its competition from Acura, Lexus, and Chrysler, but not as well as a cursory glance at the vehicles' respective spec sheets might imply. The Japanese competitors may slightly edge out the Buick in real-world performance and fit and finish. Still, the American almost-luxury sedan wins in one very important way: price.

2013 Buick Verano Turbo
Would you believe that this paint color is a nearly $1,000 option? Josh Miller/CNET

The standard Verano starts at $23,080, but our turbocharged, Premium equipment group jumps up to a $29,105 base price, adding the more powerful engine, leather seats, the rear-proximity and blind-spot monitoring systems, Bose premium audio, and keyless entry and start along the way. We've also got the $795 navigation upgrade, $900 for a power sunroof, $995 for our tester's special White Diamond Tricoat paint, and $895 for destination and freight charges. That brings us to an as-tested price of $32,690.

Tech specs
Model 2013 Buick Verano
Trim Premium equipment group
Power train 2.0-liter engine, turbocharger, direct-injection, FWD, 6-speed manual transmission
EPA fuel economy 20 city, 31 highway, 24 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy 18.9 mpg
Navigation Optional with voice command and SiriusXM NavTraffic and NavWeather
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Disc player Single-slot CD
MP3 player support Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB/iPod connection, Bluetooth audio streaming
Other digital audio SiriusXM Satellite Radio, optional Pandora and Stitcher app integration
Audio system 9-speaker Bose audio
Driver aids Blind-spot monitoring, rearview camera with proximity alert, rear cross-traffic alert
Base price $29,105
Price as tested $32,690

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