The "key facts" press release that came with the 2013 Buick Verano I test-drove this week states that target competition is primarily the Lexus IS 250 and Acura TSX, which are entry-luxury (and compact-sized) sport sedans.
Ok, sure - especially when Verano is equipped with the new-for-'13 2.0 liter, 250 hp turbo engine and (yes!) six-speed manual transmission.
In that case, it kills them both on price - and matches or beats them on straight-line performance (especially the slow-mo and way overpriced $35,065 to start Lexus, which tops out at just 204 hp and needs 8 embarrassingly long seconds to creep to 60... 8.3 if your order it with AWD).
But I think Buick is missing a marketing opportunity. While the Verano stacks up well against those relatively low-volume (and fairly high-priced) entry-luxury sport sedans, it could do some real damage if the nearly half-million people annually who buy a new Toyota Camry took the time to cross shop Verano. Which they ought to.
They're priced about the same ($23,080-$29,105 for the Buick vs. $22,055-$30,115 for the Toyota) and though the technically mid-sized Camry is slightly larger on the outside than the technically compact Verano, the Buick actually has almost as much interior space (more space, in at least one key area) with appreciably less space in only one area (backseat legroom).
And both cars are soft cars - Gentle Bens, with one-finger steering and ultra-cush rides. Only the Buick is cusher - and nicer. But without being - and this is key - an old fogey's car.
This Buick is a lot like Buicks used to be, ages ago. When they were classy, stylish, sporty - and cush. But not geezermobiles, either. Which let's face it, the Camry has become.
WHAT IT IS
The Verano is Buick's smallest model, but it actually checks out not-too-far from being mid-size if you compare its length, width and several interior measurements to the best-selling mid-size sedan on the market, Toyota's Camry.
The models Buick mentions as target competition - the Lexus IS 250 and Acura TSX - are about the same size as the Verano - but they're also several things the Verano's not. For openers - and most obviously - they're both a lot more expensive: $30,065 to start for the TSX and $35,065 to start for the Lexus.