One of my favorite 60’s hits ever was so named and performed by the Lovin’ Spoonful, the pop-rock jug band of “Do You Believe in Magic” fame. It was written by band leader John Sebastian’s brother Mark and Steve Boone. The song reached number one in the Billboard 100 list in August of 1966 and currently resides at number 163 on the list of Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Songs of the 60’s. The song reminds me of the job I had driving cars to the city of Denver that summer of 1966 for a small car dealership in Grant, Nebraska. Fortunately most of the cars I drove had radios. The lyrics of “Summer in the City” called the city streets and sidewalks “hotter than a match head,” and the instrumental bridge was made up of car horns and jackhammers that gave the feel of a “hot town, summer in the city”.
Last week I found myself with a job of driving a car again, in this case a Buick Verano. Verano is “summer” in Spanish, and it sure felt like summer driving the car around the city of Greeley – I looked at the thermometer on the dash at one point and it read 104 degrees. To be sure, driving this car was a more pleasurable job (although less pay), because, unlike those old pots from Nebraska, this Verano automobile was pretty nicely equipped and brand new, to boot.
The Verano is a derivative of the European Opel Astra, and is marketed in America by Buick alongside the Cruze by Chevrolet, sharing the same architecture and a similar drive train. The engine is a 2.4 liter, 4 cylinder, DOHC, Ecotec with 180 horsepower. Torque is 171 lb. ft., and fuel economy ratings are 21 city/32 highway, burning regular and E85 gasoline blends. Behind the power plant rests a six-speed automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control. Wheelbase, length, and weight of the Verano is 105.7”, 183.9”, and 3,300 lbs., respectively. It is a front-wheel drive, four-door, five-passenger automobile.
M.S.R.P. of the little Onyx Black Verano, officially designated a compact, was $26,850.00, including freight. The car included the 1SL, or leather (cashmere), package, and was pretty loaded with all the expected amenities – navigation system, mult-disc CD player, and backup camera being the only exceptions. The trunk was an ample 14.3 cubic feet capacity compartment. I had several passengers join me in rides during the week, and no complaints emerged – even the manual right hand bucket seat was acceptable.
Driving the Verano was a snap; it felt light on its feet with the power electric steering, and front independent MacPherson strut suspension coupled with a z-link rear setup. Polished alloy 18” spoke wheels wore Continental (!) P235/45R18 ContiPro Contact sporty radials, and highway ride and guidance were suitable. The acceleration, reportedly zero to 60 in 8.5 seconds, was fine as well. Buick has successfully made this car quiet and stylish.
Last year I reviewed the Chevrolet Cruze, and in looking back at my observations about that car, I would have to say my preference is the “Verano in the City” that I drove last week.
Tags: August, Buick Verano, car, Chevrolet Cruze, City, Driver Shift Control, European Opel Astra, Greatest Rock, guidance, highway, job, list, lot, Nebraska, Onyx Black Verano, Opel Astra, right, Roll Songs, speed, week