New & Used Buick Verano: In Depth
2016 Buick Verano Sport TouringEnlarge Photo
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Since Buick introduced the Verano for the 2012 model year, it has seen few major changes, aside from the addition of a turbocharged model the following year. It is, however, no longer the smallest vehicle in the Buick lineup. With the addition of the tiny Encore crossover for 2014, the Verano almost looks like a large car in the showroom.
Though the Verano has few competitors it does have some attractive rivals in the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class and the Audi A3, and even base versions of the BMW 3-Series sedan or 2-Series coupe. The Acura ILX, a similarly-sized car based on the Honda Civic, is probably the most direct competitor, however.
The Verano shares architecture and some running gear with the Chevy Cruze, but the more finely-finished, entry-luxury Verano gets premium features and its own four-cylinder engine choices — with the requisite higher sticker price.
MORE: Read our 2016 Buick Verano review
The Verano has somewhat conservative exterior styling, making it look like a smaller, rounder Regal with a bit less character. The Buick ventiports are merely vestigial at this point, sitting as appliques atop the hood, and it would be okay if they disappeared from Buicks sooner than later. The overall shape of the Verano is pleasant and makes the car appear larger than it is. Inside, however, is where the Verano truly pleases, with a very upscale feel for such a small car, and luxury touches like the voice-activated IntelliLink system and a heated steering wheel.
The base Verano features strong four-wheel disc brakes. Buick's Quiet Tuning ethos brings a well-controlled ride yet surprisingly deft handling — with quick-ratio steering — compared to some cushy luxury-sedan alternatives. In drives of the base model, we've found it to be impressively refined, with one of the quietest interiors of any compact or even mid-size sedan. The rear seat is contoured for adults, although the need to compromise legroom with front-seat occupants and a somewhat narrow rear bench do reveal it as a compact. Trunk space is great, however.
The Verano quickly earned Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the agency hasn't performed its new small-overlap crash test on the Verano yet, which means the compact Buick sedan no longer qualifies for the best Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ ratings. It's also rated at five stars for safety by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All Veranos get ten standard airbags; a rearview camera and rear parking assist are optional.
For 2012, there was only one powertrain: a 180-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission, with front-wheel drive. For 2013, the Verano added a new turbocharged engine. The 2.0-liter turbo four with 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque is coupled to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is quite strong, with 0–60 mph times of under 6.5 seconds. The manual transmission is an interesting option, giving the Verano a hint more of a sporty feel, but ultimately it's a feature that seems less in character than its good automatic gearbox. While suspension tuning and steering effort have been dialed to a more sporting level in the Verano Turbo, it remains a quiet, comfortable ride.
Base cars are priced from the mid-$20,000 range. The turbocharged car is essentially an option package on the base car, but brings with it a nine-speaker Bose audio system; leather seating surfaces; rear park assist; blind-spot detection with cross-traffic alert; heated seats and a heated steering wheel. It's priced from just under $30,000, with the remaining options including features such as a power sunroof and voice-guided navigation system.
That navigation system includes Buick's IntelliLink, a connectivity interface that we find simpler than MyFord Touch or Lexus's Enform, which accomplish the same tasks. IntelliLink also offers Pandora and Stitcher audio streaming when paired with a smartphone.
A new version of the Verano will be shown soon for the Chinese market and should make it to our shores a year or so after. The styling will of course get an update, and improved engine options are likely. The Verano will be joined by the Buick Cascada convertible in 2016; the Cascada is already sold in Europe as an Opel and is closely related to the Verano.