- Composed and quiet beyond its class
- Luxurious interior
- Very good ride quality
- Connectivity and safety are up to speed
- Base price is a bargain
- Base Verano isn't quick
- Ventiports....no. Just, no.
- Fuel economy's relatively low
- Cozy rear seats are cozy
Mild or slightly spicy--in either flavor, the 2014 Buick Verano delivers long on comfort, without bowing to sport-sedan cliches.
The Verano has been a timely addition to the Buick lineup. Just as true luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz and Audi are getting into the compact act, Buick's already fielded an entry that's arguably richer in feel and quieter on the road.
Layered with premium features and a refined attitude that belies its middle-market pricetag, the Verano carries over almost unchanged into the 2014 model year. From a styling point of view, that's fine--the Verano fits neatly in the Buick spectrum, with just enough hints of its heritage in the grille and interior to mask its small-car proportions. Almost all of its styling cues come across as tasteful and subdued, save for the hood's portholes. They're afterthoughts. The interior skips even that flaw: it really has its game together, with a nicely finished dash and gently lit gauges.
Interior furnishings are worthy of comparison to cars a price point above the Verano. The front-wheel drive layout grants the Verano a spacious interior. Front seats are superb, with all-day support for a wide range of drivers, along with plenty of seat travel and headroom for the tallest drivers. Rear seats are well contoured for adults, too; the only thing that calls the Verano out as a compact is the need to compromise legroom between front and rear if there are several lanky occupants riding at once. Trunk space is terrific and well-shaped with rear seatbacks that fold forward just about flat, with a wide lid opening.
The Verano is distinguished from less pricey compact four-doors by its quiet interior. Extensive measures to quell exterior sound go as far as triple-sealed rubber around the doors, laminated glass, an acoustic windshield, and numerous baffles, foams, and mats. The result? A sedan that is exceptionally quiet inside on even the coarsest surfaces.
Crash-test ratings from the NHTSA are five stars overall, but the Verano no longer rates as an IIHS Top Safety Pick, since it hasn't been subjected to the latest small-overlap crash test. Equipment-wise, it's all here: ten standard airbags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock braking with brake assist, as well as OnStar Automatic Crash Response. Backup parking assist is available, and a rearview camera is standard; Turbos have blind-spot monitors standard, too.
A 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard. It won't win drag races with its 0-60 mph sprint of 8.6 seconds, but this little sedan feels more eager than its numbers suggest thanks to the responsive feel of its 6-speed automatic and its high refinement level.
The 250-horsepower Turbo changes the Verano's mood considerably. It slices 2.5 seconds off of the base car's 0-60 time and there's little lag from the turbo or whistle from under the hood.
The Verano shares significant suspension and structure with the compact Chevrolet Cruze, but the Buick is more comfortably tuned and relentlessly quiet. Base cars have a softly sprung feel, and Turbos dial that to only slightly tauter settings. Handling? It's predictable, safe, and can even be fun if you don't mind ample body lean. The modestly faster steering and slightly firmer ride of the Turbo could easily be adapted to the base car, in our opinion. Disc brakes all around deliver good stopping power despite a spongy pedal feel.
Fuel efficiency isn't stellar for a small car. The Verano is rated by the EPA at 21/32 mpg, figures that don't exactly impress compared to the Cruze's 42 mpg highway number. The Verano does top non-hybrid small luxury-grade sedans, though, and the Turbo requires just a 1 mpg penalty (although it sips pricier premium unleaded).
The Verano is clearly not a Cadillac, but it's not priced as one either. Starting in the low $20,000s, the Verano comes equipped with an impressive roster of features, including dual-zone automatic climate control, steering-wheel controls, Bluetooth, a USB input, and the Buick IntelliLink touch-screen interface, which includes voice controls as well as Pandora and Stitcher apps. A Convenience Group incldues heated side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats, and rear parking assist, while a Leather Group adds a driver power seat, Bose surround sound audio, push-button keyless start, and premium leather upholstery. All that comes standard on the Turbo. A heated steering wheel and nav system are among the few options, with a fully loaded Verano priced well under $30,000, where the Turbo price begins.