- Luxurious interior
- Composed and quiet beyond its class
- Connectivity and safety are up to speed
- Very good ride quality
- Base price is a bargain
- Fuel economy's relatively low
- Ventiports....no. Just, no.
- Base Verano isn't quick
- Cozy rear seats are cozy
The 2015 Buick Verano may not be much of a sports sedan, but it certainly delivers in the category of comfort.
The Buick Verano was a timely addition to GM's premium-brand lineup Buick decided to take an existing GM architecture, and make it more powerful, hushed on the road, and richer in feel. As a result, it has a truly distinctive offering in this new segment, one worth shopping if the sporty edges of the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class are a turn-off.
From a styling point of view,”carryover” is fine—the Verano squeezes neatly into the expanded Buick lineup, with enough ties to its siblings in its grille and interior to cover up its small car proprotions. Almost all its styling cues are uniformly tasteful and gently subdued, save for the hood's plastic chrome portholes. They're clear afterthoughts. The interior definitely has its act together, with a richly finished dash and softly lit gauges.
Interior appointments are worthy of being compared to those of any luxury car this size. The front-wheel-drive layout bestows upon the Verano a very spacious cabin. Front seats are comfortably supportive, with all-day cushioning for a wide range of humans, along with no shortage of seat travel and good headroom for taller drivers. The Verano's rear bench is well contoured, too. Only limited rear legroom gives the Verano away as a small car. For cargo, a wide trunk opening reveals a roomy area and second row seat backs that fold easily for longer items.
A phenomenally refined, comfortable, quiet interior distinguishes the Verano from less-expensive compact sedans. Quiet Tuning is a keyword at Buick, and it describes much of the Verano's personality. With its meticulous sound-deadening measures, like triple-sealed doors, laminated side glass, an acoustic windshield, and various foams, baffles, and mats, the Verano is very, very quiet inside. Buick has worked to isolate road, wind, and engine noise, so even if you're driving the Verano hard, on some of the coarsest surfaces, you'll be able to have a soft-spoken conversation.
The Verano shares some significant suspension and body structures with the Chevy Cruze, but it's tuned more for comfort and silence. Base Veranos have a soft feel, but Turbos don't dial that up as much as we would like. They're simply not as taut as their extra horsepower would suggest. If anything, we think that the slightly faster steering and firmer ride of the Turbo could be adapted with ease to the standard car. On all, disc brakes at all four corners bring things to a halt via pedal that's a little spongy for us.
A 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is standard on the Verano. Not quick by any means, it's capable only of 0-60 mph times of about 8.6 seconds, but the front-driver feels a little more eager than that, thanks to a responsive six-speed automatic and an overall level of refinement that's easily among the best in its segment, if not the best.
The 250-horsepower Turbo changes the mood of the even-tempered base car, lifting its tepid performance into something more interesting. It's good for 0-60 mph times of 6.2 seconds, and top speed drifts up to about 129 mph, with almost no perception of lag or audible change from the engine bay. There's a manual transmission available, but it's not common on lots.
Gas mileage isn't stellar for a compact car. The Verano is rated by the folks at the EPA at 21/32 mpg, not so impressive considering the Cruze's top 42-mpg highway figure. The Turbo penalty? Just one mile per gallon more, so why not?
Crash-test ratings from the NHTSA come in at five stars overall, but the Verano no longer rates as an IIHS Top Safety Pick, since it hasn't yet been subjected to the new small-overlap crash test. Equipment-wise, there's a lot included: ten standard airbags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock braking with brake assist, as well as OnStar Automatic Crash Response. Rear parking assist is available, and a rearview camera is standard; Turbos have blind-spot monitors standard, too.
Don't think of the Verano as a Cadillac in terms of equipment, but then again it isn't priced against one. At a base price in the low-$20,000 range, it comes standard with features like two-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a USB port, an infotainment system, and steering wheel audio controls. Options range the gamut and, at around $30,000, a well-equipped Verano does a heck of a job impersonating a true luxury-level car.
Layered with upscale features and a refined feel that belies its middle-market price, the Verano carries over mostly unchanged for the 2015 model year. There's an available style package for upper trim models, OnStar now includes 4G LTE connectivity with the ability to establish an in-car WiFi network, and the manual transmission has been dropped.