- 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 2016 Buick Verano delivers heavily on comfort and quiet, even if it's not much of a sport sedan.
The 2016 Buick Verano may share more in common with the Chevrolet Cruze from which it's based and that's OK. The Verano is clearly not a Cadillac, but it's not priced as one either.
The Verano was a timely addition to General Motors' premium-brand lineup. Buick decided to take an existing GM architecture, and make it more powerful, quieter 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 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 its styling cues are uniformly tasteful and subdued, save for the hood's portholes—those are straight Pep Boys. The interior skips even that flaw: it really has its act together, with a richly finished dash and softly lit gauges. The Verano Turbo gets high praise for being swift without telling the world with gaudy badges or spoilers.
A 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard on the Verano. Not quick by any means, it's capable only of 0-60 mph times of 8.6 seconds, but the front-driver feels a little more eager than that, thanks to a responsive 6-speed automatic and an overall level of refinement that's easily among the best in its segment, if not the best.
The 250-hp 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.
The Verano shares some significant suspension and body structures with the compact Cruze, but it's 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. Four-wheel disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power, even if the pedal feel is old-money spongy.
Interior appointments are worthy of being compared to those of any luxury car this size. The front-wheel-drive layout grants the Verano a very spacious interior. Front seats are superb, with all-day support for a wide range of drivers, along with plenty of seat travel and head room 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 large and well-shaped, and rear seat backs fold forward nearly flat, with a wide opening.
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.
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 been subjected to the new 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. Rear parking assist is available, and a rearview camera is standard on all but the base model; Turbos have blind-spot monitors standard, too.
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, an AM/FM/CD player, and a USB input. However, Buick has created a new base model this year that omits Bluetooth, the rearview camera, and the Buick IntelliLink touchscreen interface, which includes voice controls as well as Pandora and Stitcher apps. They're available on all other Verano models. A Convenience Group adds 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, keyless ignition, and premium leather upholstery. All that comes standard on the Turbo. A heated steering wheel and navigation are among the few options, with a fully loaded Verano priced around $30,000, where the Turbo price begins.
Gas mileage isn't stellar for a compact car. The Verano is rated by the EPA at 21 mpg city, 32 highway, 25 combined not so impressive considering the Chevrolet Cruze's top 42-mpg highway figure. The Turbo penalty? Just one mile per gallon more, so why not?