The Car Connection Buick Verano Overview
The Buick Verano is a compact four-door sedan. New for the 2012 model year, the Verano heads off into the sunset with a short 2017 run before being dropped from Buick's lineup. The model lineup is simplified for those final few cars, and the likeable turbocharged engine is no longer available.
The Verano shares architecture and some running gear with the last-generation Chevrolet Cruze, but the more finished, entry-luxury Verano gets premium features and its own 4-cylinder engine choices—with the requisite higher sticker price.
Since it introduced the Verano, Buick hasn't made many major changes, save for adding a turbocharged model the following year and dropping it for 2017. 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 direct rivals, it's sized and priced reasonably closely to the Audi A3, Lexus IS 250, Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, and even the rear-drive BMW 1-Series. The Acura ILX, a similarly sized car based on the Honda Civic, is a closer competitor.
MORE: Read our 2017 Buick Verano review
From a styling standpoint, inside is where the Verano truly pleases, with a very upscale feel for such a small car, and luxury touches such as the voice-activated IntelliLink system and a heated steering wheel. From the outside, the Verano has somewhat conservative 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 OK 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.
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. All models feature strong four-wheel disc brakes.
For 2012, there was only one powertrain: a 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, with front-wheel drive. That powertrain continues to this day. For 2013, the Verano added a new turbocharged engine. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 with 250 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque was coupled to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration was brisk, with 0-60 mph times of less than 6.5 seconds compared to 8.6 for the 2.4. The manual transmission was an interesting option, giving the Verano a hint more of a sporty feel, but ultimately it seemed less in character than the good automatic gearbox. While suspension tuning and steering effort were dialed to a more sporting level in the Verano Turbo, it remained a quiet, comfortable ride.
Interior space is generous for front seat passengers, and the comfortable seats work for a variety of body types. The rear seat is contoured for adults, though the need to compromise leg room with front-seat occupants and a somewhat narrow rear bench do reveal it as a compact. The 14.3 cubic feet of trunk space is great, however.
The Verano quickly earned Top Safety Pick status from the IIHS. However, the agency hasn't performed its newer small-overlap crash test on the Verano, which means it no longer qualifies for the best Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ ratings. It's also rated at five stars overall for safety by the NHTSA. All Veranos get 10 standard airbags; a rearview camera is standard on models above the base trim. Buyers can opt for rear park assist, blind-spot monitors, forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, and rear cross traffic alerts.
Pricing starts around $22,000. Add in features such as a nine-speaker Bose audio system; leather seating surfaces; heated seats and a heated steering wheel; navigation; a sunroof; and the aforementioned active safety features, and the price tops $30,000.
That navigation system includes Buick's IntelliLink, a connectivity interface that we find simpler than Lexus's Enform. IntelliLink also offers Pandora and Stitcher audio streaming when paired with a smartphone.