2015 Buick Verano Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 22, 2015

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.

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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. 

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2015 Buick Verano

Styling

A low-key, high-quality interior is paired well with the Buick Verano's handsome exterior.

Based on the Verano's gentle curves and occasional chrome bits, you might not pin it as a mechanical cousin to Chevy's more conservative Cruze.

The Verano's look inside is quite swoopy and radical for a Buick, with beautiful two-tone themes and a high sill line that wraps around from the top of the doors all the way through the far front of the dash top. Door trim carries through the broad arcs of the dash, and matte-metallic trim looks classy, not garish, here. The small windows at the front of the front doors fit in stylistically, and help with visibility, too.

The Verano feels like a larger car than the Cruze, even though it's not. Some well-conceived details help underplay its pint size dimensions. It's handsome if a little generic and inoffensive. That should be enough to court new buyers to the brand.

But the Verano isn't without its foibles. There is more metallic trim than there should be, especially around the tail lamps. The worst part is what Buick calls its "ventiports" integrated into the Verano's front fenders. They're not effective and could have been avoided easily.

Spotting the new Verano Turbo will mean hunting down its dual exhausts and its small trunklid spoiler. No mesh grille inserts are applied, no faux carbon fiber is peeled or stuck to it. It's way against type--but so refreshing, if you've ever lost yourself in a parking lot of pimped-alike R or M or Q cars.

For 2015, there's also a new appearance package that's made available with the Convenience and Leather packages. It includes a rear spoiler and different grille. 

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2015 Buick Verano

Performance

It's quiet and smooth, and even turbo power can't ruffle the Buick Verano's calm, controlled handling.

Buick has chosen to build the Verano as a comfortable compact premium sedan, rather than a sporty one. That is to say that it's an easy daily driver, but it won't be quite as rewarding on mountain curves. However, the turbocharged model does offer a certain degree of spice to the mix that makes the Verano rewarding to drive both both long commutes and short sprints.

A relatively quick steering ratio (with a fat, somewhat small-diameter steering wheel) complete the hints of sportiness, and four-wheel disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power, even if the pedal feel is old-lux spongy.

Handling is better than you might think, given the Verano's relatively soft ride; it's safe, responsive, and even quite fun, with a sense of confidence and more enjoyment than in cushy alternatives such as the Lexus ES 350. Still, the Verano Turbo has more solid moves, more confidence, and it could easily be tuned even more aggressively for the power on tap. The front shocks are stiffer, but only by about 10 percent, to accommodate about 100 pounds of added weight; the electric power steering gets remapped for quicker, slightly more weighty responses.  There are no aggressive air intakes, no fatter tires than the base 235-series rolling stock, no mission creep into Verano GS territory, either.

Instead of the related Cruze's 1.4-liter four-cylinder, the base Verano increases displacement under its hood to 2.4 liters. The Verano's base engine is rated at 180 horsepower and can hit 60 mph from a stop in about 8.6 seconds thanks to its prompt-shifting 6-speed automatic. It's a bit zippier than the Cruze, blunted in part by its hefty curb weight. But it's on par with rivals like the Acura ILX, even if the Buick's engine requires a lot of revving to wake up.

The 6-speed autobox doesn't hesitate, so we've generally kept it in drive rather than using the counterintuitive manual-style switches on the lever. This isn't a powertrain meant for performance driving, which is fine since the engine is silenced by all that deadening under the hood. 

The deletion of last year's manual is a sad change. 

The Verano Turbo, on the other hand, pitches a more solid game against other turbocharged compacts like the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3. With displacement downsized to 2.0 liters and the presence of a turbo, its output grows to 250 hp and the 260 pound-feet of peak torque comes on at just 1,700 rpm all the way to 5,500 rpm. There's nary a growl nor a whistle from under hood, but it silently reels off a 6.2 second 0-60 mph split.

Top speed is tire-limited to 129 mph, and gas mileage barely drops a mile per gallon. This is clearly a different, and happier, machine than the base powertrain.

The differences in the two enginse are far more subtle when it comes to ride and handling. With its suspension shared with the Cruze, the Verano features MacPherson struts up front and a Z-link (known as a Watt's linkage) at the rear. It's not super high tech, but it works well at smothering out pavement ripples and undulating terrain. 

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2015 Buick Verano

Comfort & Quality

With agreeable interior space and very comfortable seats, the Buick Verano overcomes its compact-car dimensions.

The Buick Verano is very quiet and comfortable, setting itself apart even from some larger, more expensive sedans. It may not be very sporty, but it certainly filters out the world around us, just like a luxury car should.

In some respects, the Verano is clearly kin to the Cruze, but with far more attention to detailing. It starts with making the most of the compact dimensions. The cabin's spacious, thanks to front-wheel drive, and those front seats are excellent. They're well-shaped, and feel plush and supportive, with long-distance comfort for a wide range of drivers and lots of headroom and seat travel to accommodate tall drivers.

The Buick's rear bench seat is contoured for a pair of adults and a third short-stint passenger, too. It's a compact, so there's less legroom, and fitting five long-legged adults in the Verano at once will require some geometry skills.

There's ample gadget storage in the center console and glove box. Trunk room is large and well-shaped, and rear seatbacks fold forward nearly flat, with a wide opening.

But it's the Verano's silence that really sets it apart from becoming just a Cruze with fancy leather. Laminated glass, an acoustic front windshield, and all the deadening measures you can imagine transform the already refined Cruze into a truly silent little sedan. Even the coarsest pavement doesn't significantly penetrate the cabin. 

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2015 Buick Verano

Safety

Crash-test scores have been very good, and the Buick Verano now has a standard rearview camera.

The Buick Verano brings all of the right safety equipment to the game, as well as solid crash test ratings from the agencies that evaluate vehicle safety.

The Verano has standard OnStar with Automatic Crash Response, and a new opt-in service called FamilyLink that allows parents to see where their teenage drivers are at all times.

The IIHS hasn't yet subjected the Verano to the new small-overlap crash test that is now a requisite to earn its Top Safety Pick or Pick+ award, but it has aced all of the other tests available.

Among the other extra-cost safety features available on non-Turbo Veranos are rear parking sensors, and blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alerts. The Turbo includes those as standard. Forward-collision alerts and lane-departure warnings are on the options list.

Every trim level of the Verano features standard safety gear that's exceptional in the class. There are ten airbags (including knee airbags in front); anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control; and a standard rearview camera.

Finally, the issue of connectivity in cars has been addressed with IntelliLink, which uses an LCD touchscreen and Bluetooth and steering-wheel controls to give drivers a less distracting way to control audio, phone, and navigation while on the go. It's simpler in function than Ford's MyFord Touch, but has less functionality as well. 

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2015 Buick Verano

Features

The Buick Verano doesn't miss out on many of the latest luxury and technology features.

In line with its claim to the premium car market, the Buick Verano comes with a long list of premium car standard features and options. New for 2015, its OnStar system now includes 4G LTE connectivity and the ability to establish an in-car WiFi network.

The Verano can be fitted with a few option packages to boost its premium credentials. The Convenience package bundles features like rear parking sensors, heated seats, heated side mirrors and an auto-dimming inside mirror; the leather package adds what it says, plus niceties like a power driver seat, Bose  audio, and push-button start with a proximity key. Load up a Verano and you're in the $30,000 range.

Buick's Intellilink infotainment system features a high-resolution touchscreen and numerous redundant buttons. Bluetooth works well to connect a user's phone for handsfree operation and there are several smartphone-based apps available as well like Stitcher and Pandora. Overall, Buick's system is among the cleanest and least confusing in this segment.

IntelliLink now hosts Apple's Siri Eyes Free firmware, which allows drivers to tap into its voice interface for a live search. Buiuck's navigation system works well on its own, but its routing decisions sometimes give us pause.

Standard equipment on the Verano for 2015 includes power windows, locks, and mirrors; automatic climate control; remote start; cloth upholstery; an AM/FM/CD player with steering-wheel controls and a USB port; satellite radio; and a rearview camera.

With a base price of about $30,000, the Verano Turbo has its own standard features, above and beyond those offered on the normally aspirated car. They include dual exhausts; sport pedals; a small trunklid spoiler; and the features from the Verano's leather and convenience packages, including Bose audio, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. 

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2015 Buick Verano

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage isn't the Verano's strong suit, not when it's compared to less expensive compacts.

The Buick Verano does well enough with its fuel economy figures, but compared to other small cars, things could be better.

The Verano Turbo is surprisingly good. It's rated at 21/30 mpg and 24 mpg combined with its automatic transmission. That's still well off the pace of mid-size, mass-market sedans like the Altima, Accord, and Fusion, but more acceptably close to their performance-minded models.

With the base Verano, it's worth a comparison to less expensive cars. The Verano is a platform-mate with the Chevy Cruze, which has a smaller pair of four-cylinder engines on its features list. The Cruze earns up to 42 mpg highway with its 1.4-liter four--and 46 mpg highway with its new diesel option.

The Verano instead offers a larger-displacement 2.4-liter four-cylinder that drags on its fuel economy. Outfitted with its standard six-speed automatic, the Verano is pegged at 21 miles per gallon city, 32 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined by the EPA. It's not only lower than the Cruze, but also lower than non-premium compacts like the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra, even below than that of the Mercedes-Benz CLA, its newest competitor in the premium-compact class. 

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October 26, 2015
2015 Buick Verano 4-Door Sedan Premium Turbo Group

I own a 2015 Verano Turbo in Crystal Red Tintcoat - AMAZING CAR!!!

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This car is a 4 cylinder TURBO that goes 0-60 in 6.2 seconds! It feels amazing, it has every tech option you want! It's not a german car, nor would I call it luxury... but I'm not spending 40K or getting some... + More »
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