The 2013 Buick Verano provides the comfortable ride, interior serenity and luxury features of a full-size sedan. However, it's not a full-size sedan -- it's a compact. Because of this, it features parking-friendly dimensions, more nimble handling, a cheaper price and better fuel efficiency. That's what we call a win-win.
Not only does the Verano drive like a Buick LaCrosse -- which is a good thing -- it looks like one, too. It has an upscale albeit slightly anonymous look that should certainly resonate with those who appreciate Buick's conservative, near-luxury vibe. This ambience carries over to the interior, which is attractive and well put together, and can be outfitted with upper-crust luxury features.
And although it certainly doesn't offer the interior space of a full-size sedan, the Buick Verano makes good use of what it has. It is comfortable for four occupants, and its large trunk can swallow luggage easier than the larger LaCrosse.
The new-for-2013 Buick Verano Turbo addresses the one attribute we find most lacking in the standard Verano: power. The Turbo's turbocharged 250-horsepower engine represents a 70-hp power hike over the base Verano engine and tops just about every entry-level luxury sedan. You can even get this engine with a manual transmission. We doubt many will make this choice, but those who do are likely to appreciate the driving involvement that comes from operating the six-speed manual.
Overall, we think quite highly of the Verano. The new 2013 Acura ILX is its closest competitor, but we prefer the Buick for its less expensive price, quieter cabin and superior driving dynamics. The Acura feels like a fancy Civic, whereas the Verano feels like a shrunken LaCrosse. Other alternatives might be the 2013 Audi A3 or top-end models of midsize sedans like the Ford Fusion or Nissan Altima. But for most people -- especially empty-nesters -- we think the Verano represents a best-of-both-worlds scenario of full-size attributes in a compact package.
The 2013 Buick Verano is offered in four trim levels: base, the Verano with the Convenience Group, the Verano with the Leather Group and the Verano Premium.
The base Verano comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, cruise control, remote engine start (automatic transmission only), dual-zone automatic climate control, split-folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 7-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, OnStar telematics and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB/iPod interface, an auxiliary audio jack and Buick's IntelliLink personal-electronics connection system.
The Convenience Group brings heated side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a blind-spot warning system, rear parking sensors and a six-way power driver seat with manual recline. The Leather Group adds keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.
The Verano Premium Group is the Turbo model. In addition to the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, it combines all the equipment of the Leather and Convenience groups and adds a rear spoiler. A sunroof is optional for all Verano models, and a navigation system is optional for all models except the base.
The 2013 Buick Verano is a small sedan, but it doesn't give occupants a sense of being pinched for space. Tall drivers won't have a problem finding a comfortable seating position, but its manual seatback adjustment and no available memory functions are a curious omission in an otherwise loaded features list. The Verano can also handle three other good-sized adults as well, thanks to decent rear legroom. Most midsizers offer more, however. The trunk holds a maximum of 15.2 cubic feet of cargo, a pretty impressive figure for this class of car.
There's an elegant design to the Verano's dashboard, though there are a few too many buttons. The standard 7-inch screen in the center stack presents information in large, legible characters, while the arrangement of its icons can be customized like on a smartphone. The IntelliLink connection brings streaming for Pandora and Stitcher radio as well as streaming of music native to the device itself, so few will find the Verano lacking in infotainment capability. As with some other touchscreen-based systems, the Verano's interface can be annoying at times due to its inability to quickly register finger inputs.
The Verano's interior is assembled to a generally high standard, with the kind of tight fits between panels and mostly higher-grade plastics one would expect of a car with a premium badge. Most of the frequently touched surfaces have soft or at least welcoming textures, although some of the trim pieces push the boundary of "luxury" definition, an occasional reminder that the Verano does come from the same platform as the Chevrolet Cruze. But considering the modest starting price of the Verano, the interior is up to reasonable expectations and even exceeds in some areas.
Base power for the 2013 Buick Verano is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 180 hp and 171 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with a manual-shift feature is the only transmission offered. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque is available only for the Verano with the Premium Group, otherwise known as the Verano Turbo. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, but a six-speed manual transmission is optional. Fuel economy is high regardless of transmission, with 21/30/24 estimated for the automatic and 20/24/31 for the manual.
In Edmunds performance testing, the Verano accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.0 seconds, which is slow for cars in this class. On the other hand, the Turbo hit 60 in 6.6 seconds, which is about average for an entry-level luxury sedan, but quick compared to upper-crust midsize sedans.
The Verano's ride is probably its most appealing attribute. It's hard to think of a car in its price range that offers this much comfort and composure -- the Verano feels like a much larger car. At the same time, the Verano's dimensions and well-tuned chassis deliver a satisfying degree of precision and body control. The steering earns some credit here as well, with appropriate weighting and a decent amount of feedback.
The performance from the standard Verano's 2.4-liter engine is underwhelming. Granted, acceleration is sufficient, but you really must go to the new-for-2013 Buick Verano Turbo for acceleration worthy of a luxury-class car. The Verano Turbo turns up the wick for engine performance and provides beefy midrange power that sufficiently plants you in your seat.
Standard safety features for the 2013 Buick Verano include front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, rear-seat side airbags, front-seat knee airbags, antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control and OnStar. In Edmunds brake testing, the Verano came to a stop from 60 mph in a class-average 122 feet.
In government crash tests, the Verano earned a top five-star overall rating, with five stars for total frontal-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Verano received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
For 2013, the Buick Verano Turbo, a new, top-of-the line model, joins this line of entry-level luxury sedans.