The Edmunds.com "B" rated 2015 Buick Verano is among the new wave of compact, entry-level luxury cars that offer upscale features and a premium driving experience in a smaller, more fuel-efficient package than traditional luxury models. The Verano treats you to an attractively trimmed interior with reasonable room for four people, as well as a relatively roomy trunk for a compact car. It also has more sophisticated road manners than you might expect from a small sedan. With base prices ranging from the mid-$20Ks to about $30,000 (for the top-of-the-line Turbo version) when new, this Buick presents a compelling alternative to the more expensive compact sedans from other premium-brand automakers.
Based on the same platform architecture as the Chevrolet Cruze, the 2015 Verano isn't flashy. Its exterior styling is upscale, yet reserved in character. Its well-crafted interior features high-quality materials and an impressively long list of standard luxury and high-tech features, and generally feels like it's a cut above everyday family cars. Since this is a true compact car, however, the Buick's rear seat doesn't provide the stretch-out legroom you might want in an upscale sedan.
A standard 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine powers most versions of the Buick Verano, and it provides adequate performance and reasonable fuel economy. If you want more invigorating performance, you can move up to the Verano Turbo. Its quick, turbocharged 250-hp four-cylinder totally changes the character of this small sedan. And if you prefer to shift for yourself, the Turbo model lets you opt for a six-speed manual transmission in lieu of the more popular six-speed automatic.
Currently, there are but a handful of choices in this budding class of compact luxury cars. The Verano's closest rivals are the 2015 Acura ILX, 2015 Audi A3 and 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. The Acura doesn't offer as many safety and tech features, nor is it as quick or refined as Buick's small sedan. The Audi and Mercedes-Benz pack stronger engines under their hoods, and both deliver better crafted interiors and greater cachet. But they're also more expensive and their tighter rear seats could make them less appealing if you carry passengers on more than an occasional basis.
Also keep in mind that if you need more room you could get a higher-end midsize sedan, such as the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord or Nissan Altima, all of which provide more room, similar features and sometimes even better fuel economy. But overall, considering its price, composed ride and healthy list of features, the well-rounded 2015 Buick Verano is a fine choice for a compact, premium sedan.
The 2015 Buick Verano is offered in four trim levels: Verano, Verano with the Convenience Group, Verano with the Leather Group and Verano with the Premium Turbo Group, also known as the Verano Turbo.
In addition to the safety features listed below, key standard features in the base Verano include 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, remote engine start (automatic transmission only), dual-zone automatic climate control, split-folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, eight-way manually adjustable front seats and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. Also standard are OnStar with 4G LTE (an enhanced version of the OnStar system with a Wi-Fi hotspot) and Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system, which includes a 7-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice recognition, a USB port, auxiliary audio jack, smartphone app integration, satellite radio and six speakers.
Moving up to the Convenience Group brings 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warnings, a forward collision warning system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a six-way power driver seat (with manual recline), heated front seats and heated side mirrors.
The Leather Group adds keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.
The Premium Turbo Group includes all of the equipment of the Leather Group while featuring a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and a rear spoiler.
A sunroof and navigation system are optional for all versions, except the base Verano.
In spite of its compact exterior dimensions, the 2015 Buick Verano is actually pretty roomy inside. With plenty of seat adjustability and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, virtually any driver will be able to get comfortable behind the wheel. The absence of a power recline adjustment for the seatback (it adjusts manually), a driver-seat memory function or a front power passenger seat, however, are disappointments in a near-luxury car.
The Verano has reasonable backseat legroom, but unquestionably, it's not as accommodating in this regard as a similarly priced midsize sedan, especially in the rear center position. Some of that rear seat room, we suspect, went into trunk space, which measures a roomy 15.2 cubic feet, an impressive capacity for this class.
The standard 7-inch touchscreen presents information in large, legible characters, and the arrangement of its icons can be customized, as on a smartphone. It also provides a lot of functionality, including, for iPhone users, additional voice-command functionality through a Siri Eyes Free mode. On the downside, though, the Verano's interface can occasionally be annoying, as it's slow to register finger inputs and sometimes misses commands entirely.
The Verano's interior is well-assembled, with tight fits between panels and, for the most part, higher-grade plastics than what you'll find in mainstream midsize sedans. The big block of lookalike buttons on the console and a few of the trim pieces, however, don't quite make the cut in an entry-level luxury sedan -- a reminder that the Verano is related to the Chevrolet Cruze. This is especially true in comparison to the much nicer interiors of the Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA.
Most versions of the 2015 Buick Verano come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which generates 180 hp and 171 pound-feet of torque, and a six-speed automatic transmission. The top-of-the-line Premium Turbo version is powered by a livelier 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This version is available with either the six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission.
The EPA's estimated fuel economy for the 2.4-liter engine is a respectable 25 mpg combined (21 city/32 highway), although that's lower than some larger midsize cars like the four-cylinder Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. For the extra power it provides, the 2.0-liter turbo engine doesn't give up much in fuel economy. It's estimated to provide 24 mpg combined (21 city/30 highway) with the automatic transmission and 24 mpg combined (20 city/31 highway) with the manual.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Verano with the 2.4-liter engine accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.0 seconds, which is slow for this class. The Verano Turbo, on the other hand, hit 60 mph in a notably quicker 6.6 seconds, which is average for an entry-level luxury sedan, but quick compared with upper-crust midsize sedans.
Two key highlights on the Verano are its supple, comfortable ride over almost any road surface and its supremely quiet cabin, even at highway speeds. These inviting attributes help reinforce its luxury car aspirations. Buick's small sedan is also steady and composed around turns, and its steering is precise with appropriate levels of effort. We wouldn't call the Verano's handling invigorating, but it's certainly competent.
The 2015 Buick Verano's 2.4-liter engine provides adequate acceleration in normal driving, and the automatic transmission delivers smooth, refined shifts. Still, we recommend upgrading to the Turbo, which provides brisk performance on the highway with minimal sacrifice in fuel economy.
Standard safety features for the 2015 Buick Verano include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front and rear side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front seat knee airbags. Additional safety features, including blind-spot, forward-collision, lane-departure and rear cross-traffic warning systems, are standard on all versions except the base Verano. The OnStar service provides automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance and stolen vehicle assistance.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Verano came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, which is average for the class.
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 rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test, as well as a "Good" rating for the side-impact roof-strength and head restraints/seat design (whiplash protection) tests.
For 2015, the Buick Verano now comes standard with OnStar with 4G LTE, which provides a Wi-Fi hotspot that accommodates up to seven mobile devices. Otherwise, the Verano is essentially unchanged from last year.