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2015 Buick Verano: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader September 2014

The 2015 Buick Verano is a compact, entry-level premium sedan that shares its basic underpinnings with the Chevrolet Cruze. The Verano isn't just a rebadged version of the small Chevy, however; it's original inside and out and defined by distinctive and upscale European character. Like its near-luxury competitors, the Verano is refined, attractive and well-equipped.

The Verano is a great car option for young professionals looking for premium amenities without breaking the bank. Since it's not as mainstream as, say, the Infiniti G or the Lexus IS, originality is also on the Verano's side.

Another set of buyers who might be interested in the Verano are current premium-car owners who want to trade down their vehicle without completely exiting the luxury segment. The new model will give these folks a lot of value while still delivering the refined equipment that they're used to.

The Verano's modern demeanor helps Buick round out its model range and combat the brand's stodgy image. It's also very well-positioned to compete with other premium sedans.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 Verano has only minor changes. There's a newly available OnStar system with a 4G Wi-Fi hot spot, along with a new comfort package for the base-level Verano that offers a 6-way power driver's seat and heated front seats.

What We Like

Upscale cabin; compliant ride; affordable compared to other luxury marques; amply equipped in uplevel trims

What We Don't

Tight rear seat; busy control layout; relatively low performance

How Much?

$24,400-$30,000

Fuel Economy

Base-level Buick Verano models are propelled by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 180 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic is standard. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this engine returns 21 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

The Verano Turbo has a 2-liter 4-cylinder that produces 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It, too, comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission, but a 6-speed manual option is available for those who prefer the Turbo's sportier character. The Verano Turbo is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy when equipped with the automatic transmission. The manual Turbo has a 1-mpg advantage on the highway.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Buick Verano is offered in four different trim levels. Base models are simply called the Verano. From there, Buick offers the Verano Convenience, the Verano Leather and the Verano Premium.

The base-level Verano ($24,400) is well-equipped. Standard features include a remote starter, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control and a center-mounted touchscreen display for Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system. There's also Bluetooth capability, a USB port for music, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack.

Step up to the Verano Convenience ($25,900), and features include heated mirrors, a power driver's seat, a blind spot monitoring system and a parking-assist system. Models with the Convenience trim or higher have heated front seats, a universal garage door opener and two more safety systems: a lane-departure warning system and a forward-collision alert system.

Above the Convenience is the Verano Leather ($27,900) trim, which adds keyless access and starting, leather upholstery, an upgraded Bose audio system and a heated steering wheel.

Finally, at the top is the Verano Premium ($30,000) trim, which includes the potent 250-hp 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. It also sports a rear spoiler.

The Verano only has a few major options. These include a sunroof and a navigation system, which is available on every Verano model except the base-level trim. Base-level models also offer a new-for-2015 comfort package with a power driver's seat and heated front seats.

Safety

Like the Chevrolet Cruze, the Verano offers an impressive 10 standard airbags: front, side, curtain, front-seat knee and rear-seat side. It also has OnStar telematics. Further elevating occupant protection are anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control. Meanwhile, the new standard backup camera helps rearward visibility, and the available blind spot monitoring system and cross-traffic warning system on the top-trim models provide additional peace of mind.

In government crash-testing, the Verano received a 5-star overall rating -- the best rating available. It earned four stars in rollover tests, along with five stars in frontal and side-impact assessments.

Behind the Wheel

Despite sharing the same platform as the Cruze, the Verano's ride quality is considerably more upscale and comfortable. It drives over most road blemishes with ease, and it would take a very rough surface for occupants to feel discomfort. The Verano also benefits from a quiet cabin thanks to Buick's sound-deadening efforts. Wind and road noise have been minimized to an almost imperceptible level, which results in reduced occupant fatigue during both interstate cruising and around-town driving.

The Verano's capable handling is mostly due to its electric power steering. That's possibly the strongest mechanical suit for nonturbo models. The system feels perfectly weighted and responsive, bringing quickness and precision to every turn, and driver inputs are well-managed by the Verano's chassis, even at faster speeds. There is a definite fun-to-drive factor here.

When it comes to acceleration, though, the nonturbo Verano falls short. It doesn't deliver strong off-the-line punch, nor does it have the kind of low-end power needed for confident left-lane passing at highway speeds. This makes it difficult to call the Verano a sport sedan. It's almost there but not quite.

The Verano Turbo, on the other hand, offers serious grunt. It's considerably quicker off the line, shaving 2.4 seconds off of the base car's 0-to-60 miles per hour time. Plus, the turbocharged engine offers considerable torque (even at low engine speeds), which allows better highway passing speeds without the need to downshift.

Other Cars to Consider

Acura TLX -- The TLX handles better than the Verano, and it benefits from more power and stronger acceleration. On the other hand, the Verano offers more aggressive pricing, and it's hardly a slouch when it comes to off-the-line power, especially in turbocharged form.

Lexus IS -- The Lexus IS is more refined and upscale than the Verano. Although the Lexus is not as performance-oriented as others in its class, it still offers more power and better acceleration than the Verano. Both vehicles offer rides that are comparably quiet and compliant.

Mercedes-Benz CLA -- The CLA represents a new base-level offering from Mercedes-Benz. Although it's more expensive than the Verano and has fewer features, the CLA offers excellent driving dynamics. Plus, it's hard to top the small Benz's opulent brand name.

AutoTrader's Advice

Before the Verano Turbo was introduced, we liked the Verano Leather version. It offers amenities that separate a luxury car from a more pedestrian vehicle. If a powerful engine isn't a big deal to you, the Leather package is still a great choice. If you're looking for a sporty, entry-level luxury car, however, the Verano Turbo is the clear winner. It eliminates our only real issue with the base-level Verano: its lack of power. Also, opting for the manual transmission provides a truly engaging driving experience. Choose the navigation and sunroof to give the 2015 Verano a true luxury-car feel.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Buick Verano: New Car Review - Autotrader