How can you describe the Buick Verano? He's the guy in the back of the classroom who always tucked in his plaid shirt and who you first overlooked but later fell in love with. In the same way, the Verano Turbo is often underestimated and overlooked in favor of flashier competitors in the small premium car segment. But when we got inside for the first time, we were impressed. Now we're driving it again, and for 2014, it provides even more features than before. Overall, we enjoy this car's nice power delivery, comfortable interior, and solid feature-per-dollar proposition. We think it can compete with similarly-positioned cars from Acura and even Mercedes-Benz.
Model and PriceWe drove the Verano Turbo, which comes with an upgraded 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 250 horsepower. This engine is only available on the Premium Group model, the most expensive Verano model available. This top-of-the-line Verano is available for a base MSRP is $29,990, including a $925 destination and handling fee. Our model also included the optional navigation system, which adds $795 to the total.
Safety and Key FeaturesThe 2014 Buick Verano earned an overall five stars in government crash test ratings. Individually, the car earned five stars in front and side crashes and four stars in rollovers. The Verano comes with ten standard airbags and a number of driver safety technologies. Forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and park assist are all included on the Verano Turbo.
Other important features revolve around comfort and convenience. A nine-speaker sound system, heated front seats, keyless entry, push-button starter, a universal home remote, and rearview camera all come with this model. We found that the IntelliLink with navigation was a bit outdated with old-looking maps, and the controls on the center console were redundant. The one-shot destination entry portion of the navigation didn't always work properly, but overall, we were able to get to our destinations safely and soundly.
Family Friendliness and UtilityDriving for a number of hours in this car is not a problem, as there is enough room in the front and back to please most passengers. That is except for the middle rear seat, which is so small as to render it practically useless. However, it can drop down and convert to a tray table with cupholders if there is no fifth passenger.
While the trunk is fairly small, there is enough room to fit a large bag of luggage and a few bags of groceries. In fact, the Verano Turbo comes with a trunk volume of 14 cubic feet, which is more than the Acura ILX or the Mercedes-Benz CLA250. The Buick also features more overall legroom than both of these competitors. Not to mention that it is faster and more powerful than both these cars as well, but we will get to that later.
Comfort and QualityThe seats in the Verano Turbo are "leather appointed," meaning that the top area on which the driver and passengers sit is leather but the rest of the seat is not. Either way, the seats are comfortable and plush, just like the other materials in this car. High-quality materials can be found throughout the cabin, whether it is the headliner, the armrests, or the door handles. Even plastics in this car are a bit more upscale than normal. Still, there are a few places in the interior that show frugality, but this does not represent the majority of the car. When we look at the numerous standard features and the lush amenities, we see that consumers get a lot of car for the money with this vehicle.
How it DrivesWith 250 horsepower and a turbocharged engine, the Verano Turbo was a joy to drive. We found that the car accelerated briskly and could comfortably pass other cars on the highway. With a solid 0-60 mph time of 6.6 seconds, it is nothing to scoff at when compared to other models in its segment. It will whizz by the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz CLA250, which reaches 60 mph from a standstill in 6.9 seconds. It also has significantly more power than the ILX. However, the Verano Turbo's fuel economy isn't as good, as it achieves a max of 21/30 mpg city/highway when equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission.
The Verano Turbo turns well, and steering is accurate. Braking is relaxed yet confident. With its solid suspension, it is able to tackle even rough road surfaces without causing too much commotion in the cabin. Overall, the Buick Verano is well-behaved on the road, but offers a small kick of excitement while accelerating.
SummaryYes, the Buick Verano Turbo is often overlooked in the crowded small luxury car segment. Part of this is due to its sedate, yet pleasant, styling. But the other part is its heritage, specifically the often-scorned Buick nameplate. Whatever the reason is, we think consumers in the market for an entry level premium car ought to give it a second look. Having driven this car, we would suggest everyone but the most fuel frugal go for the Turbo model. This car provides just the kick buyers many buyers crave, giving it a real edge over a number of other entry level premium cars.
Spec BoxPrice-as-tested: $30,785
EPA City: 21 mpg
EPA Highway: 30 mpg
EPA Combined: 24 mpg
Cargo Space: a large luggage bag and a few groceries fit in the trunk
Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Fair
Estimated Combined Range: 374 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Poor (high depreciation rates, applies to 2013 model)