Review of: 2015 Buick Verano 4dr Sdn Premium Group
2015 Buick Verano Turbo: Old before its time
By Chris Chase
Feb. 4, 2015
Changing the public’s perception of a brand is a difficult task: when a friend found out I was driving this Verano, she joked, “You suddenly look 20 years older!”
That is exactly what Buick is up against as it brings in vehicles it hopes will appeal to younger buyers. The brand does big business in China, where its cars are seen as very prestigious, and yet on its continent of origin, it’s fighting off an old-person’s-car stigma. Key to that task are vehicles like the mid-size Regal and the compact, Chevrolet Cruze-based Verano.
The Cruze is a good small car, but it’s a humble starting point for an upscale sedan. Buick has added familiar styling, extra sound deadening and larger engines to this platform to create a small car with the personality of a larger one—and that may prove to be its biggest problem.
Pros & Cons
- + Comfortable front seats
- + Acceleration
- + Brake feel
- - Rear seat space
- - Forgettable styling
- - Boring gauge cluster
The Verano is attractive, but it doesn’t look like a young person’s car, not in the way that the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, Audi A3 or Acura ILX—other upscale cars aimed at young drivers with upscale prententions— do. Instead, it looks like a small car for people who like Buicks.
Last year, the Regal and Lacrosse got a nifty new gauge cluster centred around a customizable central screen. The Verano, arguably the car most central to the brand’s downward demographic push, carries on with old-fashioned number-and-pointer gauges and the same pixellated trip computer display GM has been using for close to 10 years. Ho-hum.
The seats in my Verano Turbo tester are comfortable and supportive, but headroom is tight under the sunroof. Rear seat passengers get more headroom, but in trade make do with limited legroom. Four adults, one of whom stands six-foot-five, were a tight fit in here.
At least you’d stand a chance at fitting everyone’s stuff in the trunk, which is deep, long, and conveniently shaped.
Buick’s IntelliLink communications and entertainment system is a more with-the-times touchscreen in the centre stack. Where most carmakers are using these to eliminate hard buttons, Buick simply duplicates most of them. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, but IntelliLink is one of the better touch-based interfaces, and could easily stand on its own and allow for a cleaner-looking centre stack.
If the Verano was conceived to do battle with cars like the CLA-Class, A3, ILX, and even upscale versions of the VW Jetta (specifically, the GLI), Buick has gone about things much differently. This car drives like a big car writ small, rather than like a small car, period. The ride is softer, the steering a bit less direct; it’s only the engine, with its Let’s Go! throttle response, that gives any obvious indication that this car can move quickly. You have to push it to discover that the Verano is actually quite capable in a fast corner, and that the excellent brake feel provides confidence in hard stops.
Negatives include forward visibility: those triangular spotter windows are ostensibly there to improve sightlines around/through the wide A-pillars, but they actually make things worse in turns, where everything you want to see, like pedestrians crossing the street, is hidden behind that substantial structure.
Very cold weather conspired to push average fuel consumption into the 14 L/100 km range, but this car is normally much more efficient than that: a Verano Turbo with the available manual transmission averaged 10.5 almost exactly two years earlier, in more temperate winter conditions.
Done up in the top-line trim that GM calls Leather 1ST (pronounced one-ess-tee), the Verano carries a $32,485 MSRP. Add a set of optional 18-inch wheels ($525, and apparently distinct from the 18s that come standard on this car) and the $1,895 “Experience Buick” package (it includes navigation and a sunroof), and this car priced out to a shade more than $35,000.
A Jetta GLI has more interior space, feels more tossable on the road, and in $32,790 Autobahn trim, includes steerable HID headlights, a feature notably absent in the Verano. Add the optional technology package to get navigation and a handful of passive safety features and you’re in a car with less power than the Verano, but one that has more overt appeal to the 30-something buyer Buick is targeting with its smallest sedan.
Most of my 30- and 40-something friends are more concerned with finding vehicles that fit their families, and making sure they don’t blow their budgets. Perhaps I don’t run with the kind of youthful people who Buick thinks would appreciate the Verano, but all I can see here is a well-executed car wearing its grandfather’s clothing. Handsome as it is, the Verano lacks the modern touches needed to bring youthful buyers into Buick showrooms.