By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.5
Buick’s Verano compact 4-door for 2016 feels very much like a miniature version of the popular LaCrosse sedan. Although smaller than its sibling, the Verano doesn’t shrink the things we love most about Buick cars, namely their smooth ride, luxurious interiors and fuel-efficient turbocharged engines. Sharing its basic components with the 2016 Chevy Cruze Limited, the Verano provides a higher level of fit and finish, advanced safety features and a more luxurious ride. While not as fuel-efficient as a Lexus CT 200h hybrid, nor as performance-oriented as the Acura ILX, the Verano outclasses compacts like the Honda Civic, VW Jetta, Hyundai Elantra and Nissan Sentra.
If you’re looking for big-car ride, comfort and style in a fuel-efficient compact sedan, the 2016 Buick Verano is definitely a car worth considering. Plenty of high-tech safety and infotainment options, plus an available turbocharged engine make this Verano feel like an expensive midsize sedan.
If you’re a driving enthusiast who likes razor-sharp handling, a firm ride and sporty exterior, you’ll likely be happier in a Mazda3, VW GTI or Ford Focus ST. The Verano is also rather pricey for a compact. It is even more expensive than a comparably equipped midsize Subaru Legacy all-wheel-drive sedan.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2016, the Buick Verano compact sedan gains some new colors and an 8-way-power driver’s seat (replacing last year’s 6-way-power seat).
After an hour or two driving the 2016 Buick Verano sedan, one comes away with the impression this car was built for comfort and long-haul cruising. Where many small-luxury sedans...
... sacrifice a smooth ride in the name of better handling and performance, the Verano seems to find a happy middle ground, returning a feeling of solidity usually found only in larger sedans. Then again, the standard 2.4-liter engine isn’t going to light a fire under anyone’s seat, which leads us to recommend the 2.0-liter turbo. Unfortunately, the turbocharged engine is available only on the most expensive trim. Inside the Verano’s cabin is a wealth of technology including forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and blind-zone alert. The Verano also features one of the most user-friendly infotainment interfaces in the segment, backed by Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system on all but the base 1SV trim.
The Buick name is synonymous with quiet and comfort, and the 2016 Verano is no exception. Among compact sedans it just might be one of the quietest, employing QuietTuning technology to cancel out undesirable cabin noise and vibration.
Buick’s Verano sedan for 2016 may not be an enthusiast’s dream, but when equipped with the 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, it can dash to 60 mph in less than six seconds. Buyers can even opt for a manual transmission.
The 2016 Buick Verano boasts an interior that's high on quality materials and comfortable seats. The two lower-trim models offer premium cloth seats, while the upper trims come with leather seating. The front passengers will be plenty comfortable, with the driver's seat especially well bolstered for a car of this size. The rear seat isn't quite as generous, but at least it's no worse than competitors’ designs. We like the Verano's standard 7-inch touch-screen interface, but we do wish Buick would cut down on the number of buttons surrounding it.
Park the 2016 Buick Verano next to a 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Limited, and you'd still be hard-pressed to tell that they share a common architecture. The Buick's waterfall grille, gently rising beltline and athletic stance are nicely wrapped up with the tucked-in trunk. There are also traditional Buick styling cues, such as the brand's aesthetic "portholes" atop the hood directly beneath the windshield pillars. The standard wheels are impressive 18-inch aluminum-alloys. Turbocharged Veranos are the sleepers of the line, with just a subtle "T" badge on the trunk and dual exhaust outlets to indicate their extra muscle.
The 2016 Buick Verano 1SD comes standard with features that some of its competitors don't even offer as options. Base models get 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/USB sound system with 7-inch color touch screen, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a rearview camera. It also comes standard with an electronic parking brake, remote start, Bluetooth and sound-deadening tricks like acoustic laminated glass to keep the interior quiet, a rarity for this price range. All Veranos include 10 airbags, stability/traction control, and automatic crash response as part of a 6-month trial of the OnStar communications system.
Many desirable amenities for Buick’s 2016 Verano are bundled among its four trim levels. Those available a la carte include navigation, a power sunroof and Bose premium sound. The sedan's outer appearance can be enhanced with a sport package that includes a rear spoiler. The Driver’s Confidence package adds blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning. The Comfort Package adds heated front seats, and an 8-way-power driver's seat. Turbo models can be equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission instead of the 6-speed automatic, and come with leather, a heated steering wheel and a 9-speaker Bose sound system.
The standard engine on three of the 2016 Buick Verano models is a 180-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, which comes connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. However, you can opt for the Verano Premium Turbo Group which, not surprisingly, comes with a turbocharged engine. With 250 horsepower from its 2.0 liters, and coming with either a 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission, it definitely makes the Verano more interesting to drive. All Veranos are front-wheel drive. The base engine can run on regular unleaded gasoline, while premium is recommended for the turbo. Like other 2016 Buicks, the Verano includes free scheduled maintenance for two years or 24,000 miles.
180 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/32 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
250 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/31 mpg (manual), 21/30 mpg (automatic)
The most basic 2016 Buick Verano is the value-oriented 1SV, with its reasonable Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $22,000. Most will opt for the better-equipped Verano 1SD, which starts around $25,500. Prices go up from there, but even the top-line Verano with its turbocharged engine comes in under $30,000. We would suggest the Leather Group model, thanks to its plentiful features and reasonable $27,500 price tag. Overall, the Buick Verano comfortably undercuts the rest of its niche market of entry-level luxury vehicles. An Acura ILX 4-door sedan, by comparison, starts closer to $28,500, while a base Lexus CT 200h is over $10,000 beyond the Buick's starting price. Be sure to check KBB's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Verano. The downside is that the Verano's resale value isn't projected to be as good as the CT 200h, or even the ILX.