Full 2014 Buick Verano Review
What's New for 2014
New safety features available on the 2014 Buick Verano include forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems. Heated front seats are now standard in all Veranos, except the base model.
In the automotive world, it used to be that "luxury" was synonymous with size. But that's been changing in recent years, and the 2014 Buick Verano is a fine example. This entry-level luxury sedan has compact dimensions, yet still offers an attractively trimmed interior with reasonable room for four occupants and their luggage. The Verano also has more sophisticated road manners than you might expect from a small sedan. Factor in its modest price tag, and this Buick is a compelling proposition alongside compact and midsize sedans from other premium-brand automakers.
The 2014 Verano doesn't have a lot of flashy styling details, and its overall design is more sedate than some of Buick's other models. But the look is in line with the reserved character many prefer from an upscale car. The same is true for the interior, which is a cut above everyday family cars with nice materials and an impressively long list of standard luxury and technology features.
Buick gives you a choice of two engines. The standard 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder is adequate and goes about its business in the quiet manner you'd expect. The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine in the Turbo model kicks in an additional 70 horses that totally changes the character of this small sedan's performance. This Verano is quick, and if you're so inclined, you can even get it with a six-speed manual transmission (in lieu of the more popular six-speed automatic).
The population of compact near-luxury sedans remains small, and not many of them put all the pieces together as well as the 2014 Verano. Its closest rivals are the 2014 Acura ILX and 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. Both cost more when similarly equipped, and the Acura simply doesn't offer as many safety and tech features, nor is it as quick or refined as Buick's small sedan. The Mercedes is more fashionable and luxurious than the Verano, but its tight rear seat will likely make it less appealing if you're frequently taking along passengers.
In that latter regard, even the Verano can't replicate the stretch-your-legs, all-day comfort of a midsize or full-size luxury sedan. If that's a downside for you, it's a good idea to check out midsize cars like the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, which cost about the same as the Verano while offering a great deal more space and, in many cases, better fuel economy. If a small, premium sedan is really what you want, though, the well-rounded 2014 Buick Verano is a fine choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Buick Verano is offered in four trim levels: Verano, Verano with the Convenience Group, Verano with the Leather Group and Verano with the Premium Group, otherwise known as the Verano Turbo.
The base Verano comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, cruise control, remote engine start (automatic transmission only), dual-zone automatic climate control, split-folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 7-inch touchscreen display, Buick's IntelliLink electronics interface (which includes voice control and smartphone radio app integration), a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, OnStar telematics and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Convenience Group brings heated side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear parking sensors, heated front seats and a six-way power driver seat with manual recline. Standard safety features include blind-spot, forward-collision, lane-departure and rear cross-traffic warning systems.
The Leather Group adds keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.
The Premium Group is the Turbo model. It features a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and combines all of the equipment of the Leather and Convenience groups while adding a rear spoiler. A sunroof is optional for all Verano models, and a navigation system is optional for all except the base model.
Powertrains and Performance
Base power for the 2014 Buick Verano is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 180 hp and 171 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with a manual-shift feature is the only transmission offered. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 25 mpg combined (21 mpg city/32 mpg highway) -- respectable numbers but lower than those of midsize cars like the Altima and Accord.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque is available only for the Verano Turbo. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, but a six-speed manual transmission is optional. Fuel economy ratings are solid with either transmission: 24 mpg combined (21 city/30 highway) with the automatic 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. On the other hand, the Verano Turbo hit 60 in 6.6 seconds, which is average for an entry-level luxury sedan, but quick compared with upper-crust midsize sedans.
Standard safety features for the 2014 Buick Verano include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, rear seat side airbags, and front-seat knee airbags. The standard OnStar system includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, an emergency button, stolen vehicle locator and active intervention, and remote door unlock. All Buick Veranos come with a rearview camera and rear parking sensors, and starting with the Convenience Group, you also get blind-spot, forward-collision, lane-departure and rear cross-traffic warning systems.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Verano came to a stop from 60 mph in a class-average 122 feet.
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 possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
It may be a compact car, but the 2014 Buick Verano is deceptively roomy. Drivers of any size can get comfortable behind the wheel and will find plenty of seat adjustability. However, the absence of power recline adjustment for the seatback (it adjusts manually) is a disappointment in a near-luxury car, as is the lack of driver-seat memory function.
And while the Verano has reasonable backseat legroom, it's still not as accommodating as a midsize sedan, especially in the rear center position. We suspect some of the rear seat room was relegated to the trunk, which measures 15.2 cubic feet, an impressive capacity for this class of car.
The Verano's dashboard has a sleek and subdued layout, which is marred only by a few too many buttons. The standard 7-inch touchscreen presents information in large, legible characters, and the arrangement of its icons can be customized as on a smartphone. Buick's IntelliLink infotainment connection allows integration of Pandora and Stitcher radio apps, too. As with some other touchscreen-based systems, 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. A few of the trim pieces don't quite make the cut in an entry-level luxury sedan -- a reminder that the Verano is related to the Chevrolet Cruze.
The Verano's ride is probably its most appealing attribute. It backs up its luxury car aspirations by providing a supple, comfortable ride over almost any road surface. It's also supremely quiet in the cabin at highway speeds. At the same time, Buick's small sedan is steady and composed around turns, and its steering is precise with appropriate effort levels. We wouldn't exactly call the Verano's handling invigorating, but it's certainly competent.
Performance from the 2014 Buick Verano's standard 2.4-liter engine provides adequate acceleration in normal driving, and the automatic transmission provides smooth, refined shifts. Still, we'd be inclined to upgrade to the Turbo, which provides brisk performance on the highway with minimal sacrifice in fuel economy.