Used 2016 Buick Verano Review

The 2016 Buick Verano brings American luxury car qualities to the small car realm. It's a solid choice if you're set on buying a compact sedan, but keep in mind that its German rivals are nicer, while similarly priced midsize cars offer more space and superior fuel economy.




what's new

For 2016, the Buick Verano gets new base and Sport trim levels. Otherwise it is a carryover from the previous model year.

vehicle overview

For decades, the small car in the United States was an afterthought, a car for people who couldn't afford much else. The idea of packing a compact full of luxury was not something being kicked around in Michigan boardrooms. The Europeans and the Japanese, however, have always seen compacts as cars for all kinds of people, and for some time now have decked some out in levels of quality U.S. automakers reserved for Cadillacs and Lincolns.

The 2016 Buick Verano entry-level luxury compact sedan is related to the Chevrolet Cruze.

But the idea of a compact luxury car caught on with U.S. consumers thanks to the efforts of the import brands and the demand in recent years for ever-increasing fuel efficiency. Detroit has been hurrying to catch up. For General Motors, that didn't mean dumping downsized Caddys on the market -- it meant reimagining the Buick brand. With the Buick Verano, GM has done a nice job of providing an entry-level luxury compact sedan that won't get you laughed out of the executive lunchroom or relegated to the back rows of the country club parking lot.

The 2016 Buick Verano presents an upscale yet reserved exterior, a well-crafted interior and a substantial list of standard and optional luxury and high-tech features. The Verano is a compact though, and that shows in the backseat, where legroom is tight. Unless you're willing to ride shotgun with the chauffeur, you'll have to move up a bit in size for a luxury sedan with a backseat large enough to work in while Jeeves wrestles with the traffic.

There aren't many choices in this nascent class of compact luxury cars. The Verano's closest rivals are the 2016 Acura ILX, 2016 Audi A3 and the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. The underachieving Acura isn't as quick or refined as Buick's small sedan. The Audi and Mercedes-Benz are more appealing. They have stronger engines and deliver better-crafted interiors and greater cachet. But they're also more expensive and a bit tighter in terms of rear seat space.

Also keep in mind that if you need more room and can do without the luxury image, you could get a higher-end midsize sedan, such as the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord or Nissan Altima. All provide more room, similar features and sometimes even better fuel economy. But considering its price, composed ride and healthy list of features, the well-rounded 2016 Buick Verano is a good choice for a compact, premium sedan.

trim levels & features

The 2016 Buick Verano is a five-seat, compact luxury sedan offered in six trim levels: a new base Verano (the 1SV), the standard Verano (formerly the base model), Convenience Group, Sport Touring, Leather Group and Premium Turbo Group (also known just as the Verano Turbo).

Standard features for the Verano with SV Group include 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, split-folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way manually adjustable front seats, OnStar (with 4G Wi-Fi connectivity) and a six-speaker audio system with CD player and a USB port.

The regular Verano (the base model in previous model years) adds remote engine start, a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, a 7-inch touchscreen display, Buick's IntelliLink interface, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice recognition, smartphone app integration and satellite radio.

The 7-inch touchscreen on the 2016 Buick Verano is augmented with a somewhat confusing block of buttons for controlling important features.

An available Comfort package adds an eight-way power driver seat and heated front seats.

Moving up to the Convenience Group gets you the power driver seat and heated front seats plus 18-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, foglights, rear parking sensors and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The Verano Sport Touring is equipped the same as the Convenience Group but has different 18-inch wheels and a rear trunklid spoiler.

Compared to the Convenience Group, the Leather Group adds leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.

The Premium Turbo Group includes all of the equipment of the Leather Group and features a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and a rear spoiler.

An Appearance Group available for the Sport, Convenience and Leather trims includes a chrome grille and a rear spoiler. A sunroof and a navigation system are optional for all versions except the SV Group and standard Verano trims. You can also get an optional Driver confidence package for most Veranos that has a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and a forward collision warning system.

performance & mpg

Most versions of the front-wheel-drive 2016 Buick Verano come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which generates 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The top-of-the-line Premium Turbo version is powered by a livelier turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that delivers 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This version is available with either the six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission.

The EPA's estimated fuel economy for the 2.4-liter engine is a respectable 25 mpg combined (21 city/32 highway), although that's lower than some larger midsize cars like the four-cylinder Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. For the extra power it provides, the 2.0-liter turbo engine doesn't give up much in fuel economy. It's estimated to provide 24 mpg combined (21 city/30 highway) with the automatic transmission 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, slow for this class. The more powerful Verano Turbo, however, hit 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. It's noticeably quicker, but about average for an entry-level luxury sedan or upper-crust midsize sedan.

safety

Standard safety features for the 2016 Buick Verano include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front and rear side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front seat knee airbags.

Additional safety features, including blind-spot, forward-collision, lane-departure and rear cross-traffic warning systems, are standard on all versions except the base Verano. The OnStar service provides automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance and stolen vehicle assistance.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Verano came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, average for the class.

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 rating of Good in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test, as well as a Good rating for the side-impact, roof-strength and head restraints/seat design (whiplash protection) tests.

driving

Two key highlights of the 2016 Verano are its supple, comfortable ride over almost any road surface and its supremely quiet cabin, even at highway speeds. These inviting attributes help reinforce its luxury car aspirations. Buick's small sedan is also steady and composed around turns, and its steering is precise, with appropriate levels of effort. We wouldn't call the Verano's handling invigorating, but it's certainly competent.

The 2016 Buick Verano's 2.4-liter engine could be considered passable for a regular compact sedan, but for a premium-branded vehicle it's underwhelming. If you're going to buy a Verano, we recommend upgrading to the Turbo, which provides brisk performance on the highway with a minimal sacrifice in fuel economy.

interior

In spite of its compact exterior dimensions, the 2016 Buick Verano is actually pretty roomy inside. With plenty of seat adjustability and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, virtually any driver will be able to get comfortable behind the wheel. The absence of driver-seat memory functions or a front power passenger seat as standard equipment, however, are disappointments in a near-luxury car.

The 2016 Verano's interior is handsome looking, but you have to move up to the Leather Group trim level for leather upholstery.

The Verano has reasonable backseat legroom, but unquestionably, it's not as accommodating in this regard as a similarly priced midsize sedan, especially in the rear center position. Some of that rear seat room, we suspect, went into trunk space, which measures a roomy 15.2 cubic feet, an impressive capacity for this class.

The 7-inch touchscreen (standard on everything except the SV) presents information in large, legible characters, and the arrangement of its icons can be customized, as on a smartphone. It also provides a lot of functionality, including, for iPhone users, additional voice-command functionality through a Siri Eyes Free mode. On the downside, the user 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 and for the most part uses higher-grade materials than you'll find in mainstream small or midsize sedans. The big block of lookalike buttons on the console and a few of the trim pieces, however, don't quite make the cut in an entry-level luxury sedan -- a reminder that this Verano is related to the Chevrolet Cruze Limited. This is especially true in comparison to the much nicer interiors of the Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.