2015 Buick Verano Turbo FWD PremiumPosted on November 5th, 2014
Premium compact sedan combines substance and style
By Nina Russin
As a distance runner, I’m all about efficiency. Morning coffee chatter is as likely to be about the proper heart rate for building volume of oxygen uptake as Sunday’s football scores. This is the reason I like turbocharging: it makes the car run more efficiently.
By increasing the amount of air passing through the engine with an exhaust-driven blower, a turbocharger makes the car capable of accelerating harder and performing better at altitude. It also enhances fuel economy.
Turbocharging is the compact Buick Verano sedan’s ace-in-the-hole. While two liters of displacement might not seem like much, the addition of a turbocharger gives the Verano four-cylinder engine 250 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of peak torque, available at 2000 rpm. Zero-to-sixty acceleration is 6.2 seconds.
All models are available with a six-speed automatic transmission. A manual gear selection feature enables the driver to keep the revs up for more aggressive performance. The turbocharged model is also available with a six-speed manual gearbox.
For 2015, standard OnStar adds 4G LTE, turning the sedan into a mobile hotspot.
The premium model tested starts at $29,065 excluding the $925 destination charge. Standard safety features include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, a rearview camera with cross traffic alert and automatic notification of police and emergency medical personnel in the event of a serious collision.
The test car adds optional carbon black metallic paint, a power moonroof, premium audio system with navigation, splashguards, floor mats and wheel locks, bringing the final MSRP to $32,335.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
Last summer, I drove the 2014 Buick Verano to Flagstaff as part of Buick’s Runs Worth the Drive co-promotion with MapMyFitness. This past week, I drove the 2015 model through Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley, including Scottsdale and Chandler, Arizona. I also took a drive along the Bush Highway in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains east of town.
Although the Verano lacks the cargo space of Buick’s two crossovers, the Enclave and Encore, it’s a very functional package for a runner such as me. With 30 mile-per-gallon fuel economy, the Verano has a nice long range between fill-ups. Performance at altitude is quite good, thanks to the turbocharged engine. There is no noticeable parasitic power loss at elevations approaching 8,000 feet.
The standard active safety features listed above make the Verano an easy car to commute through traffic in. Blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots, making it easier to change lanes safely. Lane departure warning sounds an audible alarm if the driver starts to drift out of his lane without signaling.
The rear vision camera is especially useful in Arizona since about half the vehicles on the road are trucks. Without it, the driver would find monitoring cross traffic difficult when pulling out of a parking spot. In addition to providing a wide-angle view to the back of the vehicle, the system gives the driver visual and audible warnings if it detects another car in its path.
The two-liter turbocharged engine and six-speed automatic transmission are a satisfying combination. I shifted the transmission into sport mode on the Bush Highway so I could select gears manually. The engine’s sweet spot is 3,000-3,500 rpm. While it decreases fuel economy, making the engine rev higher really changes the character of the car, making it feel more nimble on winding two-lane roads.
The suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam in the back. While I’m not typically a fan of live rear axles this one seems to work fine with the car. The electric power steering system is nicely tuned to the chassis, with plenty of assist at low speeds for maneuverability and decent on-center response on the highway.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
Engineers did a good job of minimizing road, wind and engine noise to the interior, so driver and passengers can converse on the highway or enjoy the premium audio system.
Buick’s style revolution is by no means limited to exterior design. The interior is elegant and modern as well. Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob. The ignition button is located on the instrument panel in the upper left corner of the center stack.
As an athlete, I would prefer a technical cloth upholstery to the leather in the test car, simply because it is easier to clean and stays cooler in our hot Southwestern summers. I would also like to see additional lower lumbar support in the driver’s position. It can make a big difference on long road trips.
Center stack design on the newest generation of Buicks is a big improvement over several years back: cleaner and more intuitive with fewer controls. I found the center stack screen easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions. The gauges are on the dark side so they can be difficult to read in bright sunlight if the driver is wearing sunglasses.
The steering wheel is a good size for women drivers with smaller frames, but the diameter is large enough for men to be comfortable as well. A dead pedal keeps the driver’s left foot ergonomically placed for longer drives.
Because of its compact size, the Verano is better suited for four passengers than five. Rear seats in the outboard position have enough legroom to keep average size adults comfortable.
A spacious trunk has plenty of room for luggage, groceries and some camping equipment. Cyclists will probably want to add a roof rack or rear hitch.
The Buick Verano comes with front, side, side curtain, driver and front passenger knee airbags, antilock brakes stability control, traction control and tire pressure monitoring.
OnStar now includes a vehicle diagnostics link that runs a monthly check of the engine and transmission.
The Verano received a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Like: A stylish compact sedan with peppy performance, good fuel economy and a high level of standard active and passive safety features.
Dislike: Lack of lower lumbar support in the driver’s seat. Gauges can be difficult to read in bright sunlight.
Model: Verano Turbo FWD Premium
Base price: $29,065
As tested: $32,335
Horsepower: 250 Hp @ 5300 rpm
Torque: 260 lbs.-ft. @ 2000 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 6.2 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 21/30 mpg city/highway2015, Best Value 2015, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Buick, performance, pricing, standard safety
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