Most of the products that were unveiled at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show have little relevance for car buyers in the U.S., but the debut of China’s 2016 Buick Verano is a look into the crystal ball for Buick showrooms here. After seeing strong sales in its first two model years on the market, last year saw a small drop in sales that put the Verano as Buick’s fourth-best-selling model (out of five products), so an update to the bottom of its lineup is definitely needed. Although branded a 2016 model year in China, there were doubts on whether the new compact sedan will arrive in the North America in time to be labeled as a 2016 model. Turns out, Buick was able to do that, too, as the 2016 Verano has now been announced in the US. Even with most of the major auto shows over in the U.S., Buick was able to squeeze in the announcement of the 2016 Verano in time for the last auto event on the calendar. The timeline looks stretched now but don’t be surprised to see the new U.S.-spec Buick Verano make its official debut at the LA Auto Show in November 2015.

Updated 08/13/2015: Buick announced today the addition of the new Sport Touring (ST) models to the 2016 Verano lineup. They will be distinguished by distinctive exterior cues, like special 18-inch wheels and a rear spoiler, plus additional equipment to the interior.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Buick Verano.

Exterior

2016 Buick Verano
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Perhaps the biggest complaint about the current Verano is its rather conservative styling, and Buick will remedy that with a new design inspired largely by the recently updated Buick LaCrosse. and the Buick Enclave.

The front end gets more expressive, horizontal headlights with blue translucent rings around the projector beam headlamp. Buick’s signature waterfall grille also occupies a great portion of the Verano’s front profile while the rear-end design now features larger LED taillights and integrated exhaust outlets. As expected, hood vents also make an appearance on the Verano. They’re not as big as I thought they would be and their locations on the corners of the hood near the windshield is a little surprising, but they’re there an they add aesthetic and functional purposes for the Buick.

The Buick Verano has always had its own distinct personality, but this new model does seem to share its general shape with the upcoming next-generation Chevrolet Cruze,, including the lower bumper and front air intakes that look completely identical to the one on the Cruze. The Chevy influence does give the Verano a sharper look that when added to the arching roofline and the steeply raked windshield gives the car a more confident and upscale profile.

The 2016 Verano will also receive three new color options - Crystal Red, Ebony Twilight Metallic, and Graphite Gray Metallic - adding to the already existing list of palettes available for the car.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in / mm) 105.7 / 2685
Overall length (in / mm) 183.9 / 4671
Overall width (in / mm) 71.4 / 1814
Overall height (in / mm) 58.1 / 1475
Track width (in / mm) 60.3 / 1532 (front)
60.7 / 1542 (rear)

Interior

The interior of the Verano speaks to the level of gains Buick has made in the entry-level premium segment. I’ll admit that my expectations weren’t that high based on past experiences, but consider me pleasantly surprised by an inviting cabin that actually felt more luxurious than I thought it would be. The prevalent use of metallic and wood trim accents serves as a fancy complement to the more delicate premium soft-touch materials adorning the entire cabin. Buick even provided a nice variety on the surfaces, fitting the Verano with a choice of either leatherette and fabric seating surfaces or the more high-quality leather surfaces.

The dashboard configuration also looks clean. All the pertinent features are put together on the center console, eliminating any kind of clutter on the dash. That minimalist touch is a good look for the Verano, especially for prospective customers who may not be too keen on looking for misplaced knobs and buttons.

Some features of the interior come standard on certain models of the Verano. For instance, heated and leather-appointed seating are standard features on the 1SG while the 1SD gets its own comfort package, which includes a power driver’s seat and heated front seats. Others, like the push-button engine start, the dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, and electronic parking brake, are standard for all models of the sedan.

Buick’s QuietTuning technology is also a high point for the Verano, as are the acoustical laminated glass and triple door seals. These exclusive features are capable of blocking sound and eliminating vibrations, providing occupants some peace and quiet when they’re inside the car. That kind of ambience will be helpful when passengers use the Verano’s IntelliLink system or the OnStar 4G LTE.

All these feature appointments are crucial in cultivating an inviting cabin that can rival its competition. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Verano’s interior is the best of the lot, but I will say that it’s markedly improved from where it was from its past iterations.

Drivetrain

2016 Buick Verano
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Unfortunately, the all-new 1.5-liter Ecotec turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine isn’t making an appearance in the new Buick Verano. The good news is that the standard 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine, which already produces 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, will be accompanied by a 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo engine that has a more powerful 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque at its disposal.

The two engines have enough of a power gap to be treated as distinctively clear-cut options. The 2.4 will retain its status as the standard engine of the Verano, carrying with it direct-injection, dual-overhead camshafts, and variable valve timing to give the sedan improved mechanical response and a fuel economy of 21 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, as per EPA estimates. It’s not a marked improvement from the previous Verano. That’s likely due to Buick’s decision to stick with a six-speed automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control instead of the rumored seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT).

Meanwhile, the 2.0-liter turbo gives the Verano power that’s equivalent to a V-6, all while getting the same efficiency of a four-cylinder. That’s the best of both worlds that Buick can heavily lean on to entice customers to side with the Verano at the moment of purchase. The turbo engine will course its power through a six-speed automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control, just like the Like the 2.4 Ecotec, although a six-speed manual transmission is also available for buyers looking to be more involved in the driving performance of their sedans.

Drivetrain Specifications

Ecotec 2.4L DOHC I-4 Ecotec 2.0L DOHC I-4 Turbo
Displacement (cu. in. / cc) 145 / 2384 122 / 1998
Bore and stroke (in. / mm) 3.46 x 3.86 / 88 x 98 3.39 x 3.39 / 86 x 86
Block material cast aluminum cast aluminum
Cylinder head material cast aluminum cast aluminum
Valvetrain overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, continuous variable valve timing for intake and exhaust overhead camshafts, four-valves per cylinder, continuously variable valve timing for intake and exhaust
Ignition system individual coil-on-plug individual coil-on-plug
Fuel delivery direct injection and electronic throttle control direct injection and electronic throttle control
Compression ratio 11.2:1 9.2:1
Horsepower 180 HP @ 6700 RPM 250 HP @ 5300 RPM
Torque 171 LB-FT @ 4900 RPM 260 Lb-FT @ 2000 RPM

Prices

2016 Buick Verano
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Pricing for the 2016 Verano has yet to be announced, but if decisions made by Buick in May 2015 are any indication, the price for the new Verano could be lower than the initial price of the 2015 model, at least as far as the entry-level trim is concerned. That’s because Buick took the step of cutting the prices of some of its models, including the Verano 1SV, the cheapest trim option of the sedan.

Whereas the initial starting price stood at $23,380, Buick dropped it to $21,065, plus $925 destination to help persuade potential customers of eschewing the competition in favor of the Verano. That price is also $2,315 lower compared to the next higher trim, the 1SD. The price drop meant that the Verano retained its titles as the lowest-priced model in the Buick lineup.

Competition

2016 Acura ILX

2016 - 2017 Acura ILX High Resolution Exterior
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The ILX carries the same sharp and somewhat muscular design seen across the entire Acura lineup, but it has been updated for the 2016 model year.

To keep the exterior and interior styling fresh, the 2016 Acura ILX has received minor design updates, but the key difference made to the 2016 Acura ILX is the powertrain. The base 2.0-liter four-cylinder was dropped leaving just the 201-horsepowr, 2.4-liter engine under the hood of the ILX. While it does have a decent power advantage over the Verano, it does so at a starting price of $27,900, which is not only $1,000 more than the 2015 ILX but also considerably more than the 2015 Verano.

Read our full review here.

2015 Audi A3 Sedan

2015 Audi A3 Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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It took Audi a couple of years to confirm that the A3 Sedan will arrive Stateside, but the Germans finally broke the big news in the first quarter of 2014. Obviously inspired by the larger A4, the compact sports the signature Singleframe grille and comes equipped with full-LED headlights. The A3’s cabin is probably the most attractive in the segment and boasts high-quality materials, three-dimensional inlays and a wraparound dashboard design. Leather upholstery, Bluetooth and rain-sensing wipers are offered standard.

Two engine choices are available at the dealership, with both of them using gasoline to fuel their needs. The 1.8-liter TFSI delivers 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque, while the 2.0-liter TFSI packs 220 ponies and 258 pound-feet of torque. The most powerful model can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds, making far more attractive than its competitors. The base model starts at $29,900, while the 2.0 TFSI version fetches at least $32,900.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

The Verano has been a bit hit globally for Buick, and the all-new version of the entry-level luxury sedan looks to continue that trend. The addition of the 2.0-liter turbo engine should attract plenty of new customers should Buick back up its claim of the engine’s V-6-like power and four-cylinder efficiency.

The new Verano isn’t going to storm into a crowded market of worthy adversaries and become the undisputed king of the segment. But as far as getting the attention of its rivals, the Verano has at least accomplished that.

  • Leave it
    • * Looks too much like the next-gen Chevy Cruze
    • * What happened to the DCT gearbox?

Updated History

Updated 04/21/2015: Buick unveiled the new generation Verano at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show, meaning of course that an U.S. debut should follow shortly.

Spy Shots

May 28, 2014 - Next Buick Verano testing in Germany

2016 Buick Verano Exterior Spyshots
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2016 Buick Verano Exterior Spyshots
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2016 Buick Verano Exterior Spyshots
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Press Release

Buick’s new-generation sports sedan, the Verano, made its debut this evening at Shanghai GM Gala Night. It will be appearing on Shanghai GM’s stand at Auto Shanghai 2015, which starts tomorrow.

2016 Buick Verano
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The brand’s latest entry in the mid-range passenger car segment has a stylish exterior, class-leading fuel efficiency and precise handling. The Verano is targeted at individuals who value a personal and dynamic driving experience.

Design inspired by Buick Riviera and Avenir concept cars

The Verano was inspired by the new Buick Riviera concept car, which premiered in 2013, and captures the design essence of the Buick Avenir concept car, which debuted at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It represents an innovative interpretation of Buick’s classic styling while exemplifying the elegance and dynamism of Buick’s new-generation products.

The Verano features Buick’s signature waterfall grille, which is complemented by Avenir-style wing-shaped HID xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights. The wing shape is embodied in the LED taillights as well.

Positioned at a steep angle, the windshield joins the fastback roof and streamlined C-pillar curves. This gives the body a longer look that adds to its dynamic yet elegant aura. The Verano’s double-sweep beltline is characteristic of Buick sedans. The bottom curves that run through the front and rear end, together with cambered lower panels, set off the Verano’s sculpted silhouette. Impressive 17-inch, 10-spoke aluminum rims and dual integrated inset exhausts add to the stylish look.

Efficient performance and precise handling

2016 Buick Verano
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Powering the Verano is a 1.5T SIDI turbocharged engine, which is the most powerful member of GM’s latest-generation Ecotec engine family. It is paired with a new-generation seven-speed DCG transmission with smooth gear shifting that has been adapted for China. The transmission was put through 4.25 million kilometers of extreme road testing.

The Verano offers peak power of 124 kW at 5,600 rpm and peak torque of 250 Nm at 1,700-4,400 rpm. With the standard start-stop function and a class-leading wind drag coefficient as low as 0.27, the Verano’s combined fuel consumption is 6.1L/100 km – a new benchmark for its class.

Underpinning the Verano is a newly optimized chassis that has been tuned in line with China’s road conditions to ensure precise handling and an exhilarating experience. Continental MC5 225/45 R17 sports tires with low rolling resistance offer outstanding noise reduction, high precision and a strong grip.

Acceleration of Buick’s mid-range passenger car strategy

2016 Buick Verano
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The Verano is the latest entry from Buick to address the diverse demands of customers in China’s mid-range passenger car segment. It joins the all-new Excelle GT, which was launched earlier this year, and the Excelle – regarded as the “family car benchmark.”

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