Used Vehicle Review: Buick Verano, 2012-2016

Vehicle Type

Compact Luxury Sedan

Interestingly, many owners say they shopped the Verano as an alternative to the Chevrolet Cruze, or upgraded from one.

History / Summary

Designed to bring Buick’s knack for value and comfort to the compact luxury car scene, the Verano launched in 2011 as a 2012 model, and carries on in its initial generation today. With compelling pricing, good fuel mileage, and no fewer than 5 trim grades customizable with optional packages, the Verano was shopped by a wide range of customers. All models offered Buick’s Quiet Tuning package, which encompasses numerous noise isolation provisions to deliver a remarkably quiet ride.

Feature content included an MP3 compatible audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control and eight-way adjustable front seats, remote start, a premium steering wheel, rearview camera, an upgraded audio display system, and more. Fog lamps, power seats, heated leather seating, heated mirrors, full Bluetooth compatibility and ultrasonic parking assist could all be specified, too.  Advanced safety was covered by Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone alert and more, and the latest in OnStar, built-in Wi-Fi, and IntelliLink systems, including Smartphone-to-car remote control, were available on later models.

Engines / Trim

Standard is a 2.4L four-cylinder engine from Buick’s Ecotec lineup, delivering 180 hp. An available 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine puts a robust 250 hp at the driver’s disposal, and could be paired with a manual six-speed transmission at the shopper’s request.

What Owners Like

Ride quality, fit and finish, fuel mileage, overall comfort and even trunk space were all highly rated by owners, many of whom were initially drawn to the Verano by a compelling blend of upscale attributes and an attractive price. Interestingly, many owners say they shopped the Verano as an alternative to the Chevrolet Cruze, or upgraded from one.

What Owners Dislike

Some owners wish for better performance from the standard engine, more distinctive styling, and more comfortable and supportive seats.

Here’s a look at some owner reviews.

The Test Drive

Finding a Verano from this generation with plenty of remaining warranty shouldn’t be a problem – so buying confidently is largely a function of finding a used model at the right price, ideally from a Buick Dealer as part of a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program. Typically, CPO vehicles have to meet a higher standard of quality, are pre-checked by a mechanic, and have had their recall work updated before your purchase, adding confidence to the experience.

Still, a few checks are advised. Verano packs a variety of high-tech connectivity features, including OnStar and Bluetooth. Confirm both are working properly, pairing your phone and placing a call to confirm proper operation, and accessing the OnStar via the blue button. Ask the OnStar advisor to confirm that they can locate the car via GPS. If unable, the integrated GPS module may need to be replaced. Bad GPS modules are relatively uncommon, but worth checking into.

Be sure to run the touchscreen interface through all functions several times, confirming the system doesn’t lag, choke or crash. If it does, a hard-reset may fix the problem. If that doesn’t work, updated software, available from the dealer, may remedy issues with corrupt operating-system programming. If not, pricey new hardware may be required.

Inspect all leather seating surfaces for signs or ripping, cracking or wear, calling any you note into pricing negotiations. Regular use of a quality leather cleaner or conditioner on the seats is also advised to maintain their appearance and durability.

If you’re considering a manual, turbocharged model, be certain to confirm the proper condition and level of engine oil, to confirm that there’s no white, oily smoke from the tailpipes as the engine idles at operating temperature, and to ensure that performance is strong, linear and consistent at moderate to full throttle. If any issues are detected, a bad turbocharger may be to blame, however unlikely. Insist on starting the engine from cold, and letting it idle for five or six minutes before driving, while watching for tailpipe smoke, and especially on higher-mileage units without full service records. Further, ensure the clutch doesn’t slip when full throttle is applied at low revs. If it does, the model in question needs a new clutch. Though the clutch should last the life of the vehicle, a bad driver can ruin one in mere months.

Here’s an inconclusive discussion about non-functional trunk releases. Check that the trunk opens as expected from the interior switch, and the remote, several times on your test drive, to be certain.

A small number of owners have reported transmission problems, often embodied as hard shifting, rolling back on hills, slipping between gears, or otherwise clumsy transmission behavior. If you notice any such issues after purchasing a used Verano, be sure to have your local Buick service department document them to help facilitate future warranty claims, if needed.

Some owners report bad smells from the air conditioning system, often at low mileage. Though inconclusive, this issue appears similar to one common in the Chevrolet Cruze, upon which the Verano is based, where poor air conditioner condensation drainage causes mold and mildew to form in the ducts. If the offending odour is noted, dealers may offer a mildew cleaning kit as a solution.  Note that staying on top of cabin air filter change intervals is also helpful.
Other checks should include the steering system, which may suddenly require more effort to work in the presence of an issue with the power steering system. A small number of owners report that the steering wheel becomes more difficult (though not impossible) to move. This problem mirrors similar issues reported on other GM vehicles, like the Chevrolet Malibu and Cruze. If you notice any issues like this with the steering system, talk to your dealer about installing updated steering system software or components that may help.

Owners are also advised to have a dealer technician assess the health of their used Verano’s battery and charging system, as numerous owners have reported premature failure of the Verano’s battery, possibly caused by draw from accessories that fail to fully shut down when the car is turned off.

The Verdict

For affordable access to luxurious and fuel-efficient motoring, a healthy used Verano with a pre-purchase thumbs-up from a Buick technician is your safest bet.

A list of recalls.

Crash Test Scores

IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2013)
NHTSA: 5/5 Stars (2013 to 2016)

Designed to bring Buick’s knack for value and comfort to the compact luxury car scene, the Verano launched in 2011 as a 2012 model, and... 6/24/2016 7:21:37 AM