The Inside

Where it counts, the Verano's interior feels plush — somewhere between a compact and a luxury car, but closer to the latter. Similar money could get a well-equipped Cruze or Mazda3. The Buick is richer than both. Its doors shut with a suitable thunk, and amid city gridlock and elevated trains, the insulation impresses. You can talk without raising your voice as a garbage truck barrels by. Padded materials line the doors and dash, fabric runs down the A-pillars — a luxury-car touch — and the faux-metal trim has an upscale brushed finish.

The Buick's budget-luxury proposition shows through in a few rickety center controls and some plainer backseat trim, but the car's price should help shoppers overlook that. So will its space. The front seats should accommodate the lankiest drivers. At 5-foot-11, I drove with the seat a few inches forward, and the height-adjustment range goes on forever. A six-way power driver's seat is optional, but Buick should add a power passenger seat — a common feature among luxury cars. Harder to fix will be the Verano's sightlines: Large side windows and mirrors illuminate what's around you, but the short windshield and tiny rearview mirror limit things ahead and behind.

Buick's IntelliLink multimedia system, a cousin to Chevrolet's MyLink system, compares to similar systems from Ford and Toyota. Standard on the Verano, it can stream internet radio from smartphone applications like Pandora and Stitcher to the stereo and display supporting information on the 7-inch touch-screen. Controls below the screen are harder to sort through than the Cruze's buttons, but they're easier to navigate than the gaggle of knobs in the Buick Regal.

Like most premium small cars, the Verano's backseat is modest. Headroom is livable, but legroom is tight. Consign any adults to the back, and they may try to negotiate an inch or two from you. Trunk volume in the Verano is a decent 14.3 cubic feet. It drops to 14.0 cubic feet with the Bose stereo, which intrudes on trunk space. A 60/40-split backseat is standard, and it carries the center seat belt with it when it folds — a convenience often found in European cars. It keeps you from having to maneuver large cargo around a belt that's hanging off the rear shelf.

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