2016 Buick Cascada

KEY WEST, Fla. — The all-new Cascada is the first drop top to adorn a Buick emblem since the Reatta convertible whose production ended in 1991. Sales were dismal, with fewer than 2,500 units sold, when Buick pulled the plug. Cascada, Spanish for “waterfall” and built in Poland, has been selling under the Opel, Vauxhall and Holden badges for the past two years, is beginning to arrive at U.S. dealer showrooms now.

Visually striking, the premium Cascada exhibits a flowing sculpted profile, with a fast-raked windshield and sleek headlamps that flow into the front fenders and Buick’s signature wing-shaped daytime running lights.

Taillamps are accented by a strip of chrome to enhance its overall premium look. But opening the trunk reveals an extra set of taillamps. It’s a requirement in Europe that if your vehicle breaks down on the motorway you have to be able to see hazard lights on the vehicle.

When it comes to dropping the top, it automatically lowers in only 17 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph with the rear deck lid opening rearward to accommodate the folding soft top. In the up position, its multilayer constructed thermal and acoustic insulated top contribute to surprisingly quiet driving comfort and a perfect, seamless profile.
Heated leather seating with hand stitching in either black or tan is standard.  Also standard in every Cascada is a leather, heated steering wheel, rear vision camera, audio system with navigation, 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot, and rear park assist.

Cascada’s Seating is a 2+2 arrangement that offers comfortable room for four adults.   Rear seat access to any convertible has always been problematic. Cascada, however seems to have solved the problem. An electronic rear-seat entry system automatically powers the front seats forward by simply pressing the seatback forward. It moves the seats back when the seatback is returned to the upright position. Additionally, electric safety belt presenters use telescopic arms to slide the upper front safety belt assemblies from behind the front seat into closer reach for easier buckling. For the most part we really liked the interior. Available in either black or tan ventilated and patterned leather, we really liked the contrasting hand stitching on the dash and seats. Buick foregoes wood veneers and premium metallic trim with applications of piano black plastic and faux brushed aluminum.

What we didn’t like was the hot mess of 47 different buttons for the operating functions located on the center dash. That’s just too many and too busy, plus the switchgear doesn’t have a premium look or feel. We also found the seven-inch color operating screen too small, making it difficult to see and read. Buick also uses the dated current iteration of IntelLink operating system so you don’t get things like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Cascada has a starting price of $33,990 including destination charges. Opt for the Cascada Premium model, priced as $36,990 and you get a host of advanced safety features like forward collision alert, lane departure warning, automatic headlamp control with tunnel detection, front and rear park assist, rain sensing automatic windshield wipers, twenty-inch wheels and front and rear air deflectors.

The Cascada is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine rated at 200 horsepower. Power is delivered to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

On the road we found the ride quiet and comfortable but wished for a bit more power under the hood. And, for an open-top car, it has this deep, fundamental stoutness — no cowl shake, no twitters anywhere.

Standard safety features include front, side and knee airbags. There are also spring-loaded, pyrotechnically activated roll bars behind the front seats, which are linked to the airbag system. When deployed, they extend approximately 14 inches to match the height of the windshield.

Overall, the Cascada won’t be a key volume driver but it will help maintain some of the momentum at Buick. My overwhelming sensation of the Cascada is that it’s a good car for the money and Buick loyalists will be more than pleased with it.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $33,990
Price as Tested: $37,385

Fuel Economy: 20 MPG City – 27 MPG Highway

Key Safety Features: 

Front, side and knee airbags
Rear roll bar protection
Forward collision alert 
Lane departure warning

The Good:

Stylish, attractive design
Loaded with standard equipment
Easy up and down top operation

The Bad:
Compromised rear visibility
No blind spot detection system
Fussy operating controls

Competes With:

Audi A3 Cabriolet

BMW 2-Series

— Jim Prueter