2016 Buick Cascada Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director

The 2016 Buick Cascada is built for days when the best driving is done with the top down.

You’ve probably forgotten the Reatta, right? It's true—it's been 25 years since Buick last had a convertible in its lineup.
This year, GM's premium brand wants us all to drop the top again, with the first four-seat convertible it's ever imported from Poland: the 2016 Buick Cascada (pronounced "cass-KAH-duh," not "cass-KAY-dah").
It's no halo car, not a Wildcat, not a GNX. The Cascada is simply a very well-engineered convertible with an extra dose of nice applied before its trip across the Atlantic. No brittle ride, no hideous price tag, no complex folding-hardtop mechanism.
The Cascada's arrival is well timed, given the disappearance of the VW Eos and Chrysler 200 from the convertible scene—not to mention the high sticker prices on the German rivals (Audi TT, Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class).
Buick Cascada styling and performance

The Cascada doesn’t break any new styling ground. It's not a flamboyant look at all, just an attractive one with some subtle European themes showing through its Buick badges. It has a pleasant, rakish profile, and some pronounced side-body sculpting, with a crease that starts behind the wheel wells and arcs back into the taillights. Wing-shaped LED running lamps frame a petite waterfall grille, while chrome bars ring the passenger cell and trim the trunk lid tastefully.

The cockpit is disrupted by a clutter of buttons on the dash, a legacy of GM's halting migration to touchscreen-driven controls. The cabin's very well appointed in muted tones and soft-touch surfaces, but the center stack has all kinds of switches, knobs, even a joystick to run the audio, phone, and navigation systems factored into its electronic offerings. Newer Buicks do it better, with fewer toggles.
Performance is reasonable for the Cascada's top-down driving mission. The front-drive convertible draws power from a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 that produces 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque—on par with some benchmark engines like VW's turbo 2.0-liter inline-4. Shifting is tackled by a 6-speed automatic transmission, with no manual option, and no paddle shift controls.
Acceleration is adequate, but could rank alongside a GTI if the Cascada didn't weight in at just about 4,000 pounds. About 500 pounds heavier than a Chevy Cruze diesel—or a V-6 LaCrosse sedan—the Cascada packs on the pounds in the form of body reinforcement. It doesn't wiggle or waggle much, so the added-on weight is a success--— one dimension, at least.
The extra weight helps damp out the Cascada's ride on perfectly smooth roads, but its 20-inch wheels and particular suspension tuning leave it less satisfying in city driving. It's smooth and composed until it's not--and that's often, since big bumps can upset its ride damping, and deliver some harsh impacts through the front-strut and rear Watts-link suspension right to the cabin.

Buick Cascada comfort, safety, and features

Top-down driving is the Cascada's forte. Its thickly lined convertible lid can be lowered or raised in under 17 seconds, while the car is moving as fast as 31 mph—so stoplight maneuvers are in its wheelhouse.

That will come as great news for the front passengers that get to enjoy the best of the Cascada, including its well-bolstered front seats. They sit a bit higher than in some compact cars, but have great long-distance support shaped into their cushions, and have power control and heating. The back seat is much less adult-friendly; it's narrow and has low-mounted seats, but also gets sensors that block front seats from moving too far back.

The Cascada has 13.4 cubic feet of trunk space with the top up, but just 9.8 cubic feet with it down. The top slides in place under a built-in cover ahead of the decklid, and a blocker panel permits luggage loading under the area where the top stacks. The rear seatbacks fold forward for more cargo capacity.

As for safety, the Cascada hasn't yet been crash-tested, but there’s an active rollover safety system that deploys to protect passengers involved in a rollover accident. All Cascadas get a rearview camera and rear parking sensors; an option package adds forward-collision warnings and front parking sensors, but adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist are not offered. 

Standard equipment on the Cascada includes power windows, locks, and mirrors; eight-way power front seats; a rearview camera and rear parking sensors; remote start; a heated steering wheel; and leather trim. The Cascada's infotainment system has a smaller, lower-resolution screen than many other Buicks—it's a half-step behind the times, though the Cascada does also offer an OnStar 4G LTE data connection with built-in wi-fi hotspot, as well as text-message alerts, navigation, and Siri Eyes Free compatibility.

Pricing starts at $33,990 for the standard Cascada, and rises to just under $37,000 for a convertible equipped with the optional safety equipment. At those reasonable sticker prices, the Cascada proves there's plenty of room on the roads for a vacation-ready convertible that isn't a Mustang or a Camaro or a Miata—and doesn't dream of being one of that holy ragtop trinity.

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