2019 Buick Cascada Review

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1 Review
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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
July 7, 2018

The 2019 Buick Cascada convertible means retirement like a gold watch. It’s stylish, small, and reasonably priced, but not very spacious.

The 2019 Buick Cascada convertible delivers comfortable, top-down cruising at a reasonable price. Among premium cars, base Cascadas present a compelling value: leather upholstery, 7.0-inch touchscreen, and 20-inch wheels, for around $34,000. The bad news? Its interior is dated and not as elegant as the exterior, and its small engine is burdened with the two-door’s prodigious weight.

We rate the Cascada at a 4.8 overall, which is slightly below average for new cars. It lacks active safety features, and it’s not fuel-efficient compared to other small cars. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year’s Cascada is identical to last year’s model.

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That’s good news for the looks, which we’ve admired since the Cascada was new three years ago. Base 1SV and mid-level Premium trim levels heap on chrome in the front and rear for a flashy, traditional Buick look. Top trim Sport Touring models offer blacked-out touches that don’t convince us. Inside, the Cascada jumbles buttons for every function and unnecessarily clutters the cabin.

Under the hood, every Cascada is powered by a 1.6-liter turbo-4 and 6-speed automatic combo that’s burdened by the convertible’s sizable 4,000-pound weight. It’s not exceptionally fast nor is it very fuel-efficient.

Those 20-inch wheels have consequences too: there’s not enough tire sidewall for a comfortable ride.

Front seat riders have it best in the Cascada. The leather front seats are supportive, power adjustable, and heated—even in base trim. Rear seat passengers won’t be as thrilled; the Buick convertible’s cozy confines aren’t suited for adult-sized legs.

The trunk’s 13.4 cubic feet of cargo room won’t easily accommodate a golf bag, even less so with the top down and the trunk partition installed that cuts cargo room to 10 cubic feet. Every Cascada is equipped with a power-folding fabric top that folds neatly into the trunk in less than 20 seconds—even in base trim.

That base trim is where we see the most value, too. Spend more on a Cascada and you don’t necessarily get more. Options are limited on every trim level. No Cascada is equipped with automatic emergency braking, which we think is an oversight.

For roughly $34,000 to start, the base Cascada gets most of the good stuff: leather, big wheels, a touchscreen, and heated seats. The downside? You only get a choice between two colors—and the one that isn’t white costs $400 more.

5

2019 Buick Cascada

Styling

The 2019 Buick Cascada catches our eye on the outside but loses our interest on the inside.

The 2019 Buick Cascada is a sharp-looking convertible from the outside. On the inside, those smart feelings drown in a sea of buttons that feels out of place and time.

Overall, it earns a 5 out of 10 for style. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Cascada’s roots are continental. It arrives to our shores via Poland, where it’s produced for Europe as an Opel. (German automaker Opel was formerly owned by General Motors.)

The lasting result is a conservatively shaped convertible, a neat exterior that looks nearly as good with the fabric top up as it does with the top down.

Chrome provides subtle flashes of style in the front and the rear of the Cascada. The top Sport Touring trim skips those chrome lashes for a blacked-out grille that looks a little awkward by our eyes, but your mileage may vary.

All trim levels wear 20-inch wheels with a thin strip of rubber painted that serves as tires—works well for curb appeal, but not really for ride comfort.

The Cascada loses our attention on the inside with scads of buttons in the center stack. They’re redundant, outdated, and border on excessive.

All trim levels wear handsome leather on the inside with attractive perforations, a bright spot for an otherwise unremarkable interior.

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4

2019 Buick Cascada

Performance

The 2019 Buick Cascada isn’t in a hurry; you shouldn’t be either.

The 2019 Buick Cascada prioritizes comfort over speed, and its looks over comfort.

That’s good for a relaxed convertible boulevardier, but it’s not going to do well for our performance scale. Starting from an average score, we ding the Cascada one point for a choppy ride that the standard 20-inch tires provide. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Under the hood, the Cascada is equipped with a 1.6-liter turbo-4 that makes 200 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Its power is transferred through a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive only, which all perform adequately, but perhaps not admirably. The 6-speed slurs a shift or two, but the drivetrain mostly blends into the background.

The problem isn’t power, it’s weight. At nearly 4,000 pounds, the Cascada is a weight class (or three) higher than its footprint would suggest. Structural rigidity is the culprit, removing an integral element (the roof) required stronger components elsewhere (more steel). We blame physics, but we still like a convertible.

Tall, impressive 20-inch tires don’t help either. Just like heels, the big wheels are a statement of style over comfort, and with little tire sidewall to absorb big bumps the Cascada can crash through potholes dramatically.

Its steering is accurate and weighted well, albeit not very communicative. Most of the car’s movements are relayed through the turbulent wheels and ample body lean.

Most of these issues don’t manifest themselves on glassy pavement or long interstate hauls, which speaks to the Cascada’s focus as a small schooner for the open road.

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4

2019 Buick Cascada

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 Buick Cascada seats two adults comfortably but lacks the space for more.

The 2019 Buick Cascada suits empty-nesters and their needs so well that it could have been called the “Buick Tee Time.”  

It’s comfortable for two adults up front, with plenty of leather all the way around, a roof that folds neatly in the trunk, and a back seat small enough that young adults will think twice about asking to live in the basement.

The Cascada loses a point on our scale for skimping on comfort in the back seat, but it’s reasonable everywhere else. We rate it at a 4. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Even base versions of the Cascada get power-adjustable, heated front seats that move in 10 directions. The leather upholstery that’s standard on all trim levels is a premium touch, but it’s not as soft as luxury-grade hides. Most body types won’t have a problem fitting into the Cascada with generous front-door cutouts, and the seats offer two-way lumbar support.

The news isn’t as good in the rear. By the numbers, rear passengers get 32.8 inches of leg room, but it feels smaller than that. Calling “shotgun” or expert negotiation skills are a must for adults.

With the roof up, the Cascada offers 13.4 cubic feet of cargo room—enough space for a couple suitcases and souvenirs. With the top down, that room shrinks to 10 cubic feet, which is smaller than most compact cars’ trunks.

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5

2019 Buick Cascada

Safety

The Cascada features good crash-safety scores but it lacks automatic emergency braking.

The Buick Cascada has performed well in the crash tests conducted so far, but its lack of safety systems betrays those good scores.

We give the Cascada a point above average for a five-star overall score by federal testers but take it back for its missing automatic emergency braking. The 2019 Cascada earns a 5 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Federal testers gave the Cascada its top rating overall but noted four-star scores for front- and rollover-crash protection. The IIHS hasn’t rated the Cascada’s crashworthiness at all.

The Cascada is equipped with six airbags for all belted passengers, including side-impact airbags for rear-seat riders.

Mid-level Cascadas and higher add forward collision warnings, but no automatic emergency braking. The latter is a surprise considering the Cascada’s price and increasing adoption of the vital safety technology among other automakers. It’s likely due to the Cascada’s age; it was designed before automatic braking became widespread.

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7

2019 Buick Cascada

Features

Even base versions of the 2019 Buick Cascada offer a touchscreen, navigation, 20-inch wheels, and a folding roof.

Buick makes promises with the 2019 Cascada that it largely delivers: every model can lower its roof and comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, leather upholstery, and 20-inch wheels.

All of the above are true, even on the base trim, which means that we see value in the lowest-priced version.

The 2019 Buick Cascada gets a 7 out of 10 on our feature scale for good base content and a big touchscreen. Options are few, and spending more for a Cascada doesn’t necessarily get more. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Cascada is offered in base 1SV, Premium, and Sport Touring trims. We start with the 1SV trim and think shoppers should too. Those models come equipped with a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, navigation, Bluetooth, a wi-fi hotspot, power adjustable heated front seats, leather upholstery, keyless ignition, 20-inch wheels, a rearview camera, a heated steering wheel, and OnStar telematics with five years of basic coverage. The downside? There are only two exterior colors for base cars, white and blue, and blue costs almost $400 more.

Premium and Sport Touring trims add more colors, and a few more features, but their values aren’t compelling.

At the top of the pile, the Sport Touring trim level adds sport pedals, unique wheels, forward collision warnings (but not automatic emergency braking), lane departure warnings, and automatic headlights for roughly $4,000 more. That’s a big ask.

Want our advice? Learn to love white.

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4

2019 Buick Cascada

Fuel Economy

Other small cars are more efficient than the 2019 Buick Cascada, but few of them go topless.

The 2019 Cascada has been rated at 21 mpg city, 29 highway, 24 combined. That nets a 4 on our fuel economy scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

That’s not particularly efficient for a small car like the Cascada, and the Buick has a few strikes against it. The Cascada is heavier than other cars with a fixed roof because it needs additional support to make up for losing a roof. That prodigious weight asks a relatively small 1.6-liter turbo-4 to provide motivation, which isn’t very efficient. And lastly, its 6-speed automatic is fine for the class, but hardly bleeding-edge tech.

Other small convertibles do better. The Audi A3 is rated up to 28 mpg combined, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class up to 25 mpg combined, and the BMW 4-Series up to 27 mpg combined. Those convertibles are more expensive than the Buick, however.

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June 3, 2018
2019 Buick Cascada 2-Door Convertible Sport Touring

Seriously Awesom Vehicle

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Don't listen to the critics. For normal people, this is a great vehicle. The price is not bad and the performance is far better than the critics let on. This vehicle is comfortable, very solid, well made, and... + More »
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$33,070
MSRP based on 2-Door Convertible
 
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4.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 4
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety 5
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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