It has been a very long time since we have seen a convertible in the Buick line. In fact, it was 25 years ago that Buick last offered one – the short-lived Reatta (1991 to 1993) as both a coupe and a convertible. Now, coming from their global vehicle development program, a new Buick convertible has come to the U.S. – the successful Opel Cascada from Europe – with only some minor cosmetic and mechanical changes for the American marketplace.
The new 2016 Buick Cascada comes in two models, the ISV priced (MSRP) at $33,990 and the Premium at $36,990. Destination and handling is $925. Already very complete in each trim level, there are few options or accessory items other than color to choose from as the cars are assembled in Europe.
We will admit, we were skeptical about their decision to bring the European designed and built Cascada 2+2 convertible to the U.S. – especially in a market where there are a number of very good choices are already available at an under $40,000 price point. Vehicles like the VW Beetle and EOS, MINI Convertible, BMW 228 and Audi A3. In addition, above $40,000, you have multiple 2+2 convertible choices from the likes of Lexus, Audi and Mercedes Benz ranging upwards of $70,000 and more.
But, after spending a week driving a brand new 2016 Buick Cascada Premium 2+2 convertible, we have found our concerns to be pretty much unfounded. Despite there being lots of choices for consumers in a 2+2 convertible, the new Cascada delivers a very nice drive and ride in a quality convertible that is sure to please. And it is a Buick, solidly engineered and well-appointed with a range of the features that American consumers want – reasonably priced and it looks good too, top up and top down.
Convertible Top System and Related
Since Cascada is a convertible, we made sure we spent a considerable share of our drive time assessing its performance both top up and top down.
The convertible top system for Cascada is well crafted with a multilayer (acoustic and thermal) electro-hydraulic roof system that folds under a hard tonneau cover and features a fast (17-second) one touch top open and close. With the top closed, we found the thermal and acoustic barrier layers to be effective in keeping the cabin temperatures under control in the hot Texas sun plus keeping highway noise out of the cabin as well.
With the top down, two sizes of removable windscreens for mitigating wind and wind noise (carried in the trunk) are easy to install and proved very effective. A smaller screen for between the front seats is available if passengers are using the back seat. If passengers are not present, a larger screen sits above the rear seats for more complete blockage of wind and wind noise. We used the larger screen throughout the week and found, with screen in place and side windows up, wind and wind noise was pretty much non-existent.
For safety, though you do not see them, there are rollover protection bars concealed behind the rear seats – integrated with the air-bag system – that deploy when the vehicle stability systems detect the possibility of a roll over.
Getting in and out of the rear seats is easy with an electronic rear-seat entry system that powers front seats forward with a single touch to the front seatback and then returns the seat to its original position when the seatback is touched again. In addition, for the front seats, a telescopic ‘seat-belt presenter’ positions the seat belts at the shoulder of the seat for easier buckling.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
As Cascada is a 2+2 convertible, we had some concern about headroom, front seat and rear seat legroom, and trunk capacity. We found the Cascada measured up pretty nicely in all those areas. With the top up, head room measures 37.8-inches front and 36.1-inches rear which we found more than adequate for us taller folks. Legroom up front was a very good 42.2-inches. The rear-seat was a bit tight at 32.8-inches so we would suggest that longer legged rear passengers sit behind shorter-legged front seat persons. Both front and rear, seats are supportive and comfortable.
With the top up, the trunk cargo room is just 13.4 cubic feet. When the top folds into the trunk, the space is reduced to a relatively small 9.8 cubic feet. But, the 50/50 rear seats, with pass through, fold down flat electrically to provide more cargo space if needed either top up or top down. We figured we could cope if need be.
2016 Buick Cascada Premium Test Vehicle
Our test Cascada was the top-trim Premium with its ‘Monroni’ showing a base price of $36,065. White is the standard color for Cascada, but ours came in a very distinctive Toasted Coconut Metallic paint – one of five premium metallic optional choices for an additional $395. Our Cascada came with a premium Light Neutral interior with Black accents. The combination of the exterior and interior color palette and the black convertible top was stunning – top up or top down. If you want, you can select an all-black interior, but as a convertible, we do not recommend that.
Cascada is front-wheel drive powered by a 1.6L turbocharged I4 direct injection gasoline engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that produces 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque that climbs (when needed) to 221 lb.-ft. with overboost. Weighing in at under 4,000 pounds, the Cascada delivers peppy performance around town and on the highway with decent fuel economy rated at 20/27 mpg city/highway and 23 mpg combined.
The sporty suspension, designed for the Cascada, delivers an authentic ‘Buick ride’ that is firm yet comfortable and handles well. Up front, it uses HiPer Strut independent coil springs system (borrowed from LaCrosse and Regal) tuned for the Cascada. At the rear is a very responsive Watts Z-link torsion beam suspension, again configured for the Cascada to provide maximum handling performance. Steering is rack-mounted electric, variable assist rack and pinion.
The Cascada is designed and crafted to be a convertible from the ground up – not a modification of a sedan or coupe into a convertible version of an existing vehicle. The resulting sleek body shape conceals the top without compromise of the aerodynamics of the body. Exterior features include the traditional Buick badging centered on the narrow grille face and sleek headlamps flowing into the front fenders with Buick signature wing-shape LED daytime running lamps. At the rear, a chrome trim connects the LED-lit similar wing-shaped taillights.
Cascada also has front fog lamps, heated power dual outside mirrors, articulating HID headlamps with automatic leveling and auto on/off and runs on 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels.
Cascada is all Buick inside as well with tailored design elements and use of premium quality and soft touch materials complemented with accent stitching throughout.
Functional features and amenities abound including, Remote Keyless Entry and Remote Start, 8-way Power Driver and Passenger Sport Bucket Heated Seats. Seats front and rear are covered with special heat-reflective leather trims that really do work. We left the top down for several hours on a hot Sunday and did not get the ‘hot seat’ treatment when getting back in. We would have liked ventilated seating as well for those superhot summer days in Texas, but alas, it is not available.
Cascada also includes Dual Zone Temperature Control, Leather-wrapped Heated Steering Wheel with Audio and Phone interface, front and rear 12-volt power outlets.
Cascada comes with the Buick IntelliLink System with 7-inch touch screen that provides text message alerts and Siri Eyes Free for Apple phones. Included also are AM/FM Stereo, CD/DVD with MP3, 7-speaker premium audio system, Sirius XM service, 4G LTE Wi-Fi HotSpot and OnStar with Navigation and Automatic Crash Response.
The Buick Cascada is also equipped with Stabilitrak with Traction Control, Tire Pressure Monitoring, Electronic Parking Brake, Rain Sensing Windshield Washers, Rear Vision Camera, Front and Rear Parking Assist, Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning.
With the Toasted Coconut metallic exterior color added only, the delivered sticker price for our test 2016 Buick Cascada Premium was $37,385.
If you are looking for a very nicely done 2+2 convertible for under $40,000, the new 2016 Cascada warrants a serious look.