by Adam Lynton
Initially released in the US in 2016, the Buick Cascada is modeled on the European Opel Cascada. It hasn't changed much since release, a fact compounded by the sale of Opel by General Motors in 2017. This lack of updates, coupled with its subpar performance in the segment, doesn't bode well for the Cascada. With Opel confirming the European version's demise at the end of 2019, we expect the Buick variant to follow suit. So if, for some reason, you have your heart set on this aging convertible, now may be your last chance to pick it up brand new.
The Cascada enters 2019 completely unchanged. It is reaching the end of its lifespan and, thus, development on the model has not continued.
The Buick Cascada sports a sleek body with stylish contours. The body sits low to the ground to lower drag, while the grip is optimized by the Cascada's standard 20-inch wheels in varying designs per trim. Adaptive xenon headlights straddle the Buick grille, with fog lights safely nestled deep within the bumper from the Premium trim. LED daytime running lights and taillights come standard. The power-controlled soft-top roof is lighter and easier to operate than hard-top variants. It also provides surprisingly good insulation.
While the Cascada is quite compact inside, the exterior has larger dimensions that emphasize its character as a luxurious cruiser. With a length of 184.9 inches and a width of 72.4 inches, the Cascada is significantly bigger than the Audi A3 at 163.5 inches long and 68.3 inches wide. The wheelbase is also a generous 106.1 inches. However, the Cascada is short for its class, measuring only 56.8 inches in height. Given its size, it's not surprising that this not-so-little convertible weighs a lot, but 3,979 lbs is excessive and makes it one of the heaviest convertibles in the compact realm.
The Buick Cascada is available in a choice of seven paint colors, with three colors available for the soft-top roof: Ebony, Malbec, or Sweet Mocha. The Sweet Mocha roof is pairable with Summit White, Ebony Twilight, and Dark Moon Blue, while the Malbec roof swaps Dark Moon Blue for Rioja Red Metallic. The Ebony roof can be paired with all of these colors as well as Flip Chip Silver, Smoked Pearl Metallic, and Sport Red. Colors are further limited by trim, with the base SV only having access to Summit White and Dark Moon Blue, while the Premium gets access to a full six excluding the exclusive Sport Red, which is one of three colors available for the Sport Touring trim along with Summit White and Ebony Twilight Metallic.
As a car built for comfort and the pleasure of lazy cruising, the Buick Cascada doesn't astound when it comes to performance. While the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces an even 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, the Cascada is too lethargic to capitalize on it. The convertible takes a sluggish 8.5 seconds from 0-60 mph, but since you will want to stick to a more comfortable 40 mph while the top is down, this isn't really a deal-breaker.
As a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the Cascada does lack the sportiness and handling of rivals such as the rear-wheel-drive BMW 2 Series or the all-wheel-drive equipped Audi A3 Cabriolet. Overall, the now-outdated Cascada simply doesn't match the performance of other four-seat convertibles.
The Cascada is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that displaces 1.6 liters and produces 200 hp and 207 lb-ft. The engine can be temporarily overboosted to produce 221 lb-ft for a brief period under heavy throttle loads, but all this does is give the Buick marginally more potency under duress, without any day-to-day benefit. While 200 hp is by no means underpowered, it just doesn't seem to be enough to move the hefty convertible with any haste. Acceleration is slow, and upon reaching high rpm, the engine starts to sound discontented, while also seeing a significant drop-off in torque.
The six-speed automatic gearbox that is paired with the engine doesn't complement it particularly well. It is languid and inaccurate, not shifting up when it should and shifting down when it shouldn't. While these shortcomings won't seem so problematic on the open road after you reach cruising speed, they can quickly become intolerable in town or on the highway where more responsive performance is required.
The Buick Cascada performs relatively well as a cruising convertible. However, there are many areas that need improvement. The chassis is surprisingly stiff despite the lack of rigidity through the roof. Unfortunately, this also means that even minor abrasions travel through the body and are felt in the cabin. It's not uncommon to see this trait in compact convertibles, but we wish the Cascada's damping was set up better, as there seems to be an abundance of interference that affects comfort. With the substantial weight of the convertible, it also feels heavy and cumbersome on the road, failing to iron out bumps and bruises the way we'd expect.
For a car segment that is all about confidently owning the road, the Cascada doesn't inspire confidence at all. The HiPer Strut suspension makes steering inputs direct and responsive, but the feel is light, with little to no feedback, making it difficult to place the Cascada on the road. When compounded with the vehicle's soft suspension, this leads to an unwelcome amount of body roll.
On the plus side, exterior noise is mitigated quite well for a convertible, with the permeation of wind, road and tire noise into the cabin average for the segment. The brake pedal also feels great to use, but the actual performance is a bit lacking, with a longer than average stopping distance. Overall, the Cascada is great at cruising down an open stretch of well-maintained road, but when the going gets windy, the Cascada is incapable of keeping up, with pronounced body roll and substandard handling dynamics.
The Cascada features a competitively sized fuel tank for the segment, with a capacity of 14.3 gallons of premium gasoline. Unfortunately, its fuel consumption is not competitive, with nearly every one of its rivals outperforming it, including the four-wheel-drive Audi A5. This can be accredited, in part, to the vehicles ungainly weight. The Buick Cascada gets an unimpressive city/highway/combined consumption of 21/29/24 mpg, meaning it can travel approximately 343 miles on a single tank. This disappointing mileage will set you back around $550 more per year than the average 2019 vehicle.
The Cascada is all about being a Sunday driver; however, the interior screams manic Monday. The high beltline of the seat belts, along with a very short windscreen, means you struggle to maintain decent visibility. You then need to fight against your seat belt when you lean over to access the touchscreen display, which is buried deep within the console. To top it all off, the console is overpopulated with analog knobs and buttons, all of which are placed haphazardly. The saving grace for all this is that the controls are not overly complicated once you get used to them and the steering-wheel-mounted controls are easy to use. Luckily, the interior is lushly upholstered in leather, even if it does feel a bit cramped.
The Buick Cascada can technically seat four, but those in the rear seats may find the legroom and headroom highly restrictive. With headroom of 31.6 inches and pretty high seat placement for a convertible, taller users may find themselves slouching in their seats. Luckily the ample 42.2 inches of front legroom means there is space enough for that. Unfortunately, the seats are not overly comfortable regardless of how you sit. They are flat and firm and lack comfort on longer drives, which is a pity when you consider that the Cascada is a car designed for long, lazy trips. The driver's seat and steering wheel position can be problematic for taller drivers with longer legs, too, and since they sit quite low compared to the dashboard, visibility of the dials can be an issue. Ingress and egress are made easier thanks to the relatively high seat placement, but rear passengers will struggle to reach their seats, even with the Easy Entry system incorporated into the design.
Every Cascada trim comes with perforated leather upholstery, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. The interior of the Cascada is available in Jet Black with Light Neutral being an option on the Premium and Sport Touring trims. The Dark Effect package for the Sport Touring offers the standard Jet Black with red stitching on the upholstery.
Sadly, there is a lot of hard plastic around the cabin, which can cause unpleasant creaking. While it sounds good on paper, the Cascada simply doesn't look or feel as luxurious as its competitors. The build quality is also not up to scratch compared to these same competitors. Luckily, most of the touchpoints are padded or have soft-touch materials to make the interaction more pleasant.
The Buick Cascada has a pretty generous trunk for a convertible, with a total capacity of 13.4 cubic feet when the top is up. This can be increased by folding down the rear seats in a 50/50 split. When the top is down and the trunk partition is in place, this is reduced to 9.8 cubic feet, which is more on average with other convertibles such as the Audi A3 or Ford Mustang. The larger Audi A5 offers an impressive 21.8 cubic feet. Still, the Cascada can fit ten shopping bags in its trunk with ease. It's just a pity that the opening is so small.
The interior of the Cascada is far less generous with space. There are standard cupholders and a small tray that could fit a phone. However, the glove compartment and center console are not as large as in most other small cars. There are pockets in the doors, but they are limited in space due to the cramped interior of the convertible.
The Cascada is a bit lacking in features for a luxury vehicle, and those it does have are quite dated. The convertible top can be operated at 30 mph, lowering in 17 seconds and rising in 19 seconds. The car comes standard with a rearview camera and rear parking assist, but the camera is positioned a bit too low and the resolution is bad. Also included are ten-way power-adjustable driver and passenger seats with power lumbar adjustment, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, heated front seats and steering wheel, keyless entry and ignition, and two 12-volt power outlets. The Premium and Sport Touring trims add forward parking assist, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning. The Sport Touring trim also replaces the driver pedals with alloy variants.
Buick's convertible lags far behind competitors on the infotainment front. The seven-inch Buick IntelliLink infotainment interface is poorly positioned and complicated to operate. The navigation system has some handy features but it is equally difficult to use. Using the voice controls can be painful, with only choice commands being accepted, and you need to rummage through the user's manual to figure them out. There is a single USB port and Bluetooth functionality, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The seven-speaker sound system provides adequate quality, but you'd expect more for the price. SiriusXM radio is also standard, as is OnStar with 4G LTE and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The Cascada features the novel myBuick mobile app and Buick Connected Services package.
For all its shortcomings, the Buick Cascada is an extremely reliable vehicle. J.D. Power rates it 4.5 out of five for reliability. There have been no real complaints regarding this car, although this could be in part because of the low volume of sales, and there has been only one recall early in the Cascada's lifespan. The Cascada comes with a 50,000 miles/48 month bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 70,000 miles/72 month powertrain warranty. Roadside assistance is offered for 70,000 miles/72 months, and the first maintenance visit within the first year is comped.
As a low-volume luxury vehicle, the Buick Cascada has not been rated by the IIHS. However, it has been crash-tested by the NHTSA and received a five-star overall safety rating.
The Cascada comes equipped with basic safety features and only a limited number of driver-assistance features. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are standard. Also included are four-wheel ABS, electronic stability control, and traction control. Buick also offers OnStar security service. The upper trims add front collision and parking assist, lane departure warning, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The Cascada features six standard airbags – dual front, front knee, and front sides – with no side-curtain airbags since the roof is retractable. In the event of a rollover, pop-up roll bars are deployed from behind the rear seats.
The Buick Cascada is a nice car when viewed in a vacuum, but when placed beside its competitors, it won't take your breath away. There is no question that the convertible looks great, but looks are only skin deep. It performs well enough for day-to-day use, but its handling and ride quality is well below par.
The disappointing engine and handling are compounded by an automatic transmission that seems to be suffering from ADHD and requires constant micromanagement. This draws away from the laid-back ride you would expect from a luxury convertible. Despite its appearance, the interior feels tacky and the seats aren't comfortable over long rides. All these factors combine to make the Cascada feel like a cheap knockoff of its rivals like the Audi A3 Cabrio.
The Cascada is at least cheap compared to its rivals, but you get what you pay for. As it prepares to leave the market, now may be your last chance to buy it new. But we're not sure why you'd want to when there are better options out there with more modern tech, greater comfort, more efficient engines, and only slightly higher price tags.
The Cascada is quite cheap for the luxury convertible segment, with the base model 1SV going for as little as $33,995 excluding tax, licensing, and a $925 destination charge. The Premium Cascada adds a few nice safety features but not much else, so the increased price of $36,995 may seem a little steep. For just $1,000 more, you can get the Sport Touring. This model really only adds a few changes to aesthetics but, even so, $37,995 is still cheap for a luxury convertible.
The Buick Cascada is available in either the 1SV, Premium or Sport Touring trims. All three trims are equipped with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic gearbox, and FWD.
The base 1SV offers almost all the features available on the upper trims. These include 20-inch alloy wheels, a power-operated convertible soft top, leather upholstery, a seven-inch touchscreen display, 50/50 split-folding rear seats and OnStar with an available 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.
The Premium Cascada adds fog lights, automatic windscreen wipers, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, air deflectors, and front park assist.
The Sport Touring trim adds extra color options for the body and interior, a flat-bottom steering wheel, alloy sport pedals, and distinctive alloy wheels, as well as the exclusive availability of the Dark effects package.
1.6-liter Inline-4 Gas
1.6-liter Inline-4 Gas
|Sport Touring Convertible||
1.6-liter Inline-4 Gas
The only package available on the Cascada is the Dark Effects package for the Sport Touring trim. This package costs $125 and adds body-color fog light accents, a gloss-black grille with matching mirror caps and rear accent molding. It also adds Sanguine Red seat stitching to the upholstery.
If you must have the 2019 Buick Cascada, then we suggest you consider sticking to the base Cascada 1SV. At the hard-to-beat price of $33,995, it offers almost every feature the upper trims do. You will get the same performance, physical comfort, and infotainment features. The slightly enhanced driver-assistance features on the Premium Cascada are nice, but the $3,000 price hike a bit steep for so little enhancement.
The Ford Mustang Convertible in its EcoBoost variation is an affordable competitor to the Cascada. At the low MSRP of $31,895, it still manages to offer many modern features that its Buick counterpart lacks. These include smartphone integration and a user-friendly infotainment system. The Mustang also offers an impressive V8 engine producing 460 hp and 420 lb-ft, leaving the underperforming Cascada in the dust. And while the engine may be a bit louder, the ride it offers in the comfortable Mustang cabin is incomparable. The Ford is a little more cramped inside, with the rear seats being nigh-unusable, but it just feels better with its quality materials and stylish design choices. The Ford Mustang performs better, handles better, feels better, and costs less. There really is no comparison here.
The Audi A3 is in a slightly higher price bracket than the Cascada, starting at around $38,900, but the return on investment you get for this is significant. Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, the A3 has access to 184 hp and 221 lb-ft. Coupled with its significantly lower curb weight, this gives the convertible surprising pep, with good acceleration and amazing handling. It may lack the WiFi hotspot offered on the Cascada, but the A3 has the much more popular smartphone integration that most modern cars are expected to offer. There might be less cargo space in the A3, but its interior feels far more spacious and luxurious. Overall, the Audi A3 provides a significantly superior package than the aging Cascada.