General Motors is continuing with a renaissance it started more than five years ago in a bid to transform its premium Buick brand from a stodgy marque for the senior set to a vigorous nameplate for status seeking consumers. Since Buick no longer operates principally in the realm of retired car shoppers, new products such as the Buick Cascada convertible are significant and should extend Buick’s thrust accordingly.
Notably, the Buick Cascada isn’t the only new or updated products GM has planned for its oldest automotive brand. Indeed, the entire product line will be refreshed as new design language is introduced.
2016 Buick Cascada
Not since the Buick Reatta was produced beginning in 1990 has Buick offered a convertible. The previous drop top appeared in the third year of the Reatta’s production run and was built for two years before the entire model line was canceled.
By early next year, the 25-year-long convertible drought comes to an end as the Cascada enters Buick’s line up. Cascada, which is Spanish for “waterfall,” was designed in Europe and is manufactured by Opel, GM’s German subsidiary. The Cascada follows on the heels of the Buick Regal, another Opel-derived product.
Elegant Exterior Design
The 2016 Buick Cascada is priced from $33,990 and advances a distinctive design that’s highlighted by a flowing, sculptured profile with canted front roof pillars. Lustrous headlamps point to the center grille, itself reflecting the latest interpretation of Buick’s design language.
A rising beltline meets the streaming roof, the latter with the ability to fold down while on the go at speeds up to 31 mph. The fabric covered roof carefully and quickly folds itself into the Cascada’s trunk, a process that is completed within 17 seconds.
Room for Four Adults
Buick is quick to note that the Cascada provides room for four adults. Unlike some other convertible models, the Cascada offers sufficient rear legroom, thanks to its extended wheelbase. This model was designed as a convertible from the outset and is not a converted coupe.
The chief features for this model include a four-gauge analog instrument panel with a digital driver’s information center, Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch-screen, and OnStar 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot. Chief safety features available include deployable rollover protection bars located behind the rear seat. When the sensors detect a rollover is imminent, the bars rise into place to protect passengers. Other safety features available include a rearview camera, rear parking assist and lane departure warning.
High-end materials are used throughout the cabin to provide an upscale presentation. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are standard. Every model comes equipped with a seven-speaker audio system, a USB port, an auxiliary input port and front and rear 12-volt outlets. A tilt and telescopic steering column, cruise control, power accessories and power front seats are also standard.
Powertrain and Performance
Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine making 200 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque. Further, an overboost mode can be activated, which temporarily increases torque to 221 pound-feet. Buick pairs this engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.
To keep this compact front-wheel drive model planted, state-of-the-art front suspension geometry known as HiPer strut is employed. The system is found in other Buick products, including the Regal, and is designed to eradicate torque steer, the type of wandering that occurs when you press the accelerator and copious amounts of power is sent to the front wheels. HiPer strut also reduces steering wheel kickback and improves overall steering feel.
The rear suspension is a Watts Z-link design, which centers the car’s rear axle during turns to provide crisp chassis dynamics and a smoother ride. The suspension system, increased body rigidity and the careful integration of sound deadening materials help make the Buick Cascada an unusually quiet vehicle.
New Design Language
We touched on Buick’s new design language when we mentioned the Cascada’s grille. That language was on full display in the beautiful Avenir concept, a full-size rear-wheel drive model displayed at major auto shows earlier this year.
Beginning with the next generation Buick LaCrosse, every Buick model will sport an Avenir-influenced grille replete with an artistic chrome surround, and a more pronounced and color-filled tri-shield logo set within a propeller design. New headlamps and LED daytime running light accents will also be present. The brand-wide design overhaul will be completed by the 2018 model year.
Upcoming Buick Models
The Buick Cascada will go on sale early next year. With it becoming Buick’s sixth model the brand’s renaissance continues, but is far from accomplished.
For example, a new crossover SUV is expected to slot between the diminutive Encore and the elegant Enclave. This new five-passenger midsize model will be called the Envision, and may appear as soon as fall 2016.
As for the Avenir concept, we don’t know if GM plans to make it a production reality. The concept is based on the same platform underpinning the upcoming Cadillac CT6, which is set to launch by the end of the year. If approved, the Avenir will become the flagship Buick, joining three other sedans — LaCrosse, Regal and Verano — as it advances the brand’s renaissance and reaches luxury-minded shoppers.