2016 Buick Cascada

Starting MSRP: $33,990 - $36,990

Estimated MPG: 20 city / 27 hwy

2016 Buick Cascada Review

All-new for 2016, the Buick Cascada brings drop-top fun to the entry-level luxury vehicle market. Powered by a peppy and efficient turbocharged engine, the 2016 Cascada’s European styling, nicely appointed interior and relatively affordable price broaden its appeal beyond the suntan crowd.

By Chris Brewer
Last Updated 05/03/2016

The 2016 Buick Cascada is a new soft top convertible that seats four. This front-wheel drive convertible is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. The Cascada is all-new for 2016 and is available in a well-equipped base or Premium trim.

Exterior

Exterior
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The Buick Cascada’s exterior has a decidedly European flavor, which makes a lot of sense considering that the convertible is actually an Opel product wearing Buick badges. The front fascia is right in line with many of General Motors’ other offerings, where I can see subtle hints of the new Chevrolet Volt. However, the rear clip of the Cascada looks like it was designed by one of the celebrated German automakers. Indeed, more than one passerby inquired if the Polish-built Buick was actually a new BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

Unlike many convertibles that are born from a hardtop coupe, the Cascada was designed from the onset as a convertible. Although the Buick looks appealing with the convertible top in place (thanks to the raked A-pillars and built-in tonneau cover) the Buick Cascada is designed to look balanced and complete with the roof down.

With a windswept exterior design, the 2016 Cascada appears to be in motion even when it is sitting in a crowded parking lot. The chrome trim conjures memories of days gone by, while the standard 20-inch wheels and signature wing-shaped LED daytime running lights provide a contemporary touch that keeps the design relevant.

Interior

Interior
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The 2016 Buick Cascada comfortably seats four adults. Rather than attempting to squeeze an extra seat belt on the rear seat hump, Buick has wisely configured the Cascada as a four-seat vehicle. The standard eight-way power-adjustable front sport seats are roomy, supportive and trimmed in leather. Finding a comfortable driving position is easy and the added driver’s lumbar support feature is great for not-so-young backs.

Buick has done an excellent job creating a premium atmosphere inside the Cascada. The leather-wrapped heated steering wheel feels great in your hands and the piano-black trim looks decidedly upscale. The high-level of attention to the Cascada’s fit and finish is evident: You quickly forget that it’s priced similarly to many mainstream coupes.

With the top up the Cascada’s available cargo space is excellent at 13.4 cubic feet, matching many of today’s popular coupes. Drop-top cruising results in losing some space, but the 9.8 cubic feet that’s left over is excellent for a four-seat convertible. While you may be hard pressed to use the Cascada as a family vacation vehicle, I could easily see a couple driving cross-country without too much concern for luggage space.

Performace

Performace
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The 2016 Buick Cascada is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and up to 221 pound-feet of torque. The front-wheel drive convertible makes gear changes using a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.

The 2016 Cascada features an incredibly rigid chassis, especially for a convertible. Thanks to being designed as a drop-top from the get-go, the Cascada is composed under enthusiastic driving conditions.

Buick was able to dial in the suspension and steering without worrying about the chassis flexing. The level of precision that resulted is noticeable from the driver’s seat. Fortunately, the stiff design does not translate into a rough ride. Rather, the Cascada offers a soft, comfortable driving experience that is equally at home on the highway or winding roads.

The only drawback to the Cascada is its weight, which leads to mediocre acceleration and less-than-spirited highway passing. For most, the 200-horsepower created by the tiny turbocharged engine will be sufficient, but the Cascada does not perform very well off the line. Once you are rolling along, midrange torque is good.

Fuel economy is good, but not great, at an EPA-estimated 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Helping out a little is that while premium fuel is recommended, the turbocharged engine achieves these estimates on regular gasoline.

Technology

Technology
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The 2016 Buick Cascada includes a high level of standard technology equipment. Dual-zone automatic climate control is included, as well as a rearview camera and remote start.

Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system and a 7-inch touch screen are also standard, providing access to the standard navigation system and the premium seven-speaker audio system. USB and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity allow easy smartphone integration on all models.

Buick’s OnStar telematics system adds to the wow-factor by providing guidance, automatic crash response, stolen vehicle assistance, roadside assistance, turn-by-turn navigation and more. The Cascada is also equipped with a 4G LTE data connection and a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot. A three-month trial is included, after which a paid subscription can be added.

While the Cascada’s standard and optional technology packaging is quite comprehensive, the design is a little cumbersome and awkward. The touch screen is set back in the dash, making it difficult to access while driving. There are redundant controls on the center stack, which seems appealing on paper, but the number of buttons is overwhelming in practice.

Safety

Safety
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The 2016 Buick Cascada comes equipped with stability control, anti-lock brakes, a comprehensive suite of air bags, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Adding to the safety factor is an automated pop-up rollover bar system that is located behind the rear seats.

The Premium model adds forward collision alert, lane departure warning, front parking sensors and automatic windshield wipers to the list of standard equipment.

GM’s OnStar service includes advanced vehicle diagnostics to help avoid unnecessary breakdowns, as well as automatic crash response in case of emergencies.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The base Cascada is nicely equipped and starts at $33,990, representing an excellent value considering its luxury quotient, useable backseat and cargo space. Buick designed the Cascada to compete with the Audi A3 convertible, which it undercuts significantly pricewise. The Cascada also takes aim at the Lexus IS C, which has a significantly higher starting price and is not available for the 2016 model year.

Pricing for the top-trim Cascada Prestige begins at $36,990. The Premium model includes Buick’s Driver Confidence package with forward collision alert, lane departure warning and a few other extras. If the added safety technologies are important to you, the price difference will seem inconsequential.

Overall

Overall
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Buick deserves applause for creating a fun convertible that offers a nice level of luxury without breaking the bank. It has been 25 years since the manufacturer offered a convertible in the U.S., and the approach that GM has taken with the 2016 Cascada is refreshing. The entry-level luxury convertible segment is small, with plenty of room for the Cascada to shine. Moreover, the Cascada’s base price represents excellent value when compared with the few competitors that do exist.

While I wouldn’t mind if Buick put a bigger, more powerful engine under the hood, the 1.6-liter provides plenty of power for day-to-day driving. The cabin is comfortable and roomy, and there is even enough cargo space to keep the Cascada from being labeled as a weekend-only toy.

I asked about a dozen different people, car savvy folks, to sit inside and tell me what they thought would be a reasonable price for my test 2016 Cascada Premium. The numbers they offered ranged from $45,000 to $55,000, which is $10,000 to $20,000 more than the asking price.

Well done Buick, well done.