Cascada marks Buick’s first convertible in 25 years

For the first time in a quarter century, Buick has a convertible model in its North American lineup.

The 2016 Cascada is a two-door, four-passenger, front-wheel drive convertible and marks the premium division of General Motors’ return to top down driving.

The Cascada is based on the Opel Astra, which has been sold in Europe under GM’s Opel division.

Manufactured at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Gliwice, Poland, the Cascada is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 engine delivering 200 horsepower and 207 lbs.-ft. torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, premium unleaded gasoline is recommended (but not required) and has an EPA fuel economy rating of 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway.

Consumers have their choice of two trim levels — Cascada and Cascada Premium.

While nice, my first impression was the engine is adequate, but underpowered for the nearly 4,000-pound soft-top convertible. The turbo I-4 certainly gets the job done, but if you are looking for a sporty, performance-oriented ride, you won’t find it in the Cascada.

With a base price starting at $33,900 ($36,065 starting price for the Cascada Premium), it is designed to go head-to-head against the Audi A3 cabriolet and Lexus IS convertible.

Again, the Cascada is a nice convertible that will comfortably seat four adults on a long road trip — which makes it worthy of adding to the test drive list for those in the market for a mid-size convertible. It even provides 13.4 cubic feet of trunk room with the top up (or 9.8 cubic feet with the top down).

And, you can raise or lower the top with a push of a button in 17 seconds — even while moving at speeds up to 31 mpg.

It is also loaded with safety features, including a spring-loaded, pyrotechnically activated pop-up roll bar system linked to the airbag system; lane departure warning and rear park assist systems with a standard rearview camera.

Without hesitation I have to say the Cascada has a lot of good qualities.

But with the exception of modern safety equipment, telematics and infotainment system, I felt like I was driving a 1990 Buick Reatta.

In an era when push button start is available in models across all segments, I was extremely disappointed to discover you had to use a key to start the Cascada Premium test vehicle. That’s not what I expected from a premium, near luxury vehicle.

Those looking for a comfortable convertible will absolutely love the Cascada, and Buick will sell a lot of them in the U.S. However, consumers seeking top down performance and luxury will likely find the Cascada lacking.

 

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.