2016 Buick Cascada Premium Review by John Heilig +VIDEO
By John Heilig
The Auto Channel
REVIEWED MODEL: 2016 Buick Cascada
ENGINE: 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 200 hp @ 5,500 rpm/221 lb.-ft. @ 2,200-4,000 rpm
WHEELBASE: 106.1 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 184.4 x 72.4 x 56.8 in.
CARGO: 9.8/13.4 cu. ft. (top down/up)
ECONOMY: 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway/26.0 mpg test
FUEL TANKL: 14.3 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,979 lbs.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Audi A3, Lexus IS, VW Beetle convertibles
BOTTOM LINE: The first Buick convertible in 25 years is a solid convertible with outstanding styling, decent power and ride quality, but did it have to be built in Poland?
It was almost stereotypical. So many people came up to me when I was with the Buick Cascada and asked the question you hear in commercials, “Is that really a Buick?” or “It sure doesn’t look like a Buick.”
No, the Cascada doesn’t look like your standard Buick, and is a true break from the norm. Rather than a stodgy (no comments; we drive one) four-door sedan with a waterfall grille, this is a sleek, two-door convertible, something Buick hasn’t built in 25 years. Interior design also flows and there are lighted highlights to accent the internal design.
Actually, the Cascada is closer to my old MGA roadster in many ways than it is to the standard Buick. Besides the two doors, it is slightly underpowered, yet compensates for the power issue with better-than-average handling.
Honestly, the Cascada has decent power from its 1.6-liter turbocharged four, although at times the engine does appear to be straining. We drove the Cascada on Interstates and local roads, and there were times on the Interstates where it seemed to be working its little heart out.
While the transmission is smooth, we looked for a manual mode when we felt we were hurting for power. There aren’t paddle shifters, but you can use the console-mounted shifter for manual mode. On the reverse side, we had very good fuel economy, and filling the tank, which we didn’t have to do often, wasn’t a big strain on the credit card statement.
Ride quality is good, if slightly firm. Despite similarities to the suspension in the LaCrosse, the Cascada seemed hard. It wasn’t harsh, however, and overall ride quality is good. Handling is also good. The Cascada has a longish wheelbase at 106.1 inches, yet it has a tight turning circle. On one instance in particular, we found ourselves needing to make quick turnarounds in cul-de-sacs and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The front seats are comfortable and offer good side support. The fronts. like the backs, are upholstered in heat reflective material to make getting in and out of the Cascada in hot weather with the top down less painful. The rear seats also offer decent side support. We put two teenage boys back there with no complaints about the lack of leg room or comfort issues.
Despite the low profile with the top up, there is adequate headroom in the front and back. Yes, the trunk is small. With the top down, it intrudes into the trunk and cargo capacity is a mere 9.8 cubic feet. With the top up, the “bag” that holds the top can be moved out of the way and cargo capacity increases to 13.4 cubic feet. Even with the top down we were able to put flexible luggage in the back, or four full grocery bags.
The top raises and lowers easily with a small lever on the center console. There’s also a button within the lowering lever that drops all four windows at once. Cascade has a nice profile, top up or down.
There is a clear instrument panel with the customary gauges. The fuel and water temperature gauges are semi-circular, but with the information part on the lower half, making them “upside down“ from standard. I constantly thought I was low on fuel when I was just mis-reading the gauge. The infotainment screen is clear, but there are too many buttons (24) beneath it for various functions. There are also 15 HVAC buttons or knobs. This is far too many.
Cascada is small, and therefore internal storage is at a premium. there’s a small cubby at the base of the center stack that also has USB and AUX outlets. The doors have small pockets but there is room for water bottles. And the center console/arm rest is small. My only real complaint is that I couldn’t find an internal trunk release, so I had to use the fob to open the trunk.
Overall, the Buick Cascada is a beautiful two-door convertible that should compete well with the other vehicles in its class. If it is a harbinger of Buick designs of the future, I can’t wait.
(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate