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2017 Buick Cascada
The Buick Cascada launched in the U.S. last year to help fuel the Detroit brand’s comeback attempt to connect with young luxury buyers. A week spent behind the convertible’s wheel suggests that Buick is making good on its mandate. Compared with upscale rivals including the BMW 2-Series and Audi A3 cabriolet, the Cascada offers more space for less money, if not quite as much refinement.
Buick’s four-passenger convertible runs on a 200-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The front-wheel-drive droptop comes in three trims: base, Premium, and new for 2017, Sport Touring, which adds sport pedals and 20-inch aluminum wheels.
Inside, the Cascada feels refined, with heat-resistant leather upholstery and power adjustable, heated front seats. Comfort is enhanced by the brand’s Quiet Tuning technology, which is engineered to shield occupants from wind and road noise whether the car’s top is up or down. The Premium and Sport Touring trims include front and rear air deflectors to further protect passengers from wind noise. All models come equipped with Bluetooth, a USB port, a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, and Buick’s IntellilLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen.
The Cascada earned a five-star overall rating in crashworthiness from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, excelling in side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the other federal agency for vehicle safety ratings, does not test convertibles. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors come standard. Advanced safety features including forward collision warning and lane departure warning are available.
However, fuel economy is one of the Cascada’s major shortcomings. The car delivers 20 mpg around town and 27 mpg on the highway, which is much less than its German luxury competitors.
The Cascada starts at $33,065. The Premium and Sport Touring trims begin at $36,065 and $37,065, respectively.
What the experts are saying
“The Cascada is an interesting addition to the Buick lineup – a niche product that’s new to our market, but actually an old car. The Opel Cascada has been on sale in European markets for years, and now arrives in the U.S. with easy-to-drive dynamics and comfortable seating for four. Competitors like the Audi A3 cabriolet and BMW 2-Series convertible are more engaging to drive and, to my eyes, better-looking, but there’s no doubt the Cascada will find happy homes with folks who just want an easy, breezy droptop, even if they’re all in Florida.” – Steven Ewing, managing editor at Motor1
Bolstering Buick’s reputation
“Buick wants to be seen as a full-fledged premium brand, a goal substantially enhanced with the introduction of the Cascada. The two-door convertible gives Buick the kind of frivolous and sporty entry most upscale brands offer. Better still, the Cascada’s execution includes enough power, refinement, and high-tech features to make it worthy of consideration for luxury buyers seeking a cost-effective and stylish convertible.” – Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book
A niche market
“Over the past decade, the number of non-luxury convertibles has dropped fairly dramatically so Buick Cascada stands out in a market that’s been overtaken by crossover introductions. The Cascada makes sense for the Buick brand since their older customer base is more likely to be in a financial position to afford a second or third car. Convertibles make up less than one percent of new car sales so it won’t be a big seller for Buick, but it caters to a niche that rounds out their portfolio of products.” – Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds