2017 Buick Cascada: Upscale convertible has Euro-appeal and American components

By Mike Blake - Carlisle Events
Thursday, October 12, 2017

When Buick introduced the all-new Cascada convertible last year, it was an invitation to drivers who wanted to live life wide open with features not generally thought of in a mainstream convertible. Cascada became the first convertible in the Buick line-up since the Buick Reatta ceased production 26 years ago, and it gained a following by offering a quiet, three-layer acoustically and thermally insulated soft-top system opens in 17 seconds at up to 31 mph. And Buick proclaims that Cascada presents stress-reducing engineering at a price that appeals to most budgets.

A suave, luxury, aggressively priced, convertible, Cascada, which is the Spanish word for “waterfall,” is an international vehicle built in Poland, with an engine made in Hungary and a transmission from Mexico. Cascada is based on the Euro Opel Astra sedan with some Buick Verano thrown in, but it is Americanized with 600 unique components, softer cabin materials and a more compliant and quieter riding experience.

Preferring to stand pat with few changes from the model Buick launched in 2016, the main enhancement for 2017 is a new trim – the Sport Touring model that features True Blue Metallic exterior color, Sterling Silver 20-inch wheels, sport pedals, Black Magic interior trim and flat-bottom sport steering wheel

With 2-plus-2 seating – seating for four (two in front and two in the rear) -- Cascada is a turbocharged convertible with a distinctive design, premium features and refinement. Its advanced chassis technologies include HiPer Strut front suspension and a standard turbocharged performance engine.

Packed with standard upscale comfort and connectivity items, Cascada is a treasure trove of standard items including Buick IntelliLink with a 7-inch-diagonal color touch screen featuring Text Message Alerts; Siri Eyes Free for Apple phones with an iOS 6 or newer operating system and available navigation; OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot (includes three-month/3GB data trial); remote vehicle starter; dual-zone climate control; front and rear 12-volt power outlets; heat-reflective leather-appointed seating; heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel; 50/50-split rear seat with trunk pass-through; fuel-saving electric power steering; rear Park Assist and an available navigation radio and seven-speaker premium audio system

Cascada’s sculpted forward stance starts with a raked windshield and A-pillars, and elegantly travels to a sweeping body-side line with sleek headlamps that flow into the front fenders. The two-door, four-passenger convertible with front-engine/front-wheel drive measures 56.8 inches high, 72.4 inches wide and 184.9 inches long on a 106.1-inch wheelbase, weighing in with a curbweight of 3979 lbs.

Moving the 2-ton convertible is a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that provides 200 horsepower, with good broad-range torque estimated at 207 lbs-ft. Its overboost feature briefly pushes torque to an estimated 221 lbs-ft. Mated to a Hydra-Matic 6T45, six-speed transverse, electronically controlled, automatic overdrive transmission, the system effectively accelerates, but passing at speed must be done with patience.

Steady, but not a track star, my test Cascada took 8.6 seconds to complete a zero-to-60mph sprint, and the quarter-mile was a 16.6-second trial. But with the top down and wind in my hair, it was a fun trip down the track. The rack-mounted electric, variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering was attentive, though S-curves showed some understeer. The ride was smooth, however, with Buick’s HiPer Strut independent front suspension with specifically tuned coil springs, direct-acting stabilizer bar and hydraulic ride bushings that work well with the compound crank torsion beam rear and Watts Z-link to level out rough rides by dampening loads to the body structure, reducing torque steer and gaining impact isolation on bumps and rough surfaces.

Economically, the system is rated at 20/city and 27/highway mpg, and my mixed-use tests came in at 23.7 mpg.

The interior is upscale, packed with infotainment and filled with soft-touch material, while heated front seats and steering wheel offer comfort in colder weather conditions. With seating for four -- 2 in front and 2 in back -- headroom is tight with the top in place at 37.8 inches in front and 36.1 in the rear, but unlimited with the top down; legroom is spacious at 42.2 inches in row one, but a confining 32.8 inches in row two; and shoulder room is good in the front seats at 54.6 inches, but tight for adults in the rear at 45.8 inches.

Safety features include six standard air bags, with dual-stage frontal and knee air bags and seat-mounted side-impact air bags for front seating positions; a standard rear vision camera system; four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and brake assist; StabiliTrak stability control system with full-function traction control; automated, spring-loaded and high-strength steel rollover bars behind the rear seat that are linked to the air bag system; and an available Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning

The 2017 Buick Cascada starts at $33,065 plus destination and freight; the upper-scale Premium trim starts at $36,065 and the new Sport Touring trim starts at $37,065.

My Cascada Premium in front-wheel drive added Toasted Coconut (dark-gray) Metallic paint for $395 (the standard no-charge color is Summit White). Front and rear carpeted floor mats added $100 and destination freight charges added $925 for a price-as-tested of $37,385, but cash incentives of up to $2,000 are available, so check with your local dealer.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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