When it comes to automotive species, the premium four-seat soft-top convertible is on the Endangered list. But Buick is doing its part to conserve the breed with its sharp-looking – and well-selling – Cascada model. Pricing for this two-door drop-top technically starts at $34,915 (including $925 Destination Charge) in 1SV form, but buyers should consider the $37,915 Premium the model’s entry point.
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2018 Buick Cascada Overview
What's New for 2018
Changes for the Cascada’s third year are limited to cosmetics, with new exterior and soft top colors and a Dark Effects Package available on the Sport Touring model.
Choosing Your Buick Cascada
All Cascadas are powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four that puts its 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic. The only significant difference between Cascada trims – excluding the 1SV – is its appearance, with the Premium tier offering the expected equipment clothed in the traditional array of somewhat conservative colors while the Sport Touring attempts to add an aggressive attitude utterly unbefitting of this comfort-focused Buick.
There are three Cascada trims:
There is no reason not to opt for the Premium trim. The Cascada isn’t sporty (no matter what Buick would like you to think), and no amount of tossed-on trim is going to change that. And given the fact that the Sport Touring is purely appearance-based, you aren’t losing any equipment with the Premium while retaining access to its broader – and more befitting – color range.
2018 Buick Cascada Review
Buick saw a glaring hole in the US automotive market in 2016 and decided to fill it with the Cascada. Like many Buicks, the automaker turned to Europe for this small convertible, as this is essentially a rebadged Opel from Germany. While its German roots are evident and beneficial in some areas, the 2018 Buick Cascada is very dated in other areas.
You have three trims to choose from in the 2018 Cascada: 1SV, Premium, and Sport Touring. In a relatively unusual twist, the best value is in the base Cascada 1SV. While that may sound great to a buyer on a tight budget, it's also an indicator of just how dated some of the features in the higher trims are.
The 2018 Buick Cascada 1SV comes standard with everything one would expect on a luxury convertible, say, five years ago. The list of standard features includes 20-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, a seven-inch touchscreen, and more.
- Model: 2018 Buick Cascada 1SV
- Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
- Output: 200 hp / 207 lb-ft
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
- MPG: 21 City / 29 Hwy
- Options: None
- Base Price: $33,990 (including a $925 destination charge)
- Best Value Price: $33,990
The Cascada’s thick-rimmed steering wheel feels sporty in your hand, plus it's well-weighted and precise. The thick roof and additional sound deadening keep road noise to a minimum, and the 1.6-liter engine delivers a quiet hum that doesn’t infiltrate the cabin.
While it's quiet and relatively powerful at 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine is outmatched by this nearly 4,000-pound convertible. On top of that, the aged six-speed automatic transmission slips in and out of gears with a slur and sometimes shows a delay in downshifting.
While the 20-inch wheels look great on the corners, they combine with low-profile tires to create a bumpy ride that no Buick buyers would ever find acceptable. With this bumpy ride, you may believe the suspension will be stiff enough to deliver zippy handling, but this is far from the truth, as there's also plenty of lean in the corners.
The Cascada is very obviously German, thanks to its toned-down design. Some may love this look, while others may find it too vanilla. Regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, we can all admit that the fabric roof doesn’t hinder the styling whether it’s up or down.
Inside, the 2018 Buick Cascada really shows its age. Everything seems to be about one generation behind, including the rustic navigation interface, the nearly straight-on instrument cluster, and the massive number of buttons on the center stack.
Roominess is also a hot commodity in the Cascada, as only the front occupants have any room to speak of. In the rear, there’s just 32.8 inches of leg room and 36.1 inches of head room. The trunk is also tight, as it has 9.8 cubic feet with the top down.
While it hasn’t gone through full safety testing yet, the Cascada performed well on most of the NHTSA crash tests, landing it a five-star rating. However, age rears its ugly head again, as the 2018 Cascada lacks any modern safety tech, including automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist.
The Best and Worst Things
The classy styling of the 2018 Cascada is perfect for fans of German metal, giving budget-stretched BMW and Mercedes-Benz fans reason to take a look.
That said, the dated feel of the Cascada is a huge turnoff. Its two biggest offenders are its button-heavy center stack and lack of any advanced safety technology.
Right For? Wrong For?
The 2018 Buick Cascada is a niche vehicle that has no competitors in its price range. Plus, its German styling makes it perfect for those who cannot afford a BMW, Mercedes, or Audi convertible car payment.
The younger generation might as well stay away, as they'll feel like they’re driving a fossil in the Cascada.
The Bottom Line
Buick knows it has this segment on lock with the 2018 Cascada, so there's no need to worry about it being a bit dated. This is a disappointment, as there has been a lot of progress at Buick, and this seems like a step back into the old Buick ways.