2016 Buick Cascada Review

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Like a lowly caterpillar morphing into a charming butterfly, Buick has been busy shedding portholes and reinventing its persona. This transformation fueled 1.2 million global sales last year, a record for the oldest surviving brand under the General Motors umbrella. Traditional sedans such as the Verano are being broomed to concentrate on crossovers. The baby-box Encore is refreshed for 2017, and an all-new, big-mama Enclave will be redesigned soon. The Envision mid-size crossover, the second vehicle built in China to be sold in America (after the Volvo S60 Inscription), rolls into Buick showrooms later this year.

Our subject vehicle, the Cascada convertible, may be the result of one too many champagne toasts to Buick’s recent success. It presents itself as the brand’s party animal, a folding-top, breeze-basted four-seater manufactured by Opel in Poland. Even though Buick hasn’t sold a convertible here in 25 years and Chrysler recently ditched its long-running 200 convertible, ragtops remain a sure bet in rental fleets. That would seem to be the Cascada’s mission. There is no better way to provide vacationers, retirees, and those suffering from wanderlust with a risk-free taste of an American nameplate’s fresh agenda. Give them some fun under the sun, and maybe they’ll consider your brand when shopping for a new car back home.

Flashing a set of 20-inch wheels and a windshield laid back 67 degrees from vertical, the Cascada tries hard to yank every eyeball within range. The base trim level, starting at a reasonable $33,990, includes heated leather seats, modern LEDs in its head- and taillamps, roll bars that automatically deploy in the event of a flip, a 7.0-inch central touchscreen, navigation, a seven-speaker audio system, remote start, and a backup camera. The Premium trim version we tested costs an extra $3000 and adds several electronic driving aids such as forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, automatic headlamps, front and rear parking assist, and automatic windshield wipers, plus a few frills that include machined-spoke wheels and front and rear air deflectors.

Lowering or raising the top is a one-touch operation that takes less than 20 seconds each way. The elegantly curved and liberally insulated fabric roof hides away under an articulating cover panel. To welcome rear occupants aboard, the front power seats move forward when the backrest is tilted, then automatically return to their original position when the backrest is tipped back. In the event contact is made with the rear occupant’s knees during rearward travel, the front seat automatically stops before inflicting pain­—a thoughtful touch. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Michael Simari

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