It’s already been 25 years since Buick’s last convertible, the hand-crafted Buick Reatta, aimed to be the long-aspiring GM premium brand’s ‘halo car.’ This time it’s looking to drop the top with something a little more attainable: the 2016 Buick Cascada.
With a turbo four-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, and what we’ll assume is a very comfortable interior and ride, with just a bit of sportiness tuned in, the Cascada is poised to hit the market after an astonishing number of comfort-oriented convertibles—Chrysler Sebring, Toyota Solara, and Volvo C70 (and soon, Volkswagen Eos)—have all seen the chopping block.
Design-wise, the Cascada doesn’t break any new ground either in profile or up-close details; and for convertible buyers who are often looking to get a little more attention, there’s nothing particularly flamboyant about the look. However, it does have a pleasant, rakish profile as well as some distinct side-body sculpting, with a crease that starts behind the wheel wells and arcs back into the taillamps. Wing-shaped LED running lamps in front help frame a grille that will fit right in alongside the Regal and Verano. The rear view of the Cascada shows a more conservative side, with a chrome bar in back, as well as a chrome strip that wraps around the entire passenger cell. Side mirrors are placed father back, behind small A-pillar mirrors, which likely aids aerodynamics.
Cabin appointments haven’t been closely detailed yet, but the Cascada’s interior layout combines a cockpit-like instrument-panel layout with some of the soft tones and soft-touch surfaces, framed in brightwork, that’s become expected in Buicks.
The Buick Cascada has front-wheel drive and is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged in-line four-cylinder engine, making 200 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque. Buick boasts that in a special overboost mode the engine makes up to 221 lb-ft; although it should also factor in as one of the most fuel-efficient convertibles on the market. Shifting is tackled by a six-speed automatic transmission, and Buick notes that its HiPer strut suspension layout, which has in other products brought better control over bumpy surfaces. In back there’s a Watts Z-link suspension, which we’ve found does a great job with ride quality and cornering in the Chevrolet Cruze and Buick Verano sedans. Big 20-inch wheels and four-wheel disc brakes will be standard.
The Cascada’s soft top, with multi-layer thermal and acoustic insulation, can lower in just 17 seconds, at speeds of up to 31 mph. Convertibles can shake and shimmy if they aren’t engineered with a lot more body stiffness elsewhere lower in the body; to that, the Cascada gets additional press-hardened steel in the A-pillars plus reinforced side sills.
At less than 185 inches long, the Cascada is a little longer than most compact cars, but its cabin appears to be well within compact-car standards. The 2016 Cascada is officially a 2+2, with a very modest back seat that’s likely not adult-sized there is an electronic rear-seat entry system that powers the front seats forward for access and returns them to the same place afterward. With 13.4 cubic feet of trunk space with the top up and 9.8 cubic feet with it down (the top slides in place under a built-in cover ahead of the decklid), there should be plenty of space for some weekend bags or more grocery trips. And if you need more space, the rear seatbacks do fold forward for more cargo capability.
There’s an active rollover safety system has rollover protection bars that will deploy over the rear seats in anticipation of a rollover. Furthermore, items that might help improve safety include lane departure warning, a rearview camera system, rear park assist, and rain-sensing wipers.
An OnStar 4G LTE data connection with built-in wifi hotspot is on offer in the Cascada, as is a Buick Intellilink infotainment system with color touch screen, text-message alerts, navigation, and Siri Eyes Free compatibility.
Although pricing hasn’t yet been announced for the Cascada, we’d bet big on affordability, and it’s quite likely that the Cascada will land at a price that’s below the Reatta’s $35k base pricetag from a quarter century ago (more than $60k in today’s money, by the way).