By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.3
Buick has not had a convertible in its repertoire for nearly 25 years, which is why the 2017 Cascada convertible is such a milestone in the company’s comeback story. Introduced last year, the Cascada is actually an Opel bearing the same name in Europe. Buick’s version of course gets more luxury features as well as an enhanced suspension and all those little touches Americans love. The front-drive 2017 Buick Cascada convertible isn’t just a 2-person affair; it’s a roomy 2+2 with a decent-size trunk making it a worthy rival to cars like the BMW 2 Series, Audi A3 and VW Beetle drop-tops. A 200-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged engine powers all three Cascada trims, including the new Sport Touring.
There aren’t too many 4-seat convertibles on the market and even fewer that offer a usable rear seat. If you’re seeking such a car, the 2017 Buick Cascada convertible has a lower starting price than its German rivals and even the base car is exceptionally well-equipped.
KBB Expert Ratings
The convertible Buick Cascada for 2017 gets a new Sport Touring trim that adds unique blue paint, 20-inch Sterling Silver wheels, black-magic interior trim and a flat-bottom sport steering wheel.
While we wouldn’t pit a 2017 Buick Cascada against a BMW 2 Series in the corners, for the way most people drive, this drop-top Buick should prove most satisfying. Designed...
... as a convertible first, Buick’s 2017 Cascada’s rigid structure minimizes flex inherent in a car without a solid roof to brace it. The rigid chassis is coupled with a sophisticated suspension highlighted by Buick’s HiPer Strut front struts. An aggressive 20-inch wheel/tire setup and responsive electric power steering help Buick’s 2+2 convertible deliver a comfortable ride on smooth surfaces with minimal torque steer when pushed hard in the curves. Despite its nearly 4,000-pound curb weight, the Cascada’s tiny 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine does an adequate job, delivering good acceleration via the 6-speed automatic with only the faintest hint of turbo lag. It’s no match for its German and American rivals, however, with a zero-to-60-mph time in the 8-second range.
POWER-ACTIVATED SOFT TOP
The 2017 Cascada features a fully powered retractable soft top that can be cycled up or down in a mere 17 seconds, even while the car is moving at speeds up to 30 mph. Inside, the top features multiple fabric layers that do an excellent job keeping heat in and noise out.
EASY REAR-SEAT ENTRY/EXIT SYSTEM
To assist with easy rear-seat entry and exit, the Cascada’s power front bucket seats automatically move forward or backward once the seatback is moved forward. The seats will also stop their rearward travel should they sense a set of knees in the way.
Nicely detailed and well appointed, Buick’s 2017 Cascada’s leather-lined cabin can be criticized a bit for displaying a few dated design details. However, it’s impressively roomy for a 2+2, and the car’s individual fold-down rear seats will accommodate two average-size adults if its well-formed, 8-way-power front seats also are carrying similarly scaled occupants. Although Buick’s signature Quiet Tuning is most evident with the top up, sound levels and wind buffeting remain commendably low even when the Cascada is running in al fresco mode. However, flipping its lid does trim the car’s generous 13.4 cubic-foot trunk capacity to a still-serviceable 9.8 cubic feet.
Save for minor cosmetic detailing on the grille, lighting elements and rolling stock, the Buick Cascada’s styling is virtually identical to its Opel-badged alter ego. But that’s hardly a bad thing. Open or closed, the new Cascada’s cleanly styled convertible bodywork and well-rendered top treatment ensure great curb appeal from virtually any angle. Save for unique finishes, the standard Cascada and Premium variant fill their nicely flared wheel arches with 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels wrapped in beefy 245/40 all-season tires.
To enhance the Cascada’s appeal, both base and the Premium variants come with a bounty of upline features that complement the excellent soft top, and a full range of power assists. Highlighting that formidable roster are auto-controlled high-intensity headlights, heat-reflective leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel and seats, Buick's IntelliLink system with a 7.0-inch color display, OnStar with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot, Siri Eyes Free for iOS phones, a navigation system, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, Rear Park Assist, electric seatbelt presenters, dual 12V powerpoints, and spring-loaded/pyrotechnically activated popup rollover bars behind the rear seat linked to the car’s seatbelt system.
Options are a relative commodity on the Cascada. Save for a few extra-cost exterior colors, all versions of the Cascada convertible are mono-spec offerings. The only upgrades included on the Cascada Premium and Sport Touring models add Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, front as well as rear Park Assist, tunnel detection for the automatic-headlight control, Rainsense automatic wipers, front/rear air deflectors, and a unique “diamond-graphic” finish on the wheels on the Premium and a Sterling Silver finish on the Sport Touring.
There’s just one powertrain for all three Cascada variants: a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that drives the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Part of GM’s new-generation Ecotec family, this free-revving four boasts direct injection and continuously variable-valve timing that help it turn out 200 horsepower -- a heady 125 horsepower per liter. It also develops 207 lb-ft of torque from 1,800-4,500 rpm, which can be cranked up to 221 lb-ft in 10-second bursts thanks to an overboost function. A remapping of throttle response also helps enhance the car’s pleasantly brisk acceleration. The modest downside to that enthusiasm is fuel economy. With EPA ratings of 20/27 city/highway mpg, the Cascada falls well shy of best in class.
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
200 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-4,500 rpm (221 lb-ft @ 2,200-4,000 rpm w/overboost)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Buick Cascada in base 1SV trim has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $34,000, while the Premium model with its active/passive driver assists opens at the slightest nudge under $37,000. The Sport Touring adds another $1,000 to the bottom line. The Premium’s price is roughly where the Audi A3 and BMW 2 Series convertibles commence and while domestic drop-top alternatives like the Ford Mustang and upcoming Chevy Camaro may start lower, neither of those models includes standards like leather, power seats and navigation, items that further burnish the Cascada’s overall value story. Before you set out to purchase, be sure to check KBB’s Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for the 2017 Buick Cascada in your area. We expect the Cascada to hold average values a few points below the BMW 2 Series and Ford Mustang, but on par with the Audi A3 Cabriolet.