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2018 Buick Cascada

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2018 Buick Cascada Expert Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 8.2

A stylish 4-passenger convertible, the 2018 Buick Cascada is a sporty and luxurious ride for sun-worshipers looking for some fresh air. Buick’s first convertible in 25 years competes with the BMW 2 Series, Audi A3 as well as soft-top versions of the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro. The front-wheel-drive Cascada is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making 200 horsepower, which is less than you’ll find in a BMW 230i but it out-muscles the standard engine in the Audi. The Buick beats them both on price. Three trim levels are available, the base, Premium and Sport Touring with prices starting around $34,000. That’s about $7,000 less than the BMW and about $4,000 under the Audi. Standard equipment includes a 6-speed automatic transmission, 20-inch aluminum wheels, onboard Wi-Fi and a power top, which opens in 17 seconds.

You'll Like This Car If...

Blue sky. Your favorite road, maybe it’s along the coast or through farm country past red barns and grazing horses. Top down. Wind in your hair. Sun on your face. Life, work, the city, it’s all in your rearview mirror. If this sounds good, you’ll like the 2018 Buick Cascada.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If an all-wheel-drive (AWD) convertible is on your wish list, Buick does not have what you’re looking for; the Cascada is only available with front-wheel drive (FWD). BMW and Audi, however, offer AWD on the 2 Series and the A3 Cabriolet. Those looking for razor-sharp handling will likely be happier in the BMW or Audi as well.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 8.2
  • 8.1
  • 8.1
  • 8.4
  • 8.0
  • N/A
How It Ranks
2018 Buick Cascada Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

For 2018, Buick hasn’t messed with success. Improvements to the Cascada are limited to a few new colors including Darkmoon Blue Metallic. Also, the popular Dark Effects Package is now available on two more exterior colors in addition to Sport Red.

Driving the Cascada
2018 Buick Cascada Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

This is the perfect car for that lazy Sunday drive up the coast. With top down you can feel the sun on your face, hear the waves crashing into the...

... sand and smell the salty sea air. The 2018 Buick Cascada is sporty, but it isn’t a sports car. It’s a cruiser, not a bruiser. At 4,000 pounds, the 200-horsepower convertible is adequately spunky, delivering good acceleration with only the faintest hint of turbo lag. Its 6-speed automatic transmission isn’t exactly state-of-the-art, but its gear changes are smooth. Still, the Buick is slower than its rivals with a 0-60-mph time of over 8.0 seconds. We also wouldn’t pit it against a BMW 2 Series in the corners, despite its standard 20-inch wheels and tires. But the roomy and comfortable Buick Cascada is a fantastic Sunday drive companion, with a smooth ride, a rigid structure and lightly weighted and responsive steering.

AUTOMATIC ROLL-OVER POP-UP BARS
Some buyers shy away from convertibles because they worry about safety in a roll-over accident. Buick has addressed this with hidden spring-loaded, pyrotechnically activated rollbars behind the rear seats. Linked to the car’s airbag system, when deployed the rollbars, which are made of high-strength steel, extend approximately 14 inches to match the height of the windshield and protect the car’s occupants.

DRIVER CONFIDENCE PACKAGE
Although optional on the base model, this safety-focused package is standard on the Cascada Premium and Sport Touring models. It adds Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Front and Rear Park Assist, rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic high-beam control. An adaptive-cruise-control system is not offered on the Cascada.

2018 Buick Cascada Details
2018 Buick Cascada Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Impressively roomy for a drop-top this size, the 2018 Buick Cascada can seat four average-size adults. Seat comfort is high, and the rest of the interior is well finished and nicely detailed. Unfortunately there are a few dated design details like a bazillion buttons on the dash and a smallish infotainment screen. Buick’s signature Quiet Tuning is evident with the top up, and 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.

Exterior
2018 Buick Cascada photo

This is not a small car. At 184.9 inches long, the 2018 Buick Cascada is 10 inches longer than a BMW 2 Series. The Buick is also several inches wider than the BMW. But the Cascada wears its size well, with a radically raked windshield, nicely flared wheel arches and a stubby well-tapered proboscis. Certainly the Buick looks best with its fabric top stowed away underneath the cleanly designed hard boot, but its curb appeal isn’t completely sabotaged with it up either. In fact, the Cascada looks downright sexy with its top up but its four windows rolled down, giving the Buick a classic hardtop profile.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

To enhance the new Buick Cascada’s appeal, both base and the Premium variants come with a bounty of up-line 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 pop-up roll-over bars behind the rear seat linked to the car’s seatbelt system.

Optional Equipment

Options are a relatively rare commodity on the 2018 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. The popular Dark Effects Package adds dark exterior trim, red interior stitching and piano-black interior trim.

Under the Hood
2018 Buick Cascada Engine photo

There’s just one powertrain for all three variants of the 2018 Buick Cascada: 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: 21/29 mpg

The 2018 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 Chevy Camaro 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 2018 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.

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