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2019 Buick Cascada: New Car Review

Convertibles are dropping like flies. It seems like every year sees another option eliminated, and sure enough, the 2019 Buick Cascada finds itself with even less competition this year. As a result, there’s just nothing else like the Cascada out there given its reasonably useful back seat, a comparably low price and an emphasis on comfort. Everything else on the market is either a rear-wheel-drive muscle car, a retro micro car or a considerably more expensive luxury model.

So basically, if the Cascada is the type of convertible you’re looking for, it’s the default choice. Now, we don’t need to tell you that "default" does not equal "great." For starters, the Cascada isn’t really a Buick at all. It’s built in Poland and imported from General Motors’ former European Opel division. This is a problem for multiple reasons. First, it might have been introduced in the U.S. for 2016, but it was unveiled in Europe three years prior, and it was based on even older architecture. Second, it might wear a Buick badge, but its Opel styling and interior design remain the same. Its antiquated, button-excessive center control stack in particular separates it from Buick’s other models in terms of design, feature content and functionality. And finally, be it age or just a lack of refinement, the Cascada’s jiggling and shaking over bumps is reminiscent of much older convertibles.

So yes, this quasi-Buick convertible is flawed. Yet, again, it’s basically the only game in town. Its trunk and back seat wouldn’t be what we’d typically consider spacious, but in the drop-top realm, they’re actually quite good. Standard feature content is exceptional, as well, so you can definitely just stick with the base model. And if that value is important, then you’ll definitely like that the Cascada costs tens of thousands less than similarly sized and equipped convertibles from luxury makers.

What’s New for 2019?

The Cascada carries over unchanged for 2019, as even the price stays the same.

What We Like

Ample standard equipment; large-enough back seat; smooth ride; one of the few convertibles around; it has two sets of taillights!

What We Don’t

Jiggles and shakes over bumps; ridiculous amount of interior buttons; old-school technology; expectedly small trunk space

How Much?

$33,070-$37,070

Fuel Economy

The Cascada offers one engine: a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. Available only with front-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission, it returns 21 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Buick Cascada offers three trim levels: base, Premium and Sport Touring

The base-level Cascada ($33,070) touts a surprisingly long list of standard equipment that includes a power soft-top, 20-in wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, remote ignition, heated 8-way power front seats, heat-reflective leather upholstery, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, OnStar emergency communications, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, a 7-in touchscreen interface, one USB port and a 7-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

Step up to the Premium ($36,070), and you get forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, front parking sensors, interior wind deflectors and a navigation system.

The Sport Touring trim ($37,070) adds a flat-bottom steering wheel, special wheels and unique paint choices. The Dark Effects package, available only on this trim, adds black exterior trim, piano black interior trim and red seat stitching.

Safety

Standard on all models are pop-up roll bars, rear parking sensors, front-side airbags, a driver-knee airbag, antilock brakes and a rearview camera. Drivers who step up to the Premium trim will be rewarded with forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and front parking sensors. We only wish the Cascada offered a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert, as both can be important for convertibles given their notoriously large blind spots.

The federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Cascada a 5-star overall crash rating, plus four stars for frontal impacts and a 5-star side-impact rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash-tested the Cascada yet.

Behind the Wheel

Despite the fact that the Cascada isn’t a high-performance convertible, we were impressed with its sporty handling characteristics — something we weren’t expecting from a car focused more on relaxed, top-down style. Admittedly, the 200-hp engine doesn’t provide much performance, as it’s burdened by a rather hefty curb weight. The Cascada also tends to jiggle excessively over bumps (known as cowl shake), which is something that has been greatly reduced or eliminated altogether in other convertibles.

On the road, the Cascada is quiet and smooth, with a relaxed, supple ride. With the top up, there’s surprisingly little wind noise for a convertible. Top up or down, the interior is a little cramped for larger drivers, though the back seat is surprisingly large, but it’s still not exactly roomy for a car of this size.

To us, the Cascada’s biggest interior disappointment is its technology, which is no surprise considering that this car actually went on sale more than 6 years ago in foreign markets. It certainly feels old, with the center control stack that’s cluttered by a multitude of buttons and a traditional key — rather than now-common push-button start systems — to start the engine. Buick’s otherwise user-friendly tech interface is also saddled with a smaller touchscreen than you’ll find in other Buicks, and its placement deep within a cowl can make it difficult to reach.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Audi A3 ConvertibleAudi’s soft-top A3 Cabriolet convertible is more expensive than the Cascada, and it offers less standard equipment, but it boasts a stiffer structure, a higher-end cabin and better driving dynamics.

2019 Ford Mustang Convertible — Admittedly, the Mustang is a fundamentally different type of car than the Cascada. However, given the Buick’s price and available feature content, there are only so many convertibles to compare it with.

2018 Volkswagen Beetle — There won’t be a 2019 Volkswagen Beetle, as it’s been discontinued, but 2018 models are still worth a look if they’re still on dealer lots. It’ll be cheaper than the Cascada, more modern on the inside and zippier to drive. It’s smaller, though.

Used Audi A5 Convertible — The A5 convertible offers more interior room than the Cascada, along with better available performance and optional all-wheel drive. Prices are steep, though, so you may want to consider a used model.

Autotrader’s Advice

We’d go with the base-level Cascada. It offers an abundance of equipment and comes at a reasonable price, and we’re not sure if the Premium model’s additional features justify its larger price tag.

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