The 2018 Buick Cascada promises to be a reasonably priced four-person luxury convertible. Unfortunately, under its sleek shell the Buick Cascada is an aging vehicle that is not up to the standards of today's market. It simply can't compete in terms of price, performance, comfort, features or quality.
We do like the Cascada's low levels of interior noise for a convertible. And, yes, the trunk is more sizable than other convertibles'. But that's only if you commit to top-up motoring and close the partition that lets you lower the roof. Beyond that, the car's substantial weight and small engine conspire to make it slower, less efficient and less gratifying to drive than its competitors. Meanwhile, the dated interior is packed with buttons and a touchscreen infotainment system that's decidedly a generation behind those of competitors. It doesn't help that the firm seats and hard plastics within don't live up to the badge's premium aspirations.
Before committing to a Cascada, we recommend test-driving some of the Buick's competitors. The Ford Mustang convertible offers a more powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine, more comfortable front seats, and a folding roof that doesn't interfere with trunk space.
If you don't like the sports-car look, there's the Mini Convertible, which feels more premium, is more fun to drive, and is only a little less utilitarian than the Cascada when the top comes down. The Cascada's top trim level is even priced within spitting distance of the Audi A3 Cabriolet, which in base trim offers similar equipment and a significantly more upscale experience.
For 2018, the Cascada carries over largely unchanged, receiving some new paint and convertible-top colors.
The base Cascada is definitely the best value. It comes with almost all of the same equipment as the more expensive trims, and it is mechanically identical. The upgrade doesn't seem worth it for the handful of extra features, especially considering that the navigation system is no great shakes.
The 2018 Buick Cascada convertible is offered in three trim levels: base, Premium and Sport Touring. All trims come with largely the same equipment, with the Premium receiving a handful of upgrades and the Sport Touring primarily being an appearance package.
Powering all versions is a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. It drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard equipment for the base model (referred to as simply Cascada) includes 20-inch alloy wheels, a power-operated convertible soft top, adaptive xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors and remote engine start. Inside, you'll find dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power and heated front seats, 50/50-split folding rear seats, a heated tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 7-inch touchscreen display (with Buick's IntelliLink interface), voice controls, a rearview camera, OnStar (with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot), and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB media interface.
The Cascada Premium adds foglights, automatic wipers, automatic headlights, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, air deflectors for the front and rear seats, and a navigation system.
Step up to the new Sport Touring trim and you get a unique paint color and distinctive alloy wheels, special black interior trim and flat-bottom steering wheel.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Buick Cascada Sport Touring Red Sport (turbo 1.6L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).
It's heavy, underpowered and saddled with an indecisive transmission. As such, the Cascada is slow, and the numb steering and poor handling don't inspire confidence. Brake pedal feel is a high point, but poor braking performance undermines that lone plus. This car is clearly designed for cruising.
The engine is lackadaisical until it's high in the rpm range, where it sadly sounds unhappy. The transmission is too eager to change gears, making gas pedal modulation more difficult than it should be. Our tested 0-60 mph time of 9.1 seconds makes the Cascada one of the slower cars on the road.
The firm and responsive brake pedal offers a good amount of feedback and is undoubtedly the Cascada's strongest dynamic feature. The car remains stable, even during panic stops. Unfortunately, we measured a longer than average stopping distance for this class.
While the steering is precise, it lacks a natural buildup of resistance as you turn the wheel, and it has almost no useful feedback. This makes it hard to judge what's happening at the front wheels and to trust what limited capabilities this car has.
There's generous body roll in turns. The Cascada's SUV-like 4,000-pound curb weight coupled with its other dynamic shortcomings conspire to make this a car that is neither capable nor confidence-inspiring. It approaches its limits rapidly and with little warning.
Even on flat roads, the transmission is almost always hunting — grabbing a higher gear the moment you ease up, then downshifting when you ask for even a little bit of power. It's also difficult to judge where the corners of the car are, which makes maneuvering in tight spaces a challenge.
The Cascada's top does a good job of insulating the cabin, and the seats accommodate a range of body types, though they start to wear on long drives. The ride quality is also poor, especially at the price. We appreciate that the climate control relies on buttons, but the layout isn't very intuitive.
The seats are shaped to accommodate a number of body types, but they are a bit flat and firm, which means they don't do very much to improve ride comfort. On longer drives, we also found ourselves fidgeting as the seats got a little swampy; the stiffness begins to wear on you after a while.
The Cascada manages to mitigate larger impacts, but the overall ride feels far too stiff-legged and busy. Even on relatively smooth pavement, you feel every imperfection. It's not harsh, but it also isn't pleasant, and it feels surprisingly downmarket considering our tester's price.
Noise & vibration7.5
Noise insulation is good for a convertible, with the soft top doing a good job of keeping out the sound of traffic. There's noticeable wind, road and tire noise, but it's on par with what we'd expect from this class.
The climate control system works well, managing cabin temperature nicely. While we appreciate tactile interfaces, there are quite a few buttons, and they're not all sensibly organized. There is a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it's a straightforward system.
We appreciate the comfortable seating position and well-insulated soft top, but many of the controls are illogically organized, and the touchscreen is outdated and difficult to reach. The high beltline and short windscreen hurt visibility and make the car feel small inside.
Ease of use5.5
The steering wheel controls are easy to learn, but beyond that the Cascada has issues. The recessed touchscreen requires leaning out of your seat to reach it, and the interface is dated and not streamlined. The many buttons on the center stack are not logically organized and take a while to master.
Getting in/getting out6.5
The high front seats for a convertible are a promising start for easy entry and exit. But there's a surprisingly high and wide step-over. Overall, getting in and out in moderately tight parking spaces can be difficult. Accessing the rear seats is a real squeeze.
Longer-legged drivers might wish for more steering-wheel telescope, but the primary controls are in easy reach and the position is comfortable. But the driver sits very low relative to the dash and beltline, which hurts visibility and feels claustrophobic.
The car feels small inside, especially with the low front windshield that adds to the feeling of closeness even with the top down. Front passengers have enough space, but rear head- and legroom is too restrictive for most adults, and the removable wind blocker renders the rear seat unusable.
With the top up, rear visibility is impaired because of the small rear window. It's also hard to tell where the front end or the corners of the car are. The small side mirrors, poor overall visibility and lack of blind-spot monitoring complicate lane changes.
We were disappointed to note a number of creaks and squeaks from around the cabin while driving since our tester showed less than 2,000 miles on the odometer. There's also quite a lot of hard plastic around the interior, though the touch points are mostly padded or covered in soft-touch material.
The Cascada's top is well-insulated against both sound and temperature, and it can be operated at speeds up to 25 mph. However, it takes about 17 seconds to operate, which makes it one of the slower power tops on the market.
The Cascada offers some of the utility of a compact car, but only as long as you're willing to forgo using the convertible top. Unfortunately, it lacks many of the clever storage solutions commonly found in newer vehicles. The manual trunk partition that allows the top to work is not convenient.
The door pockets are made to fit water bottles, and the car also has a sort of phone cubby/tray and standard cupholders. The center console box and glovebox are relatively small. The Cascada straddles two segments, and for a convertible the storage isn't bad, but for a small car it's lacking.
There's a manually folding partition in the trunk that must be in place to lower the top. With the top disabled, the 13.4-cubic-foot trunk is average for a small car, although the trunk opening is small. With the partition in place, the usable cargo space drops to about average for a small convertible.
Child safety seat accommodation6.0
The rear outboard seats offer LATCH anchors, but access is difficult because the front seats don't leave much space and have a tendency to move back if not held in place. With the top up, situating a child seat would require some contortions, but it's possible.
The Cascada's technology is notably outdated, with a clunky navigation interface, poor smartphone integration and frustrating voice controls. It also lacks most of the driver aids that are common in cars at its price point.
Audio & navigation6.0
Sound quality is OK for a premium vehicle but nothing more. The navigation system has quite a few features, but using them is an exercise in patience. Voice commands can be hit-and-miss, and using the screen interface isn't a straightforward process. The system looks and feels dated.
The Cascada has Bluetooth but doesn't support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. With only one USB port, charging and USB music options are limited, and the USB interface is poorly optimized. The audio system switches to USB any time a device is plugged in, a minor but persistent irritation.
The Cascada has forward collision alert and some very loud forward and rear proximity sensors, but no driver aids or active safety features beyond that. There is a rearview camera, but it's low to the ground and presents an awkward and low-resolution view. At this price, we expect more.
The voice controls are very particular about phrasing and procedure, which can make them frustrating to work through. There are spoken prompts, but no on-screen guide. In fact, the voice system prompts you to check the manual for a full list of commands. It's another system that feels outdated.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.