Buick Cascada Quick Drive: Charming, But Flawed
First, let’s drop the top.
Up, or down, the rag top Cascada is a good looking vehicle. The power-folding top operates smoothly, and quickly, and even when driving at low speed. With the top down, and a few pictures taken, I hopped into the Cascada and got to driving.
Buick touts a “sport-tuned” suspension system in the Cascada, and unlike many sporty GM products, I think they missed a step here. Driving around our West Los Angeles office revealed a notably firmer ride quality than one would expect from a premium, or luxury brand. A good part of this can be attributed to the Sport Touring trim and the 20-inch wheels that come with it.
However, another part of this puzzle is the Cascada’s weak spot: It’s surprising weight. Despite having a rather compact and svelte look, the Cascada weighs in at a sneeze under 4,000-pounds. This thing is a porker. That means the suspension has to be heavy-duty to control the motion of that much mass.
The substantial girth also contributes to another notable trait of the Cascada: the leisurely acceleration. Buick isn’t quoting any stats in this department, but I will: 0-60 in 9 seconds. Despite descriptors like “turbo” and “200 horsepower,” the massive weight penalty takes a toll on the performance. The weight penalty also effects the fuel consumption. Despite the hyper-efficient engine, the Cascada returns MPG figures of 20 city, and 27 freeway. All of these stats would be described by industry experts as “not good.”
Additionally, the 6-speed automatic transmission is not much of a willing player, either, when it comes to stoplight drag racing, or fun, in general. There is a manual mode, but don’t bother, it’s unresponsive, and lazy. This is all a shame, because I genuinely like the engine itself. Having driven it in other, lighter GM products, I know for a fact that the power delivery and punch it offers is more than adequate.
Skips the antics, and just cruise
I may be a speed demon, but, I’m a reasonable speed demon. The Cascada isn’t meant to be a hotted-up piece of Motown muscle, this thing is a cruiser, through and through. The relaxed performance isn’t noticed when just bumping around town. And, barring the firm suspension, the Cascade is a nice place to spend time. Much of this has to do with the interior equipment.
The seats are comfortable, 10-way power adjustable, and easily contorted to fit a wide variety of driver sizes and driving styles. And, despite there being way too many buttons in the middle of the dashboard, the most commonly-used controls fall to hand easily and are operated just as well. The 7-inch touchscreen is loaded with GPS, satellite radio and paired with a 7-speaker stereo system that sounds quite nice. Buick’s system is bluetooth-compatible, and the history of phones registered on this press car shows it isn’t too hard to operate.
Rear seating is, well, it’s there. Full-sized humans would do well to claim a front seat spot in the Cascada, otherwise back seat occupants will have to fight the temptation to hail a cab, or walk to their destination. To be fair, the head room is actually excellent, due to the upright design of the top, but leg room is marginal, at best. Though, thinking practically, it will be rare to see more than groceries riding in the back seat, let alone human company.
Additionally, due to that upright roof design, rear visibility, a weak spot for most convertibles, is excellent in the Cascada. Making lane changes and parallel parking a cinch, top up, or down.