By Mark Gauert
City & Shore Magazine
The first thing you should know about the 2016 Cascada – the first convertible from Buick in 25 years – is that you’re going to want to put the top down. And then back up. Then back down again.
In fact, you may sit and watch the top go up, then down, then back up again so long you’ll forget there’s even a car under the convertible top. It’s that much fun.
You may have seen the adorable Ellie Kemper – whose credits include The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – demonstrating the top going up, then down, etc., in Buick ads on the internet.
“WHOA!” she says, “I know how to have fun!”
The second thing you should know about the Cascada – it’s not your father’s Buick. Or your grandfather’s. Or, if you are in the apparent target demographic, possibly your great-grandfather’s.
You’re not just buying a car here, as your venerable forebears might have done. You’re buying a lifestyle, too.
(Full disclosure 1: My grandfather owned a Buick LeSabre, also produced by General Motors. My grandfather loved the car so much he protected the seats from us grandkids and our lifestyle with clear plastic seat covers. I loved the car too, because we all sounded like squeegees sliding across the shiny bench seats. I can confirm the Cascada is nothing like my grandfather’s Buick. I can’t imagine that car’s even still running – it was probably a 1975 model. But I’m sure the seats are still fine).
Speaking of models born in 1975, Buick has engaged “multi-platform fitness/wellness entrepreneur and author” Tracy Anderson to suggest “five quick tips with Buick Cascada to get your mind and body summer ready.”
“I’m all about the silk scarf when summer cruising,” Anderson advises. “I place the long straight edge at my hairline, leaving some wispy bangs out – looking chic the whole ride.”
That is, assuming you stop putting the top down, then up, etc., long enough to get the Cascada up to a speed sufficient to whip a silk scarf – not to mention wispy bangs – into a stylish stream behind you.
Because here’s a third thing you should know: It takes a while to get the 3,979-lbs. Cascada up to scarf-whipping speed.
(Full disclosure 2: We are used to testing cars with some acceleration here at City & Shore. The 2,332-lbs. Mazda MX-5 we wrote about in December? Just 155 horses, and in about the same price range as the Cascada, but step on the gas and your scarf doesn’t just look chic. It looks gone).
I was not wearing a scarf when I attempted to enter traffic on Interstate 595 one morning during our test drive. I was aware, though, as I stepped on the gas of the 200-hp Cascada, that my scarf would have been looking chic splayed up against the windshield of the Ford Mustang (300 hp, about the same price range) riding my rear bumper by the time I made 60.
Despite all the lifestyle videos, I began to suspect the Cascada just might not fit into my lifestyle. To ride with the top down, for example, you can’t really use the trunk. (Which means you can take that top-down summer road trip to the Keys – as depicted in another Cascada video – you just can’t take much more than a scarf with you).
I began to think this might be the car we’ll soon see visitors renting when they come down in season. An adorable 2+2 – with seven speakers and eight ways to adjust the front seats – for those whose primary mission is to cruise the beach, shooting selfies for the folks up North in snowdrifts. (Just leave the luggage in the hotel room).
But then I stopped and watched the top go up, then down, then back up again, and realized I wouldn’t mind going along for the ride.
Price as tested
$36,990 (premium edition)
20 city / 27 highway
1.6L Turbo 4-cylinder