RIP, Buick/Opel/Vauxhall/Holden Cascada

Arguably the most interesting — or at least atypical ⁠— Buick in the brand’s lineup, the Cascada was a European creation that wore many badges. And now it’s truly, definitively dead.

Unlike the recent deep-sixing of the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Cruze, the last Cascada to roll off Opel’s Polish assembly line did so with little fanfare. Perhaps a few autoworkers raised a tallboy of Tatra after work, we don’t know. For Opel parent PSA Groupe, the ceasing of Cascada production is akin to sweeping old cobwebs away in preparation for new wallpaper.

But what a life it had.

Appearing in North America in 2016, the Cascada brought room for four sun-loving occupants and an odd 1.6-liter turbo that seemed out of place in the segment, but right at home in its European birthplace. Once General Motors punted its European operations to the French, the Cascada’s future looked grim. Amid declining sales and a need to free up plant space for new product, the quick-moving, suddenly profitable PSA Groupe signed the Cascada’s death warrant earlier this year.

According to GM Authority, the last drop-top Buick left the factory sometime before the end of the second quarter of 2019. It seems no one posted a death notice in the local paper.

Dealers were told back in February to get their orders in before it was too late. At the time, Buick talked up the Cascada’s ability to lure outside buyers to the brand, though most still think of the model as a rental fleet darling.

Built to fill a niche role, the Cascada was something of a spiritual successor to the defunct Chrysler Sebring/200 convertible ⁠— a reasonably priced non-sports-car ragtop that afforded owners (or renters) easy cruising on warm summer nights. Performance was not a selling point with these cars.

And while the Cascada’s hefty weight and small engine didn’t add up to great fleet-footedness or fuel economy, reviewers tended to go easy on the German-American product. It was at least an interesting Buick, you see. Sales were slow from the outset, with the Cascada only recording a single four-figure sales month (April 2016).

For those saddened by the Cascada’s death, it’s probably no comfort to hear that the next Buick to appear on our shores is a small crossover with not one, but two three-cylinder engine options. Oh well — there’s still a dwindling handful of Cascadas out there to satisfy dreams of sunset cruises along the Gulf shore. Buick sold 400 of them last quarter. Through September, some 2,458 Cascadas found buyers in the U.S.

As the brand prepares for the introduction of the Encore GX, the only passenger car left in production is the Regal, offered as a sedan-like liftback or wagon. The Detroit-built LaCrosse full-size sedan sadly bit the dust earlier this year. Tears shed over both the LaCrosse and Cascada probably haven’t stained the carpets of the C-suite offices in the Renaissance Centre, as the only vehicles with sales momentum appear to be those offering raised seating positions and optional all-wheel drive.

Year to date, sales of the Buick Encore are up 6 percent, while the larger Envision and still-larger Enclave are up 9.9 and 16.4 percent, respectively.

this story was first published on TTAC

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