2020 BMW 2 Series vs. 2019 Buick Cascada

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 2 Series has standard City Collision Mitigation, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Cascada has a collision warning system without the crash-mitigating brake feature that could reduce stopping distances.

The 2 Series offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Cascada doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The 2 Series’ driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Cascada doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the 2 Series and the Cascada have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available rear parking sensors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 2 Series the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 104 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Cascada has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The 2 Series’ corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the Cascada’s (12 vs. 6 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 2 Series for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Buick only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the Cascada.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the 2 Series has a standard 170-amp alternator (210-amp - 2 Series 6 cyl.). The Cascada’s 140-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the 2 Series is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 2 Series’ battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Cascada’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series second among small premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Cascada isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Buick vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, Buick is ranked 16th, below the industry average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 11 places higher in reliability than Buick.

Engine

The 230i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 48 more horsepower (248 vs. 200) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 221) than the Cascada’s 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. The M240i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 135 more horsepower (335 vs. 200) and 148 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 221) than the Cascada’s 1.6 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the M240i is faster than the Buick Cascada (automatics tested):

2 Series

Cascada

Zero to 60 MPH

4.3 sec

8.3 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

10.3 sec

25 sec

Quarter Mile

12.7 sec

16.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

111 MPH

85 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 2 Series Convertible gets better fuel mileage than the Cascada:

MPG

2 Series Convertible

RWD

Auto

230i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

23 city/34 hwy

M240i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

AWD

Auto

230i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/31 hwy

M240i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

Cascada

FWD

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/29 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the 2 Series’ fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Cascada doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 2 Series’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Cascada doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission and Drivetrain

The 2 Series offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Cascada doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 2 Series, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Cascada.

All wheel drive, available in the 2 Series, provides the best traction for acceleration in wet, dry, and icy conditions. In corners, all wheel drive allows both outside wheels to provide power, balancing the car. This allows for better handling. The Buick Cascada is not available with all wheel drive.

The 2 Series Automatic’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Cascada doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the M240i’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Cascada:

M240i

Cascada

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

11.5 inches

The 2 Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Cascada are solid, not vented.

The 2 Series stops much shorter than the Cascada:

2 Series

Cascada

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

174 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The 2 Series’ optional 245/35R18 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Cascada’s 40 series tires.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 2 Series can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Cascada doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the BMW 2 Series has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Buick Cascada has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The 2 Series offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Cascada’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The 2 Series’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.2% to 49.8%) than the Cascada’s (58.2% to 41.8%). This gives the 2 Series more stable handling and braking.

For better maneuverability, the 2 Series’ turning circle is 2.9 feet tighter than the Cascada’s (35.8 feet vs. 38.7 feet). The 2 Series xDrive’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the Cascada’s (37.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Chassis

The BMW 2 Series may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 50 to 600 pounds less than the Buick Cascada.

The 230i is 10.2 inches shorter than the Cascada, making the 2 Series easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

With its coupe or convertible body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 2 Series offers cargo security. The Cascada’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the 2 Series. The Cascada doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Servicing Ease

The 2 Series uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Cascada uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The engine in the 2 Series is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Cascada. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the 2 Series, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Cascada doesn’t offer a memory system.

Comfort Go standard on the 2 Series allows you to start the engine without removing a key from pocket or purse. The Buick Cascada doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The 2 Series’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Cascada’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 2 Series to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Cascada doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 2 Series detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Cascada doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

When the 2 Series is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Cascada’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 2 Series offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Cascada doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The 2 Series offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Cascada has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The 2 Series has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Cascada doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Both the 2 Series and the Cascada offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the 2 Series has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Cascada doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

A built-in pollen filter removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the 2 Series’ passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation, which can trigger allergies or asthma. The Cascada doesn’t offer a filtration system.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the 2 Series Auto offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Cascada doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the BMW 2 Series offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Cascada doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The 2 Series’ optional Parking Assistant can parallel park by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Cascada doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The BMW 2 Series comes in coupe and convertible bodystyles; the Buick Cascada isn’t available as a coupe.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the 2 Series owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the 2 Series with a number “1” insurance rate while the Cascada is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

The 2 Series will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 2 Series will retain 47.46% to 51.69% of its original price after five years, while the Cascada only retains 35.55% to 35.99%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 2 Series is less expensive to operate than the Cascada because it costs $255 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the 2 Series than the Cascada, including $277 less for a muffler, $28 less for front brake pads, $69 less for a fuel pump, $1 less for front struts and $326 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the BMW 2 Series, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Buick Cascada isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series second among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Cascada isn’t in the top three in its category.

The M235i/M240i was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 3 of the last 5 years. The Cascada has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 2 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2015. The Cascada has never been an “All Star.”

The BMW 2 Series outsold the Buick Cascada by over two to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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