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Is Cadillac's Image Dying and Does Anyone Care?

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  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    From businessweek.com Michael Frank

    http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/mar2008/bw20080314_713158.htm?chan- =autos_autos+--+lifestyle+subindex+page_top+stories

    By the way, he also says that GM is the only one of the big 3 that is going to make it.

    Cadillac deserves buckets of credit. In the face of skeptics like me, the second-generation CTS is a great car, hands down. Here I'll compare the $36,445 CTS DI with all-wheel drive [AWD] to the $51,600 BMW 535xi, likewise with AWD. Wait, isn't that a mismatch? Isn't the CTS priced to sell against the cheaper 3 Series? It may well be, but the interior space, engine displacement, and amenities are all stacked rather nicely against the 5 Series. Call it the silver lining to the weak-kneed U.S. dollar.
    There's little doubt about it; the twin-turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine in the 5 Series is one of the best motors we've seen from BMW, and that's saying a hell of a lot. Acceleration isn't only brisk, but linear. And while we'd rather have the 5 with a manual, it's hard to argue with how creamily smooth BMW's six-speed autobox delivers gear changes, whether up slowly or down all at once for passing power. Handling, even at twice the speed limit, is precise, controlled, sharp. All-wheel drive is seamless, save that there's no wheelspin on takeoff, even on rain-slick roads.

    But there are niggles. BMW's automatic is operated by way of a strange, center-mounted stalk. Forget PRND; it would take high-level trigonometry to describe the shift pattern. To engage drive from park, you illogically move the stalk backwards, while also holding down a button on the side of the shifter. To put the car in reverse, you move the shifter forward – again, counterintuitively. In manual mode, downshifts are created by moving the stalk forward, not back. Dizzy yet?

    BMW's iDrive in-car control system soldiers on, too. It's not as terrible as some columnists have bemoaned, and some knobs have crept back into the mix so you can, for instance, toggle through audio functions without using the mouse and screen of iDrive [thereby concentrating on the ultimate driving of the "Ultimate Driving Machine"]. However, if you want to change the temperature of the air blowing on you from the central vent you don't use the vent control knob, but iDrive. I don't know why.

    Perhaps most challenging for any would-be 5 Series buyer is that backseat room is merely tied with that of the much cheaper CTS. It's more than adequate for most adults, but hardly capacious – and if you step up to a comparably priced Cadillac DTS or slightly more expensive Lexus LS you get bigger cockpits.

    One of the first things I noticed while driving the Cadillac was the cockpit. The first-generation CTS had cheap plastic switches and controls donated from lesser lights in GM's pantheon; who wants their Caddy cabin to resemble a Cobalt's? Luckily the midlevel bean counter who made that decision is shackled and gagged in a dungeon somewhere in East Lansing, Mich. What you get with the new CTS is not only buttoned-tight quarters and logically arranged dashboard controls, but the material grade of the plastics and even the feel of the switches under finger pressure is refined. Someone at Cadillac has done his homework, and it shows.

    Next on the list of pleasantries has to be the performance of the CTS. The engine isn't as flexible as that of the BMW's, where peak torque arrives nice and low, but this V6 is still good for 304 hp, on par with the BMW, and in most circumstances, just as athletic and flexible, either under hard acceleration or quick, downshift deceleration. If there's a hiccup in the system it's that BMW's autobox will allow manual downshifts within 500 rpms of redline, whereas the GM transmission would balk if the rev range was too high. How often do you find yourself at the racetrack with your CTS, though?

    Both of these cars have standout steering and braking. On-center control is precise, and keeping either car on course on a challenging road is a joy, not a chore. The brake-pedal feel of the BMW is just a hair more precise, but the actual bite of the CTS stoppers is plenty potent. [Hint: If you're in the market for the CTS, spring the extra $250 for the performance rotors – they're worth every cent.]

    Cornering in the CTS is taut, as is body control, yet what wins my vote most is that Cadillac achieved this and still offers a very flexible ride that doesn't bruise your kidneys over potholes.

    As you can see, for the dough you really can't vote against the Cadillac. The BMW is an excellent driver's car, but is it worth that much more?

    By the way, fuel economy is nearly dead even for these two vehicles, with the BMW at 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway and the Caddy at 17/26. Bonus: The CTS drinks blue-collar regular while the BMW wants blue-blood premium.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    Hmmm...are they flocking to the Caddy showrooms now?

    Let me in on the numbers!

    Regards,
    OW
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    Hmmm...are they flocking to the Caddy showrooms now?

    Let me in on the numbers!


    I can do that.

    For January caddy is up 7.7%
    CTS up 95%
    STS up 18%
    DTS down 32%
    Escalade down 12%

    Large cars and trucks are getting hammered by the gas prices. CTS is new and an excellent vehicle. Do not know why STS is up.

    In January BMW was down 27%. Mercedes set a record with a 7% rise. Their SUV sales had a significant increase.

    In February Caddy was up 2.2% over last February. CTS was up 70%. Others down about 6%. Escalade down 26%.

    Again Mercedes was up 7% over last year and BMW was down 7%.

    Two months do not make a trend though.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    Maybe some of the deVille owners are buying STS's? Still, for the money, the CTS makes more sense than the STS. For those who might want the V8, the STS makes more sense to me than the DTS, but the V8 STS with much in the way of options gets way too expensive.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,189
    Pretty much the reason I went with the DTS. I wanted a V-8, but didn't want to pay STS V-8 prices.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    With a few options the V8 STS is more than $55,000. If you want AWD, then the base price is over $65,000 (without AWD). The SRX is more cost effective if you want AWD and the V8 with 6 speed automatic.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,804
    Buy used...a 2 year old STS can easily be had for half that, if not less.
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 2,647
    Hello, Steve:

    I didn't actually review Caddy's of 20 years ago. Rather to answer "The Standard" question, I just noted that Caddy seems to have begun a slow road to new levels of competitiveness, culminating (to this point, imo) in the new CTS.

    '13 Jaguar XF, '11 BMW 535xi, '02 Lexus RX300

  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    Thank you for the sales numbers. CTS is the guiding light...which I hope is contagious.

    Here is some more related news.

    The new Cadillac CTS also burst out of the gate, with a 71 percent gain in retail sales in February compared with a year earlier, and a 68 percent overall increase. CTS’s early momentum buoyed Cadillac overall. The division’s sales are up 5 percent year-to-date. For February, Cadillac reported a 2 percent overall sales increase, making it the only GM division in the black for the month — and one of the few luxury makes to post a February sales increase in the U.S. market.

    The Bad
    Most GM makes and models performed abysmally, especially trucks and SUVs. Sales of such vehicles declined by 19 percent. LaNeve cited a tough comparison for this February with February 2007, noting GM’s truck-market share was an unusually high 45 percent a year ago — and this year retreated to a “normal” level around 40 percent. “We continue to do really well sharewise,” he said, “but we’re running into difficult conditions.” GM raised its incentive spending on pickups by “a couple hundred dollars” in February compared with January, he said.


    Regards,
    OW
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    Generally speaking one can buy any used car for half the price of a new one. The basic problem with used is that quite often the first owner/driver will have smoked in the car. My 98 Aurora was a program car which had been smoked in and had some damage related to the smokers. My 2002 Seville which I bought new was in better condition when I traded it in than the Aurora was when I bought it.

    Still a good used car is a better buy than new.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    The "Standard of the World" was Cadillac's advertising slogan in the distant past. Cadillac does "own" this advertising slogan. I don't see that any other car company can use it.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    Funny how owning it and keeping it has faded, don't you think? What a small world it has become for GM.

    Regards,
    OW
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    I remember Cadillac using the "standard of the world" in their advertising in the late 1950's and perhaps early 60's - but what I remember is 57 through 59 models being the "Standard of the World". At that time I wondered what that really meant, because it did not make sense to me. After I learned that Cadillac was awarded the Dewar trophy for having interchangable parts (like the Model T Ford of the same period), then the whole thing made sense. However, like all advertising slogans, is little more than nonsense - like "see the USA in your Chevrolet".

    I will comment again that this whole thead (forum or whatever) is complete nonsense. I made this comment at the beginning too..... :sick: :sick: :sick:
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,826
    You're regurgitating past history again. Let's focus on the again part, as in the standard of the world again. The future is now. :shades:

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,804
    There is no point to such a line of thought. The market is different than 100 years ago, and such a "standard" will never again exist. It is simply impossible to have a relevant discussion if we are to be dictated to the thread title.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    your post makes no sense. if cadillac was never the standard then how does again mean anything. if they were once upon a time, have they lost the title? i think not.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,826
    Comparing an '88 Fleetwood with a last century diesel Mercedes (taxi or not) isn't cutting it.

    Most people read the title and wonder what Caddy is doing in the showrooms right now to regain/retain their world class standard. If no manufacturer can be the "Cadillac of Cars" again, then that's the way it is I guess.

    GM has turned around Cadillac in recent years .. but is it enough? (to paraphrase Post #1).

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  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    steve: GM has turned around Cadillac in recent years .. but is it enough? (to paraphrase Post #1).

    No, because GM still hasn't returned Cadillac to the top tier of luxury marques. Cadillac is improving - but it lacks a real competitor to the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-Series and Lexus LS 460.

    Cadillac also lacks consistency...I've just read that Cadillac is discontinuing the XLR after 2012. It is also phasing out the SRX.

    Mercedes and BMW have been consistent with their offerings...so people know what a Mercedes SL is, for example. Cadillac should have built upon the current XLR and offered an improved one (as it did with the CTS), but now it is throwing in the towel, just as it did with the Allante.

    In today's crowded and hyper-competitive market, having a model that is well-known and recognizable is vital. Even people who don't know much about cars know what a BMW 3-Series and a Mercedes SL are, and what they represent. The only Cadillac model that comes close to that type of widespread recognition is the Escalade.

    Through the late 1960s, Cadillac was the default choice for luxury car buyers...people who bought one knew what they were getting, and what kind of statement that they were making. It was the other brands (or, more accurately, the people who bought them) that had the explaining to do...now BMW, Mercedes and Lexus are the default brands (depending on the segment), and it is Cadillac that must fight for recognition. Cadillac isn't there yet - the success of the CTS and Escalade isn't enough.
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    Is it enough for what? GM is going faster with better products than most here want to give it credit for. Article after article discusses the merits of the Malibu being better than the Accord/Camry. The CTS is consistently given top marks in comparisons (only real negative is manual and not many will ever buy it anyway) even to cars $30K more. The new GM RWD trucks blew away the competition and Toyota is lowering plant capacity on their trucks. The Lamdas came out just at the right time to replace the large SUV's for those whoi do not need all the truck capabilities. The dollar is getting cheaper and therefore the imported vehicles are going to get more expensive. GM still buys and makes more product here than anyone so there will be less pressure to raise prices than anyone else. Every new product in the last 3 years has been highly praised and the pundits keep saying "well, we need to see if this product excellence will continue".

    I see very good days ahead for GM once we get past this economy issue. And Cadillac will continue to lead the charge with very affordable lux vehicles. The new BRX will blow away the competion. The new STS/DTS will up the ante over the CTS. The Escalade will continue to lose sales as gas goes up but will continue to sell at high volumes at high prices with huge profits. And the big surprize will be the new XLR. ;)
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Cadillac will continue to lead the charge with very affordable lux vehicles

    Is that Cadillac's new mission? To provide the trappings of luxury at affordable prices? The Hyundai Genesis is better positioned to do that, I think.
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    Cadillac will continue to lead the charge with very affordable lux vehicles

    Is that Cadillac's new mission? To provide the trappings of luxury at affordable prices? The Hyundai Genesis is better positioned to do that, I think.


    ??? Caddy has always had affordable lux vehicles. I do not see that as changed. The CTS is more affordable than the smaller 3 series and much more than the 5 series. Just the way the mission has always been.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,804
    Who can say if we will be able to get past this "economy issue"? We're in for a harder ride than some at the White House may claim, I fear. Changing your image to affordable luxury (I dunno if the loaded CTS I saw that stickered for nearly 50K can be considered affordable...) does not seem like the best solution to me. Affordable lux is not a 'standard of the world' image. The best seems to sell no matter what - I don't see my local MB and BMW dealers having clearance sales on leftover S and 7ers.

    Do you have anything to back up the BRX or XLR claim? What will be the competition for the BRX, seeing as CTS competition is so tough to define?
    You're not exactly an objective source either :P
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,804
    Consistency is the key to success - you hit the nail on the head. This is also why Camcords and their smaller relatives do so well - their names are nearly all older than I am. How many names have the domestic competition used for vehicles in those respective positions since? Caddy would gain a lot of cred if it could simply nail down some names. Domestic makers as a whole would be well advised to finally get the names down straight.
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    You're not exactly an objective source either

    Perhaps not but my info is better than any car mag and rumor mongers :surprise:

    Tyr and point out where I have been wrong with my data :P

    Perhaps my term "affordable lux" is wrong. How about more for the money than the competition? CTS is as good as the competition but does not get the higher bucks because of a lack of brand equity?
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,804
    Haven't you claimed to have been out of the industry for a few years?

    Where does the information on these future models come from?

    More for the money, exactly, this is more positive, and Caddy has indeed pissed away so much brand equity. There is room to capitalize on this, but the work is far from done, even with the much improved new CTS. I guess I can look at so many Caddys from the past 25-30 years, and I still want to see greatness before I believe it.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    62veteefp: Article after article discusses the merits of the Malibu being better than the Accord/Camry.

    Both Car and Driver and Consumer Reports placed it below the Camry and Accord (although both still praised it highly). Also, read Patrick Bedard's rather eye-opening editorial on the Malibu in the newest issue of Car and Driver. He puts the hype into perspective.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Aside from the Escalade, I doubt that anyone could name a Cadillac model, or when shown the model, explain what it is supposed to represent (i.e., what unique qualities it brings to the market) or what vehicles it competes against.
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    Also, read Patrick Bedard's rather eye-opening editorial on the Malibu in the newest issue of Car and Driver. He puts the hype into perspective

    Read it. Really said nothing except that GM has had vehicles that have gotten high praise in the past and they did not suceed. Very true and could happen again.

    As far as CR and C&D, I said article after article discussed the merits of Malibu being better. I did not say every article said Malibu was better. The preponderance of articles do have the Malibu higher than the Accord/Malibu and I guess we could list them all but I would rather not. Lets just say Malibu is a very good car and is doing very well.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    reference Steve's post

    Has Cadillac ever really been a world class car? Before World War Two (WWII) my Cadillac history book does not show any "export" models. After WWII there is an export sedan listed as being in production from 1949 through 1960. Sales were about 400 per year until the last couple of years when they dropped off. Obviously some standard Cadillac models might also have been exported, but my guess is that only a few hundred Cadillacs were sold outside of the North American market annually. After WWII the European industry was more or less bombed out, so the US automobile industry was a defacto "world class standard". In the short run the US automobile industry was helped by not having to rebuild. The European industry, because they had to rebuild, could design new stuff.

    Before WWII, Cadillac had competition in the North American market. I don't think Cadillac was really the best America had to offer. Early Cadillacs were mid-priced cars. In the Thirties, the V16 Cadillacs were the best Cadillac had to offer and perhaps were not matched by anything that Pierce, Packard or Lincoln had, but very few of the V16's were sold.

    I think there is a consensus here that Cadillac has not been the world class standard since the 1960's. During the 60's very few Cadillac were exported, and most of them were probably used at US Embassies.

    So, I conclude that if Cadillac was ever "world class", it must have been the V16's that did it. However, I don't think building another V16 will return Cadillac to a world class status.

    I think for Cadillac to become a world class standard, Cadillac's will have to sell in sizable numbers outside of the North American market. At the very least they will have to sell in the European market. Why anyone in Europe would want a Cadillac instead of a Mercedes, BMW or Audi is not clear to me. Of course the converse of this question is also true: why anyone in the US would want a Mercedes, BMW or Audi is not clear to me with the extra costs of owning them and the lack of service available (the nearest dealers to me are >300 miles away).
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    I would not say that either Mercedes or BMW are consistent in their offerings either. Take for example the 50's 300SL. This was a sports car. By the end of the 60's, the SL was more of a coupe. It is true that Mercedes has offered a consistent mid-range sedan for a long time. However, Cadillac's mid-range sedan, the deVille has been in production for 50 years, and while the current name is DTS, the deVille was preceded by the series 60 models that go back to the Thirties.

    BMW has been consistent with the 3, 5 and 7-series models, but they bring the 6-series into production for a short time and drop it, only to bring it back again.

    I don't see that the XLR is worth much to Cadillac. It is basically a Corvette. If Cadillac had really built the Evoq, then they might have had something. The sigma platform was not designed to include the Evoq though.

    Finally, Cadillac's success in the sixties is probably was led to their demise. With too many people driving Cadillac's, and with imports available, people looking for a car to make a statement with were choosing something else. Cadillac's problems with engines in the 80's did not help either.
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