By on September 19, 2007

2000cadillacescalade-4.jpgCadillac is something of a comeback kid. The first time the brand was on the ropes, its divisional president interrupted a GM board meeting with a winning proposal: sell Caddies to America’s burgeoning black population. In the ‘90’s, America’s African-American community once again rescued the struggling brand; their passion for a rebadged Yukon infused the ailing automaker with fresh marketing momentum and a pile of cash. Now that the Escalade’s a bomb instead of da bomb, and Caddy’s passenger cars can’t cut the transplanted and/or imported mustard, Cadillac has a new plan. I call it The Beginning of the End. 

Of course that’s not strictly true. Caddy’s been on a downward slope since the aforementioned Depression-era board meeting. While catering to America’s neglected African-American population saved Cadillac from oblivion, it moved the marque drastically down market. Caddy used the same “get out of jail by cheapening the product” card in the ‘70’s. And here we go again, with a new, even lower-priced Caddy. But first, the good news: Cadillac’s killing the DTS.

The DTS is a fat, ugly, front-wheel-drive pile of crap. The model only appeals to people old enough to remember when Cadillac was the Cadillac of cars– and never drove an imported automobile. The DTS is not nearly as good as the cheaper CTS, which is now a lot better than before and almost as large as the DTS. Although GM's erstwhile luxury division [somehow] sold 33,386 DTS year-to-date, and they only cost GM $1.99 a pop, the DTS was always destined to follow its owners into the grave. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

And now the bad news: Cadillac is also dumping the STS. On one hand, yes, of course. STS sales have been playing a game of “how low can you go” since ever (13,156 sales year-to-date). Robert Farago’s review of the model left little doubt that the current STS lacks that certain… anything to make it a suitable alternative to a European or Japanese luxobarge. But that doesn't mean GM should spike the STS and walk. It means they should make the right-sized (i.e. big) STS better.

They could start by upgrading the powertrain. The STS’ V6 stumps-up 302 horsepower, which helps it keeps up with the Lexi of this world– and nothing more. Caddy should make the optional 320 horsepower Northstar V8 standard. Power junkies could still opt for the STS-V's 469 horsepower supercharged Northstar engine. What about mileage? What about it? If a Caddy doesn’t have enough torque to luxuriate down the road, it might as well be/is a gussied-up Buick (i.e. a DTS).

More to the point, a Cadillac should make drivers and passengers feel like millionaires sipping Moet at the Ritz. The STS makes its passengers feel like alcoholics sharing a nip bottle of generic whiskey in a Holiday Inn Express. If Cadillac’s CTS can get a superb interior upgrade, why not the STS? Even without some seriously sharp sheetmetal changes– or better yet with some better creases– a truly sumptuous STS would make the model a viable choice for those who value style above all.

Instead, GM’s decided to build a new $40k to $50k DTS/STS replacement. While engineers and marketers love a clean sheet and a fresh start, the costs of engineering a brand new STS equivalent would be FAR better spent upgrading the STS. The STS doesn’t need class-leading fuel economy or Nürburgring-fettled handling or 500hp (although…). It needs one thing sur tout: pizzazz.  

While it might sound like I’m suggesting Caddy craft some spizzarkle on the cheap, I’m not. Above all, a Caddy must offer high class spizzarkle. And that’s why the decision to offer an “entry level” Caddy (below the CTS) will kill the brand faster than chugging Clorox. Even if the new pocket Caddy is a peach, even if it matches the German and Japanese low-end models, it’s an unconscionable miscalculation. Do Caddy’s keepers really fail to understand that “small” is to Cadillac what “slow” is to Porsche? Have they forgotten the multi-decade mess initiated by the execrable Cimarron? 

I don’t even want to talk about the forthcoming, hecho-en-Mexico Cadillac CUV. More than any other new model, the wannabe X3 shows that Caddy follows (not leads) competitors into market segments– regardless of the impact on the brand’s image or profits.

Despite the hoopla, the European-styled and tuned CTS was not the most successful Cadillac model in recent times. It was the Escalade SUV. But of course it was. The ‘Sclade is immense and intimidating. It’s expensive ($55k just to get in the door). It’s dripping in chrome. It has a pronounceable name and a gargantuan engine with prodigious thrust that says “Rich people don’t care about the price of gas.” Despite its shortcomings, the Escalade is the only “real” Cadillac left. And I reckon it'll be the last.

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47 Comments on “Cadillac Flunks History. Again....”


  • avatar
    discoholic

    May I suggest that the Escalade (despite its rather good sales figures) is not the knight in shining armour that saved Cadillac but another nail in the coffin? The first one sold because it was fashionable – not because it was a decent product, because, let’s face it, it was a re-badged Tahoe with an archaic platform and an interior that Lada would have been too embarrassed to sell. But it was da bomb.

    And that’s precisely the problem. These days, people who want to demonstrate their wealth and class do not want to be da bomb. They most certainly don’t want to look like a cheap-arse version of 50 Cent, and all that chrome and bling and fender-vent nonsense exudes about as much class as a 1960s Las Vegas whorehouse. Enter Lexus.

    I am convinced the decision to sell the Escalade was just as bad as greenlighting the Cimarron or the Catera (although the absolutely execrable Saabillac BLS takes the biscuit, really). What Cadillac needs, in my humble opinion, is a top-class, take-no-prisoners luxury limousine that is on a par with Mercedes, Lexus or BMW. A Cadillac should always be something to aspire to, not something that every Tom, Dick, or Harry (or every third-rate rap artist, for that matter) can afford.

  • avatar
    TaxedAndConfused

    Cadillac needs something special, selling down market as a strategy is not the problem but execution is.

    Comparable example – BMW is still seen as a high-quality brand, expensive and exclusive. Yet in the UK recently they have shifted more 3-series than Ford flogged salesman standard Mondeos. Its been great for their bottom line and there is always a queue outside the showrooms when a new or even a facelifted one shows up.

    There is an argument that says building upwards is the way to go. The Mercedes 190 gave people a step onto the world of the pointed star, followed by the C-class. The 3-series does the same thing. But they aren’t compromised designs unlike a Saabillac.

    If this didn’t work then BMW and Mercedes (and perhaps Lexus) wouldn’t be falling over each other to introduce the A-class, 1-series and so on.

  • avatar
    CeeDragon


    discoholic :
    September 19th, 2007 at 7:22 am

    May I suggest that the Escalade (despite its rather good sales figures) is not the knight in shining armour that saved Cadillac but another nail in the coffin? The first one sold because it was fashionable – not because it was a decent product, because, let’s face it, it was a re-badged Tahoe with an archaic platform and an interior that Lada would have been too embarrassed to sell. But it was da bomb.

    Very much agree. The Escalade is a polarizing design and now that the fad is wearing out, it’s left with many more opponents than fans.

    Instead of building a brand that has solid mainstream appeal, Cadillac now has an image where many people do not want to be seen driving a Cadillac. Just a different side of the same coin with minivan image problems of soccer moms.

  • avatar

    So you are advocating to continue the bloated Cadillacs? I think that having a small entry level car won’t kill the brand, if it is ridiculously competitive, and that it won’t be (think M3 for normal 3-series prices). Nothing else would get people to buy a Cadillac in the younger group than something that was too good to be true, cause Cadillac’s brand has zero equity with most people.

    The STS would need to match an LS or S-class in luxury, and I don’t think Cadillac could build such a car.

    They are playing the catch-up game, which means they should be offering more for less in every class. Right now they offer less for about the same money. And more does not always mean bigger (the CTS doesn’t appeal to me cause I already think the 3-series is bloated, so why would I want something bigger).

  • avatar
    BerettaGTZ

    The perfect STS/DTS replacement already exists — in China. Cadillac stretched the STS wheelbase 100 mm and gave it a sumptuous wood-and-leather interior the likes of which have never been seen before on this side of the Pacific. The Chinese SLS has a commanding road presence the stateside STS could only dream about. GM built it to compete with the BMW 7-series and Mercedes S-class in what is arguably the most demanding luxury car market in the world (more Rolls Royces are sold in China than anywhere else).

    So why spend a billion or more on a new replacement when you’ve already got a world-class SLS/STS for sale in another market? I thought GM was a global company. What gives?

  • avatar

    While BMW and Mercedes have "downmarket" models, they were firmly established in the upper end of the market before they made that move. Their status as upper-end brands carries over to their lower-priced models. Cadillac, on the other hand, abandoned the upper end of the market years ago and settled for the mass market. In doing so, they introduced lower-priced models with no higher-market brand cachet to bleed over. Even worse, they base those lower-priced models on even cheaper cars from other brands lower on the corporate food chain. So while BMW and Mercedes sell lower-priced BMWs and Mercedes', Cadillac sells higher-priced Chevrolets. Not the smartest of moves.

  • avatar
    Buick61

    Cadillac is doing great, if the CTS is any indication of the brand’s future.

    I’m sure the STS/DTS replacement will have all the attributes of the CTS, plus added size, power, prestige, and, ugh, “spizzarkle.”

    “While catering to America’s neglected African-American population saved Cadillac from oblivion, it moved the marque drastically down market.”

    For space reasons, maybe you couldn’t tell the whole story, but there’s more to it than that.

    It wasn’t that they cheapened the cars in order to sell to minorities, it was actually the fact that since they DID sell well to Jews and Blacks that other wealthy American’s didn’t want to be seen in a car that catered to that clientele, and thus had a stigma. So they jumped ship to Mercedes-Benz starting in the ’50s and accelerating from there.

    Cadillac had to go down market, in part, to make up the sales lost by the exodus of the previous (bigoted, perhaps) customer-base.

    So, yes, opening up sales to more groups of people did move the brand downward, but it wasn’t exactly Cadillac’s fault that society was as it was.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I never really bought into the Cadillac being the high tech wonder car they were positioning it as. They were better off making cushy limosines in my opinion. With the demise of the Town car and the end of most sales of the panther platform fords to the general public, Cadillac could fill those shoes with a large rear wheel drive car.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I’m with BerrettaGTZ. The stretch STS from China would be a big step up from the DTS and could be introduced immediately.

    $30K should be the Mendoza line for Cadillacs. If people can’t scrape together $400 per month, then they can’t afford the Standard of the World.

    Opens a nice, big hole for Buick in the $27-$35K range.

  • avatar

    Buick61 :

    It wasn’t that they cheapened the cars in order to sell to minorities, it was actually the fact that since they DID sell well to Jews and Blacks that other wealthy American’s didn’t want to be seen in a car that catered to that clientele, and thus had a stigma. So they jumped ship to Mercedes-Benz starting in the ’50s and accelerating from there.

    I think you’re rewriting history here…

    Cadillac’s market for hugely expensive cars tanked during the Depression. They moved downmarket (as did Lincoln and others) with cheaper products that banked on their prestige.

    The idea of selling Cadillacs to African Americans came about because most US car dealers treated the minority without respect. After hearing about a black doctor’s experience, Caddy’s Prez figured– quite rightly– that if the brand welcomed the black community with open arms, they would be tapping into a new niche.

    And so they did. But Cadillac’s products were not specifically designed for this market. They were sold to it.

    To state that the brand’s vehicles were stigmatized by this association, and later with Jews and/or Italian Americans, is just plain wrong. Throughout the 50′s and for the next couple of decades, Caddies’ appeal cut across all demographic and geographic boundaries.

    Yes, ethnic communities embraced Caddies as symbols of American success, but that did not “drive” rich white folk into the arms of Mercedes, BMW, et al. Crap quality and cheapening of the brand through lower-priced models did that.

  • avatar
    NN

    Justin,

    your article is right on, and I’m with you on the Escalade. The 1st generation was nothing but a rebadged Yukon…but since then the Escalade has had a different interior, different engine, and different enough looks to be it’s own model. Yes, it’s huge, yes, it’s a guzzler–but that’s what a Caddie is. Have any of you naysayers been in one recently? The interior is not cheap.

    However, I disagree with you on the DTS–the current model is done on the cheap w/the 4-speed auto, etc…but the concept is the traditional Cadillac. A redesigned “Deville” with a quality crafted interior, bench seating, upgraded powertrain, and slick styling (Sixteen??)would probably create more sales and momentum for Cadillac than a redone STS. Cadillac is not going to beat BMW at being BMW. They need to embrace their inner American.

  • avatar
    Tommy Jefferson

    Caddilacs are Ghetto.

    In Houston you won’t see one without 24′s and boom-boom rattling emblems off.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    In Houston you won’t see one without 24’s and boom-boom rattling emblems off.

    LOL, what part of Houston do you live in? There’s plenty of old money in Caddies.

    I still can’t believe they are going down market which (just like Lincoln) absolutely destroys the mid-level brands (Pontiac, Buick, GMC) from getting a toehold in such a competitive segment.

    Well if Cadillac started the trend of American luxobarges with alphanumeric names, why not copy Lincoln with their cheapo MK-whatevers?

    It only spells trouble for Mercury, Buick, etc…if they weren’t screwed already.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    So why is it felt that a model under the CTS will be detrimental to Caddy whereas the 1 series is forecast as a boon to BMW?

    The CTS already is larger than a 3 series, I’m not seeing the problem.

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    “Although GM’s erstwhile luxury division [somehow] sold 33,386 DTS year-to-date, and they only cost GM $1.99 a pop, the DTS was always destined to follow its owners into the grave. Good riddance to bad rubbish.”

    I assume you meant the cars.

    Frank Williams: “So while BMW and Mercedes sell lower-priced BMWs and Mercedes’, Cadillac sells higher-priced Chevrolets. Not the smartest of moves.”

    Interesting. While I agree in premise I was remembering the last time there was a Cadillac that I wanted. It was the first generation Seville, a smaller Caddy based on the Chevy Nova, if I’m not mistaken. I also seem to recall that it was not a reliable car and I should be glad that I couldn’t afford one

  • avatar
    stu.purvis

    Caddy’s going the way of Packard. Following the exact same plan – doesn’t matter anyway the DTS is an ugly tub and all the chinese lantern headlighted smaller models are hideous, too. I don’t think I’ve even ever seen a STS on the road – they should have called it the White Buffalo. The whole marque might as well go the way of Olds – nobody would miss them.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Cadillac’s killing the DTS… The DTS is a fat, ugly, front-wheel-drive pile of crap. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    AWESOME!!! I’m buying the first round tonight and having a party. Wish they would come and take mine away and have it crushed.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    Somewhere on the internet is a history of Cadillac. As I recall, GM was thinking of killing the division about 1932 or so as the Great Depression deepened and sales of very expensive cars tanked. Someone at GM noticed that some Cadillac dealers who sold to African Americans were doing well. Those wealthy customers were loyal to Cadillac. As a result, GM kept the marque alive and the rest is history.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Cadillac needs something special, selling down market as a strategy is not the problem but execution is…

    …If this didn’t work then BMW and Mercedes (and perhaps Lexus) wouldn’t be falling over each other to introduce the A-class, 1-series and so on.

    This may work in Europe, but in the US, it is a problem. Here, there is more in the way of brand segmentation, with BMW, Mercedes and Audi having branded themselves as luxury marques. Add to this that small cars are stigmatized in the US as “econoboxes”, and you are left with a situation that compels all of these makers to keep some stringent brand identity.

    That being said, I question whether making the Northstar the standard motor is a matter of too little, too late. If I were to step back and distill GMNA’s product deficiencies in a few pithy phrases, that would be: (a) reliability is hit and miss, (b) interiors suck, (c) handling is almost always wobbly and, perhaps top on the list, (d) virtually all of their motors are just crap for anyone who doesn’t want to drive a sewing machine. Of that list, I’d say that the motors are the greatest weak point, a weird thing when you consider that it once was a class leader in this regard, but no more.

    GMNA needs to go back to the drawing board and make three amazing motors, one each in four-, six- and eight-cylinder configurations. A modular design that can modified for varying uses would be a wise addition. For the moment, forget the diesel and the extension cords and the battery packs, just build an engine that produces good power per liter, and looks, sounds and feels great while doing it. You don’t need to be an enthusiast to want something that sounds and feels nice, but that’s a bit tough when most of the stuff under the hood (bonnet to some of you) are relics of another time.

  • avatar
    Buick61

    Robert Farago :

    To state that the brand’s vehicles were stigmatized by this association, and later with Jews and/or Italian Americans, is just plain wrong. Throughout the 50’s and for the next couple of decades, Caddies’ appeal cut across all demographic and geographic boundaries.

    Yes, ethnic communities embraced Caddies as symbols of American success, but that did not “drive” rich white folk into the arms of Mercedes, BMW, et al. Crap quality and cheapening of the brand through lower-priced models did that.

    Cadillac couldn’t go too much further downmarket in the 1930s. Buick and LaSalle prevented that. Eventually, they did away with LaSalle and Cadillac introduced the Series 61, but that was well after the worst of the depression.

    And I’ve done a lot of research on Cadillac, and they did have a Stigma as being a status car for Blacks and Jews, which did turn off a lot of buyers. And the “rap video” imagery probably turns off buyers today, too, though likely not to the same extent.

    Cadillacs didn’t actually become shoddy until the 1970s, long after Mercedes-Benz had a strong footing in the market. So Cadillac’s quality decline doesn’t explain the entire situation.

    SherbornSean :
    September 19th, 2007 at 9:17 am

    I’m with BerrettaGTZ. The stretch STS from China would be a big step up from the DTS and could be introduced immediately.

    They can’t “immediately introduce” the SLS from China into the U.S. The stretched length would make it fail U.S. side-impact standards, as stated by Bob Lutz on AutoLine Detriot.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    I’ve long wondered why most posters take on the role of marketing consultants, major shareholders, and promoters of whatever car brand they care so passionately about.

    I’d rather hear about Cadillac, Audi, Nissan or whatever from the point of view of a customer, a car-buyer, who drives enthusiastically on the road, not on the track, and who carries passengers and stuff. I recently went to Cadillac’s web site to build a 2008 CTS. Cadillac’s web site is a good example of how not to market. Cadillac offers two “merchandised trans,” one of which is described as a “Transmission, 6-speed automatic for AWD (MX7).” I suppose MX7 means something, but “merchandised”? Maybe that means something to the dealer, but certainly not to a prospective buyer. GM apparently doesn’t understand marketing well enough and their company’s declining market share, sales, and losses attest to a grave failing.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    How long do you attempt to breath life into something that is truly dead before you come to the realization that it is truly DEAD!

    I know it is hard for GM fans to accept but Cadillac is NOT a prestigeous brand today and has not been one for over 30 years now. The day of the Caddy has past and most likely will never return. How on earth can anyone in their right mind consider a brand that has produced NOTHING but lackluster crap for 30 years the “Standard of the world”? The notion is comical at best!

    One of Cadillacs problems today is they appear to be rather arrogant in their approach to brand management. The execs that run Cadillac need to get it though theirs heads that Cadillac is truly at the bottom of the heap in today’s luxury market. It is not the standard of the world and potential customers KNOW this! When folks decide to check out Cadillac today they are looking for a bargin and value. To see a window sticker with a price that is north of the equivalent Lexus hurts. Like it or not the Lexus is considerd to be the better, more prestigeous product today.

    Cadillac needs to assume a more humble approach and behave like Lexus did on 1990. Caddy needs to remember that they are just like Lexus in the fact that Cadillac is JUST the luxury division of a mass automaker. They are not a speciality company like MB or BMW. Folks that will buy Caddy will be looking for the same virtues as they do in a Lexus and those are value, quality and Reliabilty. When you get these 3 right it is than easy to cover it all in fancy leather and chome.

    MB and BMW can get away with questionable reliabilty and value because they ARE specialty makers and folks do have different demands on they, like it or not. These brands have a mystic about them that Caddy would need decades to build (or rebuild).

    The problem is GM/ Cadillac would rather chase after MB and BMW than Lexus simply because it is the easier route. Why do I say it is easier? Because it is. Selling high performance is like selling dreams, you are in selling attributes that 99% of your customers will NEVER use.The folks that buy an AMG are willing to pay for the image of a 500hp “super” car. They are also willing to put up with some problems because, well they own a “super” car.

    Cadillac would do well by following the more difficult Lexus approach to luxury vehicles. Which is building the best quality product on the market. Or shall we say building real cars for real people. Think about how many Lexus owners today are MB and BMW converts. Now the Lexus approach is not easy. Easy is selling a storied car full of high performance bits and electronics that dont work well, but hey its a MB. Hard is designing a very complex vehicle were everything works right today and will work right 10 years from now.

    I guess the thinking is, if MB and BMW can get away with half-a$$ quality and reliabilty than why can’t we? We can just hide all of the shortcomings behind the “prestigeous” Caddy brand image.

  • avatar
    jolo

    Tommy Jefferson wrote:
    Caddilacs are Ghetto. In Houston you won’t see one without 24’s and boom-boom rattling emblems off.

    I have family whose attitude is that you know you have it made when your beater car is a Caddy. The others (MB, BMW, Lexus, etc) are for others to see you driving around your home area. The caddy is to get you from your summer home garage to the local airport where you hide it in the hanger your plane was in.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Just because Caddy says they’re “replacing the STS/DTS with a new car” don’t assume it will be “new”, just like the “new” CTS is far from new (same platform and body as before, with wheels pushed out, new front/rear sheetmetal and interior). The “new” bigger Caddy will be STS based; they can’t afford a truly “new” car. As usual, GM will walk away from a name that hasn’t caught on, but not the platform.

    Regarding the cheapening of Caddy’s reputation in the sixties/seventies: It wasn’t just whether more blacks/Jews bought Caddies, it was also more everyday folks. Real incomes grew strongly during the sixties, and Caddies became more accessible. There’s a quote I used in my piece about Caddy on TTAC some months ago that sums it up, from a journalist visiting a Cadillac factory: “I began to have some concerns about the future of the brand when the factory workers kept telling me they were buying a new Caddy this year”. When the folks who build a “luxury” car can afford to buy it, it ain’t a “luxury” car anymore.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    A prior post asked for an actual consumers point of view:

    Ive owned several caddies, and just this week the factory shipped my factory ordered 08 STS V8 (I am a buyer by profession).

    My last cadillac was a 2000 STS. Terrific car but I knew the moment I bought it, I would not own it outside the warranty period and traded it at 48K miles. It was unremarkably reliable and had a couple issues though the dealer service was first class all the way. At present, there are several in the family including an escalade esv (awful). Ive never owned a Deville/DTS but, personally, its the most appealing design in the line at present.

    The Northstar moniker garnered far more credit than ever deserved considering its appetite for oil consumption.

    Of all the marques in the car biz, I would hope that GM would work hardest to fix Cadillac. Design them without compromise. Build them to a level of premium quality that makes me happy to write the enormous check. Service them to last for ten years or 150k miles WITHOUT A SINGLE unreasonable electrical/mechanical failure and I will be back…but not until then.

    Cadillac means success to more than a couple generations…to this day, not even toyota has that kind of brand recognition.

  • avatar
    dean

    Socsndaisy, your post is self-contradictory. You say you’ll be back to Cadillac when GM makes them premium quality, yet you say you just bought one. You also admit that you had no intention of keeping the last STS you owned beyond the warranty period.

    What gives?

  • avatar

    You know, maybe Cadillac would have a better chance if they offered something the foreign rivals don’t, rather than trying to be cut-rate Lexuses. How about a pillarless hardtop coupe? How about a big, four-seat convertible? The XLR tries to compete with the Benz SL, for which it’s no match (didn’t they learn from the Allante?), but the number of genuine four-seaters is still pretty small — as well as having the stamp of American tradition.

    And this alphanumeric naming crap is old. Eldorado and Coupe De Ville are evocative names; why throw away that kind of recognition in favor of alphabet soup?

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    What is interesting about demograpic marketing is that today there are many African-Americans that will never purchase a Cadillac because of the negative association created by GMs former demographic/ racial marketing push.

    Today for many in the African-American community Cadillac is symbolic with the sterotype of the poor black-person that spends too much money on a car they can’t afford. GM needs to do some better marketing studies because Escalade is another word for ignorant for too many blacks.
    While Caddy may capture sales from the wannabe rapper crowd they are turning off a great deal of the AA community by pushing what amounts to an “ugly” image. Unfortunately these are the black folks with GOOD CREDIT and they do not want to be associated with the brand that directly caters to the so-called pimp set.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    [Dean-Socsndaisy, your post is self-contradictory. You say you’ll be back to Cadillac when GM makes them premium quality, yet you say you just bought one.]

    The 08 was ordered by me for my employer (other people’s money).

    [Dean-You also admit that you had no intention of keeping the last STS you owned beyond the warranty period.

    What gives? ]

    I bought my STS in 2000 (past). I will be back when they build a car that is worth the price of admission. Like Justin wrote, the issue is to GET me back to even take a serious look. In my case, it has nothing whatsoever to do with who else drives a caddie.

    Im glad you asked though because there is yet ANOTHER huge problem cadillac has; resale. Even IF they were to build the car that is worth the price of admission, you would still be left with the epic depreciation that the marque currently suffers with. That would not be such an issue, however, if you could RELIABLY plan to own and operate the car over a 150K lifespan. Ive tried this in the past with Cadillacs and paid the mighty price.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    The only Cadillac I find remotely interesting is the DTS. However, the real problem is even the DTS is a pretend Cadillac – the last real Cadillac was the mid-90′s Fleetwood.

    Cadillacs are supposed to be large, luxurious, and built to very high quality standards. The fact they no longer do that is why Cadillac is failing.

    The same can be said for Lincoln – until 2005 every Lincoln automobile was made in a dedicated Lincoln factory – now they are just rebadge jobs “Henco en Mexico”.

    The Town Car is the only real Lincoln left, and Ford has starved that one to death, after botching the 1998 restyle badly.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    SLLTTAC : Check out GMs other web sites, aparently event their web designers brand engineer, because it’s the same broken ass web page for every brand, you can’t figure out what in the hell you’re buying. I guess it’s more of the same “You’ll buy what we sell you.”.

  • avatar
    1169hp

    As a Black male and a certified car nut, I see Cadillac for what is, a second-tier “luxury” brand. I feel Cadillac’s (especially used examples) are popular in the Black community because they can be had for next to nothing. So one gets percieved status on the cheap.
    Cadillac needs to drastically distance itself from its “Generic Motors” siblings. Cadillac must stop trying to beat the Germans at their own game. Cadillac can’t win that fight. Instead, as stated earlier, they need to build flamboyant, high quility, interesting cars that people aspire to own, not settle for!
    I’m going to fit into a stereotype here, but, the new CTS does interest me and I would consider purchasing one.
    DT

  • avatar
    qfrog

    “The STS makes its passengers feel like alcoholics sharing a nip bottle of generic whiskey in a Holiday Inn Express.”

    I love it!

  • avatar

    The new rap video vehicle is the Hummer H2 anyways – so is there still a point to the Escalade?

  • avatar
    geeber

    taxman100: However, the real problem is even the DTS is a pretend Cadillac – the last real Cadillac was the mid-90’s Fleetwood.

    The 1990s Fleetwood was a pretend Cadillac, too. It was a restyled Chevrolet Caprice with more sound insulation. Hardly a great car, or even a true luxury car.

    As for when Cadillac lost its way: I recently read a test of the 1967 Eldorado in Road Test. The article noted that while the car sold well to Hollywood celebrities, it was also quite popular with middle-income buyers who, with rising incomes and easy access to credit, could afford one.

    By the late 1960s, Cadillac was chasing volume at the expense of exclusivity. That made for record-breaking sales up until the first fuel crunch, but it also destroyed the brand’s position as a luxury marque by making it too common.

  • avatar
    davey49

    I personally love the DTS and consider it the only true Caddy in the lineup. It is also the best seller of all Caddys.
    When Cadillac designs it’s replacement I hope they keep some of the DTS’ big car feel.
    Small cheap Caddy= Saturn Aura
    Caddy CUV = Saturn Vue
    and the Escalade is doing fine.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    whatdoiknow1: They aim Cadillac against BMW/Mercedes instead of Lexus because they are trying to aim Buick (what’s left of it-Buick’s sales in August 2007 were about one third of thier sales in August 2002) against Lexus.

    Needless to say, they need to adjust thier sights, because they aren’t hitting either target.

  • avatar
    Unbalanced

    The CTS almost as large as the DTS? Um… DTS interior/luggage space is 113/19 cubic feet versus CTS 96/14. To put that in perspective, the respective numbers for the 5 and 3 series are 99/14 versus 93/12.

    And CeeDragon, the Escalade fad is fading? Um…sales are up 9% this year in a tanking SUV market. GM could use more “fading” models like that.

    Last, on the notion that sales to minorities means going down-market. Um…maybe to bigots, but I think most Mercedes, BMW and Lexus dealers are happy to take that down-market money just like the folks at Cadillac. And if all the Lexus SC400′s I see with 22″ wheels are any indication, or the late model Benz S430 I saw this morning on the freeway with “We buy foreclosures” in the rear window is an indication, it looks like high falutin’ white folks are going to have to find themselves some other brands to differentiate from the hoi polloi.

  • avatar
    Buick61

    As a former owner of a 1959 Cadillac, and a current owner of a 1996 Fleetwood Brougham and a 2007 SRX, I think I have a pretty well fleshed-out perspective on the brand, where it’s been, and where it is now.

    First of all, NOTHING has come close to that ’59 in terms of style, presence, space, and features (it had factory air and cruise control!). The ’96 is a stretched version of the Caprice B-platform (redubbed the D-body). We had a similar era Mercedes, and it’s quite clear how behind the times that Fleetwood was when new: mouse-fuzz headliner and solid rear axle come to mind. BUT, it’s been completely reliable, it’s powerful, returns decent fuel economy, has a classic Cadillac look, it’s HUGE inside, everything works as new (even the then-fancy traction control system is effective). Sure it’s an oversized Pig on the road, but it’s definitely the last true Old School Cadillac, so it has charm.

    The SRX is fantastic. Great looking interior, handles better than any other crossover SUV I’ve driven (the RX350 is a terrible mess in the twisties), and has all the features (besides a telescoping steering column) that I could want in a $44K SUV. It’s had one minor problem with the glove compartment door. That’s about it. A great car? Yes. A Cadillac in the traditional sense? No. A true luxury vehicle with great road manners and a no-excuse ownership experience? You bet. It’s the new Cadillac, and it’s about time.

    Oh, I guess since demographics were mentioned: Me – 25, white (Italian heritage), her – 28, black. Household income: over $200K/year.

    So…I don’t know if that means anything.

  • avatar
    213Cobra

    I don’t have figures to isolate the Los Angeles market, but for the past 4 years, road presence suggests Cadillac is slowly gaining ground in this city, not losing. More to the point, it seems to me that market acceptance for Cadillac here is rising, not falling. It sure feels counter to the larger reported sales trend. Further, in the last 3 weeks, 5 serial German car owners have said to me, “my next car is going to be American, probably Cadillac.”

    I bought an XLR-V and a CTS-V on the same day, 19 months ago. I’ve had a lot of interesting cars and am accustomed to being interrupted by strangers at gas stations. But I’ve never had a car that got so many spontaneous compliments as these Caddies — both of them. The XLR-V gets unsolicited raves even from appliance drivers. Not a single day goes by that I don’t receive thumbs up from other drivers on the road. And motorcyclists go out of their way to make sure I see their approval.

    The first day I owned my XLR-V, a BMW 7 Series driver said, seriously and surprisingly, “now THAT looks like a rich man’s car.” I’m not wealthy, but I work in a field where people assume I am, for better or worse. At restaurants and hotels, I don’t have to ask the valet guys to keep my car handy. When I exit the establishment, the XLR-V is with the Ferraris, Bentleys, Porsche Turbos and Lambos while runners are scrambling to retrieve the MBs, BMWs and Audis that are common as Camrys here. The CTS-V is widely considered a rockin’ car. The main reason most luxury car owners who see it and like it can’t consider it is that they don’t know how to drive a stick.

    Now, it’s certainly true that I don’t hear what people who have a negative perception of Cadillac say behind my back, or out of earshot. Buh. No doubt the majority of Benz loyalists aren’t about to come over. But I hear evidence every week that there is mounting fatigue over the gremlins in German cars, and the arrogance of their obtuse technology integration. Those who express disillusionment to me mostly aren’t going to Lexus, don’t trust Maserati or Jaguar, and are casting an eye to Cadillac.

    I have to pass a high school on my way to work. I don’t see many cars stop kids in their tracks, mid-conversation but my XLR-V does. This is just observation. I don’t do anything to attract their attention. It’s just a simple matter of very few cars being visually dramatic today. Cadillacs are more so than most, even among the luxury set. The next generation is beginning to notice this brand, and are reacting favorably.

    $30K CTSes with 16″ wheels under-filling the wheelwells are a mistake. I got one as a loaner once when I needed a minor body issue taken care of. That base CTS got NONE of the attention the CTS-V gets. Same body, but the difference in stance is vast. Same for a base STS vs an STS-V. For an immediate fix to the STS, just make the body and interior package of the V standard with the big 6 and the Northstar options. Right away, right now, and bite the bullet — offer the V’s suspension as a low-cost/no-cost option with the standard motors.

    The new ’08 CTS and SRX interiors are beautiful and really well executed. The V cars’ interiors are purposeful, luxurious and comfortable, but in a straightforward, understated way. Everyone who has seen my cars for the first time, who was also aware of common criticism of Cadillac interiors has expressed bafflement about what people are complaining about. No, it’s not up to Maserati standards. But compared to the more ordinary German and Japanese competitors, it’s just a different mix of metal and plastic. The soft touch plastics are as soft as Audi’s and probably more durable. Time will tell. The hard plastics are hard where they should be and are fine. Yep, you can always find places for more leather. But ALL THESE CARS have leather, wood, plastic and aluminum, for cryin’ out loud. Really…are we really choosing cars over polymers? Switchgear? It all feels mass produced compared to the firm click of metal toggles with Bakelite or amber buttons and caps of 50 years ago.

    I ride in other people’s luxury cars once or twice every week. No one notices them here. But I can’t go anywhere without unsolicited notice of my Cadillacs — and it’s all smiles. From Latinos, Caucasians, Blacks, Asians, Middle-Easterners, bankers, agents, rednecks, film crews, actors….it doesn’t matter. People just plain love seeing this car.

    I fully expect to roll at least 100K miles on these cars — certainly on the XLR-V. Who cares about 2 year depreciation? These cars are still going to look fresh and visually interesting in 8 years too. The STS is more understated, but it is sharp, restrained. Next to the the currently overwrought Benzes or BMWs, it’s the cleaner look.

    If I were running Cadillac, I’d go upmarket (before doing a premium smaller car) with a very limited production challenger to the likes of the Maserati Quattroporte to Bentley bracket. I’d further upgrade the XLR/XLR-V, get the V version of the new CTS out quickly, and get more leather into the STS immediately, Maserati style. Nothing below $40K. Closely manage production to demand, so depreciation can be managed upward. “Make one less than the the market asks for.”

    No question the Cadillac brand is stressed, and GMs marketing isn’t sure-handed in managing it. There have been flashes of emotion in their marketing but not nearly enough. They aren’t playing up the drama that’s in these cars, let alone signaling how they’ll amp up that factor in coming years. But still, at least here in hostile territory, import-obsessed Los Angeles, Cadillac’s road presence — ignoring the Escalade completely — suggests they are winning converts from somewhere, and people are increasingly friendly to the marque and beginning to admire it again. We’ll see how rapidly GM can turn this apparent toehold of interest into revenue. The cars are on the mend. The marketing is still losing grip.

    Phil

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    I have a neighbor who will go on and on about how wonderful his Kia Amanti is. He also numerous questions about his car, mainly “What is that thing?”

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    Interesting discussion but most of these comments miss the mark completely. Luxury cars are not really being built for the wealthy but for the near wealthy. The very wealthy could care less because they are purchasing aircraft for their travel needs and riding to the airport in a rented limo/SUV, something with the capacity to carry them and their luggage comfortably.

    Mass production has brought automobile transportation to everyone and the exclusivity that was Cadillac or Mercedes now belongs to the rare exotic cars, the Cadillac XLR being one if only because of its impracticality for those that need more utility for their $.

    You might say that luxury cars began their loss of prestige when v-8s entered the Fords and Chevy’s of the world and Mercedes became just another car when they began to produce v-8 powered cars.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with the market segments that Cadillac is aiming for, the problem has been the product. There is still a strong market for old-school American RWD luxury sedans but Caddy’s been unable to deliver the goods. Maybe they have been too busy trying to imitate the Europeans by investing too much in hi-tech electronic gizmos that add nothing to the consumer experience. How about a roomy V8 sedan driving the rear wheels with distinctive American styling and a classy interior? Leave the high tech 6 cylinder engines to the Euros – use the GM 5.3 V8 as entry level if the Northstar is too expensive. Whoever thought that the STS with its cut-price interior and a 6 cylinder engine would be suitable to wear a Cadillac badge?

  • avatar
    jthorner

    You know, it is kind of funny to hear Bob Lutz’ quotes about how hybrid technology is bad because it can’t pay for itself. How exactly does an Escalade repay the premium a buyer pays for it over a Tahoe?

    Cadillac took the easy way out with it’s connection to the gangsta rap bling thing. As that trend blows by (they all do) Cadillac is left with, well, not much.

    Anyone looking to spend $50k or more on a new sedan is best served shopping with the Japanese or Germans.

  • avatar
    Dangerous Dave

    Cadillac lost it when they installed the first 6 cylinder engine in a Caddy. Cadillac was known for luxury, and powerful V8 engines. FWD didn’t help either, except maybe in the first Eldorados, when it was an exclusive shared with the Toronado. I agree with Buick61, the 96 Fleetwood is definitely the last true Old School Cadillac.
    There was a time when you could tell a Caddy was Caddy from any angle. You may be able to say that about the STS and CTS today, but you can’t say that about the DTS which is just plain butt ugly from any angle. The DTS looks like it was designed by an ex Checker cab designer.
    GM is a company that makes too many models in all of its divisions and I think Cadillac is the best example of that. Dump the trucks, the SRX, the Escalade and keep the STS CTS & XLR and design a beautiful non art & science DTS and call the damn thing a DeVille.

  • avatar
    mrcknievel

    Cadillac is definitely delusional about it’s status. There’s nothing wrong with competing with Infiniti and Acura for the second tier mass luxury crowd and they are more likely to find success in attacking those two brands.

    Lexus is, IMO, out of reach for Cadillac at the moment..that brand is competing at levels that Cadillac doesn’t get mentioned at.

  • avatar
    MX5bob

    The first Escalade had no styling of its own. It was a purely badge-engineered, tarted-up Tahoe. It didn’t sell either. The next one had the sharp edges and has sold reasonably well, or more accurately, leased in reasonable numbers.

    I’ve driven the new CTS, and it’s very good car in many respects. The question is whether it will sell in the numbers that Cadillac projects. The other question is whether those projections are realistic.


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