By on April 28, 2009

Believe it, kids . . . the Cimarron is back! According to a Motor Trend “Scoop,” GM has acknowledged that it doesn’t have the resources to compete in Europe’s tough luxury market, build an RWD Alpha-platform “baby CTS,” or really do much of anything besides bringing another Epsilon II-based whip to the US market. Can you feel the excitement? The project, codenamed “GM 166,” will reportedly be positioned between the Buick LaCrosse and the Cadillac CTS. How? By costing more than the LaCrosse, of course. Because who doesn’t want a warmed-over FWD midsize starting at $35 grand?

To be fair, this neo-Cimarron may not be as cynical as its 80s inspiration. After all, GM doesn’t exactly have a raft of Epsi2 products in the US ready for a quick ’n’ dirty rebadge. With the next-gen Saab 9-5 crying alone somewhere in Sweden (or not?) and Opel-as-Saturn plans gathering dust, only the LaCrosse is left to rep the Epsilon II “revolution” stateside.  Regardless, it’s hard to understand why GM would cut down to three car brands only to move its putative “luxury brand” downmarket in a cannibal strike on its “entry-level luxury” brand. Unless of course this foreshadows the death of the entire Buick/Pontiac/GMC channel . . . .

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40 Comments on “The Return of the Cadillac Cimarron...”


  • avatar
    TRL

    It will probably fail for many reasons. GM will find a way. I do not think however that lack of RWD will be one of the major ones (see G8 sales). Lexus and Acura manage to sell cars to people that probably have no idea which set of wheels is powered. Probably have no clue that they might be glorified Toyonda’s either. They do this in all climates, not just the snow belt. This doesn’t mean all Lexus and Acura buyers are stupid, just uninformed and perfectly happy to stay that way.

    Let’s face it, Caddy is not going to be BMW, ever. Might as well make some decent cars someone might buy (I know, not people that frequent this site). If the LaCrosse is really as good as it appears this will not be a Cimarron as that truly was lipstick on a pig. The LaCrosse doesn’t appear to be a pig Cavalier.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    “FWD midsize starting at $35k”

    I’ll take an Audi A4, thanks. Actually, at $35k for FWD, you could probably get yourself into an A6.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    Well, not like we needed proof that GM was going to continue doing business as usual, but here it is! Stupid, stupid, stupid. I guess the U.S. auto industry is doomed after all.

  • avatar
    ttacfan

    Doesn’t Cadillac DTS already/still share underpinnings with Buick Lucerne?

  • avatar
    sean362880

    You can barely see daylight between the Lacrosse and the CTS as it is. One ends at $33k, the other starts at $36k.

    Here’s hoping it’s a precursor to closing down Buick as well.

  • avatar
    hitman1970

    Quote [Because who doesn’t want a warmed-over FWD midsize starting at $35k?]

    How many ES350s were sold last year?

    The travesty here is further muddying the waters of each GM brand’s mission yet again. How many times in the last three years have they stated that Buick is the alleged Lexus fighter?

    Leave the comfy marshmallow FWD isolation boxes to Buick, Cadillac. Stick to RWD luxury-performance.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    BLS redux. Nothing good can come of this.

  • avatar
    TRL

    DTS and Lucerne are made in the same plant and are practically identical under the skin. The new LaCrosse will by Buick’s flagship probably by 2011 just as it looks like the CTS will eventually be for Cadilac. Cadilac will have the STS to fill in after the DTS goes away and before the new bigger CTS comes out. DTS is a lame duck with Lucerne.

  • avatar

    GM is under pressure to discontinue GMC since it really doesn’t do anything that Chevrolet doesn’t already do and Ford, Toyota, etc don’t need dedicated truck brands, nobody does really.

    But yes, any Cadillac below the CTS is an extremely bad idea. Instead the Impala should be redesigned to be a vastly nicer car inline with Chrysler’s 300C and Ford’s refreshed Taurus. No different than the time when Chevrolet sold large, comfortable boats like the Biscayne, Caprice and so on.

  • avatar
    thalter

    If done well, especially with an AWD option, it could be successful. There are plenty of FWD entries in the near-lux segment:

    Audi A4/A6
    Lexus ES350
    Lincoln MKS
    Lincoln MKZ
    Volvo S40
    Acura TSX
    Acura TL

  • avatar
    John R

    Quote [Because who doesn’t want a warmed-over FWD midsize starting at $35k?]

    How many ES350s were sold last year?

    The travesty here is further muddying the waters of each GM brand’s mission yet again. How many times in the last three years have they stated that Buick is the alleged Lexus fighter?

    Leave the comfy marshmallow FWD isolation boxes to Buick, Cadillac. Stick to RWD luxury-performance.

    +1. Unless GM is getting ready to rid itself of Buick. I really don’t understand the point of this. Either do it properly (read: smaller RWD) or don’t do it at all.

  • avatar
    truthbetold37

    This is the dumbest mother[tr]ucking thing I have ever heard. Why would I buy the Cadillac if I can get the Buick for less?

  • avatar

    Unless they’re planning to kill Buick, there’s no need for this car at Cadillac.

    Frankly, though, the writing is on the wall. Don’t know how I failed to see it until this post. Within a few years they’ll probably kill Buick then move Cadillac downmarket into Buick’s position. Already we have the new FWD-based SRX.

    The CTS will end up Cadillac’s last RWD performance-oriented product. They tried, but it just didn’t work out.

  • avatar
    Jim Cherry

    Not sure that everybody involved with GM’s resuscitation gets it about how radically the company’s culture needs to change for it to survive and prosper. The current CEO is a finance guy, just like Red Ink Rick was. A sick corporate culture of accountant princes described here: http://www.examiner.com/x-6882-LA-Classic-Cars-Examiner~y2009m4d17-GM-near-bankruptcywhat-happened

  • avatar
    bill h.

    The news about this had already been posted on some Saab fan sites a few weeks ago, I believe, to universal derision. After they starved Saab of real product, instead of the Trollblazer?

    This is why I think it’s sheer fantasy to think that Cadillac will become a credible world luxury marque, regardless of what marketing/product schemes they come up with for the U.S.

  • avatar

    Jim,

    It’s not nearly as simple as car guys vs. finance guys. Car guys did as much to muck things up as the bean counters did. The obsolete notion was that the organization could continue to be managed via hierarchy. Not just a matter of who was at the top, but having too many decisions made by the top, period.

    My latest on this:

    http://www.truedelta.com/blog/?p=360

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “Within a few years they’ll probably kill Buick then move Cadillac downmarket into Buick’s position.”

    Or perhaps in five years, Cadillac: US = Buick: China (which amounts to the same thing).

  • avatar
    DearS

    Obviously from the sale of ES350s, A4s, Maximas and Acuras, demand for FWD cars is there. Still can GM keep up?

  • avatar

    FWD = near lux. Near lux sales are greater than lux sales, but less prestigious.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Buick will bring in Regal to replace Lucerne which makes LaCrosse the Buick flagship…Saturn Vue will get a new nose and become a Buick.

    Why did GM kill Pontiac and keep Buick?…Oh Yeah…China sales.
    And to appease their political masters.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    bill h writes: The news about this had already been posted on some Saab fan sites a few weeks ago, I believe, to universal derision. After they starved Saab of real product, instead of the Trollblazer?

    My dealings with Cadillac were limited to the time I owned a 9-3, before I sold it a little over 3 years ago. I liked the 9-3, but I could see where it was taking me, and, therefore, we had to part.

    Anyhow, the Cadillac dealer also sold Saabs in an adjacent floor space. Now, I never saw anyone in the Saab showroom, but only waiting for the service department.

    Cadillac, back then, was…how shall I put it? Plain weird. At least at this dealership. They had only a few of the Godzilla-like Sedan de Ville’s (or whatever they are called now), maybe a couple of mid range sedans, and always one or two of their nice looking, 100K, roadsters. But, the vast majority of whatever they were selling (or at least showing) was the Escalade. In fact, the showroom was filled up with them. These things looked very gaudy, with (I’m guessing) 20″ chrome wheels, and every imaginable option you could think of, and some you couldn’t. The window stickers ran about 70 large.

    I kept thinking to myself, “who buys these things, and why?” Oh well…I was not one to criticise, I suppose. After all, I owned a Saab.

  • avatar
    tedward

    what? WHAT!? If Cadillac goes back to FWD then the brand is completely dead as a luxury and performance nameplate. To everyone touting the Acuras and Lexus ES’s out there, they get sold because of their parent companies’reputations for reliability and good service. They are not credible performance or high end luxury cars, and no one (who does any looking into their purchase) buys them as such. As Mr. Karesh said, “near-lux.”

    Buick is “near-lux”, with the reliability stats and inoffensive styling that supports that, just like the ES, and both are openly disdained by younger buyers. Acura escapes the sneering, but still gets (rightly) dismissed by the top dollar crowd. Cadillac, on the other hand, had a clear chance to contend greatness with the German heavyweights, using Buick and maybe Chevy to make their platforms economical.

    The only way this makes sense to me is if GM dosen’t think it can keep Cadillac either, and is planning on holding the brand for an eventual sale when the market recovers.

  • avatar
    ehaase

    The Epsilon II Cadillac will just be Cadillac’s competitor for the Lincoln MKS. Cadillac still needs a roomy, comfortable sedan, and this car will be more profitable than a Zeta full sized Cadillac.

  • avatar
    A is A

    I liked the 9-3, but I could see where it was taking me, and, therefore, we had to part.

    Where it was taking you?.

    Were repairs so bad?.

  • avatar
    Bubba Gump

    All I have to say about this is Motortrend’s article is about as bankrupt as they are. A GMX166 is the code name for the 2010 SRX. It is not a code name for a new Cadillac sedan. There is also no plan to slot an Epsilon below the CTS.

  • avatar
    golf4me

    This is why they needed to kill Buick in the US, and not Pontiac. Too much overlap between Buick/Cadillac. They pretty much have the same mission, especially if they are going to share cars. Oh well, we’ll have to see what Obama has to say about it…it’s his call now.

  • avatar
    akear

    This train wreck called GM is actually interesting to watch now. They manage to do almost everything wrong. This takes a special kind of genius.

    GM CEO Fritz looks like he should be selling shoes.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    It’s the Cadillac that ZIGS!!!

    …straight into an open pit never to be seen again.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot with this one.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    ttacfan :
    April 28th, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Doesn’t Cadillac DTS already/still share underpinnings with Buick Lucerne?

    More the other way around.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    This move makes sense…IF…it had been Buick getting the axe instead of Pontiac. Then the Caddy-ized LaCrosse could have served the same function that the ES350 serves for Lexus.

    By the way, when was the last time someone gave Lexus and Acura shit for selling rebodied Camrys and Accords for $40 large?

    Double standard…yep.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Michael Karesh :
    April 28th, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Unless they’re planning to kill Buick, there’s no need for this car at Cadillac.

    Frankly, though, the writing is on the wall. Don’t know how I failed to see it until this post. Within a few years they’ll probably kill Buick then move Cadillac downmarket into Buick’s position. Already we have the new FWD-based SRX.

    The CTS will end up Cadillac’s last RWD performance-oriented product. They tried, but it just didn’t work out.

    I disagree completely. Before the recession came and killed sales for everyone, Caddy was on a roll sales-wise. They have earned their shot, and I doubt they’ll give it up, especially since their RWD platform underpins both the CTS and STS. If the SRX platform is FWD-based, so be it – so is the platform of almost all its major competitors. A FWD platform works well for these cars, which are basically transport modules – it maximizes interior space.

    Buick, in the scheme of things, is the cush-mobile maker, not Caddy. If it’d been Buick that got the axe, that wouldn’t have been true, but that’s how it came down.

  • avatar
    John Williams

    By the way, when was the last time someone gave Lexus and Acura shit for selling rebodied Camrys and Accords for $40 large?

    Double standard…yep.

    The problem with that is both Lexus and Acura took pains in differentiating their cars from their more plebeian offerings, so that no one would be able to spot the similarities at first (or second) glance.* GM, on the other hand, did nothing but swap badges and add a few extra trim pieces here and there, essentially doing not much to differentiate the upscale from the downmarket counterpart.

    The Chevy Cavalier with Cadillac grille and crest only drove that point home even farther. GM thought (and still thinks) that their customers were dumb as rocks and willing to eat the same slop over and over again. Ain’t hubris wonderful?

    *The Lexus ES250 ran into that problem, even though it was based on a Japan-only car that only looked remotely like a Camry. Lexus fixed that problem with the ES300.

  • avatar
    vento97

    the Cimarron is back! According to a Motor Trend “Scoop,”….

    The fact that GM is facing C-11 and Motor Trend’s parent company is filing for Bankruptcy smacks of irony, doesn’t it?….

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Quote [Because who doesn’t want a warmed-over FWD midsize starting at $35k?]

    How many ES350s were sold last year?

    The travesty here is further muddying the waters of each GM brand’s mission yet again. How many times in the last three years have they stated that Buick is the alleged Lexus fighter?

    Leave the comfy marshmallow FWD isolation boxes to Buick, Cadillac. Stick to RWD luxury-performance.

    +1. Unless GM is getting ready to rid itself of Buick. I really don’t understand the point of this. Either do it properly (read: smaller RWD) or don’t do it at all.

    +2

    GM already stated that Buick would take on Lexus (the ES350 specifically with the new Lacrosse) so what’s the point in having an EpsiII badge Cadillac inhabiting the same price range as the Buick?

    I agree with you guys: either do the sub-CTS model right or don’t do it at all. It helps no one to have 2 brands chasing the same customer.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    Just out of curiosity, Karesh, is your PhD available in the public domain (i.e. libraries, electronic libraries, etc.)?

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Nothing wrong with FWD luxury as far as I’m concerned. Sure, the tendency of most of us on this board is rear wheel drive performance. But think of the type of car your non-enthusiast spouse or neighbor would like.

    I live in Michigan. We get nasty snows sometimes. Do I want my wife out there in a rear drive car when the first snows hit? I’m assuming most of you have non-car enthusiast spouses because generally the population is not enthusiastic anymore. Do you honestly think your spouse can tell the difference between front drive and rear drive?

    Ask your average neighbors about simple things on their car like how many cylinders, displacement, how many gears. You’ll be surprised to find that the majority of folks don’t know much about their cars. And the majority will never push their car hard enough to feel the difference between rear drive and front drive.

    This is why cars like the ES350 sell so well. They look very nice. They’re quiet and smooth and powerful. They impress the neighbors.

  • avatar
    akear

    Nobody is really against FWD, as long as it is not a travesty like the Cadillac Cimarron 2. Cadillac will cancel it when they only sell 10,000 of them. It has already flopped in Europe.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    A is A : I liked the 9-3, but I could see where it was taking me, and, therefore, we had to part.

    Where it was taking you?. Were repairs so bad?.

    I’m not sure what “so bad” is…any repair is bad. But a 9-3 with 70K was not where I wanted to be. Two of the four window motors replaced, the water pump went south, and it had a strange quirk: sometimes the key would not engage the switch and turn the motor over. Then, I Googled 9-3 / sludge, thought about the expense of a new turbine, and realized it was time to pull the trigger. Nevertheless, my black SE hatch was a very enjoyable car, and I will remember SAAB fondly. Thanks, GM.

  • avatar
    kkt

    Kristjan Ambroz, like practically all PhD dissertations, the author owns the copyright. You can order copies for download or printed and mailed to you from:

    http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/default.shtml

    Many colleges negotiate unlimited downloads for their students, faculty, and staff. If you’re not affiliated with such a college, at the moment it’s $41 for download. Some pennies of that eventually make their way back to Dr. Karesh. Or you could probably go to the University of Chicago Library and read it there.

  • avatar
    Daddyof2

    Well, they were doing a good job of chasing BMW with the CTS…and then they chose FWD.

    One more thing. FOR THE LOVE OF LITTLE BABY JESUS…KILL OFF BUICK!!!!!


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