By on March 24, 2010

Motor Trend reports that Cadillac’s long search for a flagship is over. After debating a number of options, including importing a stretched Chinese-market STS, GM has decided that the “Super Epsilon”-based XTS will be the future range-topper for its luxury brand. The XTS was developed on a stretched version of the platform that underpins GM sedans including the Buick LaCrosse, Chevy Malibu and the forthcoming Buick Regal, and was shown in concept form as the XTS Platinum concept at the Detroit Auto Show. That concept was shown with a theoretical plug-in drivetrain made up of Cadillac’s 3.6 liter DI V6 and the plug-in components from the canceled Vue plug-in, and according to MT, the recent cancellation of the Converj plug-in means “there’s profit and green image to be had in the plug-in XTS.” Until that technology is production-ready, choosing the XTS’s engine options will be an interesting challenge.

Should Cadillac offer the XTS with the stock 3.6 V6? It’s the only engine option that’s ready to go out of the box, but it would also mean the XTS “flagship” will be motivated by the same engine that’s available in the aging CTS. As if the XTS’s CamCord-killer underpinnings weren’t enough of a luxury liability. And it seems that this liability is already being considered. According to MT:

to compete with large German sedans like the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 in this category and establish the right image, Cadillac may have to shoehorn a small-block V-8 transversely under the hood.

But because GM’s execs know best, they’ll probably push Cadillac, kicking and screaming, out of the V8 era. As MT puts it:
Cadillac could become a bold leader in engine downsizing and offer the XTS only with V-6s.
Alternatively, Cadillac could admit that it cheaped out by putting the XTS on a gussied-up version of a pedestrian mid-sized platform, and that no engine choice will ever make the XTS the kind of brand-building flagship the brand desperately needs. But hey, Hyundai gets journo-props for downsizing to 4-cylinders only for its new Sonata [check out a great interview covering this issue and others with Hyundai USA boss John Krafcik here], why shouldn’t Cadillac play the same game? You know, besides the fact that Hyundai has nothing to lose image-wise, while by virtue of its heritage, Cadillac should arguably be one of the last brands in the world to give up on V8 flagships.
Still, with CAFE ramp-ups looming, the chances of Cadillac offering a V8 aren’t good. And not just because GM is taking inspiration from Hyundai’s bold downsizing strategy. The General has taken notice of the good press garnered by Ford’s EcoBoost, and they’re out to build one of their own, with the XTS in mind. GMInsideNews.com reports:

According to GM engineering sources, GM is currently working on a twin-turbo 3.0L V6. Development on the new engine is so far along that it has a RPO code of “LF3.” The naturally aspirated 3.0L debuted in several 2010 products with direct injection and has the code “LF1.”

GMI was not able to obtain projected power ratings on the new engine, however output is very application specific under new SAE testing rules. Sources did say to expect the engine to rival Ford’s EcoBoost 3.5L.

The engine’s introduction is expected in late 2011 or early 2012 in the Cadillac XTS. Sources also state that GM is looking to use the engine in the Cadillac ATS and possibly even the next Chevrolet Camaro. Cadillac has historically always debuted new variants of the High-Feature V6 lineup, so it comes as no surprise that the XTS is the likely to pioneer the 3.0L twin-turbo.

Of course, this raises some interesting powertrain strategy questions. The 3.0 clearly lacks the torque needed to lug around larger (er, heavier, anyway) vehicles, but it also gets the same fuel economy numbers as the 3.6. Turbocharging will help with one of those problems, but not necessarily the other. Meanwhile, what happens to the 2.8 turbo V6 (LP9) currently found in the Cadillac SRX? Or, for that matter, GM’s in-house experiments turbocharging the 3.6, which it claimed could make 425 HP in a 2009 SEMA Jay Leno Camaro concept?

Any way you cut it, GM is worrying about the color of lipstick to put on a pig. If the XTS debuted as a plug-in only model, it might offer some brand-halo benefits, but the pricetag would likely keep sales to niche levels at best. On the other end of the scale of options, if GM offers a base model with the stock 3.6 or a shoe-horned small-block V8, it might sell decently to old-school Cadillac buyers and luxury value-hunters, but it would do nothing to take the brand in the upscale direction GM wants it to go. But then that ship probably sailed when GM decided to base its luxury flagship on a beefed-up Buick platform. Which leaves little choice but the derivative middle ground, and developing a new EcoBoost-alike engine.

And where does that leave the XTS? Assuming GM can match the Taurus SHO’s 365 hp EcoBoost output (which isn’t guaranteed), the XTS offers .6 inches of length over the SHO (203.5 inches for XTS Platinum Concept compared to 202.9 for the SHO), but with an inch shorter wheelbase (111.7 inches vs. 112.9 inches). And at 74.8 inches, the XTS will be 1.4 inches narrower than the SHO. In other words, Cadillac’s range-topping flagship will be competing primarily with a $38k Ford (not to mention its Lincoln clone). The Taurus SHO ain’t a bad car, in fact it was almost too luxury-oriented for our “mad” Jack Baruth. But is it the benchmark for a world-class luxury brand flagship? Hardly.

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58 Comments on “GM Approves Cadillac XTS For Production, Lincoln MKS/Taurus SHO Benchmarked?...”


  • avatar
    educatordan

    Dig out the tooling for the 5.3V8 that was under the hood of the Impala SS top of the line Bonneville (before they canceled it.) 303HP, cylinder deactivation, FTW! Just figure out if you could possibly put a greater than 4speed auto box behind it so you don’t humiliate yourselves.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought the Bonneville had the Northstar?

      Also, you’re right, a 4 speed automatic is not going to cut it.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Depends on the year, I’ve seen them with both. I’ve even heard that GM got rid of a few of the 4.0 Olds Northstars after the Aurora was canceled by sticking them in Bonnevilles.

    • 0 avatar
      dhathewa

      The 3.6 DI V6 makes 306hp, so why bother with the 5.3 V8? Unless GM thinks cylinder count is still a huge marketing advantage, it’s not worth doing.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Did you look at the torque/HP graphs posted a few days ago? Go check the CTS wagon article.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The 3.6L DI (LLT) doesn’t have the mighty torque curve of the LS4. The LS4 also hits its horsepower marks at an earlier RPM than on the LLT.

      Here’s the picture: LLT 3.6L DI against LS4 5.3L

      The LLT is a good performer, but you have to wind it out to get the desired effect. No one is going explore the upper reaches of the tachometer in the XTS.

      Also, keep in mind that the LLT used in FWD-based applications (Lambdas, Lacrosse) has always been slightly detuned compared to the LLT in RWD-based applications (CTS, STS, Camaro). I wouldn’t be surprised if a 3.6L XTS gets rated at under 300hp.

  • avatar

    3.6 and 3.6 turbo, done.

  • avatar
    NN

    if the 3.6 plug in hybrid has strong fuel economy numbers, then that can carry the halo effect for the car. Stretched Epsilon isn’t ideal for performance, but is likely an economic necessity for GM, and allows for greater fuel efficiency. Do buyers of the Lexus LS care much about handling? Probably not. Will this car handle any worse than that? Not sure. Will it look much better? Yes…I think it’s a beautiful design.

    You’re right that it may not be a performance competitor to the A8/7-series/S-class, and maybe that sends mixed branding signals when the CTS-V guns for the Germans. But it’s something different, and again with that powertrain, unique. A beautiful design–inside and out–can sell the rest of the car.

  • avatar
    tced2

    Downsizing engines will be the rule. The District of Control has virtually ordered it.

    • 0 avatar
      The Walking Eye

      Oil is a finite resource. Eventually the beloved free market would do the same. Downsizing now allows us to use our resources longer. What is so hard to understand/live with about conservation?

  • avatar
    Stingray

    I’ll add this:

    http://www.automobilemag.com/features/by_design/1004_cadillac_xts_platinum_concept_design_analysis/index.html

  • avatar

    as mentioned ad nauseum, flagship=RWD

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Ain’t necessarily so. I suggest you check today’s (Wednesday’s) Wall Street Journal article. There’s a good possibility that what comprises a luxury car is evolving. And the BMW model isn’t necessarily the only way to go.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Why would you suggest the SHO for a benchmark when the MKS is much more comparable? Straw man. You may as well compare the CTS to a Fusion.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford already compares the SHO to Audis, so the Cadillac to SHO comparison isn’t much of a stretch. I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      I agree, but Government Motors may have saved and bought the cheaper of the two to benchmark.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      It’s not Ford (or Cadillac) making the comparison, it’s TTAC. It’s simply not a useful comparison, except to support a weak argument.

      Would seem reasonable to expect that the XTS will be a step up from a Lacrosse, which seems to be getting plenty of recognition as a thoroughly competent car, especially one coming from GM.

      I have never seen BMW and Mercedes as taking significant market share from Cadillac. That was more the role of Lexus, Acura, and Infiniti, judging from the buying habits of my parent’s generation. They bought cars that were keepers. I don’t know anyone who keeps a modern European car that’s out of warranty.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m updating the headline to include the MKS, not that it changes my “weak argument” in the slightest. The MKS is no more of a competitive flagship than I expect the XTS to be… and it’s only sold about 500 more units than the dead-on-its-feet Caddy DTS in the last 12 months through February (16,756 compared to 16,215).
      Meanwhile, Taurus still offers the same rough dimensions and performance for about $10k less, meaning GM is going to have to think long and hard about how much money it wants to sink into the interior and luxo-toys.

  • avatar
    86er

    Alternatively, Cadillac could admit that it cheaped out by putting the XTS on a gussied-up version of a pedestrian mid-sized platform, and that no engine choice will ever make the XTS the kind of brand-building flagship the brand desperately needs. But hey, Hyundai gets journo-props for downsizing to 4-cylinders only for its new Sonata [check out a great interview covering this issue and others with Hyundai USA boss John Krafcik here], why shouldn’t Cadillac play the same game? You know, besides the fact that Hyundai has nothing to lose image-wise, while by virtue of its heritage, Cadillac should arguably be one of the last brands in the world to give up on V8 flagships.

    This paragraph alludes to the chief problem facing Cadillac (and by extension, GM): chasing the competition a day late and a dollar short.

    As I mentioned in the Phantom Flagship article, death throes, much?

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      +1 and Cadillac should be the LAST to give up on the V8. They might even sell more of they built a real flagship on a stretched STS chassis, RWD V8 (you know if they hadn’t canceled the next gen-Northstar program) and then toot the horn in their ads talking about how you can’t get a V8 Lincoln Sedan anymore. Give Ford a taste of their own medicine a little payback 20 years too late for those ads in the 80s that made fun of the GM cars for all looking the same. See if it does the same thing to Cadillac sales it did to Town Car sales.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Economic realities (aka bankruptcy) have dictated that they use an existing platform. There was a new premium V8 (successor to Northstar) whose development has been cancelled.

      A top Cadillac sedan should be bigger and rival BMW/Mercedes. This is a nice car but will it not carry out that job.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      I know historical comparisons are difficult and sometimes inapplicable, but in its day Cadillac’s top of the line was the equal of Packard and Rolls Royce.

      Jay Leno recently had occasion to show off a new Rolls Royce Ghost. It has a V-12 with hp/tq in the mid 5′s and is stuffed with every technological innovation imaginable.

      I haven’t even described the flagship model of Rolls Royce. That would be the Phantom.

  • avatar

    This thing is a DTS v3.0.

    They might as well keep applying that name to it because that’s exactly what it is, a new Deville/DTS. It retains everything wrong with that car. The semi-bland looks, the FWD, and weak powertrain.

    This is not the stuff of which flagships are made, Cadillac or otherwise. Funny that Hyundai can offer a RWD flagship car but GM can’t muster a proper one for Cadillac.

    The Escalade will remain the real Cadillac flagship.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Just saw your post on Autoblog. I’m amazed (or rather, not) at the divergence of opinion between here and there. That no one got your point is a) tragic and b) symptomatic of the kind of thinking that got GM in it’s current mess.

      DeLorenzo got it right this month: Cadillac needs to stop catering to GM fans and old-school DTS buyers. That market is not getting bigger

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      This thing is a DTS v3.0.

      Luckily however, in line with Cadillac’s new mission statement, this one will be skinny enough to squeeze through narrow cobblestoned streets in Europe, where Cadillac sells boatloads of product…

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      +1 – a DTS by any other name…

  • avatar
    ajla

    Why even bother with this car?

    Just offer the Lacrosse CXS with AWD and make a “Lacrosse Super” with magneride and a pumped up interior.
    _______
    Save the Cadillac flagship for when you’ve actually got enough money to make one.

  • avatar
    jimboy

    Can you say “badge engineering”. What a waste – apparently the bean counters are back in control at GM. Now that Lutz is out of the way, we’re back to full-on mediocrity.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s not like this car sprung, fully formed, out of Susan Docherty’s head at NAIAS. Lutz was still a VP at GM when this was on the drawing board.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    But hey, Hyundai gets journo-props for downsizing to 4-cylinders only for its new Sonata, why shouldn’t Cadillac play the same game? You know, besides the fact that Hyundai has nothing to lose image-wise, while by virtue of its heritage, Cadillac should arguably be one of the last brands in the world to give up on V8 flagships.

    The difference between Hyundai offering a mainstream midsize sedan with only a (fuel sipping) 4 cylinder by design and Cadillac offering their flagship luxury car with only a V6 because they were too cheap/unable to create a clean sheet design is huge!

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Cadillac (GM) went bankrupt. The stockholders (US govt and unions) are unwilling to “invest” in a new platform and engine. The former stockholders now have toilet paper.

      Hyundai is profitable (and growing).

  • avatar
    Steven02

    The Taurus show comparison is really terrible and a big stretch. Why not compare the SHO to a BMW 7, MB S, Audi A8? You will find similar dimensions in all of them and similar horsepower outputs.

    I also think the flagship argument isn’t a real argument. Does anyone drive a MB because of an S series car? Does anyone drive a BMW because of its 7 series? Does anyone think that GM won’t have another car above the XTS sometime in the future?

    Also, what happens when flagships get trumped by bigger cars? Do you stop buying one because the flagship is no longer the flag ship? Look at Hyundai’s Genesis. Now there will be an Equus. Is the Genesis mean less now? Are you now supposed to buy cars because of the Equus? Does that make you want to buy a Hyundai Accent for less than 10K?

    But I also think that comparisons to Hyundai aren’t really valid. Hyundai wanted to launch a brand above Hyundai to market these cars. The brand was going to be called Genesis. Call it crazy, but Hyundai has a interesting problem now because they didn’t. They have a real hodge podge of cars. Why not ask the questions of what the great disparity of cars offered by Hyundai?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The S-Class is very prestigious and well-known. It cements Mercedes-Benz’s image as a luxury brand, and sells lots of C-Classes – and even some E-Classes – to people who want a Mercedes but can’t afford an S-Class.

      Packard used the same strategy in the 1920s. First the Twin Six, and then the Single Eight, upheld the marque’s prestige image. Packard still solds lots of six-cylinder Packards in what we would today call the “near luxury” market. You’d better believe that people were influenced by the reputation of the “big” Packards when they bought a Packard Six.

      BMW is different, as it is still best known for the 3-Series. But having the 7-Series at the top of the range hardly hurts BMW’s image.

      Cadillac has nothing to compete with those cars…it has become an upper-middle price brand that sells Escalades to those who like bling, and a few CTSs to those who want a sports sedan but want to “Buy American.” A big comedown from the days when it was the “Standard of the World.” Plenty of people are still impressed with an S-Class or 7-Series. A CTS or DTS? Not so much. They aren’t bad cars, but they don’t elicit the “oohs” and “aahs” of an S-Class.

      Today, Cadillac isn’t even the Standard of General Motors, as the corporation’s really great engines (the V-8s used in the trucks and Corvette) are associated largely with Chevrolet.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Geeber,
      I just can’t agree with this argument. People who can afford a new S Class aren’t probably driving them at all. I don’t think that an S Class gets any oohs and aahs. If you know cars, you know what an S Class car is. If you don’t, it is just a large MB, one you probably can’t afford so you don’t even look at. So, to average buyer, the S Class, 7 Series, etc makes no difference in the car they are looking at.

      I agree that people will buy cars with a good reputation for luxury. That is what MB uses. It has to be luxurious, technologically advanced, and stylish. This is something that MB has been very good at doing, with a few exceptions. This is something Caddy has been very poor at doing, for awhile. The current CTS is good. But the STS, DTS, and XLR are outdated, badly. The new SRX is good too, but not great.

      The XTS Concept is really different for Caddy. The car looks good in person, looks very luxurious, and has a good amount of technology in the car. This is what is important to this market. Other items, such as interior space are also very important. Power is also very important to buyers, and I think a twin turbo V6 would do fine in this car, provided it has decent acceleration. Remember, not all luxury buyers want a RWD V8 vehicle. If the materials, technology and style equal or are better than the competition, then Caddy has done its job on this non flagship car. One needs to know where GM wants this car to compete before making such assumptions.

      Also, I guess if you consider the only technology GM has being V8′s, then you are right, Chevy wins. Except for that LSA.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      I drive through wealthy neighborhoods in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and see S-Classes parked in the driveway, which seems to say that people who can afford an S-Class are buying them. I’m sure that there are even more in New York City and Los Angeles.

      I see older S-Classes in poorer neighborhoods, but that is no different from the 1950s and 1960s, when a used Cadillac was considered a very desirable vehicle in poor neighborhoods.

      Even people who don’t know cars know what a big Mercedes-Benz is, and that is a luxury car, and that it takes some hefty financial firepower to buy one.

      As for the LSA – it’s a derivative of GM’s LS series V-8. So, to me, it’s still basically an engine associated with Chevrolet.

      A great engine, no argument there, but not one that says “Cadillac” the way that the Northstar V-8 does. GM’s fours and sixes aren’t bad engines, but nothing really stands out from the crowd the way the LS V-8s do.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Maybe I’m living the past, but an M-B S-class is still THE big car to have. Unless you’re so rich that you want a Roller or Bentley.(I’m not talking about me – I neither have cash nor desire for a Mercedes).

      If the S-Class isn’t a halo car, I don’t know what is.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Funny, were I live, it is populated with more Lexus ES’s than any other luxury make. There is 1 S Class around. I work for a company that does quite well and rewards its employees. Almost no one drives an S Class. Other MB yes. Same thing with the BMW, many 5 and 3 series, almost no 7 series. Not too many Caddy’s around, again, there isn’t too much of a reason for it.

      I also disagree that MB sells C class and E class cars because people want an S class but can’t afford it. Those cars fit many more people lifestyles than an S class. I would rather have an E class than a S class any day. Many other people feel the same way.

      Very large very expensive vehicles don’t sell well at all, regardless of the make. If GM is rebuilding Caddy, the S Class competitor is the last thing that it needs. I don’t think that this car is that competitor anyway.

      Look at Lexus sales for 2009 and 2008
      Model 2009 then 2008 sales
      RX 93,379 84,181
      ES 48,485 64,135
      IS 38,077 49,432
      LS 11,334 20,255
      GS 7,430 15,759
      HS 6,699 0
      GX 6,235 16,424
      LX 3,616 7,915
      SC 720 1,986

      You can see where Lexus is banking. The FWD RX, and then the ES. Finding the MB sales numbers is more difficult than it should be for the year. Here are BMW’s numbers.

      http://www.bimmerfest.com/news/424347/bmw-group-u.s.-reports-december-2009-sales

      There is a very common trend here though. The smaller more reasonable priced vehicles sell much better than the large vehicles. The factor for Lexus is 4 to 1 (ES to LS). For BMW, it is almost 10 to 1 (3 to 7).

      What Caddy needs is a luxury car that will make money. I think this is a good start, and bringing over a stretched Zeta wouldn’t be a bad idea either, if the platform isn’t going to get phased out soon. But one must also remember that the development work for the XTS was done when GM had little or no money to develop cars. It was more of a product of necessity, that was started and is needed because the STS and DTS are terrible.

      All GM is looking for is for this car to make money for GM. If it does it, it will be good until even better products for Caddy are developed. I think everyone can agree that Caddy needs a lot of help.

    • 0 avatar
      The Guvna

      With all due respect, Steven, I think you are confusing the notion of a “flagship” car with a “halo” car—although in some instances there may indeed be some overlap between the two, they are hardly interchangeable.

      You are entirely correct when you suggest the 7-series BMW doesn’t exist to draw less-affluent consumers to the brand, or indeed to stimulate the sales of lesser models by way of placating them with “something as close to the 7 as I can afford”. That’s because the 7-series is not a halo car; it’s a flagship. It is the pinnacle of their luxury car range in terms of its size, the lavishness of its equipment and creature comforts, and yes, its cost—contrary to what we’d like to believe, a good many luxury flagships are indeed purchased by status seekers who ask simply want the quote-unquote top of the line model—ask anyone who makes their living selling monstrous 65-series Mercs to barely legal Hollywood starlets. Using Mercedes as an example, however, is more problematic. Not only do I know C-Class buyers who came into the fold solely by virtue of wanting S-class prestige but having to make do with what their middling budgets would allow for, but I’ll do you one better: *every single one of them* has a C-Class because they value the perceived snob appeal of the badge (a perception largely built on the back of their flagship saloons and convertibles…). If everyone who purchased a 3 series saloon had the means to purchase a 7, I would imagine they might lose ten or twenty out of every hundred 3 series sales to the bigger car. If, on the other hand, the average C-Class buyer had the means to buy an S, SL or CL class Benz, the North American sales figures for the C would absolutely plummet. I promise you. European figures, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t change significantly at all, for a myriad of reasons (engine displacement options, size considerations, etc.).

      Comparing the XTS to the SHO, while seemingly a glib bit of overstatement on the surface of it, actually makes more sense than does a comparison with genuine German flagships. For starters, the German flagship mainstays (S-Class, 7-Series, Audi A8) are built from the ground-up as flagship models; their tech and, quite often of late, their styling cues then filter down to the “lesser” cars in the range…although, perversely, Audi kind of did the reverse with the new A8, and seemingly up-scaled an A4, for some reason. Historically, this is kind of an anomaly, and probably not a terribly wise decision on Audi’s part. Time will tell. In this particular instance, however, GM is foolishly attempting to take an existing lower-rung platform (however good it may or may not be), and scale it up into a flagship with some striking sheet metal and some added tinsel and garnish. Hence the SHO comparison (although I do agree that the amended headline’s inclusion of the Lincoln MKS is perhaps more appropriate)—the platform and engine combos being discussed do indeed seem more appropriate for comparison with other American quasi-near-luxury cars (and, with a near-as-damnit $40K sticker, the SHO has just volunteered itself for inclusion) than with true luxury marque flagships. Looking at the specs being thrown around, I honestly cannot believe they are serious about this car being a flagship model. Fiscal constraints notwithstanding, having a middling-in-all-respects saloon as your luxury marque’s flagship seems like a terrible mistake—just ask Lincoln.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Guvna,
      I agree with much of what you have said, but I would like to point out a few things. Before the XTS, what was Caddy’s flagship? The STS wasn’t and neither was the DTS. Caddy really didn’t have one. It is replacing both the STS and the DTS with a car that is better than either one. I think this is a step in the right direction for GM. Caddy does need a large car to have technology filter down into lower models. This probably isn’t this car. Has Caddy or GM said that this is going to be the Caddy flagship? I have only seen the press call it this, not GM.

    • 0 avatar
      The Guvna

      You know, it’s interesting you mention that, Steven. I always had the same question: “What, exactly, is their flagship?”. They had an aging range of cars that all seemed to compete, to varying degrees, for the same domestic brand-loyalist buying dollars. The CTS seems to be making some inroads in terms of both sales and public brand perception, but it’s still effectively a mid-range car. As of this moment (and I suspect this has been true for several years now), Cadillac’s flagship is the Escalade ESV, whether they’d publicly admit to it or not. And if, as an established luxury brand, you don’t have a flagship car that you’re not embarrassed as all hell about…problems, Jack. Problems.

      This range confusion has been a shared trait between both Cadillac and Lincoln for some time now. If you don’t have a clear delineation between your cars (in terms of size, price, performance, etc.), what have you got, really? “*Some* cars. We make some cars”. I was at the Toronto International Auto Show last month, and fifteen minutes spent poking around in various Lincolns yielded absolutely zero understanding of their product range. The alphabet-soup nomenclature did little to help. MKS? MKZ? MLK? RFK? JFK? CTS? BTS? DTS? STDs? Similarly, why oh why did Cadillac have not-dissimilar-in-price DTS and STS models to begin with, when (absurd sporting pretensions notwithstanding) the latter was so uncompetitive that the only people willing to pony up for it new were pretty much exactly the same people who might be tire-kicking a DTS? I’m sure that the seventy year olds buying DTSs were sold on the classic RWD layout, preferring to leave the FWD pig that was the STS for the young (read: sixty year old) whippersnappers. But that struck me as an issue as far back as ten or so years ago: Which one is the top end one? Why are they all muddled in the middle? I suppose it’s academic now that they’re on their way out to pasture, but I can’t help but think that the same problem remains.

      And now that you mention it, I don’t recall an official acknowledgment of the XTS being a flagship car, either. Every mention of it as such has been from scribes. Looks like pure speculation at this point…fueled, I am sure, in no small part by confusion over exactly what car serves what function in Cadillac’s range. You know, they might not have sold any more Sixteens than Merc has sold Maybachs in the last eight years, but I’m still inclined to think that, purely from a brand perception standpoint, the decision not to make a go of it was an ill-advised one. Merc already had a well-regarded full-sized luxury saloon—they simply chose to throw some swankier wood and leather at it and charge three times as much. That is arrogance and stupidity, in roughly equal measure. Cadillac, on the other hand, could probably have done with a flagship car that isn’t going to be mistaken for a rebadged Buick…or a Chevy Suburban with shinier wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Guvna,
      I agree, the Escalade is the flagship of Caddy, and they have actually admitted it too. Just read the XTS concept press release.

      http://media.gm.com/content/media/us/en/news/news_detail.brand_cadillac.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2010/Jan/NAIAS/Cadillac/0112_xts_concept

      “The XTS Platinum concept’s plug-in hybrid electric propulsion system (PHEV) builds on the experience Cadillac has gained with the Escalade Hybrid and Escalade Platinum Hybrid flagship models.”

      GM considers the Escalade the flagship. When you look at the rest of the models, it isn’t difficult to see why. When you consider the XTS against the DTS and STS models, it is much better than either one. I do think Caddy does need something above this vehicle though.

      The DTS and STS models being too close together in price and size, kind of reminds me of the GS and ES from Lexus. The GS and ES are far better executed, but the not too different in size. Price is different, but the ES, which is less expensive kills the GS in sales. I don’t know how the DTS and STS were on sales, but the STS was dismal in appearance and needed a badly updated interior. The DTS just sticks out like a sore thumb in Caddy’s line up. I look at the XTS more of replacing the DTS and fitting into Caddy’s latest exterior styling.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    Random thoughts that occur to me:

    One of the problems with the PHEV setup could be weight. It would seem to me a difficult feat to add another few hundred pounds of battery plus assorted electrical gizmos to an Epsilon without running into GVW/capacity/handling issues but maybe I’m wrong.

    Will the XTS be wider than a Malibu? The ‘Bu struck me as a little bit narrow compare to, say, a Camry. I’d think Cadillac’s flagship should be more spacious than a mid-size car.

    If GM’s going to slot it in “above” a LaCrosse, it must be measurably better than a LaCrosse. That will take some work; the LaCrosse is quite nice. How to make it better? Bigger? Will the XTS be bigger than a LaCrosse? If so, shouldn’t it be considerably more powerful, so as to retain an edge in acceleration? Of course the PHEV setup, able to pull power from both the ICE and the electric motor might achieve that but then we come back to… can the PHEV be done at all? And aren’t performance hybrids sort of a tough sell? Moreover, the PHEV setup isn’t small… it’s hard to see how they’ll squeeze the PHEV gear into an Epsilon without losing significant space, somewhere.

    I also wonder if part of the rationale for boosting the power of the 3.0L engine is motivated by a desire for “better” fuel economy. Better than a 3.6 turbo would provide, anyway. However, it strikes me as crazy to worry about the fuel economy of a luxury car that will sell in relatively low quantities. Better to spend the money to find a way to boost the economy of the Malibu, which sells in the general neighborhood of 10K per month and where fuel economy is actually a selling point. And then it might sell in the general neighborhood of 20K per month.

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    It is not possible to redefine or reposition a well-established brand identity. In the public’s mind, “Cadillac” means “Big, Flashy, American”. When someone sees a new Cadillac, their reaction should be, “Wow”. The archetypal Cadillac is the 1959 Sedan Deville.

    This cannot be changed. The only current Cadillac that fits this definition is the Escalade. There is no hope for the XTS–it’s just not big enough to be a Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      I agree. Caddy is still about boulevard cruisers in the public mind. That’s what they should be building. The proper benchmark is most of the Lexus line.

      Lexus sells only because the price point gives it some exclusivity. There are no secondary reasons – you don’t have to pretend to be enthralled with the engineering. You don’t have to pretend you bought it for it’s cornering ability. It’s a comfortable leather-lined Toyota that Joe Sixpac can’t afford. Caddy used to sell cars in exactly the same niche.

      Why chase the European sports sedans? It’s a small market in the US, so even if successful, they’d sell fewer cars. The chances for success aren’t good anyway.

      I don’t think Caddy can chance their image, and I don’t think they should try.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      No other engineering reasons to consider a Lexus? Reliability and silence are ultimately engineering issues. That’s why a Lexus LS is quieter than an S-Class, Maybach or RR Phantom, and reliable to boot.

      I’m still waiting for someone to invent a PHEV AWD flagship, the V8 isn’t that important to me. I’m sure it’ll happen in the next 5 years, and it would be nice to see the XTS as one of them.

  • avatar
    rnc

    Dependent on cost, with the right engine (drive train) this would do fine (in a cadillac way and no matter what, short term sales are better than no sales of the DTS right now). But that seems to be the problem, Ford put alot of thought and effort into the ecoboost engines while GM seems to be throwing this together in thier own classic way and the results from the past haven’t been great (for recent example see: turbo SRX and mega-knock event). It doesn’t matter if its right in year 2 or 3, if it’s wrong in year 1 it’s done.

  • avatar
    Toyondai92

    Acura called. They wanted to tell you that V6-powered, Camcord derived flagships don’t do all that well. (Read: The Acura RL).

  • avatar
    ohiomax

    The Sonata reference is not really valid in my mind, as it makes sense to put a 4 cylinder in the Sonata since the top of their luxury line is the V8 Genesis so there is a true up sell in hardware and corresponding selling price to the consumer. Cadillac is screwed because GM has too many brand with shared equipment and no way to justify the “marketing” price jumps from Chevy to Buick to Cadillac with each using the same platforms. They need to elimanate Cadillac and just have Chevy with 4s and lower powered 6s while Buick gets high powerd 6s. Cadillac is odd man out and needs to die. Buick has China, Caddy has nothing, Cadillac will die from economics, most Americans can no longer afford anything above the 30K mark. Vehicles lines trying to sell with $50k+ lineups are dead brands walking.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    What a hideous looking blob of a design.

    I don’t know what happens as people age but heavens forbid if I am in my elder years I will have no intentions of ever owning a Cadillac (or Buick). Their styling sux. yuck.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      +1

      Slab sided, podgy and bulky, downright dowdy. Ditto for the Ford and Lincoln. Where are the stylists and designers? There isn’t even the excuse that these are somehow aerodynamically efficient any more than a 2×4 would be.

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    Um, where’s the hood? This has more of a FWD-look than even the MKS…The A pillar is almost on top of the front wheelhouse…

    It’s a fine-enough DTS replacement, which is already overdue, but this is no flagship. A mega-CTS is the only way to go here, with styling cues from the Cadillac 16 concept of a few years ago.

    Just do it already GM if you want any of the premium market, folks this ain’t rocket science.

  • avatar

    The XTS is the first “compromise” Cadillac to come out of Government Motors… and doesn’t bode well for its future offerings of any stripe (if GM survives that long.)

    Too narrow? Too bad. Not enough power? Tough, the feds won’t let us have the money to develop a V8, or a proper platform.

    So instead we get a gilded (or is that gelded?) Malibu with pointless technological frou-frou, and the vague promise of electric power.

    Christ, at least the DTS has a V8, and some presence. This cobbled-together “flagship” screams poseur, like a landau-topped 80s Fifth Avenue parked next to a Dodge Dynasty.

  • avatar
    bts

    Only a single person has mentioned using a Zeta based car, think a lengthened wheelbase version of the Pontiac G8 GT, or the Chevy Caprice police cruiser.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holden_WM_Statesman

    Yes the very same car Chevy will be importing to use as a police cruiser. Looking back on the Pontiac G8, it’s easy to say it should have never been.

    It would have much more interior room and rear leg room than this front wheel drive platform. If it came standard with the 360 hp V8 and 6 speed automatic, and an option for the supercharged V8 from the CTS-V it would cover all the power basics. It may not match any of its competitors for engine and chassis refinement, but at least all the specs would be right on paper.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    I just can’t take this thing seriously just because it is based off the Buick LaCrosse. Last time I checked, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class wasn’t built off of the same platform as the Chrysler Sebring.

  • avatar
    G37S

    Great move.. More front wheel drive based garbage. Ditch the old man appeal by making younger looking RWD luxury performance cars. AWD is not needed – it just adds weight.

  • avatar
    mattjo3201

    Looks exactly like an A8 down to the rim. The new SRX looks exactly like an RX. GM is getting worse than Hyndai. At least the put a S front, A8 profile, 7 Trunk, and LS interior! LOL. Either way, its sad. I have the 08 CTS too. At least the CTS looks mostly original. No mistake when you see it. Lease is coming up on the Caddy. Seams the only way to stay safe from a carbon copy is to go Merc or BMW. Looks like GM got a little high on the CTS success and are dropping the ball all over again.


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