Large organizations are prone to overly simplistic thinking. It’s just too hard to communicate anything complicated or nuanced to all involved. One overly simple idea: reduce the size of the engine, and fuel economy will improve. Need a performance variant? Shrink the engine a little more and add a turbo. The actual result in the case of the Cadillac SRX: a base engine with too little torque and an optional engine for which GM charged $3,820—to provide performance similar to everyone else’s base engines. For 2012, the SRX receives a solution that was obvious from the start: the corporate 3.6-liter V6 replaces last year’s 3.0-liter. The turbocharged 2.8 is gone. And?
How time flies. Five years ago the second-generation Cadillac CTS had just debuted at NAIAS. While prettier than the original, it was also fresh, exciting, and proof that Bob Lutz’s General Motors could turn out a damn fine car when it really wanted to. People who hadn’t owned a GM product for decades bought one, my father among them. Five auto shows on and we’ve glimpsed Cadillac’s future with the 2013 ATS. Does the 2012 CTS seem well beyond its sell-by date? Or does the old car, with a new 3.6-liter V6 engine and a new Touring Package, retain some compelling advantages?
Okay… you read about the Sturm und Drang involved in getting this 48,000-mile, two-owner Cadillac from Columbus, Ohio to Houston, Texas. Now it’s time to talk about the car itself a bit, and review it just the way we would review any other car here at TTAC.
Problem is… how do you review a car like this? It was the last, and largest, of the full-sized Cadillacs. It represents many of the best, and even more of the worst, qualities associated with American auto manufacturing in the dismal Seventies. Socially, it has significance well beyond what we have room to discuss, or understand, in a short blog post. It’s too important, too relevant, too resonant, too repugnant, too. This feels like too big a task for little old me, even if I have the help of another very interesting Cadillac that you will meet in just a moment.
Let’s start with this: thirteen thousand dollars. That’s what this particular car cost. About five times the price of a basic compact car. Cadillac in 1976 was a microcosm, a synecdoche, of the Sloan Plan. At the bottom was Calais. At the top was Seville (if you were talking marketing), Fleetwood Sixty Special (if you were talking sheer size), or Eldorado (if you still believed in personal luxury). Cadillac sold over 309,000 cars in 1976. It was their best year ever, but the chickens were winging their way home to Michigan for some long-overdue roosting.
A couple months back, Cadillac gave me a bright red, three-ton, rollin’-on-22s, chrome-drenched, hybrid-electric, $88,140 luxury truck to drive while in Michigan for the Campaign To Prevent Gingervitis 24 Hours of LeMons. Since that time, the effort of attempting to write a meaningful review for this ridiculous-yet-amazing machine has caused my brain to develop a severe rod knock. Who is supposed to buy this thing? I asked myself. What can you do with it? Read More >
If Lord Acton were alive today, I’m sure he’d say: “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great cars are almost always bad cars.” I believe it this philosophy that Cadillac hopes will rejuvenate Cadillac, a brand that only recently started taking performance seriously but is already achieving some surprising results. Already our own Michael Karesh has got his kicks with the CTS-V wagon, Niedermeyer has drooled over the sedan and Jack Baruth has killed the track at Monticello in both this coupe and the sedan… it might be safe to say Caddy has a winner on their hands. Still, why not snag the 556 HP V Coupe for a week to see how it handles some California road testing? What’s the worst that could happen?
I firmly believe that it’s more fun to drive a (relatively) slow compact hatch fast than to drive a big, fast car well below its potential. I remain hopeful that someone will offer a car with five doors and rear-wheel-drive that weighs under 3,000 pounds. (I’d say under 2,700 pounds, but that’s clearly a pipe dream.) Then Cadillac put a CTS-V in my driveway for a week. A wagon with a manual transmission, no less. That Cadillac even offers such a combination warrants respect. The lure of the dark side has never been stronger.
A large luxury SUV can’t be expected to make rational sense. As readers pointed out when commenting on Wednesday’s Lincoln Navigator review, anyone who needs the combination of interior space and towing capability the Navigator and its arch-rival, the Cadillac Escalade, have on offer, could obtain the same functionality in a Ford Expedition or Chevrolet Tahoe / Suburban for a lot less money. For the Lincoln and Cadillac to be worth their loftier prices, they’d better deliver something above and beyond mere functionality. The Lincoln fell short in this regard, coming across as little more than a bechromed Ford. Might the Cadillac Escalade fare better? Read More >
As I crest Monticello Motor Club’s Turn 17, I am speaking directly to you, the TTAC reader, through the magic of a complete video, data, and audio recording system installed in my six-speed manual CTS-V Coupe.
“I have an idea,” I say, as I hold the throttle pinned to the stop way past the braking markers, over the hill, down the back of the left-hander, the speedometer swinging well into the triple digits, tach reaching to redline. “I think… this section can be taken flat.”
Flat, as in flat-out, as in without the mild braking before Turn 17 recommended by the instructors at Monticello and practiced by all reasonable individuals. And, indeed, I make it over the crest pointed in nearly the right direction… but any experienced racer knows that traction on the back of a hill is never as good as traction on the front of the hill. In under a second I’ve reached the absolute maximum slip angle of the tires. I haven’t done it. I’ve overstepped my limits, and the limits of the car. To turn more is futile and perhaps deadly, since I am pointed at the grass and traveling at over one hundred miles per hour. If I have any steering dialed-in to the car when I touch that rough surface, I can cartwheel end over end in the fashion of Antonio Pizzonia in a Jag S-Type. Have to exit the track straight. What happens now?
What is luxury? In the American car market, that question doesn’t have an easy answer. Driver-focused performers like BMW’s 3-series sell well here, but so do feature-loaded versions of mass market sedans, like the Lexus ES. Blinged-out baroque still has its adherents, but as the Napa Valley hotel where the Cadillac CTS Coupe was launched proves, a more subtle, sophisticated version of luxury is gaining popularity as well, differentiated by the use of recycled materials and environmentally-friendly technologies. So where in this fragmented and changing category does the CTS Coupe belong?
Read More >
Figuratively as well as literally, Bob Lutz’s work at GM is now done. Shortly before the towers fell (it seems so long ago) Rick Wagoner answered many an auto journalist’s prayers by recruiting the living legend to dramatically improve the company’s product development process and the cars it yields. In retiring (not for the first time, but probably for the last time), Lutz has declared this mission accomplished, with GM’s latest cars as proof. The Cadillac SRX 2.8 turbo is the most expensive—and so least cost-constrained—of these new cars. What does it tell us about what Lutz was able to accomplish, and about what work remains?
I’m too young to remember the 1970s, but I have recollections of a Cadillac-based abomination known as the “Castilian Fleetwood Estate Wagon.” Perhaps the recent success of Cadillac-based trucks made someone at the RenCen give the Cadillac Wagon a second look. Yet the CTS Sport Wagon isn’t a cobbled-up engineering afterthought, though it reeks of branding desperation: the American icon formerly known as the pinnacle of everything now goes for entry-level luxury success in a station wagon. And that’s why this mirage hailing from the days of Motorized Malaise has some ‘splaining to do.
Read More >
There was, back in the 70s, a Saturday morning cartoon in which the heroes could push a button on the dashboard of their van and turn it into a fire truck, dune buggy or stretch limo – whatever they needed. They don’t really make this vehicle. I know because I’ve looked. I need one. On most weekdays I start my commute in a the small bus, spending time sitting and wishing for softer, more plush environs and ultimately – when the traffic thins – become desperate for a street legal club racer. Now, finally, after 40 years, I may have found my car.
Since day one, the Cadillac SRX was a desperate underdog looking to dethrone the Lexus RX: Middle America’s CUV of choice. But the SRX was a muscular macho machine and the Lexus is an overstuffed Camry Wagon. Now, with a more mundane blueprint, Cadillac believes their latest SRX utility is “the new standard for luxury crossovers.” Plus, as the promotional material claims, it’s also the Cadillac of Crossovers. Whoa dude: what standard are they holding themselves to, and does anyone still believe Cadillac is the ultimate word in luxury?
Review: 2010 Cadillac SRX V6 Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 2/5 Stars
Every race must have a winner—even if it’s a Seniors Olympics, where competitors battle with oxygen tanks in tow. In this case, it’s Yank tanks: our American large luxury car shootout. Those of you with a knack for the process of elimination will already know that the Cadillac DTS is our winner. On the face of it, the Caddy doesn’t have the power or charisma of the Chrysler 300c, nor the traditional rear wheel-drive layout of Lincoln’s boxframed Town Car. But the DTS brings a much-needed karmic balance to our comparo. It’s he only car that approaches luxury. In other words, it offers at least a week’s worth of livability for an actual owner.
Review: Yank Tank Comparo: Cadillac DTS vs. Lincoln Town Car vs. Chrysler 300C. First place: Cadillac DTS Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
M, RS, V, F, AMG. The alpha alphabet represents five manufacturers’ best efforts to create something unique, exciting and memorable from their more prosaic mainstream motors. The resulting “performance tuned” sports sedans are so powerful, so capable, so versatile, that they’re the ground based equivalent of the all-weather fighter jets that battle for control of the skies. While the shibboleth “there’s no such thing as a bad car” applies here, there are always going to be winners and losers. And it’s our job to sort the wheat from the chaff.