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.
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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.
Breathe. Remember this when you drive the Cadillac CTS-V. No matter what happens, continue to breathe, lest you fall victim to what us aviators call G-LOCing, or G-Force Loss-of-Consciousness. Steady, rhythmic breaths will help your body cope with the stresses induced by a four-door sedan capable of hurtling your fragile, carbon based body into speeds that challenge the Theory of Relativity. Entering hyperspace, where the gravity wells of passing stars actually start to affect the navigation system of the CTS-V, you might forget this simple fact, pass out, and crash the American built sports sedan that beats its German competitors into submission.
Review: 2009 Cadillac CTS-V Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars
History records an era when a Cadillac was a no-compromise choice for well-heeled individuals seeking perfection. I remember the original import-fighting Seville’s refreshing blend of global proportions with acres of unabashed Cadillac style. What followed—neglect and shameless down market downplays– left Cadillac oblivious to its former “Standard of the World” designation. So it’s no surprise that the latest STS, nee Seville, doesn’t deserve to wear the crested wreath.
2008 Cadillac STS V6 Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 1/5 Stars
Ever sit around on a Sunday around noon with your buddies and say "I could go for some Domino's or Papa John's." You know that obviously neither of the two is up to Michelin guide standards, and in fact neither one of them is even real pizza. But damn man, they really hit the spot. Well that's the new Cadillac CTS. It's snazzy looking, it's fun to drive, it's got all the toppings you could ask for. It's just not a Cadillac.
Take Two: Cadillac CTS Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit… of Acura? Infiniti? BMW? The Cadillac brand’s been sliding downmarket for so long it’s hard to know whose tailpipes they’re chasing. Back in ’02, the CTS offered genuine hope that Caddy could recapture some long lost ground. Although the Sigma-platformed mid-sizer was too small for the brand’s aging aficionados, it was a credible throw down to Japanese and German sports sedans. In a few short years, Caddy’s competition caught up– and left CTS sales in the dust. Now, a refreshed CTS returns to the fray. Is it good enough to put the deeply damaged Cadillac brand back in the running?
Cadillac CTS Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Car-based crossovers (CUV's) are America’s SUV escape pod of choice. Domesticated SUV’s from Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Ford and more have found favor, as have their upmarket homonyms. Although GM was late to the crossover party, the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook are (at least for the moment) highly competitive products. At the top end, Cadillac stands pat with its three-year-old SRX. For '07, Caddy’s attempted to re-invigorate their CUV with a new interior.
A commentator named Peakay recently posed a pointed question: “Do you guys like anything?” While there are plenty of positive reviews hereabouts, I understand Peakey’s frustration. When ttac.com publishes a rash of reviews describing nasty looking, badly built, dynamically dim-witted vehicles, the negativity eats away at this car lover’s soul. Which made the prospect of reviewing the Cadillac XLR-V a daunting proposition. I really wanted to like this car.
As I closed the rear door of the top spec Cadillac DTS, I watched the side light above my head literally sputter and die. And there you have it: proof positive that the bean counters have been hard at work on The General's luxury brand. You want the lights to slowly fade up and down? Why? Anyway, we don’t have that part. What else you do you need? Actually, despite the death by a thousand cost cuts, the DTS has almost enough upmarket mojo to make it. Only luxury carmaking isn't horseshoes or hand grenades. Almost doesn’t count.
When I was growing up in South Africa, Cadillacs were gaudily chromed boats adorned with absurd fins. I thought they were stupid. I simply couldn’t reconcile Caddy's grandiose luxury land yachts with the small, sensible cars of my youth. As my horizons widened, as I learned about art, décor and design; I eventually “got it." I understood why enthusiasts waxed nostalgic about the great Caddies of yore, even though we saw precious few models in my corner of The Dark Continent.
The new Cadillac Escalade is a mission critical machine. It's one of the few remaining General Motors products whose sales don't depend on Mexican-sized kickbacks and/or a Day-Glo "Closing Down, Everything Must Go" sticker on the windshield. What's more, as a badge-engineered Chevrolet Tahoe, it's only slightly more expensive to build than a Chevrolet Tahoe. In other words, the 'Slade's is a cash cow on factory double dubs, trying to keep it real for GM's ten point six billion dollar man, Rabid Rick Wagoner; know what I mean? No? Let me spell it out for you: if the 'Slade ain't da bomb, it's a nail in the General's coffin. Well guess what? RIP.
Clock those side vents. At the precise moment when Caddy's luxury SUV should swagger into town with unabashed American style, the 'Slade arrives with its main design cue "borrowed" from Land Rover's Range Rover Sport. While the cynical amongst you might assert that the Escalade's target market is no more likely to connect the two vehicles than smoke crack and drive (as if), the fact remains: the porthole plagiarism betrays a staggering lack of confidence and originality. Of course, badge engineering a Chevrolet Tahoe betrays a staggering lack of confidence and originality, but, um… where was I? Something about the enormous gap in the SUV's wheel arches making the 'Slade look like a punk ass bitch? No… that wasn't it. Or was it?