It’s been decades since Cadillac produced the “Cadillac” of anything. However, when car buffs dismiss the only American luxury brand left, they fail to see Cadillac’s march forward. 2002 brought the first RWD Cadillac since the Fleetwoood. A year later the XLR roadster hit, followed in 2004 by Cadillac’s first 5-Series fighter, the STS. Not everything was rosy. The original CTS drove like a BMW but lacked charm and luxury fittings. The XLR was based on a Corvette, which made for excellent road manners, but the Northstar engine didn’t have the oomph. The STS sounded like a good idea, but the half-step CTS wasn’t much smaller and ultimately shoppers weren’t interested in a bargain option. That brings us to the new ATS and CTS. Ditching the “more car for less money” mantra, the ATS has been created to fight the C/3/IS leaving the CTS free to battle the E/5/GS head-on. Can Caddy’s sensible new strategy deliver the one-two punch fans have hoped for? I snagged a CTS 2.0T for a week to find out.
Ok, you asked for input and I’ve got a question about my 2003 Cadillac CTS. I figure I’m more likely to get a reliable answer from you and the best & brightest of TTAC than the goof balls at Car Talk (this letter is from February-SM), so I’ll ask. (Read More…)
“Two questions.” Our European contributor, Mirko Reinhardt, wants to test my knowledge. “First question: Last month was a pretty big month for Cadillac in Germany, relatively speaking. How many Cadillacs did GM sell? And second question: Which model sold best?”
A few years after I left Detroit, doing my best to forget my heart-wrenching decision to give up on car design, a similarly disheartened automaker named Saturn made something called an Ion. I saw it at the Houston Auto Show circa 2002. Wounds from Detroit still fresh on my mind, I had absolutely no problem with the Saturn Ion shown behind a velvet rope. I honestly thought it was a design study commissioned by Playskool, not a production ready vehicle from General Motors.
I mean, it was that awful. So imagine my surprise when the General’s peeps come up with something nearly as ugly…and this time it’s a Cadillac. (Read More…)
Damn that Jack Baruth and his uncanny ability to awaken the latent spiritual needs and carnal passions sorely missing in my life. I’m talking about the love of owning a 99-cent Caddy Limo from a strong bloodline, sporting a nearly perfect black leather interior. With 25 years of historical flaws in full sight, this 3800lb lightweight is still a charmer in the Cadillac Tradition. The designation as “The Cadillac of Tomorrow” holds true, have you driven the latest poseur sedans to wear the Wreath and Crest? Torqueless V6 motors, tall buffalo butts and Euro-wannabe interiors only above that of a Hyundai Sonata. I can hear it now:
“LULZ OMG you are nuts because the CTS-V is awesome and that thing’s a POS. The new Caddies even come in a wagon with a stick! Who wouldn’t want a Cadillac that can do all that?”
My bad, they still make one coupe/sedan that’s somewhat worthy of the Fleetwood 75′s halo effect, but don’t be talkin’ that Euro-Caddy station wagon mess to me. This Houstonian spends too much time watching southern hip-hop music videos with proper American Iron getting the respect it deserves. Where else can we embrace the best remnants of Detroit in popular media? But I digress…
Yesterday we gave GM kudos for addressing its lingering vehicle weight issues by redesigning the head of its popular 3.6 liter V6, and shedding 13 lbs in the process. It was, we noted, the kind of news that showed GM is staying focused on the nitty-gritty of product development, sweating the details. But, according to a fascinating piece by GMInsideNews, new-product development at GM still has its issues. Specifically, Cadillac’s development of a new BMW 3-Series fighter, known as ATS after its “Alpha” Platform, has faced more than its fair share of what GMI calls “drama.”
Turf battles, unnecessary “wants” on checklists and ultimately a severe case of “Mission Creep” have created a vehicle that now needs a crash diet, according to GMI’s sources both within GM and at suppliers working on the Alpha/ATS program. For a vehicle that’s taking on an institution like the BMW Dreier (not to mention costing a billion dollars to develop), these are troubling signs indeed.
Cars like Cadillac’s 556 HP, rear-drive, manual transmission-equipped CTS-V SportWagon are the kind of offering that enthusiasts lust after, even if a relative “value-price” of $70k-ish keeps it in aspirational territory. And by offering a CTS “Performance Edition” with the option of mating a six-speed manual to GM’s well-liked 3.6 liter V6, Cadillac gives enthusiasts an appealing opportunity to bask in some of the V’s reflected glory. But apparently not many enthusiasts are interested in pursuing this opportunity, as InsideLine reports that the manual transmission option will be dropped from the 2012 CTS 3.6.
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?
First developed by Holden in 2004, GM’s Zeta platform now underpins vehicles as diverse as the Statesman/Lumina/G8/Caprice sedans, and the Chevy Camaro. Originally designed for full-sized , rear-drive Australian sedans, Zeta was downsized as far as it could be for the Camaro, which reviewers largely view as overweight and rather too ungainly for true sportscar status. Accordingly, GM has been developing a new rear-drive platform known as “Alpha,” which will form the basis of GM’s performance and luxury RWD models for the considerable future. Last we heard about Alpha was last August, when Bob Lutz swore there was no development underway of the platform he compared to BMW’s 1-/3-series. According to Motor Trend, work on the Alpha platform has begun… but there are already signs of trouble.
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.
Here’s TTAC’s and the web’s only complete guide to Toyota’s gas pedals (so far), with tear downs, pictures, analysis, explanation, the shim fix, and commentary, all consolidated into one portal:
Part 1: Exclusive: TTAC Takes Apart Both Toyota Gas Pedals: Tear down of both the recalled CTS pedal assembly and the non-recalled Denso pedal assembly. Note: Assumptions and conclusions in this initial tear down lack the more complete understanding of the importance of the friction arm aspect of the CTS unit.
Part 2: Toyota Gas Pedal Fix Explained – With Exclusive Photos: Describes Toyota’s proposed fix for the recalled CTS gas pedal assembly, with detailed photos and graphics. Explains the significance of the friction arm assembly and its limitations.
Part 3: Toyota Gas Pedal Fix Simulated – Friction Reduced, By Too Much?: TTAC simulates the fix prescribed by Toyota for the recalled CTS pedal assembly, and notes how the fix changes the degree of friction, and the possible unintended result. With detailed pictures
Part 4: Why Toyota Must Replace Flawed CTS Gas Pedal With Superior Denso Pedal: Detailed analysis with pictures of the two pedal assemblies, an explanation as to why the Denso design is superior, and a call for having all CTS pedals replaced with the Denso pedal.
Part 5: TTAC Does The Toyota Pedal Shim Fix: Stop Gap Solution At Best: Toyota’s solution is carried out here with detailed pictures, the whole Toyota document detailing the fix, and our commentary.
Part 6: Toyota Floor Mat/Gas pedal Recall Includes Computer Reflash And Trimming Of Gas Pedals: Info on the details of the floor mat/gas pedal interference recall.
Part 7: Toyota Recall Creates Unintended Accelerator Consequences: As predicted in Part 4 (above), the CTS shim fix reduces the carefully designed amount of friction required for comfortable and smooth pedal action to the point where pedal action may now be jerky and potentially unsafe.
(Thanks to you-know-who-you-are for access to these parts and info)
Reuters reports that the Detroit offices of Denso, a major Japanese automotive supplier, has been raided by the FBI as part of an on-going investigation into alleged anti-trust violations. Denso spokeswoman Bridgette Gollinger said the investigation was “absolutely not” related to ongoing recalls by Toyota. Denso supplies accelerator pedals (see above) and other components to the automaker. “We are cooperating with the investigation,” Gollinger said. The FBI raid was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which said that federal investigators had also searched the Detroit area offices of two other Toyota suppliers, Yazaki and Tokai Rika. Curious coincidence of timing as this happens while Akio Toyoda testifies on Capitol Hill.
Update: a portal to all of TTAC’s articles on the subject of Toyota gas pedals is here:
Toyota has sent instructions and the shims for the field fix of the recalled sticky CTS gas pedals to dealers as of today. We have obtained the instructions (pdf here) [Hat Tip: Roxer], shims, and carried out the fix on a new CTS pedal accordingly. Follow along as we carry out the fix, and how we arrived at our unhappy conclusion. (Read More…)
One of the lingering concerns over the Toyota recall is whether Toyota’s “precision steel” shim fix to the recalled CTS gas pedal assembly will be a reliable long-term solution. Our analysis indicates that these questions might be well-founded, and we’re not the only ones concerned about the viability of Toyota’s proposed fix. In an interview with Toyota’s Jim Lentz yesterday evening, NPR asked why Toyota was using a redesigned pedal for new production, but only offering the shim fix to existing customers. Lentz insisted that the repaired pedals would be as good as the redesigned pedal, that the costs of repair and replacement were about the same, and that the main reason Toyota was repairing rather than replacing recalled pedals was the desire to “get customers back on the road… as quickly as we possibly can.” That’s when NPR went for the jugular.