By on January 12, 2010

Where's the beef?

Once upon a time, luxury brands built unique cars and added special editions for extra profit. Now luxury brands tend to build more cars based on volume brand platforms, the special edition seems to be giving way to a new phenomenon: unique luxury trim levels. GM has been a proponent of this system for some time, adding Denali trim levels to its GMC upgrades of Chevrolet trucks. Now, The General’s Cadillac brand has announced it will be adding Platinum trim level options to every vehicle that isn’t available in “V” form. The impetus for this is clearly the dream of coaxing BMW “M” or Cadillac “V”-style markups from consumers who don’t care about dynamics or power, but it also fundamentally undercuts Cadillac’s status as a true luxury brand… as well as Buick’s raison d’etre as an entry-lux brand. Or does it?

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38 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Luxury Brand Luxury Trim Brands?...”

  • avatar

    Did Ford forget to trademark “Platinum” as an automotive trim level?

  • avatar

    Isn’t Ford using Platinum for the F-150?

  • avatar

    I think I’d rather have the much more prestigeous “Titanium” trim line on the next gen Focus…

  • avatar

    Unique trim levels have been around since the 1970s, at least. That’s not the problem. The problem here is that Cadillac’s Platnium stuff (so far) doesn’t go nearly as far as the special editions of yesteryear: completely different seats for one thing. But new seats are expensive to make, as opposed to a few unique colors of the same interior castings, chrome wheels and more fake woodgrain.

    Look up a Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman, Buick Riv XX, or a Diamond Jubilee Lincoln for reference.

  • avatar

    Didn’t they try this con back in the 70s? And what a golden age that was.
    Same old GM, going for tacky cheap corner-cutting solutions that fool only the dimmest and least-attentive potential customers.

  • avatar

    Jaguar has been doing this with the XJ sedans, which have had available a more-expensive Vanden Plas trim level for at least 30 years.
    I don’t think anyone complains about the standard XJs being not luxurious?
    But yeah, the 70’s trim packages for Cadillac and Lincoln were pretty pathetic.

  • avatar

    Platinum and Titanium are so ‘yesterday’. I propose something new and exciting like the “Seaborgium” trim level. The name conjures images of Ernest Borgnine as an inhabitant of Atlantis, gracefully cavorting with the porpoises, seals and other elegant citizens of a aquatic Utopia.

  • avatar

    Nigel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…
    Marty: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
    Nigel: Exactly.
    Marty: Does that mean it’s louder? Is it any louder?
    Nigel: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
    Marty: I don’t know.
    Nigel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
    Marty: Put it up to eleven.
    Nigel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

  • avatar

    The difference between a special edition, a trim level, and a model is largely a matter of semantics. It’s not a new phenomenon unless you’ve been in a coma since the thirties, and just about every ‘luxury’ automaker in the world has done it, including BMW. This strikes me as a non-story.

  • avatar

    “…but it also fundamentally undercuts Cadillac’s status as a true luxury brand…”
    I would say the products themselves are Cadillac’s problem – not the special trim editions which a number of luxury manufacturers have been doing for some time.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I rarely have the urge or need to do zero to 60 in 5-seconds. I am a candidate for a luxury trim level car, but it has to deliver the goods. A deluxe Buick LaCrosse, which is what the Cadillac XTS appears to be, doesn’t float my boat.

    I want a RWD, roomy, well trimmed car. A V8 would be nice but a good V6 is not a deal breaker. Top drawer customer care, a track record for quality, reliability, and durability, and reasonable resale value are prerequisites.

    Lexus and Infiniti get it. Mercedes and BMW not so much. Cadillac must not have received the memo.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the post office screwed up and accidentally delivered the memo to Hyundai. I’d love to go back to 1987 and make a bet that in 2011 Hyundai’s flagship would be a RWD V8 and Cadillac’s would be a V6.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Yikes! This is one vulgarly ugly interior. Why not name the trim levels after Las Vegas casinos? This Cadillac’s might be called Bellagio. Or Agita?

    • 0 avatar

      My particular hate is that wood that looks like plastic. I remember when wood trims on cars used to look like wood; they felt like wood and scratched and scuffed like wood. Nowadays, every wood trim I see (Jaguar, BMW, Lexus, the lot) there is such a hard, shiny veneer over the top that the thing might as well just be patterned plastic.

    • 0 avatar

      @[email protected]
      I vaguely recall that some plastic or other veneer is needed for safety reasons (avoid having the wood splintering) and so may now be unavoidable.  Of course, this recollection could be completely wrong.

    • 0 avatar

      +1, JW.  This is perhaps the most ghastly interior I have ever seen.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s worth noting that the picture in the post is not (as far as I can tell) one of the Caddy platinum models, but what appears to be a stock STS.  The new XTS Platinum concept does have a damn good looking interior .
      The sueded surfaces on the armrest could be murder to keep clean, but that cabin looks like a very comfortable place to spend some time.

  • avatar

    It still won’t stop dealers from trying to sell you a a ‘gold package.’

    • 0 avatar

      LOL, I remember when I was in my late teen years, (last half of the 90s) I was at a dealer auto show in Lima, OH.  On display was a black Toyota Camry with gold emblems and pin-striping, V6, and a leather interior.  It had badges proclaiming it an “American Edition.”  I should have known then that Toyota was the next GM.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota can’t be the next GM until after the Scrooge McDuck money pit filled with money and gold coins they have in the basement is emptied.

  • avatar

    Couldn’t they have recycled the Brougham trim level from thousands of deceased 70s & 80s Oldsmobiles?

  • avatar

    What? You don’t want sprinkles on your ice cream? Come on: Live a little! Let your hair down, and skip like a little girl. It’s called pizzazz! Yay, sprinkles!

  • avatar

    BMW  has the Individual series,  MB has the Designo models for those who have more money than they know what to do with.   I don’t see Cadillac having the resources to offer such an upgrade in their model line-up.    But I guess they can pretend they do to try and tap into that market.

  • avatar

    I don’t think that this hurts.  Other companies do this as well.  In fact, it might actually help the resale value of the extra trim models, if people know about them.

  • avatar

    Um.  What *is* about  American <choke> luxury car designers?  Hey, no wish to offend, but is it a requirement that you have to have lived in a double-wide in Tennessee to be allowed to do interiors in Cattle-Trucks?  Yes, you too can have a luxury car!  Just snap these instant appliques over your existing interior and not only will you have an exclusive pimpmobile but your sex appeal will double.
    Jeez.  Taste, class, flair, panache.  Must be somethin’ furrin and ‘litist.
    I mean really!  You want to go the full 9 yards, carpet the dash, hang fuzzy dice and the Pine Tree Air Freshner with Subtle Corinthian Phermones (whatever *they* are), the works, I can dig it.  But this!  This is Renwal plastic kit class <burp>.  Hand me another brew Leroy.
    I see this kind of crap and am *astounded* people pay money for it.  Words fail.

  • avatar

    As others said, this is stock STS interior which is rather Camry-level.  Kinda misleading – let’s see what the platinum interior in the new XTS looks like before passing judgement.

  • avatar

    Can someone remind me of the purpose for the Eddie Bauer trim.. on Exploders…

    And how the name actually translates to making anything better on the vehicle.. except for styling b.s?

  • avatar

    Well AccAzda, check the Eddie Bauer web site:
    “Our Guarantee
    Every item we sell will give you complete satisfaction or you may return it for a full refund.”
    My father took an EB eiderdown jacket to the WWII North African and Italian campaigns…it only gave up the ghost in my hippie days some 30 years later. That’s quality. Now, for sure, if their name is on it, they’ll honor the same guarantee for the Ford…

  • avatar

    Wait a second….
    You are basing what Eddie Bauer = the outdoor company who is now bankrupt

    On your relation through a bad Mo FO Co badge and tape job on an Explorer.. costing into 40g.

    I doubt they, the outdoor company would honor anything. You’d actually have to track them down first.. apparently the company has been through more hands and holding agencies than a hooker.

    I just checked their website. Its nothing more than your average home goods catalog. Swim suits, bedding, shoes and accessories, bags and gear. There’s nothing to tell me that its any better than LL bean.

    They both have only marketed errr sold errr pair for a a good rep with a coupla hundred million dollars on badges on cars.

    Bauer’s stuff may have been better then = less watered down.. but I dont see the value on a SUV… and not one with the rep it / or its kind has anyway.

  • avatar

    AccAzda…My tongue was firmly in cheek and I was leaning hard on the irony pedal… Like everything else, EB has been gutted by the bottom-line spread-sheet mechanics in search of ever-increasing “profits” and (literally) fantastic bonuses. When there were families invovled as there once was with firms like IBM and Cummins Diesel, there was not just thought but belief give to the greater good and damn fine products, in part because of the family honor. Now just MBA gigolos and pimps………….pardon my French. You might read Watson’s “A Business and its Beliefs” for the glory that once was IBM.

  • avatar

    Indeed, and well noted.

    I also remember when IBM decided to sell their laptop business.. to Lenovo, some… Korean err Chinese company.

    And there is a whole entire discussion about the cheapening of computers based on that sell to the lowest cost producer principal.

    But this is a car site.. and I specialize in cutting hairs..
    And while I don’t get “Eddie Bauer” on PRINCIPAL alone. LL Bean is slightly better and thus more visible, its vehicles are somewhat better, albeit more expensive but only for the badge.

  • avatar

    Does this mean I can place my order for an American Apparel Lincoln MKZ soon?

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