By on October 19, 2017

Cadillac Escalade/Lincoln Continental - Images: Cadillac & LincolnCadillac enjoys some of the highest average transaction prices among premium auto brands operating in the United States. After years of Lincoln MKS disappointment, the new Lincoln Continental actually looks the part. Globally, Cadillac sales are rising month after month after month. In the U.S., Lincoln is rare among auto brands in a declining auto industry in 2017: sales at Ford’s upmarket brand have risen 3 percent this year.

Indeed, while discussing the apparent appeal of the Tesla brand last week, Jack Baruth said, “You might say that General Motors and Ford are going to build better, more reliable, and more thoroughly developed electric cars than Tesla can, and you’re probably right.”

“But the world doesn’t want an electric Cadillac or Lincoln,” Jack accurately points out, “for the same reasons it doesn’t want gasoline-powered Cadillacs or Lincolns.”

Regardless of how you grade the momentum of Cadillac and Lincoln, they are mere blips in the global luxury automobile market and remain rather inconsequential players in their U.S. home market, as well. Will that change in your lifetime?

Ever notice how the 20 compliments your spouse paid you over the last week are cancelled out by the one cutting remark on a Monday morning on your way out to work? In a moment of Monday maturity, you’re able to overlook the sharp insult, but it stays with you far longer than any positive comment.

Cadillac and Lincoln had their fair share of outstanding vehicles, from the ’46 Sixty Special and the ’57 DeVille to the ’37 Zephyr and ’61 Continental convertible. They were symbols of success, emblems of elegant excess, cars of a high caliber.

The mystique of domestic luxury was lost, however, not only by one harsh barb but by successive generations of Cadillacs and Lincolns that failed to compete with a European and then Japanese incursion.

Cadillacs that displayed the proper on-road behavior lacked the requisite premium interiors. Lincolns that possessed proper exterior treatment failed to measure up to expected reliability standards. Cadillacs that produced Nürburgring-mastering performance looked comically edgy. Lincolns failed to convince buyers that luxurious equipment levels counteracted obvious connections with regular Blue Oval machinery.

Cadillac and Lincoln are both building better cars, arguably perfectly competitive cars, evidently eye-catching cars. But does it matter?

Not now, not yet. Cadillac and Lincoln can’t undo the damage of decades in short order. In the minds of consumers in the duo’s own home market, the obvious premium vehicle choices reside in the showrooms of Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW, and Audi. Cadillac and Lincoln simply don’t provide the same status.

Will they ever?

[Images: General Motors, Ford Motor Company]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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150 Comments on “QOTD: Will Cadillac and Lincoln Regain Top-Tier Luxury Brand Status In Your Lifetime?...”


  • avatar
    hirostates12

    No.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I don’t believe that either can become a top-tier luxury brand again as long as they remain part of a consortium of brands. The lesser brands will always drag down the image even if corporate doesn’t keep trying to “leverage” economies of scale by sharing too many components.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Cadillac is dead last in Consumers Reports Reliability Index.

      Garbage Cadillac & GMC (and General Motors) products!

      “GMC and Cadillac ARE AT THE VERY BOTTOM of Consumer Reports’ list, partially because of issues and problems with drive systems, power equipment, and climate systems,” particularly in the new GMC Acadia.

      Cadillac’s new 2017 XT5 scored below-average, helping place the brand AT THE VERY BOTTTOM of Consumer Reports’ list.”

      General Motors rolling garbage dumpsters – some things never change,

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        #FailGreatly

        #JohanInTheArena

        #PenBoyUwe

        #JasonWuDesignerWhoDoesNotDriveWhoPlayedWithDollsAsBoyJumpingOverPuddles

        #WhatIsMelodyCT-LeeWearingToWorkToday

      • 0 avatar
        kurkosdr

        This.

        If your average middle-class buyer makes the mistake of buying a luxury car (and get into years of debt for a depreciating asset), he wants a car that is reliable and well-built and whose friends know it’s reliable and well-built.

        There will be the occasional hyper-patriotic person who won’t be seen on a German of Japanese car buying a Cadillac, but they are not enough to keep the brand relevant.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    No.

  • avatar
    ajla

    No.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Doubtful as long as they or the parent companies are run by accountants and carpetbagging marketeers. They lack the required product and customer focus.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Certainly, it’s possible for an automobile manufacturer to improve its reputation. Hyundai is just one example. The question is whether GM and Ford are willing to persevere. It took Hyundai twenty years. It took Toyota the same length of time to go from building reliable econoboxes to spawning Lexus.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    The moment cars were available for purchase from outside the US, Cadillac and Lincoln fell from top tier to tarted up economy cars. Neither of them has made a car that competes with the S-class since the 1960’s, and when you go that long out of the game, you can’t just make something good enough and come back into your old market share.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Of the two, Cadillac has the better chance.

    Lincoln’s fallen so far that it’s starting literally from square zero.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s actually untrue. Lincoln sales have been growing consecutively, year over year. And the brand has really taken off in China. Lincoln has a chance. They require a few things to insure their reinvention:

      1. Establish an iconic, recognizable, design language. I can spot any BMW or Audi on the road from a distance. Can you spot a Lincoln? Nope. Their design is largely lost in a sea of sameness.

      2. Focus on performance over luxury. Soft cushiony ride quality is not something premium car buyers car about anymore. They want premium sportiness. Just ask Audi and BMW buyers. And Lincoln has access to great power trains that provide that. The Lincoln MKC comes equipped with the same 2.3 liter turbo that powers the Mustang. Not a bad place to start.

      3. When all else fails, compete on price. Gain market share by offering a better product at a lower price – the tenant of capitalism. Offering more profucts at or near the $30k mark would make these products more accessible to younger buyers, establishing a buying base.

      • 0 avatar
        YeOldeMobile

        1. I actually saw a new Lincoln Continental being driven by a little old lady the other day at the local supermarket. I was shocked to see one in the wild, but it actually looked good. I don’t know if I could pick it out on the road at a glance, but from the front and sides it is distinct if you know what to look for.

        2. Premium sportiness is weird. If I had a family, I would want them to ride in luxury rather than in something trying to be a sports car.

        3. If you offer the premium product at a bargain price, you become a bargain brand. Why do you think Steam stopped doing all those super-bargain sales? Or why people stopped shopping at JC Penney when they decided to stop offering sales on high-priced clothing?

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        2. is patently false. If luxury buyers valued performance over luxury the Lexus ES would not be the top selling luxury midsizer, and the Lexus RX would not be the top selling luxury SUV (across all classes). The market would not be opting for 2.0Ts over V6s and V8s en masse. I’d argue the opposite to be true- Cadillac emphasized performance over luxury with the ATS/CTS and those have tanked; Lincoln has emphasized luxury and value over performance, and outside of the MKS their sedans are increasing in sales.

      • 0 avatar
        TheDoctorIsOut

        I would agree with this. Having cross shopped the XT5 and the Lincoln MKC, the MKC looked and felt more of a piece and more luxurious than the Caddy. Both had some cheap and nasty interior bits but Lincoln hid them better, the Cadillac just didn’t feel premium enough. What both really need to do is upgrade the dealer and service experience and I think Lincoln is further along on that then their domestic competitor but neither is close to the Lexus experience yet. We also cross shopped the MKC against Mercedes GLC class SUV, and while that is far more luxurious than either the controls were a lot more confusing and we could see ourselves trading it in after about a year whereas the MKC surprisingly was far more ergonomically adept than the Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      YeOldeMobile

      Isn’t starting from 0 better? It means Lincoln isn’t saddled with the weight of the Malaise Era products.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        As long as Ford’s willing to view Lincoln’s revival as a “generational challenge,” and they’re willing to take the Lexus approach – i.e., produce some kind of superior product that brings new blood into the dealerships, price it aggressively, and lay the groundwork for 30+ years of success – then no problem.

        You see that happening with Lincoln? I don’t. What I see is gussied up and/or puffed-out Fusions / Edges / Escapes with nicer styling, bigger engines, and fancier interiors. And I don’t see Ford waiting forever for the brand to revive itself. I think GM’s far more committed to Cadillac.

        I also see a lot of dealers that are in the wrong locations. Here in Denver, there are two Lincoln dealers (for a metro area of 3 million people), and one is in the wrong place to chase the kind of customers they want. Same is true of a lot of other cities as well.

        It’s going to be a slog for both Lincoln and Cadillac, but I’d say Lincoln’s slog is going to be longer and much harder.

        • 0 avatar
          dwford

          What you DO see now, however, is Lincoln sheetmetal that is not shared AT ALL with their Ford counterparts (aside from Navigator), which is a huge change for Ford/Lincoln. You are also finally seeing much nicer interiors. It will take time, but Lincoln can at least get back to Acura/Infiniti levels of cache, but probably never to the level of the Germans.

  • avatar
    turbosasquatch

    They both have the capability to be premier luxury brands but neither of them show that they have the desire. They cut corners on their models and come off as a cheaper alternative to true luxury brands.

    Show me on a loaded S class where corners were cut and then compare that to CT6 or Continental. That’s their problem and that’s always been their problem.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      a “loaded” S-Class (and not the Maybach trim) is $120,000+. an S 560 Maybach is $180k, and that’s without the handcrafted silver champagne flutes (yes, that’s really an option.)

      You want S-Class living for Chevy money, and that’s totally unreasonable.

      you have to completely load up a CT6 just to reach the S-Class’s *starting* price. You *can’t* add enough to a Continental to reach S-Class money.

      Oh, and both Cadillac and Lincoln offer one thing the S-Class doesn’t- colors.

      • 0 avatar
        turbosasquatch

        I’ll give you the colors advantage. Anything besides the German rainbow is a good idea.

        You and I are on the same page. I don’t want an S Class for GM money, I want an American S Class at S class prices. GM and Ford keep trying to hit a lower price point. If they were serious, they would make an S class competitor and sell it for S class money.

        Where they got the idea to be the economy luxury brand is beyond me, especially since that’s what buick and mercury are/were for.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          as I said below, in Lincoln’s case it was because of PAG. the brand took on a lesser role while Jaguar, Land Rover, and Aston Martin were in the stable.

        • 0 avatar
          YeOldeMobile

          >I want an American S Class at S class prices.
          The problem is how many well-heeled buyers would care about an American S-Class made by Lincoln or Cadillac? There probably are some who would buy them for the patriotic allure, but it would be a money-loser for GM and Ford for at least a few years. People buy Mercedes S-Class because it’s a Mercedes first and foremost.

          An All-American Luxury Car, made with products only produced in the United States, like California Redwood veneer or Amish-stitched leather seats and other such Brand America goods, would have to be positioned as a Rolls-Royce/Bentley competitor to justify the costs and pricing that GM/Ford would demand it carry. Which wouldn’t be a bad idea, but it’s just not likely to be done. And even if it were, people would still doubt the build quality if it were made in a UAW plant, not to mention international markets might be out of its reach and curtail its sales potential even more.

          • 0 avatar
            turbosasquatch

            @YeOldeMobile I see where you’re coming from. I agree, what you described is far fetched but there’s no reason that Cadillac or Lincoln can’t do what Lexus has done and create meaningful yet different competitors to the German brands. Right now the US versions are simply cheaper and not much else.

            It doesn’t need to be all American just a distinct and meaningful American approach to the German S Class.

          • 0 avatar
            YeOldeMobile

            What does American approach entail?

          • 0 avatar
            87 Morgan

            …I want an American S Class at S class prices.

            We already have that. It is called the F350 Super Duty Platinum.

            MB/BMW/Audi do not compete in the luxury truck space. Ford/GM/Ram sell far more luxury trucks than MB sells S-Class, Audi A8, or BMW 7 series.

            Cadillac and Lincoln fill a small niche, they will never compete with the German or Japanese for that matter luxury marks.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          To be fair, the S-Class itself is about the only successful car in that category. The 7 Series, A8, XJ and LS all struggle to compete on sales. I don’t think it behooves Lincoln and Cadillac to go into a dying market.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Agreed with Kyree – it’d cost a boatload of money to develop a worthy S-class competitor and even then, you’re up against one of those iconic nameplates that doesn’t give up sales easily.

            (Examples: Corvette, Wrangler, GTI, and to a lesser extent, Civic coupe, et al.)

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Quality of materials, textures, details,fit/finish, premium-ness are all miles ahead in a C Class Mercedes compared to a Cadillac CT6.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          DeadWeight,
          It isn’t Caddy or Lincoln that has the issue of p!ss poor quality interiors.

          It seems most American produced cars are in the same league. Even the humble F150’s interior looks like sh!t, even compared to a Thai built Ford Ranger.

          The Amercian built Focus is another example of poor choice of interior materials.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “It seems most American produced cars are in the same league. Even the humble F150’s interior looks like sh!t, even compared to a Thai built Ford Ranger.”

            I’ve driven both for extended periods of time. the only thing FOS here is you.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I’d say the C-class interior looks a lot more premium than it is, DW. Once you get past the styling and the look of the materials – and I’d agree in both of these areas the C-class has it over any Caddie except the Escalade or one of their “Platinum” trimmed sedans – I’m a lot less impressed.

          Lots of cheap-feeling switchgear on the C-class, particularly in the A/C and infotainment controls. Door slams are good, but far from revelatory.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            Honestly, the American S-Class is called the Escalade, just like how the British S-Class is the Range Rover.

            They are all frequently cross-shopped anyway.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Both brands lost their mojo in the 70s when their quality started its spectacular plunge. Coupled to this is the rapid demise of their prime customers, the Bob Hope generation. The baby boomers became enamored with the German luxury brands and never really considered owning a Cadillac or Lincoln. While both brands have significantly improved since that time, they have an uphill battle to lure younger customers away from the Japanese and German brands. I think their best strategy would be to produce unique. iconic American styles with better quality and sell them at lower prices until they catch on. The new Lincoln IMO is a nice first step in this direction, but needs a few years to demonstrate long term reliability. You can lose market share fast. Regaining it is a lot slower.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      what really knee-capped Lincoln was PAG.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        PAG came into being in 1999. Lincoln launched their last real luxury car in 1961.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Was it PAG, or poor execution of the PAG products?

        I’m going with the latter. Lincoln LS was a prime example – it had the basic bones and mechanicals to compete, but it was CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP, and unreliable to boot.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          it was the *existence* of PAG. Lincoln was no longer anywhere near the premier brand now that Jag, L-R, and AM were here. It was the neglect of Lincoln during this time which put them where they were. This was Lincoln at the time the PAG brands were being sold off:

          – A Fusion with a different grille and better leather
          – a decrepit old BoF fossil of interest to no one under 90
          – an Explorer with a different grille and better leather
          – an Expedition with a different grille and better leather

          And the products in the pipeline were:

          – an Edge with a different grille and better leather
          – a Taurus with a different grille and better leather.

          today, at least Lincolns all have unique top hats.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I was thinking more of the LS because it was more in tune with what they were trying to do with the PAG, which was to create luxury cars that could be sold anywhere under different nameplates.

            And I think the LS’ failure led pretty much directly to a lot of the bunk product you’re talking about being introduced (the Navigator pre-dated PAG, and I’d say the Aviator was a no-brainer as a follow-on). I have a feeling that after the LS failed, the folks in charge pretty much gave up on competing with brands like Lexus or BMW, and resigned themselves to badge-engineered crap, which is the same schtick they’d been doing for a LONG time.

            You might ask why the LS was a bomb, and I don’t think the concept of a smaller performance-oriented vehicle itself was the reason. After all, Cadillac did a very similar thing with the CTS a couple of years later and succeeded with it. LS failed because it pretty much sucked.

            If the LS had been successful, you might have seen a different direction for the brand.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            To JimZ’ point, the LS was conceived to be a lesser car than the Jaguar-badged S-Type. It had less power engine variants, less expensive materials, and a lower price. It was also styled to be as invisible as possible, while the retro Jaguar was distinctive. PAG was set up with Lincoln as a lesser brand than Jaguar. Where I disagree with JimZ is when Lincoln stopped trying to build true luxury cars. I’d say it was when the cynical MKIII was a huge success.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      I agree with Felix. 1) The D3 when required to downsize their luxury vehicles mangled the job making their luxury vehicles ‘neither fish, nor fowl’. 2) The generation which came of age in the ’80’s viewed Lincoln and Cadillac as representative of the older generation and wanted something that better met their own ‘image’. 3) GM and Ford then reacted by ‘downmarketing’ rather than ‘upmarketing’ their luxury brands.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Automakers as all large corporations are national entities, and more so than most corporations are national symbols. Buying a Cadillac isn’t just buying GM’s image. It’s buying America’s. No matter how good GM or the cars are, which they largely aren’t, a positive brand image requires a positive image of America too.

    An America that hates itself, hates each other, hates the rest of the world, and seems well on the way to a shooting war with all three.

    So, no. Not a chance.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Tell that to Apple.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      I disagree. Customers have shown time and time again that while they claim to care where a thing is manufactured, what they actually buy is based almost exclusively on either price or image. iPhones are American products made in China, but neither fact matters to most of their customers. And since Cadillac and Lincoln are playing in the “image” end of the pool, it seems to me that their downfall in recent years has been design. The Baleen Whale aesthetic from Lincoln and the whole Art and Science thing Cadillac has been wedded to don’t add up to the “image” that people spending $50-150k (or, increasingly, $500-1500/mo lease payments) are looking for.

  • avatar
    Tennessee_Speed

    The situation for Cadillac:
    Why don’t they price their cars at a point that is realistic considering the competition they face? The ATS, and CT6 are fine handling sedans; equal or better than the Germans and Japanese luxury sedans, but the interiors and engines are not yet up to the level to be true competitors to the others.
    Cadillac should have started out like Hyundai with it’s Genesis brand. Give the consumers somewhat of a bargain to boost interest and sales, and if sales really take off then increase prices slowly; but that’s not the strategy Cadillac is using.
    The head of Cadillac is a stubborn man.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      ^^ THIS ^^

    • 0 avatar
      YeOldeMobile

      Because you can’t cut your prices and still pretend to be luxury. At best, Cadillac and Lincoln would become Genesis. At worst, they could fall into the same trap that killed Chrysler or the VW Phaeton.

      • 0 avatar
        Johnster

        And that would be a bad thing because…????

        At this point in time Genesis is building better luxury cars than either Cadillac or Lincoln.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          In confirmation of your statement, Edmunds’ long-term Genesis G90 was strongly favored by their team over the long-term Continental they have in the fleet:

          https://www.edmunds.com/lincoln/continental/2017/long-term-road-test/2017-lincoln-continental-vs-2017-genesis-g90-comparing-our-big-luxury-cars.html

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    On this website as elsewhere we keep hearing that Cadillac needs to be a Cadillac and that’s the only way it can be successful. I completely disagree. The Cadillac era of large, unsophisticated, bling, boat-like automobile is long gone and it ain’t coming back. The European version of luxury automobile, which is smaller, faster sportier with boatload of electronic gadgets has won the evolutionary battle. Cadillac has done the only thing it could do, join the trend and try to be as good or better than anybody else. Unfortunately that part hasn’t worked out yet and maybe never will. The product is not that far off but any future improvements will be slow and take a long time. It takes decades to incrementally get to the level of full 3-series competitor. American companies don’t have the patience or the vision to continuously improve a product over many model iterations and many years or decades.

    The second part is the pricing; the current CTS-V is more expensive than the upcoming new M5 (by my estimation). M5 has been around for decades, it’s a benchmark car for its segment. Who in his right mind will pick CTS-V over M5 for the same money? CTS-V needs to be priced at 70-75% of the M5 to get some new people to the brand. Once you get some fans you can slowly raise the price but as it is the pricing is completely misguided.

    All in all, the product is hard and takes a long time, pricing strategy should be easy yet they didn’t even get that part right.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    It wont happen until they improve their basic build quality. Compare how the door hinges and latches are made on BMW/MB to Cadillac/Lincoln and how the doors close. Compare the switchgear, how the electric windows work, how the cruise control works, and virtually everything that you touch to operate the car. The BMW/MB pieces feel like quality and the Cad/Linc pieces feel the same as Chevy/Ford parts. Suspensions are another area. The way a BMW/MB handles speed bumps and potholes feels like you are in a quality built car…the others dont. Cadillac and Lincoln will never compete unless they rethink the way they build cars from the ground up.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      I have to disagree. I recently rented an MB GLE 350 and found it about on par in all of these areas with my MKZ. YMMV, but if there is any real difference, it is very small.

      With respect to suspension, you really need to drive a Cadillac with Magnetic Ride Control, it is a revelation. Nothing else I’ve driven manages to have both a comfortable ride and instant stiffness and control when you need it.

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        I dont think comparing a SUV to a car is a fair way to judge them. I’ll bet that if you drove my seven year old 335d with 97,000 miles on it and your MKZ back to back you would understand the difference in the components how they are built.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          An SUV has the same switches, door hinges and, often, powertrains. For those items, it’s a perfectly fair comparison.

          The MKZ has been stone-reliable for 33K miles. And, it might surprise you, is more fun to drive than my sister’s 328ix. Perhaps it’s confirmation bias on both sides, but I really don’t see all that much difference.

          I actually have to answer no to the QOTD. So many people believe the German cars to be superior in every way that it will take a tremendous effort to make a change. That’s okay. People are free to have their opinions.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I agree with Bunkie.

        Lower-priced and mid-priced Benzes *look* premium on the inside. But when you start using the controls, they *feel* far less premium. Check out the center console switches on a C-class for a good example – they look expensive as hell, but when you press them, you can feel the entire console moving under them, complete with a very subtle plastic squeak.

        Once you go up the price ladder, Benzes feel like premium goods. At the lower levels? Not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Also, I’m not sure which year of MKZ you have, but it’s worth noting that the refreshed-for-2017 got significant upgrades in the switchgear department. The center stack is all new, and now there are Lincoln-specific steering column stalks…which are also seen on the Continental and upcoming Navigator. Probably the soon-to-be-facelifted MKC as well.

    • 0 avatar
      YeOldeMobile

      >the Cad/Linc pieces feel the same as Chevy/Ford parts.

      Aren’t they supposed to be the same in order to generate economies of scale? I remember reading quite a few reviews where people would mention that the same window switches or door latches or what have you were the same as lower-market models.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    If they start killing it in China, they just might. But they will be riding China’s wave of prominence surpassing the west.

  • avatar

    Cadillac will, though it’ll probably take another decade. Its sales will never match BMW et al — Cadillac won’t do the high-volume smaller models that boost BMW/Audi/M-B numbers — but it will steal more and more sales in the higher-end segments over time, and the brand is already moving up in perception. Its US sales are meh right now largely because it only has one crossover (3 more are coming), but it’s doing just fine in China, given its late start.

    Ford seems to have different ideas about Lincoln — it’s going its own way, and that way looks more like Lexus than the Germans but maybe not quite as nice.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    It’s difficult for me to say, as I don’t think I will ever be the demographic for that kind of car. However, I would agree with posters further up that Cadillac seems to have a chance. They’re trying to compete in the arena with the rest of the players and have been for several years now.

    Part of the issue is mindshare, people of my cohort (Baby Boomers) will probably never look at a domestic car for love nor money. Regarding trucks, on the other hand, they have a chance. Which is why I believe that vehicles such as the Escalade and Navigator will carry Cadillac and Lincoln forward, at least for a while. I also believe that younger generations who didn’t experience any facet of the downfall from grace will have a more open-minded attitude to Cadillac and Lincoln, but it will take years for this to happen. In addtion, it’s not like any of the competition will just sit back and let them catch up.

    In hindsight, Roger Smith should have started a new high-end luxury car division instead of Saturn. Who would have known that the real battle was in expensive cars, not cheap ones?

    One thing both companies need to do is a “damn the torpedoes” (ignore CAFE fines) kind of car, similar to some of the German models. People pay the gas guzzler tax because of what the car offers. I understand that no company wants to be seen as not-green, but this is about establishing a benchmark. We’re greener than we’ve ever been, but neither company will impress anybody with a car the size of an S-Class with a 190HP turbo four…

    • 0 avatar
      turbosasquatch

      100% on that last paragraph. They need to make a splash and create some desire. Cadillac is notorious for breathtakingly beautiful concepts and then not making them.

      They’re blue balls the company

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Yes, Cadillac has released some fantastic concepts over the last ~30 years. None of them have become production vehicles and the ones that are produced are all Buick-grade (meaning entry- to mid level- luxury).

        Frustrating.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    Caddy has a much better chance of leap frogging to the fore front of the automotive world but they don’t have the will to do so. Just look at the incredible concepts that they have been showing off for years but have done nothing about. The El Miraj may be the most stunning car shown off in a decade but Caddy pissed it all away. Instead we get more blandmobiles like the CT6.

    Caddy’s leadership needs bigger balls. Or at least they need some real leadership.

    Lincoln’s brand has been so damaged because no one at the company could tell the world what they were. It seemed that everyone in the world could see how piss poor Lincoln’s products have been except for the execs in charge.

    However that changed with the new Conti. Lincoln finally found it’s identity. It’s all about unabashed American style luxury. Good on them, now they just need to build great cars. The Conti and Navigator are good starts but it’ll take another decade or so for them to build on that and rebuild the cachet they used to have.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    In the GM and Ford Boardrooms the only question that matters are: “Is the brand profitable?”

    They could give two $hits less about the rest of it.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I think the key is that for sedans, you’ll never break the belief that “the obvious premium vehicle choices reside in the showrooms of Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW, and Audi.” There just isn’t any incentive to shop elsewhere for shoppers in the E-class/5-series and S-Class/7-series segments.

    Where it gets interesting is in SUVs, where it’s much more wide open. I would certainly say that Caddy has done well with the Escalade (less so with the XT5 or whatever it’s called) and Lincoln has had success in the past with the Navigator and could repeat that. I don’t know if it’s that American car makers are better suited to make SUVs, that SUV buyers have more open minds, or what, but if Caddy and Lincoln are going to make a name for themselves it’s going to be in the SUV market where buyers seem much more willing to step outside the MB/Audi/BMW/Lexus default.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    that depends on your definition of “top tier luxury brand.”

    top selling? hard to see that.

    unquestionably competitive with bmw, merc and lexus, good chance.

    They need to make more Continental like products – no reason Cadillac did not build the Sixteen as a halo car, or that its cars don’t resemble the concept el miraj and eldorado of recent years.

    And they each need unique, not re-badged, mid sized SUVs truly different than Chevy/fords.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    There are two problems with Cadillac and Lincoln.

    One is their lack of a legacy. They HAD one,but a decade of Northstars and badge engineering sunk it for good. Cadillac aped BMW initially, which was a good strategy back when performance wasn’t so common.

    Today Toyota makes a Camry with more horsepower then the Northstar V8. Selling on performance doesn’t work when Mazdas and Camrys can do 14s stock.

    So the way forward for both divisions is a focus on luxury- and an AMERICAN focus at that. Make comfortable cars that have great build quality and class leading reliability plus features. Don’t make the cars into xeroxed Audis – design them using classic American styling cues. In this ,Lincoln is ahead of Cadillac. Part of why the Escalade is so successful is that it is unabashedly American.

  • avatar
    MBella

    They need a flagship. SUVs are where this segment is going, so an S-Class type sedan makes no sense. What I’m surprised nobody has done is make a large flagship SUV. Instead of having a full size SUV that seats 7, why not have one that seats 4-5 but with massive amounts of space. With the room in the back, the vehicle could be made tremendously comfortable. You could recline the seat more than an S-Class. There would be room for large desks, (not the little airline tray table that’s optional on the Benz. If this type of vehicle was built well, and didn’t compromise on the ride quality and and overall isolation in the cabin, likely would end up being the standard for chauffeured vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      haroldhill

      +1. Personally, it’s not my style – I’m a three-pedal hands-on type of car guy, but if I were to ride in back, this is exactly what I would want.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s pretty much what the long-wheelbase Range Rover is.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Even that isn’t exactly what I’m picturing. Those still have a third row option. While the second row isn’t tight, it’s not as unnecessarily spacious as the large sedans. I’m talking about basically putting two large living room recliners into the the back. The Bentley Bentayga (Are the marketers just playing with us now with these model names?) is probably the closest production vehicle to my concept.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Actually, the full-sized Range Rover (the one that has the LWB) has never had a third row. Ironically, it is the Range Rover Sport that has the optional third row (although so does the similarly-sized X5).

          But if you’re talking about a production SUV in which the automaker puts the second row bucket seats all the way in the cargo area…no, that hasn’t happened, yet.

          It’s not a bad idea, either.

          I feel like Lincoln might be daring enough to try it with the Navigator, especially the long version. Or maybe they’ll make the rear seats capable of sliding so far back that it becomes exactly this sort of car.

  • avatar
    YeOldeMobile

    In my lifetime? That’s like another 50 years or so. In 50 years, a lot can change. 50 years ago, we were still seeing people buy these huge Cadillacs and Lincolns for good money, though that value hasn’t held in the collector’s market like the early 60’s and late ’50s cars.

    On average, even a top concourse ’67 Cadillac Eldorado or Lincoln Continental can be had for less than $50k. Contrast that with say a ’57 Eldorado, which can go for upwards of $70k for one in top condition. That tells you something about when Cadillac started dying. Lincolns have it worse, unfortunately, because conventional wisdom says they were never truly alive until the 1950s, and have been sliding downhill ever since. But right now, today, there are people paying nearly S-Class prices for Cadillacs that are more than half a century old. Doesn’t that prove that, for a certain market segment, either here in the US or abroad, the name Cadillac still means something other than has-been/also-ran?

    I love old cars, and that will never change. I think the 1950s were the height of American car design and luxury styling, and the ’60s were when it was lost. The ’70s turned American cars from the best in the world into laughing-stocks.

    The 1950s were full of beautiful cars, whether they were Kaisers or Nashes or Cadillacs. By 1970 though, American manufacturers had not kept up with the Joneses; their ideas of luxury were a far cry from what people were demanding in terms of interior materials, handling, and overall quality. And that’s a shame, because I think European cars largely got it wrong over the 80s and 90s. “Luxury Sport” is a contradiction in itself, and Cadillac’s pursuit of BMW and Mercedes, while leading to some impressive cars, hasn’t produced what I would consider a leading luxury brand. It’s just turned Cadillac into a nouveau-riche automaker aping its betters.

    Can Cadillac and Lincoln reverse their decline in the next 50 years? Yes. Will they? It depends.

    Cadillac and Lincoln are beholden to the shareholders, and as we saw from the ouster of Ford CEO Mark Fields, it’s not enough to be a profitable car builder with a bevy of attractive, well-selling products. A Cadillac or Lincoln that doesn’t conform to “market wisdom” by pursuing the golden calves of electrification and “mobility” won’t be allowed to exist. And as more resources are diverted into tech, less is put into comfort. Not to mention the animosity between the assembly line and management that keeps American build quality low by European standards, and which can only hold both brands back as they attempt to move “up-market.” These factors will keep Cadillac and Lincoln from whole-heartedly devoting themselves to luxury, unlike say Rolls-Royce, Bentley, or Maybach.

    Risk-averse managers will continue to push Cadillac down the road of competing directly with BMW and Mercedes. Lincoln, it seems, is trying to go back to the path of “traditional” American luxury with the COntinental, but then again Lincoln seems to lack the institutional management that could keep it consistently focused on that goal. It’s possible that both paths will work out, since Cadillac is finding success in China and Lincoln is pursuing an underserved market niche. But there is also the strong chance that Cadillac find itself out-maneuvered by the Germans or Koreans or Chinese when it comes to new features and “sportiness” while Lincoln might find that its niche isn’t large enough to justify its existence.

    To be a top-tier luxury brand, Lincoln and Cadillac have to produce something unique that differentiates them from the pack. And I’m not just talking about the Germans or Lexus. Chinese automakers will only grow larger and more ambitious, with Geely leading the pack in developing a new generation of leading luxury brands. If we consider Tata, it’s already got a huge lead in luxury SUVs and cars through Land Rover and Jaguar. And there’s nothing stopping the oil barons of the Middle East from attempting to jumpstart their own domestic auto enterprises, especially as they seek to diversify their industries in the wake of record oil surpluses.

    I do hope Cadillac and Lincoln find success. In 20 years, when I’m comfortably employed and have settled down, I’d love to be able to go to a Cadillac website and purchase a car that I know will be comfortable, long-lasting, and turns heads. But on the balance, I think there’s a 35% chance of that happening, and a far greater chance that some other manufacturer with a better modern reputation or a more attractive vehicle will catch my eye instead. That, or I try to buy a restored 1955 Cadillac 62.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      An excellent post, with one caveat. Having lived through that period and having associated with, been someone lucky enough to lease/own what were considered to be ‘luxury’ automobiles, at least in Toronto, Audis certainly were not considered, BMW’s were considered comparable to SAABs and slightly below Volvos in prestige. Mercedes were considered somewhat lacking in what passed for luxury appointments (power everything, pillowed seating, interior noise levels, cubic displacement and overall size), Jags were acceptable but considered unreliable and yes R-R were considered prestigious but if you ever drove/rode in one you would realize that they were ‘below standard’.

      That all started to change with the downsizing trend circa ’77 and the Yuppie era when domestic vehicles were seen as synonymous with age. Perhaps because retired blue collar workers were buying Cadillacs?

      My question is why could not one of the domestics, in particular Ford which owned Jaguar and Volvo have not created a domestic vehicle that exceed the prestige factor of those two manufacturers.

      To steal one of their advertising slogans, provide ‘Grace, pace and space’ and perhaps add in the inherent safety associated with Volvo?

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        “That all started to change with the downsizing trend circa ’77 and the Yuppie era when domestic vehicles were seen as synonymous with age. Perhaps because retired blue collar workers were buying Cadillacs?”

        I would say more like 1974, with the advent of the Saab 99, VW Rabbit and the Honda Civic. Those were game changers with the older portion of the Boomers. Actually, Detroit had been servicing the Boomers pretty well until the first Oil Crisis, then they were caught flat-footed.

        In 1977 is when it really started to ramp up; no one was interested in slow, inefficient land barges that rode like sofas on stilts, on Valium no less. And the worst part was, your dad, your uncle, your boss, your pastor and every other “old” guy was driving one of those. Boomers are (were) too cool for school, time to find another ride. Of course many of us Boomers are near retirement age, driving our Lexii, BMWs and Hondas…

        I sometimes wonder if Packard and Studebaker had survived if they would have come back as the “smart” car to buy, rather than the imports.

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    No.

    Too many America-hating Americans will always talk down the brands no matter how good the quality/features become.

    Upper-middle families want European / Asian / Exotic brands no matter the quality/features.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Just when I though victim mentality is for social justice warrior and the “conservatives” have “good old American value” and “compete on merit”….. comes this post.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    Cadillac is arguably building better products, but they aren’t building products their customer base wants. Lincoln finally understands who their customer is, but the products need more differentiation from the Fords on which they’re based. In short, Cadillac needs to up the comfort factor, and Lincoln needs more independence.

  • avatar
    Dilrod

    No, unless they get ahead of the next big fad in luxury cars, whatever that will be.

    Maybe velour interiors and bench front seats!

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Cadillac is there. Lincoln is just a trim level on a Ford. Dating back to the MKTaurus, every Lincoln since has been the alleged savior of Lincoln. This continues with the amazingly lackluster Continental.

    Ford does not want Lincoln to succeed. The one thing Mulally could have done that would have benefited the company is kill Lincoln. Too bad Fields convinced him to keep it. No wonder why Fields failed.

    • 0 avatar
      fr88

      Wrong. People will never pay S-Class prices for a Ford. Ford needs Lincoln if it wants to play in the premium luxury market. And Lincoln needs exciting product to do so.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      What Ford is the Continental a trim level of?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        The Continental is a super-Fusion, in essence.

        Other Lincolns are far less obviously disguised from their Ford variants.

        (Cough…MKZ…cough)

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “Other Lincolns are far less obviously disguised from their Ford variants.

          (Cough…MKZ…cough)”

          what is this, 2006? the current MKZ has a completely different top hat than Fusion.

          hell, in my book the MKZ wins simply by not being saddled with that EU-compliant bullnose.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Put a Fusion side by side with a MKZ – and there’s a dealer in my area where that’s exactly what you can do – and it becomes very apparent how closely related these cars are.

            It’s not hard to see.

            Yes, I know it’s not a trim level. But I’m sorry…if Lincoln’s charging $50,000 for a MKZ with a straight face, it shouldn’t be based (rather transparently) on a Fusion.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The Continental has about as much resemblance to a Fusion as it does to a Navigator. A few common platform components doesn’t remotely mean the Continental is a “trim level of” any Ford.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Like I said…

            “Yes, I know it’s not a trim level. But I’m sorry…if Lincoln’s charging $50,000 for a MKZ with a straight face, it shouldn’t be based (rather transparently) on a Fusion.”

            Continental is largely based on the Fusion platform.

            My criticism stands.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “My criticism stands.”

            as bullsh!t.

      • 0 avatar
        turbosasquatch

        The current (Chinese) Taurus shares the platform with the new Continental.

  • avatar
    kenwood

    I disagree with the comments about performance over luxury. I’m an aging Gen X guy and I’ve had the performance sedans for years but I’m back to looking forward to a comfortable ride home after a lousy day at the office. I’m also disappointed in what Cadillac has been offering and I’m more impressed with the direction that Lincoln is going. The new Conti looks nice, feels nice and has all the stuff I’m looking for. I no longer care that those three English jack-holes don’t like it or that it can’t do the ‘ring in 7 minutes. After a stressful day, I want to climb into a spacious, comfortable cabin, relax in a comfortable seat, and glide home in serenity. And when it comes time for a servicing, if it only costs $69 for an oil change and a rotation and I’m on my way, all the more better. And oh yeah, GET OFF MY LAWN!

    • 0 avatar
      YeOldeMobile

      But a Mercedes can do the ‘Ring AND be luxurious! Or at least, that’s the counter-argument.

      • 0 avatar
        kenwood

        Yeah, for about $40,000 more. Then you have all the $300 oil changes, and $1800 for the 40,000 mile services. I’m past that now and don’t feel the need to impress others anymore. Getting older can be quite liberating.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The Koreans and Jaguar have what you want.

      • 0 avatar
        kenwood

        Koreans, yes, but the Jags just don’t excite me. The Conti has a nice non-conformist vibe to it right now.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          Just built a Conti online, to get a lot of the goodies that make it special (like those seats, and the 400hp V6) you’re looking at most of $80k (my build of an AWD reserve hit $73k before I got tired of clicking buttons). That’s about $20k more than I’d be comfortable paying for it.

          • 0 avatar
            kenwood

            I’d say it’s closer to about $13K overpriced, but then, if you’re paying full list price on a Lincoln, you’re doing it wrong. Then there’s the leasing side of it…

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do think if Caddy and Lincoln want to achieve sales they need to look at the EU market and produce a vehicle that would be deemed a prestige vehicle there.

    US prestige is not really prestige in many ways, it’s just bling and bullsh!t in most instances.

    Platform sharing is okay, but I don’t believe using a cheap vehicle as a basis for a prestige vehicle is okay, even with Lexus.

    This is why I’m against calling an Escalade a Caddy, when it’s really a Silverado Station Wagon. It is a nice vehicle, but what other manufacturer turns a pickup into a prestige vehicle? I know I’ll hear all about the profits that the Escalade makes, but it will never be a Range Rover or for that matter a G Wagen, it’s not even close to a Landcruiser which is by far a better vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      You can be against calling the Escalade a Caddy, but that would be a mistake. It is the most Cadillac of all current Cadillacs. If it doesn’t exist, there probably is no Cadillac.

      Should Lincoln and Cadillac build large RWD/AWD unibody SUVs to compete with BMW, Mercedes, Range Rover, etc? Yes. Should they abandon the Navigator and Escalade? No. Those vehicles justify their existence in the sales numbers/profit per unit, and pay for the development of things like the Bolt and Ford’s 300-mile EV.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Adam,
        Your defensive comment stating the Escalade is the most “caddy”, Caddy supports my view of why Caddy is placed where it is.

        I mean, if a “pickup” is the best Caddy, what more can be said.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          I’m not defensive. The Escalade is to most Cadillac of all the Cadillacs because it is bold, brash, ostentatious, and decidedly American. It isn’t a vehicle that follows the trends of the Germans or Japanese. It exists on its own terms. If anything, GM should have spun Escalade off into its own brand of SUVs/CUVs and put a bullet in Cadillac’s head.

          If you don’t want to call the Escalade a Cadillac, fine. But it exemplifies the brand’s historical values better than any other Cadillac. It also makes enough money to support the brand.

    • 0 avatar

      Blah blah blah… Not even funny.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Lincoln? What’s that? Oh you mean Fords with more chrome and bigger wheels. Caddy at least has unique products, things I can’t get at the Chevy dealership next door. Lincoln has NOTHING.

  • avatar

    Yes.

    But only on opposite day.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      #banned

      • 0 avatar

        GhostOfCorey

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Now all you need is (circa-1990) Demi Moore, some Righteous Brothers, and a bunch of wet clay.

          • 0 avatar

            1990 Demi Moore looks same as 2017 Demi Moore.

            Discuss.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, if you like your ladies to look like they’ve just spent the GNP of Uzbekistan on plastic surgery, Demi’s your ticket. She’s had more work done on her than a ’85 Jaguar XJS.

            Speaking as a middle aged guy, I like middle aged women who aren’t trying to look like they’re still 28.

            YMMV

          • 0 avatar

            ahaha

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            @FreedMike – WRT Demi Moore: Also speaking as a middle-aged man, I don’t mind if they try to look 28 again, as long as they do it well.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Yeah, but the problem is that as about 99% of women age past 45 or so, any attempt to make them look like they’re 28 again just makes them look…hollowed out and artificial.

            I don’t know of many who succeed at that mission. Makes me wonder why they try (well, we know why, but we won’t get into the whole “sexism in Hollywood” argument).

            Personally, I’m more comfortable with a woman who’s more comfortable with herself, age and all.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            “Personally, I’m more comfortable with a woman who’s more comfortable with herself, age and all.”

            Especially if that age is 28!

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, if a 28 year old wants to hang out with my old butt, I’m down.

          • 0 avatar
            TOTitan

            Aging especially in fair skinned people has to do with DNA and time spent in the sun. My wifes ancestry is German/Swedish and she never goes out in the sun without a hat on. She just turned 64 and when she is out with my 34 year old daughter people think they are sisters. Lucky me since I just turned 65.

  • avatar

    “Ever notice how the 20 compliments your spouse paid you over the last week are cancelled out by the one cutting remark on a Monday morning on your way out to work?”

    What did she say to ya, Tim?

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I’m going to be contrarian and say that Lincoln has the better shot. All Cadillac has is the Escalade and XT5(SRX). Their sedans are in the tanks sales wise, because they prioritized wrong. Lincoln’s sedans (aside from the MKS) are growing in sales. Say what you want about them being cynical rebadges, but the best selling midsize luxury sedan is a Lexus ES, so there’s clearly some merit to that approach.

    I think Lincoln/Cadillac can reach top tier status, but again they can’t just do it by making an S-Class clone. Cadillac kind of has done it with the Escalade, but I think they have to look forward and make a Tesla Model S fighter, with a range adder.

  • avatar
    dwford

    They COULD become competitive again, but we shall see.

    Cadillac is lost in the woods, stuck between its few living loyal customers and a 25 year long attempt to chase the Germans (I’m starting with the Northstar STS in like 1992). They keep swinging and missing.

    Lincoln, after 2 decades of neglect, finally is getting it’s own sheetmetal and engines, and much nicer interiors. I think they are on the right track with just being a luxury brand, instead of trying to chase M series and AMG into the ridiculous sport sedan market.

    In reality, neither will ever match up to the Germans unless they regain their own showrooms. Hyundai figured that out pretty quickly with Genesis. Ford and GM need to figure it out too.

  • avatar
    DearS

    Offer a great warranty and lots of space for the price, and attractive, sporty but restrained styling (like Alfa) and they will be ok.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    I’ve never thought of Cadillac or Lincoln as luxury, so I guess you can’t regain something you never had. I’ve never owned either but have driven them several times as rentals. Decent enough cars, but not in the same class a Mercedes or BMW.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    no.

    Cadillac and Lincoln both had windows with this sea change to crossovers. Cadillac = small, medium, large SRX + Escalade Lincoln = s/m/l better MKX + Navigator.

    Both fought the last war. Ford let Navigator wilt on the vine. Cadillac focused on cars. Neither went the Tesla route.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    Anything is possible with the right product. Think Ram (nee Dodge) trucks. Ram went from 7% of the market to top-tier beginning with the Cummins option in the late 1980’s to the game-changing design in 1994. Chrysler practically stumbled onto the formula for Ram. Some might argue that the Escalade was much the same for Cadillac.

    Cadillac and Lincoln need to find that something people don’t even know they want. Simple, right?

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I do like the new Continental but it really needs Chrysler 300 proportions, rather than its dumpier FWD ones.

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    I belive Caddy is pretty close .. > they’ve got one of a kind Escalade and solid ATS , CTS .. but they would need sth more “flashy” in the lineup .. like these latest full-size-coupe concepts..

    And why they got rid of CTS-coupe > that was one wicked , sharp A^S [email protected]!

    Just .. Less PR/Markeking-NY-hipsters attitude and more substance and style in their cars ..

  • avatar

    I hope so…as a former Cadillac and Lincoln owner, it looks like Lincoln is moving in the right direction with the Continental and the upcoming Navigator.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    I doubt Cadillac and Lincoln will ever be top tier luxury brands like Rolls Royce and Bentley, but I think it’s possible that they could become Lexus level brands again. They have a few things in their favour:
    1) Some of their current products aren’t that bad.
    2) The established premium brands are offering some decidedly non premium products, such as the Mercedes CLA.
    3) There is a significant generational shift coming, as the millennials come into their peak earning years, while the aging baby boomers fade into irrelevance. It’s possible that the millennials will reject the “old people” brands favoured by the baby boomers in much the same way that the baby boomers rejected Cadillac and Lincoln back in the day. I’ve seen a few twenty-something hipsters rolling in old Town Cars and the like, perhaps in 20 years these folks might be inclined to buy a new Lincoln, rather than the brands favoured by the geriatric and decidedly uncool baby boomers.

    I’d give the odds of either Cadillac or Lincoln pulling this off as a bit under 50%.

    A better question might be “Will premium brand cars even matter as markers of social status in a few years?”

    Some have suggested that “cultural capital” is replacing material things as a marker of social status (https://aeon.co/ideas/conspicuous-consumption-is-over-its-all-about-intangibles-now). Jack wrote a piece about the rich in Jackson Wyoming driving around in old Subarus a while back which could be considered an illustration of this principle (http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/a33393/the-4000-car-that-all-the-millionaires-love/). Anecdotally, I know a few high net worth individuals who could easily afford a premium car but who are rolling mainstream models from mainstream brands instead. This group includes both frugal “millionaire next door” types, and a number of successful entrepreneurs.

    When autonomous cars become common, people will likely start to just pay for a ride rather than pay to own a car. Why bother with the cost and hassle of parking downtown, when an autonomous car will simply pick you up and drop you off at a reasonable cost? When this happens, cars will be even less of important as markers of social status. Those oh-so-judgmental neighbours don’t really care what brand of Taxi cab you take to the airport today, autonomous cars will likely be much the same. And if you *do* decide to pay extra to avoid the indignity of riding in a high mileage Prius taxicab, you’re likely to wind up in… a Cadillac or Lincoln.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The Escalade is a cash cow for GM. Yeah, you can park it at the country/yacht club. The collective Ford family wants Lincoln to stick around. Mullaly wanted to kill Lincoln. The class B, Ford family, stock owners won that round. Lincolns over a plush ride over pot hole marred roads. What hasn’t been brought up here is that women like them; reference the MKC. Lincoln also has concierge service, you don’t have to go to the dealership. Yeah, that’s nice. Lincoln has to be profitable, but not as profitable as Cadillac. Becoming the “American Acura” may be a attainable goal for Lincoln.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Ford should sell Lincoln to someone who can turn it round or just give up. Ironically the company that might be the perfect buyer for Lincoln might well be JLR. JLR are know. To be looking for an acquisition target that play in the premium space. By canabalising the JLR parts bin they might be able to turn out a number of products that could appeal in the US and China. A US factory and ready made dealer network would also appeal to a company like JLR. Might well be a good match. Basing Lincolns on Fords simply won’t fly anymore

  • avatar
    MGV001

    If you want to become a premium brand, you must offer premium products and premium service. Neither Cadillac nor Lincoln offer it currently. It’s unlikely that either brand will ever regain their premium status because the corporate bean counters will always have their say and the dealers will never change their ways.

  • avatar
    hifi

    Sure. Once they start making vehicles that people will line up around the block to buy, then they will be a hot commodity again. Until then, Lincoln and Cadillac will be constantly playing catchup. Cadillac is in a better position, IMHO.

  • avatar
    Oldschool

    As a Cadillac and Lincoln fanatic, and have owned their older models from the good ole days when they were relevant, a major issue that still exists to this day has not been addressed nor will it ever, is that both companies refuse to offer models that have its own architecture, a model that is strictly Cadillac/Lincoln and isn’t shared with their lesser brand (the CT6 is an exception).

    At this point, GM and Ford and pretty much most of the today’s mainstream non-luxurious brands are becoming more luxurious with each passing generation, so it’s harder to sell the general public on luxury cars these days, especially American luxury that isn’t considered high end anymore.

    If a Chevy Impala is almost as good as a Cadillac XTS, what’s the point of spending $20,000 more for a slightly better car that shares the same platform and has the same exact powertrain as the Impala? It doesn’t, It’s a waste of money, Cadillac needs cars that are special and so far they have failed to do so.

    As you can tell, the ATS and CTS are doing horribly in sales, people obviously aren’t taking those models serious. Cadillac just needs an ultra sedan that has the pizzaz and excitement like there cars from the past once did.

    This goes for Lincoln as well.

    Cadillac and Lincoln, honestly haven’t been true luxury brands since the 70’s, you can say maybe the 60’s. They should have learned by now, if they can’t compete, or are willing to be the best, they should just shutter its doors, because it’s sad seeing such great marquee brands being destroyed by the other luxury makes. At the end of the day, Cad and Linc still have a loooongg way to go. I know what the company is capable of doing, after owning 60’s Cads and Lincs they were honestly one of the best-built cars ever, but GM and Ford are known to be cost cutters, and find any way to cheapen its product when you can’t cut corners at the upper end in this market since the competition is so fierce.

  • avatar

    Lincoln in my lifetime has been the most tarted up Ford.

    Then again, I consider my CTS to be the bitchin’ Camaro. I just have better sight lines and more soundproofing.

    Mass production means most parts are shared. Engines are shared. There are very, very few truly upper end drivetrains that aren’t all over the maker’s line.

    In car electronics are almost trivial at this point, and other than BMW charging for streaming music it’s hard to charge a lot for it….my Ace of Base Jetta has full smartphone integration.

  • avatar

    Never say never. Thing with Germans is that despite their obvious superiority in the end they have some real fatal flaw that undoes them. German army and weapons were considered superior and unstoppable. We all know how that ended. Japan also was expected to take over world just like China today and where are they now?

    Most of 2000s I worked on developing midware for mobile phones. Early 2000s America was considered to be far behind in that area. Europeans invented GSM, America was behind with CDMA networks. Nokia ruled the world and made premium phones. i-mode dominated not only Japan but also Europe and rest of the world. Everyone was studying Symbian (sh*tty British PDA/mobile OS). Nobody took rumors that Apple considering making mobile phones seriously. And then suddenly one day everything changed. When we finished our product for i-mode it became obsolete and i-mide was dead. And where is Nokia today? Europeans and Japanese became irrelevant. CDMA won and Europeans were always one generation behind because they had to redo all their network which was not designed for CDMA. So things may and will change in the ways you would never expect, you know. Especially when Silicon valley is taken into equation.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    The thing that many other posters here have danced around is this: For Cadillac and Lincoln to make a go of it, they need the other brands in the stable to agree to play nice and agree to cede the top of the market to its respective luxury brand.

    As long as you can get a Chevy within spitting distance of a Cadillac in terms of cost and features, you’re going to have a problem. Some of that is Cadillac needing to have more than Magnetic Ride Control, but some of that is Chevy needs to be willing to tell its customers “if you want Feature X you’ll have to go to the Cadillac dealer down the street”.

    This is especially true with Ford where there’s no “middle” brand to carve out.

    That’s the one thing about FCA… Chrysler may not ever be considered “near luxury” ever again, but the general one-or-at-most-two-brand(s)-per-segment philosophy makes that easier to do.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      “if you want Feature X you’ll have to go to the Cadillac dealer down the street”.

      That’s why I’ve said (for years, for so long I’ve stopped saying it) GM only makes sense if every dealership were a “GM STORE” where if I don’t like the available features on an Impala the salesman can walk me over to the Lacrosse or the CTS. Dealership owners don’t have to whine about loosing sales because you can’t get feature X on the cars I sell.

      Heck the only reason the Buick Verano was built was to give the kind of people who bought Grand Ams something to buy. If GM sold all of its brands at one dealership they could have simply been shown a Cruze.

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