Ballooning U.S. Cadillac Transaction Prices Hide a Not-so-silver Lining

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ballooning u s cadillac transaction prices hide a not so silver lining

In 2017, the average U.S. Cadillac buyer walked out of the dealership after signing over $54,488 for a new vehicle. That’s almost $6,000 more than the average sticker in the luxury field, placing Cadillac among the upper echelon of premium cars.

However, the brand’s skyrocketing average transaction price — up 25 percent over the past five years — comes as the brand weathers a sales downturn in the U.S. market. That lofty 2017 figure has plenty to do with the models customers aren’t buying.

It’s starkly clear that 2017 was a terrible year for traditional cars, and not just at Cadillac. The public’s rapid, ongoing shift to crossovers and SUVs meant 2017 sales of Cadillac’s lesser offerings — the ATS, CTS, and XTS sedans — declined by the order of 39.1 percent, 35 percent, and 26.6 percent, respectively.

Overall, the brand shed 8 percent of its volume last year. Those sales were 14.3 percent lower than 2013, Cadillac’s best post-recession year.

As fewer buyers took home a relatively low-buck ATS, volume of the high-zoot Escalade and long-wheelbase ESV variant remained strong, declining by just 2.6 and 5.1 percent, respectively, last year. The midsized XT5 crossover also remained strong. As it sheds sedan buyers, the greater presence of SUVs in Cadillac’s mix is boosting the average transaction price. Now, all Cadillac needs to do is field more vehicles buyers actually want.

It’s working on that. As Automotive News reports, Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen is more concerned with the brand’s fiscal health than reaching arbitrary sales targets. On the retail side, his initially controversial Project Pinnacle dealer overhaul is “doing as it has been set up to do,” de Nysschen said recently in Detroit.

On the product front, this year brings a XT4 compact crossover designed to mine gold in a very lucrative segment. A larger crossover is in the works, as are two sedans strategically designed to replace the ATS, CTS, and XTS after 2019. GM’s chief financial officer, Chuck Stevens, expects a doubling of Cadillac’s profits by 2021.

The U.S. market isn’t everything anymore, so Cadillac’s hardly in dire financial straits. Chinese buyers took home more Cadillacs than American customers last year, with the brand’s volume in that country rising 50.8 percent. Outside of the U.S. and China, sales rose 10.1 percent. This makes for a 15.5 percent global sales increase for the 2017 calendar year, something any brand would be happy to see.

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  • EX35 EX35 on Jan 30, 2018

    I am deciding between the 535i/d and CTS v-sport (both CPOs) for my next purchase. The CTS is a compelling car.

    • Bd2 Bd2 on Feb 01, 2018

      For handling/driving dynamics, it's a good bit superior to the Bimmer.

  • Ron rufo Ron rufo on Sep 30, 2022

    or, maybe it's the poor quality of Cadillac. I have a lexis 300 with almost 245,000 miles and it runs great and has no issues. I had a cadillac ELR and although it looked great, it spent more time being repaired that being driven.

  • Rng65694730 All auto makers seem to be having problems ! Still supply chain issues !
  • MrIcky I'd go 2500 before I went 1500 with a 6.2. I watched an engineer interview on the 2.7l. I appreciate that their focus on the 2.7 was to make it perform like a diesel and all of their choices including being a relatively large i4 instead of an i6 were all based around it feeling diesel like in it's torque delivery. It's all marketing at the end of the day, but I appreciated hearing the rationale. Personally I wouldnt want to tow much more than 7-8k lbs with a light truck anyway so it seems to fit the 1500 application.
  • MaintenanceCosts If I didn't have to listen to it, I'd take the 2.7 over the 5.3 based both on low-end torque and reliability record (although it's still early). But the 5.3 does sound a lot nicer.
  • Arthur Dailey The Torino Bird which was relatively short lived (3 years), 'feasted' on the prestige originally associated with the T-Bird name. The Cordoba originally did the same as it had a Chrysler nameplate. The Torino 'Bird had modified 'opera' style middle windows, a large hood with a big chrome grill and hood ornament, pop-up headlights, and a 'plush' interior. It was for the time considered a 'good looking' car and could be ordered with a 400 cid engine (the first 2 years) and even a T-bar roof. You can see one just behind De Niro and Liotta in Goodfellas when they are standing in the diner's parking lot and have learned that Pesci has been 'whacked'.Although a basically a renaming/redesign of the (Gran Torino) Elite, the Elite was for a time available with Ford's 460 cid engine.I had both an Elite and a 'Torino Bird'. Although their wheelbases were the same, the 'Bird always seemed 'bigger' both inside and out. The Elite seemed 'faster' but it had the 460 opposed to the 400 in the 'Bird. But those are just subjective judgements/memories on my part. However the 'box Bird' which followed it was a dud. It sold Ok the first year based on the T-Bird name, (probably mostly leases) but it quickly lost any appeal/prestige. Back then, the management/executives of the Toronto Maple Leafs used to get leased T-Birds every year. After the first year of the 'box Bird' they changed to different vehicles.
  • Parkave231 Random question that -- in the interest of full disclosure -- I am too lazy to look up on my own.Back in the day, cars in my mostly-GM family had a hard lock on the steering wheel, such that unless the key was turned to the ACC position, the steering wheel was physically locked in place.I don't recall whether my 2002 Deville locked the wheel in place, but I want to say it didn't, even though it still had a physical key.And now, of course, most everything is push-button, and my current Cadillac doesn't physically lock the wheel.So was the movement away from a literal physical lock of the steering wheel back in the 80s driven solely by the transition to push-button start, or was there some other safety regulation that got rid of them, or just something else that a car manufacturer could omit for cost savings by running something else through software (I'm guessing this since the H/K issue is a thing).