QOTD: Putting a Price on Domestic Luxury?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

I took a friend out for a spin last night, as there’s no Nor’easter action happening up here, strangely enough. This friend’s automotive tastes fall mainly on an area that’s rapidly fading from the automotive landscape: premium rear-drive sedans, personal luxury coupes, and brawny muscle cars. No crossovers, no SUVs, no roadsters. The Seventies, as he’s been known to say, may have been the last great decade. Mind you, he wasn’t talking about the economy.

Given that his top choices in domestics include the Cadillac CTS (the Dodge Challenger tops the list in the two-door category), I figured he wouldn’t turn down a quick jaunt in the CTS I’m driving right now. For some reason, there was a 3.6-liter, all-wheel-drive model in the local fleet. Out we went. Groceries were purchased, and the Caddy took the long, winding way home.

As a long-time fan of the CTS’ styling (the current model, while it lasts, remains a fantastic design, IMHO), my friend soon inquired as to its price. I ballparked it. “What? No, sorry,” was the reply. “For that money I’m going German.”

It seems that, while a fan of the Caddy’s sharp edges, robust V6, and long-hooded RWD proportions, my friend isn’t willing to fork over 57,190+ hypothetical dollars for the chance to add one to his driveway. Nor is there any inkling to rise above a certain price point in order to take home a Challenger SRT Hellcat. An R/T, sure, but not a Dodge with a price tag starting north of $65k.

“What would it take to get you into a CTS?” I asked.

“Well, it would be used, and I wouldn’t go above $30k,” he said.

As much as he liked the Caddy’s traditional lines, in his view, serious money calls for a universally respected badge. Meaning BMW or Mercedes-Benz. Heading past $40k, it’s Deutschland or bust, apparently. A 4 Series coupe or maybe a slightly used 5 Series would take this friend’s premium dollars, but what about you, B&B? Do you harbor a similar sentiment towards high-end domestics?

For some, the Chevrolet Corvette might be the sole exception; in other cases, a sky-high horsepower figure might top all other motivators. But there’s a whole range of Detroit iron that falls outside this narrow swath of the automotive world. What’s your price ceiling on locally grown automobiles, and why?

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Mar 22, 2018

    The problem isn't the price. It's that for the price, the American makes can't quite seem to sweat the little details. So they come off as "cheap". Plus they are saddled with decades of baggage. I actually like the way Cadillacs look, and I like the way the ATS and CTS drive, but the interiors are disappointing and CUE is a disaster. And I shudder to think what the typical dealer experience is like. They also don't make either of my preferred body styles. So why would I even consider paying the asking prices for them? Lincolns are even worse, as to me they simply come off as tarted-up Fords. Completely pointless.

    • LS1Fan LS1Fan on Mar 22, 2018

      It is my observation ordinary people (meaning non enthusiasts) don’t car shop with the same priorities in mind we do. Normal people might do some independent research,but the starting point will be which cars their peer group already has,especially their coworkers. If an office is staffed full of people with German luxury cars,odds are the next new car in the lot will have a similar badge. So it goes if the office team primarily drives domestic trucks, or foreign wagons and so forth. To a car enthusiast buying a 330i because their boss did sounds pretty silly- but for a normal person ,spending tens of thousands of dollars on a car is a daunting decision, so owning something already vetted by the peer group is a good way to make sure they buy The Right Car.If half the corporate managers on staff own Acme 550s, you can’t go wrong buying one too.

  • Orange260z Orange260z on Mar 23, 2018

    I drive a 2016 CTS 3.6 AWD Luxury that I bought new in June 2016. With a sticker price of about CAD63K, I bought the car for about CAD53K with 0.9% financing for up to 72 months. Didn't need to finance, but with the subsidized rate took the cash and invested it instead. Compared to a market rate, that 0.9% was worth at least $7-8K making the total discount a minimum of $17K or a whopping 27%. Although the CTS has BRUTAL depreciation, this is par for the course for any luxury car. According to most of "the lists", the Cadillac ATS and CTS are in the top 5 for depreciation, mixed in with the MB E-Class and C-Class; BMW 5 (and surprisingly, 3-series); Audi A6, and every other luxury car. If these lists are based on depreciation relative to MSRP, I would suggest that the Caddys are actually doing better than the Germans due to the Cadillac actual new transaction prices being significantly below MSRP. Although it's not perfect (none of these cars are), the CTS is a pleasure to drive every day whether I'm relaxing or driving the car in a sporting manner. Yes, the interior is not up to Audi standards; but neither is BMW. I still find the exterior look stunning. CUE is actually pretty decent, and is no worse than iDrive or MMI (I don't have experience with COMAND so I can't comment). The AWD system is terrific and handles winter with ease (on winter tires, of course). So far the build quality is pretty good, and my panel gaps and assembly are no better or worse than BMW, although not up to Lexus standards. I don't know that any of these cars are cheap to own or terribly reliable post warranty - for longevity I would go with Lexus. The dealer experience at the two Cadillac/GM dealers I've dealt with has been as good or better than service experiences at BMW and Audi dealers. I think that there is lots of room to improve the Cadillac experience to be on par with Lexus, but I would suggest that at my dealer at least they try hard, which I can't say for the German dealers in my area. I do have to note that my Porsche dealer, who has recently spun off their Audi business, is trying hard to improve the experience at their dealership that for many years was sorely lacking. They are the first and only German car dealership in my city to provide a decent experience. If I had to do it again today, I would probably still buy the same car.

  • VoGhost Love this collective clutching of pearls over a vehicle name not a single commenter will ever see, drive or buy.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Here's why" edition_cnn_com/2018/06/13/health/falling-iq-scores-study-intl/index.html
  • 28-Cars-Later Seriously, $85. GM Delta I is burning hot garbage to the point where the 1990 Saturn Z-body is leagues better. My mother inherited an '07 Ion with 30Kish otc which was destroyed in 2014 by a tipsy driver with a suspended license (driver's license enforcement is a joke in Pennsyltucky). Insurance paid out $6,400 when it was only worth about $5,800 IIRC, but sure 10 year later the "hipo" Delta I can fetch how much?
  • Buickman styling does not overcome powertrain, follow the money. labor/materials.
  • VoGhost It's funny, until CDK raises their prices to cover the cost. And then the stealerships do even more stealing because they're certainly not taking the hit - why do you think they make all those political donations? So who pays in the end?