QOTD: Putting a Price on Domestic Luxury?

qotd putting a price on domestic luxury

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]

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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.

  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.
  • MaintenanceCosts Chevy used to sell almost this exact color on the Sonic, Bolt, and Camaro, as "Shock." And I have a story about that.I bought my Bolt in 2019. Unsurprisingly the best deal came from the highest-volume Bolt dealer in my very EV-friendly area. They had huge inventory; I bought right when Chevy started offering major incentives, and the car had been priced too high to sell well until that point.Half the inventory had a nice mix of trims and colors, and I was able to find the exact dark-gray-on-white Premier I wanted. But the real mystery was the other half of the inventory. It was something like 40 cars, all Shock on black, split between LT and Premier. You could get an additional $2000 or so off the already low selling price if you bought one of them. (Neither my wife nor I thought the deal worth it.) The cars were real and in the flesh; a couple were out front, but behind the showroom, there was an entire row of them.When I took delivery, I asked the salesman how on earth they had ended up with so many. He told me in a low voice that a previous sales manager had screwed up order forms for a huge batch of cars that were supposed to be white, and that no one noticed until a couple transporters loaded with chartreuse Bolts actually showed up at the dealer. Long story short, there was no way to change the order. They eventually sold all the cars and you still see them more often than you'd expect in the area.
  • EAM3 Learned to drive in my parents' 1981 Maxima. Lovely car that seemed to do everything right. I can still hear the "Please turn off the lights" voice in my head since everyone wanted a demo of the newfangled talking car. A friend of the family had a manual transmission one and that thing was fun!
  • FreedMike That wagon is yummy.
  • Syke Thanks, somehow I missed that.