Why Your Car Brand Sucks/Rocks: Cadillac
This is “Why Your Car Sucks/Rocks,” a place where we examine the pros and cons of a particular automaker, with a dash of hyperbole in either direction. If you have reasons why a particular make and/or model sucks and/or rocks, please drop us a line. I’ll admit, sometimes I have a bit of an anti-GM streak in me. Maybe it’s from reading Bob Lutz’s tell-all about General Motors. Maybe it’s because so many of GM’s cars have been duds over the years. I think it stems from the fact that the American carmaker had become complacent with being the best in the world, and stopped trying. Even now, when it is building some of the most exciting cars on the planet, I am convinced that GM manages to accomplish this in spite of itself. At least finally things are looking up over at the General’s luxury division… Why Your Brand Sucks: Where do I start with Cadillac? Perhaps the massive fall from grace represented by the transition from the cars of the 50s and 60s to the general malaise the befell many automakers. The only difference is that there was no motivation to pick one’s self back up. GM knew it had a buying public locked in and just whored out its brand equity until there was nothing left.
What was once the elegant bravado of a boulevard cruiser like the Cadillac Eldorado, by the 1980s had become a neutered, overdone caricature of its former self. As with all American automakers, Cadillac struggled to get its brain around making a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle. We saw this through failed attempts such as the Allante, and the much-maligned Cimarron. Though Cadillac was able to resurrect it as the CTS, the Catera was also four doors of terrible. In one brand, Cadillac represents everything that is both right and wrong with American industry. Why Your Brand Rocks: Though its cars through three decades ranged from “meh” to awful, we give Cadillac a hard time because the brand fell from such great heights. While we may smirk when Cadillac calls itself the “Standard of the World” today, it truly was that for so long. Cadillac brought us the first car with an electric starter, electric lights and the first mass-produced car to feature a V8 engine. That last one was a bit of a big one, defining the American car market for the majority of the last century.
Cadillac owned American roads in the 1960’s, and the land barges were a status symbol. But today’s car market is all about “what have you done for me lately,” and lately, Cadillac has been on fire. The first step of this reinvention was the CTS, followed by the Corvette-powered CTS-V. The next phase is the ATS, which was just named North American Car of the Year. Many have argued that the ATS drives better than a BMW 3 Series. The magnetic ride control developed for the CTS-V and employed on the ATS has been borrowed by many others in the industry, including more than one Ferrari. Drives better than a 3 Series and uses tech that is borrowed BY rather than FROM Ferrari? Yeah, Cadillac is doing all right.