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Lexus vs. Cadillac showdown



FORTUNE Small Business) -- Carey Fiertz of Export Risk Management owns two BMWs and says he couldn't see himself in a Cadillac dealership "in a million years." But as Cadillac tries to hoist itself up to the level of BMW, Daimler (DAI)'s Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota' (TM)s Lexus, this successful entrepreneur represents the very demographic that it yearns to seduce.
I recently brought Fiertz the new Cadillac CTS sports sedan for a test drive. To give him a benchmark for his evaluation, I also arranged to borrow one of the CTS's top competitors, the Lexus IS 350. The big question: Would either tempt him to give up his BMW 325i convertible?
The edgily designed CTS was a sensation when it arrived in 2003. After years of essentially the same look, the 2008 version marks a big leap forward. Even more extroverted, its two additional inches of width enhance both appearance and comfort. The base engine has been upgraded to the 3.6-liter V-6, which cranks out 304 horsepower, and a new air duct has been added below the bumper to give the front end a more aggressive style.

On the inside, the rich woodgrain and warm brushed-aluminum finish of the controls feel more luxurious and are easier on the eyes - addressing a common complaint about the previous model. As a longtime GM (GM, Fortune 500) watcher, I'm encouraged that the General is paying more attention to its customers.

The Lexus IS 350 is the CTS's Japanese counterpart. The 2008 version features the same design as the 2007, except for some small upgrades, such as backlit outside mirrors and illuminated scuff plates. In any case, compared with the Cadillac, it's subtle and understated, with a smaller, less prominent grille and a minimum of chrome. It measures nearly a foot shorter, two inches narrower, and weighs several hundred pounds less.
Its interior is slightly cramped, but it makes up for that with exceptional agility and reflexes. The 306-horsepower engine propels the Lexus to 60 miles an hour in 5.6 seconds, a smidge faster than the Cadillac's 5.9 seconds. The immediate response of the accelerator makes it feel faster too. Unlike past Lexus models I've driven, which insulate the driver from the road, the IS responded well to the steering and planted to the pavement.

Our test car, with its keyless ignition and moon roof, carried a sticker price of $43,857. (Because a 2008 model wasn't available, we tested the mechanically identical 2007 version. A 400-horsepower version, the IS-F, arrived at dealerships last month.)

While driving each car over the twisty, hilly two-lane back roads of northwestern Connecticut, Fiertz brought me up to date on his business. A Dartmouth graduate, he worked in the insurance industry for more than a decade before founding his company in 1993. From his base in Salisbury, Conn., he provides financial training and insurance for companies doing business overseas. Clients range from small businesses to corporations, including financial institutions.

Fiertz, 50, learned to drive in Switzerland and still gets a kick out of navigating winding mountain roads. But he found the Caddy challenged even by the hills of the lower Berkshires. He complained that the thick windshield pillars blocked his vision, and added, "I need to feel the road more, and I want to maneuver quickly if necessary."

He found the highway performance equally unsatisfying, saying, "I'm not sure I would like the CTS on lengthy forays." Both his BMWs, a convertible and a sport-activity vehicle, excel at long distances.

I was more willing to trade the Cadillac's somewhat imprecise handling for its more cushioned ride. Also, the sticker price of $37,840 made it a relative bargain. But I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be with the CTS's look-at-me styling.

After test-driving the Lexus, we were both gushing.

"I really like it," said Fiertz. "It is built for the kind of driving I have to do. It has great handling, power when I need it, and responsive brakes."
As a certified ski instructor, he also liked the trunk pass-through for his skis. The only drawback: He worried about the absence of a nearby dealer (the closest is an hour and a half away).

I liked the feeling of confidence I got driving a car that exudes competence. Every switch, dial, and pedal provided appropriate feedback when I engaged it, and the car performed accordingly. My only complaint is that it lacks personality. There is nothing in the look, feel, or sound that engages your emotions. The Lexus never offends but never warms your heart either. The Cadillac sometimes tries too hard to be liked.

By the time we'd finished our day of driving, Fiertz said he'd definitely consider the Lexus as a replacement for his BMW 325i. "I immediately felt at home in that car even before I pressed the ignition button. It felt just right."

http://money.cnn.com/2008/03/05/smbusiness/sports_sedan_showdown.fsb/index.htm?source=yahoo_quote
 

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Bias, nothing but pure bias....



The problem was the Cadillac badge on the front of the car. They should have told him the Cadillac was imported.

A the I series Lexus are pretty cheap, I looked inside one recently and it has a bunch of the blank "what option is missing here?" plugs all over the dash.


Also, a 325i? convertible? What is it like a 1989? Darn, I guess Cadillac will lose out on the "snobs who like to pretend their rich and drive 18 year old daddys little girl convertibles" market
 

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I was about to say the same thing. And there is no way in the world that a car that's a size up is going to feel as nimble as an Is or 3 series.
the CTS competes price wise with the IS but size wise with the GS, if you are in the market for a GS then the CTS would be the no brainer choice over it.

Just from the start of this comparo really sets the stage for the rest of the comparo, you cant go into such a comparo with your mind already made up and still have a valid comparo on your hand.
 

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THE HELL IT IS!!!
It's the GS350!!!!!!!!!!!!
IS350 and CTS compete on price so reviewers and shoppers will compare them notwithstanding the size differences. Not necessarily fair, but that's the way it is. The CTS sits awkwardly in the market right now.

Having said that, this article is a joke. The current-gen IS series has been consistently criticized for numb steering and lack of driver involvement. This is the first time I have heard anyone mention it as a serious competitor the 3-series in terms of the driving experience.
 

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IS350 and CTS compete on price so reviewers and shoppers will compare them notwithstanding the size differences. Not necessarily fair, but that's the way it is. The CTS sits awkwardly in the market right now.

Having said that, this article is a joke. The current-gen IS series has been consistently criticized for numb steering and lack of driver involvement. This is the first time I have heard anyone mention it as a serious competitor the 3-series in terms of the driving experience.
Just because Cadillac chose to sell the CTS on the cheap, doesn't make it less of a competitor to the GS.
CTS is sized to compete with the GS. So it competes with the GS.

CTS simply cannot compete with the 3-series or the IS because simply, they are far smaller and lighter with the same power and therefore will perform far better.

The moment Cadillac realizes that CTS really is a 5-series and a GS competitor, the better Cadillac will be. And that will be in about 2 years or so.

So until then, I will have to go with CTS being the performance underdog compared to the IS and 3 because of its size and weight.

Yes, IS is a bit of a snoozer. But it is nimble. I haven't driven IS and CTS back to back, so comparisons are difficult. IS is more cramped, but hey... it's smaller!

Because Cadillac would have won the CTS/GS/5 Series comparison.
I think it would have come in smack in the middle. 1) 5, 2) CTS, 3) GS.
5-series is really good and more solid to drive than CTS.
GS drives like a Playstation controller. It's numb and I hate that feeling in a supposed sports sedan.
 

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Whenever I see these CTS/3/G/C/A4/IS comparisons, it always strikes me as interesting when reviewers fault the CTS for not being as nimble but never fault the 3 for being so crampt.

I'm just sayin...
 

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the cadillac is too stylish for his personality, he couldnt wear a rolex either...
 

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Comparisons need to get this straight:

CTS = NOT A 3-SERIES FIGHTER.
CTS = NOT AN IS FIGHTER.
CTS = NOT A C-CLASS FIGHTER.

The CTS was designed to compete with the 5-series, GS, and E-Class.
 

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What, then is Cadillac's competitor for the 550i, or GS460?


There's a name for a large luxury vehicle $10000 cheaper than it's competitors.

Buick.



Cadillac is in no position to create new market niches. The CTS has the ability to compete at the 5/E/GS level, but it must be up-contented to do so. And it must offer a V8 of at least 340 hp.



What this confusion really shows is lack of long-term planning. After almost fifteen years of positioning the Seville as the competitor to the E-class, Cadillac replaced it with the much improved STS. Yet when the STS was quickly outclassed, they didn't improve it, but rather had the new CTS encroach on it. Now they have both competing with each other, and nothing competing with the 3/C/IS or the 7/S/LS.



If Cadillac was planning on having the CTS compete in the mid-size, rather than compact luxury class, why did they design the STS only five years ago?


To achieve brand-equity, name plates must represent something solid. And planning and product strategies must be thought of in decades, not months.
 

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What, then is Cadillac's competitor for the 550i, or GS460?
When it gets a V8.... then yes, CTS will be. But until then, it only competes with 528 and 535 and GS350.

There's a name for a large luxury vehicle $10000 cheaper than it's competitors. Buick.
Buick would get eaten alive by BMW and Mercedes and Lexus.

Cadillac is in no position to create new market niches. The CTS has the ability to compete at the 5/E/GS level, but it must be up-contented to do so. And it must offer a V8 of at least 340 hp.
Correct.

What this confusion really shows is lack of long-term planning. After almost fifteen years of positioning the Seville as the competitor to the E-class, Cadillac replaced it with the much improved STS. Yet when the STS was quickly outclassed, they didn't improve it, but rather had the new CTS encroach on it. Now they have both competing with each other, and nothing competing with the 3/C/IS or the 7/S/LS.
CORRECT ON ALL COUNTS!!!!!!!

If Cadillac was planning on having the CTS compete in the mid-size, rather than compact luxury class, why did they design the STS only five years ago?
CTS was originally supposed to have shrunk 3 inches. At least, that's what the rumors said. It would have made more sense, and that would have put CTS in the 3-series/G35 segment, though a bit on the larger side still. Instead, it went a few inches in the other direction, making it identical in size to the 5-series.

To achieve brand-equity, name plates must represent something solid. And planning and product strategies must be thought of in decades, not months.
Yup! :yup:
 

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This is another article of questionable quality from Fortune Magazine. Obviously, the man is biased, “couldn’t see himself in a Cadillac dealership in a million years.” Carey Fiertz comes across as someone who is biased, does not really know much about cars, and is snobbish. Fortune selecting Mr. Fiertz seems like an odd choice. Also, the comparison was a mismatch, the CTS is a larger car than the IS.
 

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What, then is Cadillac's competitor for the 550i, or GS460?


There's a name for a large luxury vehicle $10000 cheaper than it's competitors.

Buick.



Cadillac is in no position to create new market niches. The CTS has the ability to compete at the 5/E/GS level, but it must be up-contented to do so. And it must offer a V8 of at least 340 hp.



What this confusion really shows is lack of long-term planning. After almost fifteen years of positioning the Seville as the competitor to the E-class, Cadillac replaced it with the much improved STS. Yet when the STS was quickly outclassed, they didn't improve it, but rather had the new CTS encroach on it. Now they have both competing with each other, and nothing competing with the 3/C/IS or the 7/S/LS.



If Cadillac was planning on having the CTS compete in the mid-size, rather than compact luxury class, why did they design the STS only five years ago?


To achieve brand-equity, name plates must represent something solid. And planning and product strategies must be thought of in decades, not months.
The CTS has a longer wheelbase than the GS and the same wheelbase as a 5 series.

The CTS has more horsepower than a GS350 or a 535i.

There is no confusion (other than in your mind) that the CTS does not compete against the IS and 3 series.
 
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