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Restoring the lustre of an American auto icon
By JEREMY CATO

Once the icon of American automotive luxury, style and performance, Cadillac had fallen on hard times by the late 1990s.

In 1998, Cadillac was displaced as the top-selling luxury car brand in North America after leading the segment since 1950.

As recently as the fall of 2001, Bob Lutz, vice-chairman of Cadillac's parent company, General Motors, was bluntly saying, "If you look at [Cadillac] buyers today, they're falling off the end of the demographic table."

To reverse the sales slide and attract younger buyers, Cadillac has launched three striking new models in the last 18 months: The CTS, SRX and XLR. There has also been the CTS-V higher-performance sedan and a new Canadian-built, V-6 engine for the CTS, as well.

And coming this fall is the replacement for the discontinued Seville, the STS. Cadillac, it seems, is no longer stumbling.

But stumble is the perfect word to describe what it did from the early 1980s into the late '90s:

The 1982 Cadillac Cimarron was a rebadged Chevrolet Cavalier economy car; the convertible Allante, offered from 1987-93, was plagued by quality woes; the 1992 Seville was a large front-wheel-drive sedan competing against sexier rear-drive sedans; and the 1997 Catera lacked the style, performance and road manners to be a legitimate rival to the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

By late 1997, GM design chief Wayne Cherry and then-Cadillac general manager John Smith took a bold step. They chose to have Cadillac reclaim its reputation for avant-garde styling and combine it with the latest technology. Today, Cadillac uses the tagline "Art & Science" to describe its new products.

With that vision in place, GM set about loading up the product pipeline. The hard work and bold steps appear to be paying off. Last year, Cadillac sold more than 200,000 vehicles in North America, the division's best performance in years and a long way from the 170,000 or so sold in 1996.

For 2004, sales are tracking even better. Cadillac still has a long way to go before it matches its record sales of 350,813 in 1978, but overall the division is healthy and heading in the right direction.

"This is a product-driven renaissance," Cadillac general manager Mark LaNeve said at this year's New York Auto Show. "We made a big bet with a new design and that our engineers could deliver world-class vehicles. That's starting to pay off for us, but we fully realize we have a lot to do. We must execute the plan over time and with the next generation of vehicles."

Cadillac's next challenge is to launch an all-new 2005 STS high-performance luxury sedan this fall. That will be followed early next year by an updated version of its best-selling car, the DeVille.

more...
 

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To reverse the sales slide and attract younger buyers, Cadillac has launched three striking new models in the last 18 months: The CTS, SRX and XLR. There has also been the CTS-V higher-performance sedan and a new Canadian-built, V-6 engine for the CTS, as well.

from what i've seen, all that's attracting the younger crowd is the CTS (V included) and the Escalade. the SRX and especially the XLR has been older people. maybe that will change, but at 75k+ for an XLR, i don't think it will. i don't think younger people are ready to put that kind of jack down on a Cadillac quite yet.

And to answer the question
Really, is there anyone left in the world who doubts that Cadillac is back?
yes, there is. ME. they're on the way, but this time the hill is harder to climb, and they're not at the top yet.
 

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It amazes me that the lessons learned at Cadillac have not spread consistently through GM's other divisions. I can think of several divisions - Buick and Saturn come to mind - that have failed to translate Cadillac's renaissance recipe: ground-up new vehicles, a focus on quality/reliability, attention to sales satisfaction, a more focused brand image, and an appropriate expansion of their current vehicle lines. Of course, this takes cash, which seems to be in decreasing amounts at the General these days. But it seems that Cadillac has found its way.

I'm glad to hear that Mark LaNeve is aware of the mountains of work GM has left to do with Cadillac. I find GM to be notoriously myopic when it comes to its successes.
 

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What's interesting is that the decision to fix Cadillac was made in late 1997. You can see how many years it's taken for this to bear fruit. I imagine that's what is going on with the other GM divisions. It's just a matter of time.
 

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Originally posted by SUPERBADD75@Jun 24 2004, 08:38 PM
And to answer the question
Really, is there anyone left in the world who doubts that Cadillac is back?
yes, there is. ME. they're on the way, but this time the hill is harder to climb, and they're not at the top yet.
Right on cue!

I had a feeling that either laserwizard or you would answer in the affirmative... :D
 
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tgagneguam - that is changing. Have you seen the photos of the Buick Velite.

There is still a 'perception' thing however. I still see Infiniti, Lexus and Acura owners looking down their noses when behind a 'next gen' Cadillac at a stop light. Motor Week had the XLR in the Top 5 competing with the best of the European sedans.

Interior trim on the SRX is just as inviting as that in the MDX.
 

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I alo believe that the reason other divisions will take longer to re-shape is because the styling risks taken by Caddy cannot realistically be undertaken by Buick and Chevy. Another thing is that way back in 1997 John Smith had to go upagainst alot of people to get even a little support for Cadillac and I don't thins that it will be any easier for the other divisions. (basically what I mean is that even with John Smith and a few others it took them 6 years to *START* getting caddy back on track and it is still not complete) soI imagine it would take longer for other divisions. Also keep in mind that SIMGA is caddy exclusive and I don't think any division can boast that kind of power... also remember they managed to take the LS6 engine which was not shared with anyone and use it as they saw fit... something I don't think Buick can do...
 

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Originally posted by SUPERBADD75@Jun 24 2004, 08:38 PM
To reverse the sales slide and attract younger buyers, Cadillac has launched three striking new models in the last 18 months: The CTS, SRX and XLR. There has also been the CTS-V higher-performance sedan and a new Canadian-built, V-6 engine for the CTS, as well.

from what i've seen, all that's attracting the younger crowd is the CTS (V included) and the Escalade. the SRX and especially the XLR has been older people. maybe that will change, but at 75k+ for an XLR, i don't think it will. i don't think younger people are ready to put that kind of jack down on a Cadillac quite yet.

And to answer the question
Really, is there anyone left in the world who doubts that Cadillac is back?
yes, there is. ME. they're on the way, but this time the hill is harder to climb, and they're not at the top yet.
:angry: Remind me again why you joined a GM carsite? Because it seems alot of your responses to post are negative about GM product. You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but just about everything you respond to is negative.
 

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Keep in mind folks. The average amount of time it takes to get a new car from first development to the road is around 5 years. If they started in '97 with a clean slate, then not seeing any progress until 2002 is to be expected.

I think Caddy has made a LOT of progress since the 80s. They still however have a LONG way to go. A new STS and DTS will help them out big-time.

Also, I don't see the XLR attracting young buyers. Young lookers, but not young buyers. At 75,000 bucks, most younger people cannot afford it. (Pretty much the only people who can are executives, rappers and pro athletes)
 

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Did I miss the restoration of an American Auto Icon?

The styling of Cadillac is horrendous inside and out. One can call it distinctive, but Cadillac is to cars what Rap is to music. It may be 'different', but it isn't good. Exteriorwise, the edge look is now doing to Cadillac what the cutoff roofline did for them....reduce the entire product line into looking like the other. Quite frankly the edge look is awful on the SRX and that Corvette thang. It doesn't translate well into the STS as it looks like a softened CTS but that isn't a compliment.--just a half-butted attempt at correcting an obvious weakness. The interiors in all Caddy's still are stricken with the GM cheap as hell approach. Nothing about them reeks quality.

I contrast this overall impression of Cadillac with DCX's 300C. It looks more expensive than it is, it performs, and it doesn't try to look all weird just for the heck of it. It is distinctively Chrysler without being derivative of the past or annoyingly different from it. The interior is as good if not better than the Caddy's (quite a statement since it costs tens of thousands of less than some of those Caddy's).

I wouldn't be crowing about the limited sales success at Caddy. They've been moribund for years so reading success from the blips only means that they've managed to cover great chassis and engines with ugly sheetmetal that enthusiasts overlook, not adore.

No restoration yet. Not by a long shot.
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@Jun 24 2004, 09:52 PM
The styling of Cadillac is horrendous inside and out... It may be 'different', but it isn't good... Quite frankly the edge look is awful on the SRX and that Corvette thang. It doesn't translate well into the STS as it looks like a softened CTS but that isn't a compliment.--just a half-butted attempt at correcting an obvious weakness. The interiors in all Caddy's still are stricken with the GM cheap as hell approach. Nothing about them reeks quality...

No restoration yet. Not by a long shot.
I've read your comments for some time, and I have to admit I'm a bit perplexed by your acrimony. I can surely understand your criticism of GM's many debacles. Hmmm, where does one begin? Half-hearted interiors? The CSV's? The LaCrosse? Aztek? Lack of real hybrids? Killing Olds but keeping Saturn?

But it seems that as much as some GMinsidenews members blindly accept anything GM does, it seems that you (and a few others) have gone to the other extreme: you seem to dismiss anything GM does. I actually agree with some of your critiques, but sometimes the incessant derisive comments make your messages less convincing.

I can only guess why this is. Have you been burnt by GM in some way (disgruntled employee/customer)?

I ask only because it would put your comments into perspective. I also ask this knowing that I, too, may be the target of your scorn! :D Then again, I have pretty thick skin and can take it...
 

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Originally posted by coolcaddy@Jun 24 2004, 12:55 PM
Restoring the lustre of an American auto icon
By JEREMY CATO

Cadillac's next challenge is to launch an all-new 2005 STS high-performance luxury sedan this fall. That will be followed early next year by an updated version of its best-selling car, the DeVille.

more...
Ok, who are you and what have you done with Jeremy Cato? He hates GM.
 

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Remind me again why you joined a GM carsite? Because it seems alot of your responses to post are negative about GM product. You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but just about everything you respond to is negative.
sir, i have said this before, and i'll say it again. i don't HATE GM products, i just realize that they aren't the greatest thing since sliced bread. an objective opinion doesn't mean that i hate the General. example: Hummer is the best thing GM's done in decades, and i have yet to see a Hummer product that i said sucks. i didn't even say in this thread that Cadillac sucks, i merely said that they're not at the top of the heap yet. is their entire product portfolio better than, say, Lincoln. yes. Lincoln only has the Nav as their strong suit, everything else is dated and they need help soon. is Cad better than Lexus? not a chance. that's what i mean. there is a long way to go before Cadillac is considered the "world standard" as they once were. they have a good thing going right now, but before they overtake all of the other luxury marques, they've got a lot of renaissance left. i do not see GM through rose colored glasses, i see it from a reality standpoint. don't confuse that as hatred for them, see it as good constructive criticism. :plasma:
 

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I for one am glad Cadillac is making a comeback. It took some time for me to wram up to the origami-like styling, but having attending GM Auto Show in Motion earlier this year, I was really impressed with the CTS and Deville. The XLR, SRX and STS weren't available for a test drive. Overall, I really like the fact that Cadillac was bold and stuck their neck out and got past the conservative design barrier. Well done, Cadillac! If only I could afford one. That's too bad, as no Chevy, Buick, Saturn or Pontiac (except for the upcoming G6) even PIQUE my interest.
 

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If i had 40k to spend i get me a Saab 9-3 vert in that hot barf color, or the caddy V. And I thought the STS was supposed to be arriving in June!? Its not here yet! Does anyone have any updates?
 

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Hey it could be worse...

Caddy at least made some improvements, and like all edgy styling it's a love it or hate it affair. I personally like more classic lines but I can respect the cadillac product for trying somthing diffrent and attracting a customer base whom never before considered cadillac.

Mechanally they have some very formitable products, northstar and some new RWD applications are nice additions.

when I say it could be worse. look at what is happening to BMW. A companay that had the world in the palm of it's hands investing too much into it's stylists. mabye more people will warm up to the asymetric styles and "flame surfacing" designs. the I-drive is lambasted universally yet many new models are recieving a version of it.

This companay made it's mark by providing "the ultimate driving machine" everyday performance cars. the larger and luxury product got a boost in the go-go 80's but still the 3 series an affordable sporty car was the bread and butter. the 3 has lost it's way by getting more expensive, bigger and heavier.

where am I going with this... well with products like the CTS these entry level sports touring cars are taking a huge bite out of BMW's bread and butter. if Chris Bangle designes a "flame surfaced" 3 series to replace the aging E46 it's all over. I only say this because I'm a believer in both BMW and cadillac (owned a few of both) and I would be pre ordering a 1 series hatchback if I could just get used to the styling, I can't... yet at least.

TK
 

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You guys have to remember re: styling that you want to have a polarizing effect to be successfull. If you try to do what GM has tried to do in the past, namely make everybody happy, you'll fail to make anyone passionate. By having a style for a vehicle that's polarizing, you get people to either love your cars or hate them. And the ones that love them become loyal. What Bangle did was have a totally unique effect: everyone hates the styling. That's just plain bad. If it wasn't a BMW they'd not be selling very many. A friend of mine with a 745 has told me that "at least when you're driving it you don't have to look at it." 'nuf said.

I'm a case in point. I hate the design of most cars. I find them boring and derivative. When I went looking for a car last year I was in a funk. I disliked nearly everything I saw that was in my price range ($35-40k Canadian). My wife asked me if there was any car I truly liked. And, yes, there was one: the CTS.

Now, historically, I've found Cadillac's to be boring. I grew up in the 60s and 70s and watched Cadillac go from cool style to just land yachts and barges. Boring. The cars didn't appeal to me.

Cars that did appeal to me driver-wise were BMWs, but I hate the styling. Again, boring and bland -- and their quality is questionable (familly members have them, and they aren't that well put together). Mercedes, too stoic. Japanese cars? Lexus? Old man's car. Infiniti, questionable quality and a style that wears thin -- well, at least with me. Acura? Not a true luxury brand, no rear wheel drive, for example; plus, the styling is atrocious. Lincoln? Nope, too stodgy.

So, there I was. Nothing "reasonably" priced, by my definition, worked. But a $60k Canadian car did do the trick for me (yeah, it's fully loaded, I always buy fully loaded). So, there I was at 41 buying my first Cadillac. A total surprise to me and my friends. And you know what? The styling has grown on me. I loved it from the moment I saw it but I worried it wouldn't age well. Now I think it will and that it is a classic style. I think the interior is a bit too Teutonic, but it works and is well put together. Construction-wise there are no rattles, shimmies, etc. It's beautiful.

So am I happy? Yes and no. I have a beautiful car that works like a charm. I'm putting 2000 kms a month on it and it gets great mileage (30mpg on the highway). It's comfortable and plenty fast (I have the 3.6). Why aren't I happy? Well, my wife needs a new car in a year or two and there's nothing out there -- again. She hates all of them, except the CTS. The SRX she finds too big, for example. She doesn't want two of the same car. She's had bad experiences with Japanese cars, and finds their styling boring. She wants style with power (hopefully). Our only hope? The Velite which she loves, or the Solstice. Both GM cars. She's amazed, but there you go. And, of course, the new Mustang. She just loves that! Can't say I blame her.

In short, you can't please everyone and shouldn't. I think GM is going the right way if they keep to polarizing styling and build cars as well as the CTS and its kin are built. It'll pull in others. I know it has in our neighbourhood.
 

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Originally posted by ebacic@Jun 25 2004, 01:58 AM
So am I happy? Yes and no. I have a beautiful car that works like a charm. I'm putting 2000 kms a month on it and it gets great mileage (30mpg on the highway). It's comfortable and plenty fast (I have the 3.6). Why aren't I happy? Well, my wife needs a new car in a year or two and there's nothing out there --
You said the SRX is too big so how about the Saab 9-2X? or Lexu- nvrm mind lol ud be waiting too long for that one.
 

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when I say it could be worse. look at what is happening to BMW. A companay that had the world in the palm of it's hands investing too much into it's stylists. mabye more people will warm up to the asymetric styles and "flame surfacing" designs. the I-drive is lambasted universally yet many new models are recieving a version of it.

This companay made it's mark by providing "the ultimate driving machine" everyday performance cars. the larger and luxury product got a boost in the go-go 80's but still the 3 series an affordable sporty car was the bread and butter. the 3 has lost it's way by getting more expensive, bigger and heavier.
BMW is still the ultimate driving machine. the looks have not affected the performance of their machines. as far as iDrive goes, it's a concept that is being copied by others, too. the new A8 has something very similar. BMW has not lost sales to their new styling. in fact, the 745 seems to be doing quite well. some people want avant garde styling, and the Bimmer has it in spades.

Cadillac's styling on the outside isn't the issue with their cars. it's the inside. not quite as opulent as others in their respective classes. in time, i'm sure they will improve, but for now their strong suit is value, not ultimate luxury or "ultimate driving".
 
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