Posts from ‘Cadillac’
In the last five years, many cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans have come and gone in the U.S. retail landscape. Many made indelible impressions. Others slipped softly from our consciousness. It’s the latter that I wish to celebrate. Here are five vehicles from the last five years that you either forgot were sold in the U.S. or never knew existed.
2009-2011 BMW 335d
This entry from BMW kept its talents hidden very well. On the outside, it looked like any other 3-Series sedan. Under the hood, though, was a rocket ship waiting to be unleashed. The 335d employed a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder turbodiesel engine producing 265 horsepower and a massive 425 pound-feet of torque. For comparison, the V8 engine found in the BMW M3 manages “just” 295 pound-feet at a much higher engine speed, 3900 rpm versus the 335d’s comparatively paltry 1750. We put that power to good use during our test drives, yet the cars returned nearly 33 mpg. Though no hard data is available, it’s been said that BMW sold fewer than 2,000 of the 335d during its brief run. A diesel 3-Series will return to the U.S. for the 2014 model year: a 4-cylinder with a less-impressive, but still meaty, 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
Shortly after obtaining my driver’s license in the early 1970s, I rushed out and bought a ’64 Olds Cutlass coupe (for $50), at least in part so that I wouldn’t have to tool around in my Dad’s grandpa-green F85 sedan. Back then, driving a 4-door (or—heaven forbid—a station wagon) meant you were borrowing your parents’ car, and that was decidedly uncool. Absolutely no teenaged car guy I knew ever bought a 4-door with his own money.
Today, that’s no longer the case. Some of the hottest cars embraced by the younger generation are sedans (witness the Subaru WRX and Mitsu Evo), and there’s seemingly no stigma attached to having four convenient doors.
I’ve often wondered when that transformation took place. It was probably gradual, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it began with the BMW 530i introduced in 1975. In those dark and dismal days, this BMW made its mark by being a comparatively strong performer, and it quickly became the darling of the motoring mags. The fact that it was a sedan only added to its “Q-ship” mystique. And I begrudgingly had to admit that it was a pretty nice-looking car. At least for a (wince) 4-door.
Henry Ford once said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color he wants, so long as it is black.” For most of its production run, the Ford Model T was only available in black because black paint dried the fastest and it simplified production to have only one color. Today, BMW has broadened the choice of free colors to black and white on many of its models. If the customer wants something more colorful, that’s a $550 option. Jaguar’s new F-Type sports car has a standard black convertible top. A top of another color is a $600 option. British Racing Green paint, once the most popular choice for an English sports car, is now a $1,500 option on the F-Type.
For a price, cars offer a broad palette of paint colors, but interior choice is more limited. In the 1940s, most American cars offered a choice of tan or gray interiors. Kaiser-Fraser, the postwar challenger to Detroit, didn’t have the resources to develop a V8 engine, but they did shake up the industry by offering new fabrics in a wide choice of colors. Soon, Detroit was offering interiors in every color of the rainbow and a few that were unknown to nature. Today we have gone full circle, as most interiors are offered as just tan or gray.
Question: What’s 26 inches shorter and about 600 pounds lighter than Cadillac’s big sedan? If this were 1985, the answer would have been, “Cadillac’s other big sedan.”
It was in ’85 that Caddy fully committed to the torrent of downsizing that was sweeping through American-brand showrooms. By moving the DeVille and Fleetwood nameplates to a new, much tidier, front-drive platform, Cadillac tacitly acknowledged that the market had moved and it had to move with it.
Hedging its bets, Cadillac sold the old rear-drive sedan alongside the smaller car for a while, dubbing it Fleetwood Brougham. Brougham, in this case, was used is lieu of “large.”
As you see below, the new Caddy was no slouch. It “zipped” to 60 mph from a stop in 12.2 seconds according to our testing, a full 2.6 seconds quicker than a Brougham equipped with the same 4.1-liter “HT4100″ V8.
Perhaps more important from a marketing perspective was the real-world improvement in fuel economy. Consumer Guide testers squeezed just 14.8 mpg from the Brougham while eking out a more Reagan-era appropriate 16.7 mpg from the new, smaller car.
Cool is a pretty ambiguous word. While some folks might think it’s cool to visit Denny’s daily during that chain’s Baconalia promotion, others might reserve the term for activities more akin to successfully scaling Mount Everest without gloves, or being stuck in an elevator with the surviving members of The Bangles.
Here, we’re leaning more toward the Mount Everest/Bangles thing. We’re using cool in same sort of emotive, “heck yeah!” sort of way that an eighth-grader might after finding a copy of last year’s swimsuit issue hidden away in his dad’s sock drawer.
To that end, the 10 vehicles we present here are the current American-brand rides that have us screaming “heck yeah!” There’s nothing especially nationalistic about our list, as we intend to follow this missive up with similar posts featuring the coolest European and Asian vehicles. Got a car in mind you think we should have included? Let’s hear it.
Rather than hold individual launches for each of its divisions at the 2013 New York Auto Show, General Motors rolled them together into a 1-2 combo from Buick followed by an uppercut from Cadillac.
The oldest product in Buick’s lineup is the LaCrosse, which bowed in its current form for the 2010 model year. For 2014, GM is giving the car a substantial freshening. A new front fascia brings LaCrosse’s appearance up to date with more recent Buicks, including the compact Verano sedan and midsize Enclave SUV. Powertrains are unchanged and include GM’s eAssist gas/electric 4-cylinder and conventional 3.6-liter V6 engines, each mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Newly available safety features include lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert, and pre-collision braking. Most models will also include the latest generation of Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system. The 2014 Buick LaCrosse goes on sale this summer.
Similarly updated for 2014 is the smaller Buick Regal. Like its bigger brother, Regal gets Verano/Enclave-inspired styling cues. The eAssist 4-cylinder engine remains standard. Sporty versions, including the top-line Regal GS, get a new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 259 horsepower. From 2014 onward, the GS will be the only Regal model to offer a manual transmission. All others will come only with a 6-speed automatic. For the first time, Regal will be available with the choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
Cadillac today unveiled the redesigned 2014 CTS, a car it describes as “longer, lower, and leaner” than its predecessor. The previous-generation CTS is tinier than its German midsize competitors. But the 2014 version is 5 inches longer, allowing it to goes head-to-head with such stalwarts as the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The 2014 CTS adds a dose of excitement with the new Vsport model, which is powered by Cadillac’s new twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6, which GM says produces 420 horsepower. For more details, check out Consumer Guide Automotive’s detailed review of the 2014 Cadillac CTS.
Conceived by Edsel Ford and designed by E. T. “Bob” Gregorie, the first Lincoln Continental appeared in 1939. It was shown for the first time in West Palm Beach, Florida, where Edsel was vacationing. Though just a design curiosity in 1939, it must have shocked the auto industry when the production version appeared in 1940 as a convertible and a fixed-roof club coupe. It’s puzzling that other auto companies didn’t introduce a “Continental” of their own in 1941. However, if they had, they might have looked like the renderings pictured here.
Like the Lincoln Continental, all of these cars received extensive body alterations in my drawings, including:
- sectional body strips (2″-3″) of sheetmetal removed from the center of the body and cowl
- mildly chopped tops
- lengthened hoods
- lengthened frames ahead of the cowls
- reworked front and rear fenders
- reworked or restyled grilles
- new trunks to accommodate the exterior-mounted “continental” spare tires
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and few periods in American automotive history were more desperate than the late 1970s and early ’80s.
Arriving just in time for a double-dip recession and an unprecedented spike in gas prices was the General Motors LC4 V6, a spin-off of Buick’s already ubiquitous 3.8-liter V6.
By this time, American shoppers had largely acquiesced to the then-brutal realities of automotive downsizing and emissions-related under-hood power shortages. Yet, while most drivers were content to accept the V6 as the new-era V8, there were still cars that screamed for something more than standard-engine fare—something, well, bigger.
Enter the LC4. While the Buick-sourced LD5 3.8-liter V6 was already the standard engine in almost half of everything General Motors was building at the time, the 4.1-liter LC4 would be cast in the special role of standard engine in the maker’s more upscale vehicles.
As such, the bigger engine—made bigger by extending the stroke of the 3.8—found a position as the standard mill in such near-luxury and luxury rides as the Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile Toronado. At 125 horsepower, that 4.1 represented a decent step up from the 100 horses the 3.8 was cranking out in most applications.
Would they or wouldn’t they? That was the question regarding whether or not General Motors would give the green light to producing a car based on the seductive Cadillac Converj concept. As you can probably guess, that answer is a resounding “Yes.”
Enter the 2014 Cadillac ELR. The production-ready model you see here doesn’t actually look that much different than the Converj show car, which debuted at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. Even what’s under the sloping hood isn’t changed much.
Its underpinnings are basically those of a Chevrolet Volt. It has the same 1.4-liter 4-cylinder internal-combustion engine that serves as a generator for the 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Power gets to the ground via the Volt’s single-speed transmission. GM projects the ELR will offer 35 miles of all-electric driving range and more than 300 miles of total range when you factor in the gas engine. Owners can charge the battery from a standard household outlet or a 240-volt charging station. Using the latter, Cadillac claims a charging time of about 4.5 hours for a fully depleted battery. The included OnStar RemoteLink app for smartphones allows owners near-complete control over the charging process.