General Motors Company (formerly “Corporation”) today is a shadow of its former self. It sells fewer models through fewer brands since its bankruptcy in 2009. It is reconstructing itself and building itself into a competitive and profitable car company. That transformation appears to be going very well.
Over the years, however, General Motors has often tried to be a trailblazer (no pun intended) in new vehicle design and development. Many of these vehicles failed, but we believe GM deserves a tremendous amount of credit for trying where other companies did not have the creative thought or resources to make a “segment breaking” product. Here are some examples…
An annual pilgrimage for the auto industry is to attend the press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit each January. Unfortunately, this year I cannot attend because my physicians caution that I should not be heaving carry-ons into and out of overhead bins and baggage carousels.
So, I’m jealous.
One of the primary businesses of AutoPacific is to keep on top of what is the latest in the auto industry worldwide, so AutoPacific will still be well represented at Detroit.
I asked each of our staff members to remind me why I should or should not be jealous of them attending instead of me. Read below the break for their input.
AutoPacific, as a well-respected automotive research firm, uses the voice of real consumers like you, the VehicleVoice panel member, to help automakers make the best possible cars and trucks. The data that we collect also helps identify what vehicles are most satisfying to their owners, as well as being the closest to their owners’ ideals. Hence, each year we publish our annual list of AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) winners (most satisfying vehicles in their segments, as rated by owners) and AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) winners (closest to their owners’ ideals). These awards highlight what the best vehicles are doing right as reported by their owners, and can serve as a tool to you as the consumer in finding a vehicle that you will be extremely happy with for many years. Despite the vitriolic rants of the angry and ill-informed, we simply report on what you as the consumer tell us.
The Cadillac Escalade is the top ranked Premium SUV in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research. As the class winner, Escalade owners identify few things they would want changed. Even the most technology-laden vehicles still have their owners wanting more. About 30% of Escalade owners want more infotainment technology. They also want better interior storage and, believe it or not, more cargo space and passenger room. They most like its size, seat comfort and wheels. Escalade wins its class over second place Land Rover LR4.
At first glance, I’m one of those people whose lifestyle is what automotive marketers would deem perfect for a crossover SUV. I love outdoors activities and often carry a surfboard in my vehicle. And I have a baby. Thing is, I also want my vehicle to handle. I love attacking apexes. I like sitting low inside a vehicle and feeling connected to the road. In other words, I love to drive. That’s why I’m a wagon kind of a guy. SUVs will carry stuff, but they are rarely optimized for an engaging drive. Wagons are the perfect sort of vehicle for people who haul things and haul butt.
Ever since the Lexus RX300 first hit the streets thirteen (!) years ago, the sensibly-sized luxury crossover has been hugely desirable among the upwardly mobile. Over time, the segment has grown by leaps and bounds, not just in terms of sales but more recently in terms of the sheer number of players. Over the past couple years, the Europeans joined the fray with the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, and Volvo XC60. And last year, Cadillac ditched the slow-selling and somewhat cumbersome three-row SRX with the smaller and more pert SRX seen here. Wait a minute, don’t we Americans always want bigger? What’s the deal here?
We met up with the Cadillac CTS Coupe crew at Dogpatch Studios in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco. Grabbed a CTS Wagon and headed to the Carneros Inn in Napa Valley where we tag teamed with a CTS Coupe that was the feature of this drive evaluation. Cadillac lodged the media at the Bardessono
Hotel in Yountville. Environmentally pure, the Bardessono is an
experience in itself.
The CTS Coupe is the third of the three bodystyles Cadillac plans for
the CTS. The first was the sedan introduced in 2008 followed by the
European-inspired wagon in 2009 and now the Coupe in 2010.
Don Butler, Vice President of Cadillac Marketing took the gathered press through where Cadillac is and where Cadillac plans to be in the future. Bold, product-oriented positioning will have Cadillac going head-to-head against Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Lexus was added as an afterthought.
Cadillac had set up a flurry of identical specification CTS Coupes for this group of journalists and analysts to drive through the hills surrounding Napa Valley. Some of the most picturesque and challenging roads in the country put the CTS Coupes to the test.
Cadillac’s owners’ cumulative scores for each Cadillac model in AutoPacific’s 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction research have given Cadillac a win in the race to be best brand overall. Cadillac outpoints Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln and Buick (top Popular Brand). This is Cadillac’s seventh win in the past eleven years. Winning so often is testament that Cadillac is selling to buyers who really appreciate their vehicles.
The Cadillac Escalade Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle is the only Cadillac winning its class outright, but the CTS, the STS, the DTS and the SRX scored well enough to move Cadillac into overall leadership.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.