The death watch for GM is over: the ’08 Cadillac CTS is a used Buick

rusted buick -- like the rest of GM -- just rotting away

There’s a very entertaining series on one of my favorites blogs, TTAC, entitled “General Motors death watch“. I am sure they are much hated at GM, but, frankly, I think the bloggers there have been evenhanded. GM has been a mess so long, I can now officially be excused for buying a new, manual three-speed Chevy Vega in 1973. (I paid $2300 for it, courtesy of Nixon-era price controls.) Still, I think TTAC has been waiting for rigor mortis so long, it can’t see that GM is already a carcass.

Lately, the auto press has been falling all over itself to praise GM’s new cars, especially the interior fit and finish of models like the Enclave and the CTS. Interior fit and finish is especially important to me because, after all, you sit in the thing for three to five years and every flaw eventually becomes something you stare at and wonder, “How could they let that out of the factory?”

I checked out an Enclave in the showroom; the panels in the exact center of the dash under the analog clock were misaligned. I didn’t bother to test drive it, knowing that misaligned panel would drive me crazy. Now, I’ve taken to peeking through the windows of parked Enclaves to see if it was just a sample defect. Nope. They’re all like that.

This week, curiosity got the better of me and I test drove a $50K ’08 Cadillac CTS with four-wheel drive and the direct-injection engine. The showroom unit had a terribly misaligned panel where the front passenger’s knee rests against the transmission tunnel. Defect just on that one? Guess again. A different unit, the one I drove, had the same problem. Now I have another GM model to stare at in parking lots. The fit and finish in that car was no better than an 80’s Corsica, despite all the press fawning over stitched leather and the stupid Viagra-enhanced navigation screen. (The latter gives itself an erection every time you push a button on the dash. Reminds me of one of those pump-kits that promise…uh…lengthening).

I have no freakin’ idea at all what these press guys are smoking. If an average car nut like me can see this stuff in seconds, why don’t they?

Still, the promises of resurrection from GM management continue. Yesterday, GM told analysts it’s going to be profitable in a couple of years. That reminds me of the kind of wishful talk that accompanied Roger Smith’s attempt to “take on the Japanese” in the 90’s. At the end all he could offer was a “a used Buick.”





4 responses to “The death watch for GM is over: the ’08 Cadillac CTS is a used Buick”

  1. Alex Neihaus Avatar
    Alex Neihaus

    Exactly! I think in NA GM still thinks luxury buyers have never seen an Audi, MB or BMW interior. Or, worse, that buyers have never been to Europe and driven an Opel. Even the interiors in the Saturns that are based on Opels but built here are crappy.

  2. Jack Yan Avatar

    I got to this page thanks to my friend Robin Capper, who has already commented. This is worrying because GM has the capability from its other units (e.g. Opel, which does pretty good interiors now) and yet it seems it does not coordinate its knowledge across the corporation. The Japanese get this part right, too.

  3. Alex Neihaus Avatar
    Alex Neihaus

    Exactly. “Close” doesn’t cut it at the prices GM is asking for these cars. They aren’t value-priced. The CTS I test drove had $15K of options on it. You could get a nicely equipped 5 Series (OK, a 528i not a 535i) or an A6 for that. And, even when the New England winter, traffic and parking-lot door-dingers have turned the outside of that car into an embarrassment, you’d still have a gorgeous interior to enjoy.

  4. Robin Capper Avatar

    I recently saw the new Caddys in Vegas. While better they are nowhere near the BMW/Audi standards they claim, and must compete with.

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