Sunday, March 6, 2016


Is Cadillac making a comeback?  Perhaps.

A friend of mine who buys nothing but Mercedes just showed up in my driveway in a 2014 Cadillac CTS.  XTS. I initially presumed it was a rental.  But it turns out he bought it, and for him, it was arguably a good choice in cars.  For him, that is.

He likes a "status" car and as we have discussed here, everyone is status-seeking.   And that is one reason he always drove Mercedes, as they convey success and status.   Well, he didn't always drive them.  There was a point in his life he was poor like the rest of us.  All the more reason to seek status once you "make it" I guess.  I'm sort of over that kind of thing - or at least I keep telling myself that.

He got a good deal on the car.  Although two years old, it was a dealer "loaner" car and had never been titled and had only 14,000 miles on it.  So technically he is the first owner and the full warranty applies.  And I suspect he paid a lot less than the $53,000 sticker on a new one.   Good for him.  And that illustrates how a late-model, low-mileage car can be an astounding deal, if you go looking for one.   And they are out there, if you look.  But you have to look.

Of course one reason the price was so good is that Cadillacs have had huge depreciation issues, compared to other cars.  As I noted in another posting, all cars depreciate in value precipitously, so the idea of a "low depreciation" car is something of an oxymoron.   But GM products and Caddy cars seem to have low resale values in general.   Topping this off is that while Cadillac can't keep $100,000 Escalades in stock (the car the salesman immediately tried to sell my friend - he took a pass) they are having trouble moving their sedans, and thus are offering "deals" on them, new and used.  Often the best bargains are not to be found with the most popular cars but with less popular cars that may be up-and-coming.

What I thought was interesting was how the car had all the same electronics as our Hamster.   LED marker lamps, projector-beam headlights, key fob entry with push-button start, heated and air-conditioned seats, heated steering wheel, and so forth.   The Caddy had a few other toys as well, such as dual power seats, but today, even an "economy" car can be ordered with all the toys and goodies that more expensive cars come with.

And I suspect all this electronics stuff is made by the same supplier company - regardless of brand or manufacturer of the car.   The car reminded me very much of a Mercedes, which is a comment on how much the Cadillac has improved and how far the Mercedes has fallen.   No longer Teutonic tanks, the Mercs are now just as fussy and fault-prone as many American cars.  They are no longer a real value in my opinion.

(The one thing I thought stunk was that if you want to use navigation on the car, you have to subscribe to the 'onstar' service and then call them whenever you want to navigate.  Seems like an unnecessary waste of money to me on a subscription service that isn't needed to navigate.  Fortunately my friend has a portable GPS.  If you have a cell phone, the car can link to it and you could use google maps, I suppose, too).

What sealed the deal for my friend was the availability of a dealer nearby to work on the car.  As cars become more complex, it is harder for small shops to work on them, once out of warranty.   Sure, you can do things like brake jobs and tire changes, but fussy electronic bits?   Often these are dealer-only items when it comes to repair.

Our local small town has a Caddy dealer and a Buick and a Chevy one as well.   They are all over the place.   A Mercedes dealer is at least an hour North or South of us (and you want to go North, as the one to the South is, well, not a place you want to go).     And that is one reason I shied away from BMWs as well.  They were a lot of fun, but BMW dealers have an odious reputation as palaces of rip-off, with expensive parts, expensive labor, and always, of course, the suggestion you dump your current load for a brandy-new one.

We'll see how my friend's new ride works out.   I suspect he will be happy with it.  The basic bones of the thing are made in sufficient numbers and share enough parts with other GM products to be fundamentally reliable, even if not Honda-like in quality.  Whether the electronic bits hold up under use will be interesting to see.

But I have to give hum kudos for thinking outside of the box and also scoring an untitled low-mileage used car for a very good price.  Given that he drives about 7,000 miles a year, I think he'll be pretty happy with this ride.