- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2001

Once the measure of the luxury car class, Cadillac has slipped to fifth place in a five-brand segment.
It's not so much that their sales have slipped all that much, but the income, tastes and mood of the buyers has deviated from the large, opulent boats that marked Cadillac, and having come from smaller and sportier roots, the competition has grown up with the buyers. If Cadillac's image suffers from one major thing, it's that it has been identified as "grandfather's car."
Not that they haven't tried to attract the younger buyers. The ill-conceived Cimarron hoped that brand appeal would disguise that the car was basically a pretentious Chevrolet. And the Catera had good European roots, but too many cooks and too long a gestation created something that didn't please anyone.
The CTS shares the same Opel roots, but while the Catera tended to be soft in the ride, some no-nonsense tuning and suspension choices goes a long way to take the CTS from numb to nimble. On freeways, twisty canyon roads and even a little of the follow-the-taillight rush-hour experience the new Cadillac performed flawlessly. In all of the things the CTS was asked to perform, it took the challenge and gamely asked, "What's next?"
The CTS features an all-new chassis, manual or automatic transmissions tested and proven in some of the top cars in the segment, and a 220-horsepower, dual-overhead-camshaft, 3.2-liter V-6 with 0-60 mph performance under seven seconds. The five-speed manual from Getrag is evidence of Cadillac's commitment to making CTS a true driver's car. It is characterized by its durability, its smoothness and its accurate shift feel.
The 5L40-E five-speed electronically controlled automatic is also used in the BMW 5-Series and X5 sport utility. Shift-mode buttons allow the driver to select among "Sport," "Winter" and "Economy" shift patterns that adapt to driving conditions and driver style. Electronic engine braking in all five gears gives the automatic the same sporty feel as a downshifting manual. "CTS represents the first production vehicle created from our vision of art and science and fashioned from our new design form vocabulary, seen in recent concept cars such as Evoq, Imaj and Vizon," said Mark LaNeve, Cadillac general manager. "It's the latest in a 100-year history of head-turning, trend-setting designs from Cadillac."
The new 2003 CTS sport sedan's styling reflects a lot of the glories of Cadillac's past, and foreshadows the designs of all future Cadillacs. Cadillac produced major innovations such as the first mass-production water-cooled V-8 (1915), the first V-type 16-cylinder engine for passenger-car use (1930), the modern overhead-valve V-8 engine (1949), America's first transverse-V-8/front-wheel-drive automobile (1985), and the evolution of the Northstar System with its integration of performance, control and StabiliTrak (1997).
Many others are offering their handling-control versions, but Cadillac seems to have gotten theirs more correct, right from the beginning, while some vaunted competitors have versions that are weak or too assertive for comfortable driving. Cadillac is also introducing satellite radio, a subscription service that will allow downloading of clear, interruption free service throughout the United States and overseas.
CTS' long list of standard equipment includes: six air bags, including dual front, side and front-to-rear curtain air bags; ultra-high-strength steel safety cage body structure; power automatic programmable door locks with rear-door child safety locks, lockout prevention, and illuminated entry system; power windows with front express-up and express-down. The seats are a departure for this luxury brand, and are both comfortable and supportive, something the Europeans often miss the mark with.
Also: Power trunk-lid release; leather seating with eight-way power adjustable driver's seat; leather-trimmed steering wheel with fingertip audio and climate controls and programmable functions; auto-dimming interior rearview mirror and powered and heated outside mirrors; AM/FM/cassette/single-slot CD player with RDS and seven speakers; Twilight Sentinel automatic headlamps; PassKey II theft-deterrent system; 16-inch cast aluminum wheels with all-season steel-belted radials; and four-wheel vented disc brakes with anti-lock.
The CTS Luxury Package ($2,000) includes: an eight-way power adjustable passenger seat; audible theft-deterrent system; Zebrano wood trim; memory settings package; rearview mirror compass; and three-channel programmable garage door opener with electronic voice recorder. The Luxury Sport Package ($3,500) includes all of those features plus: the Stabilitrak 2.0 computer-control enhancement system; sport-tuned suspension; high-performance brake linings.
Additional vehicle options include: the five-speed electronic automatic transmission; a Bose premium sound system with cassette/six-disc CD changer and CD-ROM-based navigation; 16-inch machined bright-finish wheels; engine-block heater, heated front seats; express-open sunroof; xenon high-intensity-discharge headlamps; and a split-folding rear seat.
Cadillac has set out to build CTS to be the best it can be, taking advantage of its new architecture, and its brand-new, state-of-the-art $560 million assembly plant, Lansing Grand River (LGR) in Lansing, Mich. LGR, GM's first new assembly plant in the United States since 1986, brings in the best manufacturing practices from around the world.
GM is committed to a collaborative partnership with the excellent UAW Local 652 in helping to implement manufacturing processes. The Sigma architecture has been especially designed for rear-wheel-drive vehicles. CTS will be sold in markets in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Sales begin Jan. 2, 2002. A four-year, 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty is standard, as are the Cadillac 24-hour Roadside Assistance and Alternate Transportation programs.

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