Cadillac introduced the Catera for the 1997 model year and was thought of as little more than a rebagged 1993 Opel Omega MV6. The Catera was a compact automobile offering from Cadillac and was essentially an Opel Omega MV6, except it had a new front fascia, new mirrors, new headlights, and starting with the 2000 model year there were airbags added. The Catera is often identified as the Cadillac that Cindy Crawford was the spokeswoman for, as she was featured on the commercials. The Catera was the only Cadillac that was built outside of the United States at that time, so it was very notable.
The Catera was powered by a 3.0 liter V6 engine, coupled with a four speed automatic transmission that provided 200 horsepower. Many thought that the Catera was odd because it was a rear wheel drive vehicle, unlike all other Cadillacs. Skeptics criticized the car calling it less than a Cadillac, though Cadillac had a good marketing ploy for the car. The Catera was known as the “Caddy that Zigs” and was meant to attract a younger clientele. The reason for this is that the Catera was smaller, had less power and was more affordable than either the Seville or the Deville of the same era. Cadillac thought that the Catera would be a great way to get entry level buyers interested in Cadillacs, so as they aged and could afford more luxurious cars they would simply ugrade to a more luxurious Cadillac. Though the Catera was an outside of the box attempt at attracting younger buyers, it was thought to be serious competition for the Infiniti I30, the Lexus EX 300, the Mercedes Benz C-Class, and the BMW 328i.
Cadillac fitted the Catera with some great options that were also meant to entice the younger crowds. These features included item such as antilock brakes, dual front airbags, daytime running lights, and traction control. The Catera also offered a dust and pollen filter, power windows, a fold down rear seat, 16 inch alloy wheels, a tilt steering wheel, electrochromatic mirror, power seats, and programmable locks. For those that were looking for even more, there were also a theft deterrent system, radio controls located on the steering wheel, as well as automatic climate control. Luxurious options included leather upholstery, a powered sunroof, front and rear seat heaters, chrome wheels, and a Bose audio system.
In 2000 the Catera was the first Cadillac that met new low emissions standards and was equipped with side air bags as well. Cadillac also refreshed the whole styling of the Catera in 2000 for a hopeful boost in sales. The interior was refreshed along with a new rear spoiler, new headlights, a chrome grille, and 17 inch chrome wheels. In 2001 Cadillac made one change, replacing the solid brakes with vented ones.
The thought was a good one by Cadillac and while reviews were generally quite good, sales were not. Most Cadillac consumers simply expected more car for their money and the Catera was too small and just not as luxurious as people expected from the Cadillac name. While Cadillac initially thought that the Catera would do quite well it is considered to be a Cadillac failure. The Catera was replaced by the CTS in 2003, though it’s production stopped after 2001.
While the Catera was not all that successful, many critics thought it was nice to see Cadillac try something new. Cadillac stepped outside of its comfort zone for a few years and attempted to gain entry into a new market. Unfortunately, the American made Catera could not compete with other entry level cars available on the market at that time. Despite the fact that the Catera has not been made since 2001, you’ll still see quite a few of them on the road today. This proves that although they were not that popular, they have lived up to the reliability that Cadillac has become known for.