: SJMN Article

02-03-06, 12:40 PM
This old article might be of interest to newcomers here, with a used Catera purchase in mind, or to old timers who missed it first time around:

Title: Cadillac won't walk away from Catera , San Jose Mercury News (CA), Aug 25, 2000
Database: Newspaper Source Cadillac won't walk away from Catera

SAN JOSE, Calif.-Kudos to Cadillac for sticking with the Catera, its European-built, often-overlooked entry in the near-luxury sedan class.
Back in late 1996, the concept seemed so clear to the people running Cadillac. Buyers were going ga-ga over BMW and Mercedes-Benz cars and the near-lux sedan segment ($28,000 to $35,000) was booming. So, General Motors took its made-in-Germany Opel Omega, did a few things to make it palatable to American buyers, put a Cadillac badge on its nose and put it on a boat.
The resulting car was welcomed in the worst way possible-people didn't care. Critics called the Catera dated and bland, a less than satisfying blend of European roots and American sensibilities.
While sales of almost every near-lux competitor have soared in recent years-BMW 3-Series, Acura TL, Infiniti I30-Catera sales have languished. Its sales hovered around 25,000 in 1997 and 1998, but dropped 39 percent to 15,000 last year. Not coincidentally, Lincoln introduced the LS, its version of a contemporary near-luxury sedan in 1999. Lincoln dealers sold more than 26,000 LS cars last year as the car earned several Car of the Year honors.
To me, the choice is simple. The LS looks and drives better than the Catera. Plus, while the Catera is only available with a 200-horsepower V-6 and an automatic transmission, the LS can be had with V-6 and a manual or automatic shifter or a V-8 with an automatic. Prices are roughly the same, although the V-8 LS costs about $3,000 more than the V-6 models.
But, rather than pack up its toys, admit defeat and go home, Cadillac has spruced up the Catera for the 2000 model year.
The changes are mostly cosmetic as the 200-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 and the four-speed auto transmission remain the same. But, especially with the Sport model, the Catera does see some on-road improvements, too.
These include the addition of Goodyear all-terrain, H-rated 17-inch tires and stiffer, sport-suspension tuning on the Sport model. Visually, that model gets more aggressive rocker panels, a rear spoiler and Xenon headlights.
All 2000 Cateras get new body trim, outside mirrors, wheels, cornering lights and fog lights.
On the inside, the Catera gets a redesigned steering wheel, instrument panel and center console. The car now has standard side-impact air bags. One year's worth of premium OnStar service, GM's emergency-navigation-concierge system comes with each Catera.
Sport models get unique seats that are heated, covered in leather and specially contoured.
Trimmed two inches for 2000, the exterior of the Catera remains a real problem-it's GM bland, cool rather than hot and is marred by an awkward, cheap-looking rear end. But the interior is much improved. The brush-silver accents give the instrument panel a new richness. The steering wheel feels good to the touch. The controls are properly placed and the seats are large and comfortable.
What was good about the original Catera-a large cabin that comfortably seats four or five and a very large trunk-remain its good qualities.
On the road, the rear-wheel-drive Catera still handles quite well and features strong brakes. Power is only adequate, however, and that remains a drawback. The LS, in comparison, weighs less and has a slightly more powerful V-6 and that makes a difference.
Consumer Reports writes somewhat favorably about the Catera, saying it "would compete on an equal footing with the best European and Japanese sports sedans" if not for its "continued reliability problems." The magazine describes 1997 and 1998 models of the Catera as "used cars to avoid," noting cooling, electrical, suspension and window and door mechanisms as trouble spots.
Putting a positive spin on the Catera, Cadillac says it has become the No. 1 conquest vehicle for General Motors, attracting 45 percent of its buyers from people who previously didn't own a GM car. It also attracts more younger (35 to 49 years) and female (about half) buyers to the Cadillac brand.
Still, 15,000 sales last year-sales should pass 20,000 this year-represents a very small step forward into a market segment dominated by import models. And these buyers are crucial as the brand embarks on a series of severely styled new models that obviously won't be marketed to the Greatest Generation crowd who bought the DeVilles and Fleetwoods of Cadillac's past.
What we drove: 2000 Cadillac Catera Sport, a mid-size, four-door, near-luxury sedan with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine and a four-speed automatic transmission.
Base price: $30,860 Price as tested (includes options and delivery charge): $35,468
Curb weight: 3,770 pounds
Length: 192.2 inches
Turning circle (curb to curb): 33.5 feet
Standard features: Electronic level control; 16-inch cast aluminum wheels; all-season H-rated tires; cruise control; dual front and side air bags; anti-lock brakes; daytime running lamps; traction control; Onstar; wiper-activated headlamps; leather seats; dual-zone climate control; power driver's seat; filtration system; AM/FM stereo with cassette.
Options on test vehicle: Sport package with sport front seats, heated front seats, sport exterior and interior trim, rear spoiler, 17-inch wheels and tires, sport suspension tuning, theft-deterrent system, garage-door opener and Xenon headlamps; sunroof; upgraded radio with single-slot CD, Bose sound system and weather band.
EPA figures: 18 mpg (city); 24 mpg (highway)