Highs: German build quality, interior, ride, handling, xenon headlights, 17" rims, rear wheel drive

Lows: Reliability, weak engine, so-so brakes

The Catera was revised for 2000 with improvments inside and out. A more modern exterior featured revised front and rear fascias. Rear turn signals were LED. Sport models were equipped with Xenon headlights, a rear spoiler, and 17" rims which are dead ringer for the current "SS" rims used on the Monte Carlo, Caliber, and other GM vehicles. Inside, the interior was improved with the relocation of the power window switches to the driver's door (where they belong), new "pop out" cupholders and armrest, and use of softer materials for the switches and dashboard. Sport models received faux brushed aluminum trim around the center stack, shifter, and gauges. Early 2000 sport models also featured a black interior with special Recaro 10-way manual sports seats with power adjusting height. All sport models featured a sunroof, BOSE stereo system, and heated front seats.

The suspension for all 2000 Cateras was stiffer in comparison to the 97-99 models. The suspension from the 1999 Catera sport was used in all 00-01 Cateras with the revised sport models featuring an even stiffer, sporty suspension. 00-01 Sport model suspensions were nearly identifcal to the German made Opel Omega and gave enthusists a chance to drive a "real" German car that was not toned down like previous Cateras. The result was a great handling car with a sporty (if slightly stiff) ride.

The 3.0L engine was a big shortcoming in this car. 200 HP was simply not enough to compete with the best in the class and a 0-60 time of 8.8 seconds was woefully slow for a $30,000+ German sports sedan. While the Catera has enough power for most, it failed to attract any enthusiasts. Also, the lack of a manual transmission option further detracted from the market.

The brakes in the Catera sport are so-so at best with long pedal travel. Compared to its German rivals, braking distances are not up to snuff. While the brakes may not match the best German cars, the steering beats many of them. A traditional German steering sytem (i.e. heavy) gives drivers and excellent feel for the road.

Overall, the Catera sport is a winner and stood out in a sea of mediocre GM products that were available at the time. The build and interior quality alone could be seen as an indictment against GM and proved that they could build a car (although built in Germany) to closely match their Japanese and European rivals. Compare the interior quality of the 2000 Catera sport to any US-built GM car of the same era and the differences are shocking.

The saddest thing about the Catera is its reputation. In 97-98, word quickly got out that the car was unreliable and expensive to repair. Production problems plagued the car and the public and automotive press lost confidence. If they could have sent over a car with at least average reliability, I believe the car would have been more of a success.

As it stands now, the Catera is a steal on the used car market, costing thousands (up to $10,000) less than its main competitors. Before purchasing a Catera, make sure you get a printout of all warranty work performed as well as repairs made after the warranty expired. Beware of leaking oil coolers, leaking heater control valve, excessive tire wear, rusted tie rods, and a few other minor issues that plague the Catera.