Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

New Cadillac CTS: Will It Drive Customers Back?

2007 Cadillac CTS

It's "prove it" time again for Cadillac. If you are into luxury cars, you might be thinking to yourself, 'wait, isn't it prove it time every 5 or 6 years for Cadillac?' Well yes, you are right. This time, while Cadillac is not hurting the way it was back in 2000 and 2001, but it is in need of a boost.

GM is hoping that boost comes from the new CTS that is just rolling into showrooms. It plays off of the angular and bold Caddy look that helped make the first generation of the CTS such a huge hit. This time around, the edges have been softened a bit, and the new CTS is a little bigger. But the most dramatic change is the CTS interior. The previous generation's interiors were nice, but nowhere near as refined as Cadillac's competitors in the entry level luxury market. That is no longer an issue. GM has stepped up with a better laid out and more luxurious interior.

So why are people questioning if the new CTS can revive the CTS? Part of it is because the entry level luxury market has become even more competitive, and the current BMW 3 series, Mercedes C Class, and Lexus ES/IS models have raised the bar in the last couple of years. No wonder their sales are up 26% (BMW), 13% (Mercedes) and 18% (Lexus), while CTS sales are down 19% this year. The new CTS should close that gap just by virtue of it being a new model, but the broader difference in sales may be tougher for Cadillac to make up.

Also, the new Caddy marketing plan with more subdued ads touting the "pursuit of happiness" leave me longing for the old "break through" ads that featured Led Zeppelin's hit song. Now, a marketing campaign does not necessarily make or break a brand, but it can help build buzz with the general public, and that's what Cadillac needs: BUZZ.

It's what Cadillac needs to breathe new life into a brand that is critical to the success of General Motors.

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