Posts Tagged ‘entry-level luxury’

Cadillac CTS – Spiritual Successor to the DeVille?

March 3rd, 2010 No comments

      Some time ago I had expressed concern about the popularity of so-called entry level luxury cars. I feared they were cheapening such storied nameplates as Cadillac, BMW, and Mercedes Benz. My biggest concern was with Cadillac, whose luxury cars once had an unmatched presence on the road due – in part – to a combination of massive size, flawless proportions, and trend setting styling. The CTS was a great car, I argued, but just ‘inexpensive’ enough that it was perhaps too accessible. Read more…

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2008 Cadillac CTS

March 2nd, 2010 No comments

So Good It Nearly Makes Us Forget The Cimarron

     After scooping up rave reviews, comparison test victories, and Car of the Year honors for the latest CTS you’d think Cadillac has been in the business of building superb sport sedans for decades, like BMW. Then, of course, you’d recall some previous efforts by the Wreath and Crest division. There was the Opel-based Catera in 1997, which looked and drove more like a Buick than a BMW. Back up even more to the ‘82 Cimarron, Cadillac’s rookie effort at building a small sporty sedan that was so disastrous it almost single-handedly sent the “Standard of the World” brand on a steep decline until the first-generation CTS bowed in 2002. That car was a solid attempt at buttoning down a chassis and livening up the steering like the German competition, but its uninspired styling and muddled, plasticy interior kept it from being a true competitor. Read more…

The Plight of the Entry-Level Luxury Car

February 28th, 2010 2 comments

     Acura TSX, BMW 3-series, Cadillac CTS. Excellent cars? Yes. Luxury cars? Hardly.
     I’ve taken the time to contemplate the subject of luxury manufacturers recently. More specifically, I have been considering the ultimate value of the entry-level “luxury car”. Two very different cars started my mind’s wheels turning. One was a result of a brief conversation I had about the value of the Cayenne to Porsche. Read more…

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2007 Infiniti M35

February 24th, 2010 No comments

     When I first drove the Infiniti M sedan late last year, I got the brutal M45 with a big, brawny V8 under the hood.
     That car was a monster. It felt almost like an American muscle car, with a heavy, deliberate driving feel and a relatively soft suspension that made it seem like you were riding on bowls of Cream of Wheat. It was a great car, but it was more of a grand tourer than a true sports sedan. Read more…

2006 Audi A3

February 23rd, 2010 No comments

In A World Of Unleaded Regular, This One Is Premium

    It isn’t often that a car in our fleet is referred to as brilliant. Nor is it often that we sing the praises of one that is deemed “entry-level”, featuring an automatic tranny, front-wheel drive, and merely a four-cylinder engine. But the A3 brings out the best in all of these descriptions. Read more…

2006 Lincoln Zephyr and Mercury Milan

February 23rd, 2010 No comments

The Fusion Is Good, Are The Milan and Zephyr Better?

     We have driven the Ford Fusion and formed a generally positive opinion about its fresh styling, 6-speed automatic and surprisingly good road manners. It’s a competitive car at its price point and they’ve been selling well-a rare piece of good news at Ford lately. Because we liked the base model so much, we skeptically asked ourselves why people would want to pay more for the Mercury or Lincoln version of the same car. We ordered up a sample of each and gave each car a week to convince us why it’s worth the premium. Read more…

2006 Audi A3

February 22nd, 2010 No comments

    TALIHINA, Okla. — It’s sunset on the Talimena Scenic Drive, a two-lane stretch of asphalt that winds through one of the most gorgeous landscapes in middle America: the ancient Ouachita mountains in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas.
     I’m hours away from the constant craziness of big-city life, having traded pollution and traffic gridlock for miles of wide-open roads and pure, 75-degree mountaintop air, if only for a weekend. There’s virtually no civilization out here aside from a few towns that could make the cover of the Saturday Evening Post if they were a bit less scruffy, and the views from around each bend take my breath away for their Ansel Adams-style serenity. Read more…

2005 Cadillac CTS

February 17th, 2010 No comments

Regular Strength CTS Still Cures The Enthusiast Itch

    If you’re a regular reader of these pages then you should recall our review of the wickedly powerful CTS-V. Last fall we burned the rubber off the V’s rear tires and came away thoroughly impressed of America’s M5-fighter. Of course, 400hp, Brembo brakes and a suspension tuned at the Nurburgring tends to impress anybody. Consequently, you’ll understand our initial doubts as to the regular strength CTS’s ability to peak our jaded journalist interests. After all, it’s sans the rumbling V8 and other performance goodies that make the V so special. What could be left to impress us? Turns out, quite a lot. Read more…

2005 Audi A4

February 12th, 2010 No comments

    It’s generally not an ideal practice for any party when a journalist’s first exposure to a new vehicle is a drive in the hot-rodded, top-of-the-line model, because all of the lesser models will appear, well, lesser. Yet, this is exactly the scenario we found ourselves in with regards to Audi’s extensively revised A4 lineup. Our first test car was a fully optioned S4 with a sticker north of $55k. As you might expect, we used adjectives like, “hot” “gorgeous” and “astounding” to describe its V8, 18” rubber, and Recaro seats. So it surprised us as much as it will you, to report that those same praises kept creeping into our conversations during our week with the “base” A4 2.0T. It might have been the slick 6-speed, or the stunning Quartz Gray Metallic sheetmetal. Whatever it was, we liked it. A lot. Read more…

2004 Infiniti G35x

February 8th, 2010 No comments

     In a move that imitates expensive German sports sedans, Infiniti added an all-wheel drive model to its G35 lineup for 2004.
     At first glance, it seems odd to add the weight of an AWD system to a performance-oriented sports sedan like the G35, but the system has a couple of major advantages. First, it helps in low-traction situations, like on icy or wet roads. Second, it offers very neutral, predictable handling in corners, something all Andretti wannabes should love.
Read more…