Are Cadillacs good cars? Are they reliable? If you’re looking to buy one, we’ve got answers.
Cadillac is one of the oldest, most innovative, and most iconic brands in the automotive world, boasting a long history filled with many “industry firsts” and other prestigious awards.
However, once the ultimate status symbol and the leader in the luxury car segment before the 1980s, the brand had been surpassed by the would-be rivals it once dominated, both in prestige and sales, due to complacency and being slow to adapt to the times. But all is not lost.
Cadillac has been undergoing a resurgence as of late, overhauling its lineup with world-class cars and capitalizing on the self-driving and electric car revolution better than most of the competition.
Today’s Cadillacs are far better cars than they were just a few decades ago, and we highlight the reasons why in this article.
Are Cadillacs Good Cars?
Cadillacs are better cars than most people give them credit for, but to see just how good they are, we need to put Cadillac through our full instrument of evaluation criteria.
Say what you will about the quality of Cadillacs, but there is no doubt that they are very safe vehicles.
For one thing, Cadillac has been making cars for over 100 years, so it knows a thing or two about crashworthiness. Its cars and SUVs have the structural integrity to protect occupants during an impact as good as any other vehicle, if not better in some instances.
Second, as luxury vehicles, they are stuffed with the latest active safety features that not only help to prevent collisions from occurring but also reduce the severity of the ones that occur. This includes pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with a cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and much more.
What this means is that Cadillacs perform at the highest level in safety tests, with every single model earning a five-star rating from the NHTSA and at a minimum a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS. The Cadillac Escalade, in particular, is essentially a tank on four wheels.
So, are Cadillacs safe? Yes. True to their premium positioning, Cadillacs are among the safest vehicles on the road, boasting an impressive array of passive and active safety features.
Are Cadillacs Reliable?
Reliability is possibly Cadillac’s weakest area, but it’s not as bad as you probably thought.
As GM’s top brand, Cadillac is the testing bed for the latest technologies from GM. It takes the brunt of all early defects, as a result, and this doesn’t bode well for it in reliability surveys.
The brand commonly ranks in the lower half of Consumer Reports’ annual reliability surveys and middle of the pack in JD Power’s Dependability Studies, much lower than Chevrolet and especially Buick, two other GM brands, as well as rival Lexus, a direct competitor.
In those assessments, the poor performance can be mostly attributed to issues with the infotainment system of the vehicles, not structural or mechanical ones.
RepairPal’s reliability assessment places more emphasis on the structural and mechanical aspects of a vehicle’s design. In 2021, Cadillac ranked 26th out of 32 car brands, much lower than Lexus (7th) but higher than BMW (30), Mercedes-Benz (27), and Audi (28).
So, are Cadillacs reliable? While Cadillac doesn’t perform in the high echelons of reliability, it is roughly on par with many of its direct competitors, particularly BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.
Cadillacs are not the floaty-boaty vehicles that people have the habit of saying they are. Cadillac has overhauled its entire lineup over the years to appeal to younger buyers and compete with the best from Germany and Japan, especially BMW.
The result? Vehicles like the second-generation Cadillac CTS-V, a performance-tuned sedan that beat the Germans at their own game and made driving enthusiasts take notice of Cadillac.
The brand has been infusing some excitement into all its vehicles ever since, to such a degree that even the massive Escalade has a bit of performance flare.
Aside from that, Cadillacs generally deliver competitive power, handling, ride quality, and fuel efficiency. They are very quiet, comfortable, and poised, even when tuned for performance.
So, do Cadillacs have good performance? Yes. Not only do Cadillacs deliver the performance everyday drivers demand, but the brand has also earned a reputation for building some truly exhilarating vehicles.
Cadillac is a full-fledged premium brand like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Lexus, a notch above lesser luxury marques like Acura, Buick, Infiniti, and even age-old rival Lincoln. That means its vehicles generally offer a noticeably higher level of luxury than the average mainstream vehicle.
Their interiors boast high-quality materials such as authentic leather, premium metals, and natural woods, as well as superb fit and finish. They are also fitted with the most advanced tech and convenience features to make driving more pleasurable.
A noteworthy Cadillac tech feature is Super Cruise, the world’s first true hands-free driving system. As a competitor to Tesla’s Autopilot, Super Cruise is widely considered the best self-driving system on the market.
So, do Cadillacs have good luxury and convenience features? Certainly! From massaging seats to hands-free driving, Cadillac is at the bleeding edge of comfort and convenience.
Seeing as Cadillac is a serious luxury car brand, its vehicles tend to have high prices that make them unattainable for the average car buyer.
But while more expensive than Toyotas, Mazdas, and Nissans, as well as near-luxury vehicles such as Buicks, Acuras, and Infinitis, they are generally cheaper than the average BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus, especially after rebates and other incentives.
Related: There Are Many Good Reasons To Buy An Acura
As good as its vehicles are, Cadillac simply doesn’t enjoy the high level of brand equity that allows its German and Japanese competitors to charge segment-leading prices.
But that’s good news for smart car buyers, especially if buying second-hand. Used Cadillacs can be incredibly affordable, and you get a lot of substance for the money.
If you want to know how to buy a used car like a pro, make sure to read our in-depth used car buying guide.
So, are Cadillacs affordable? Not exactly. As luxury vehicles, Cadillacs are known for being pricey. Used Cadillacs, on the other hand, can be a good option for budget buyers looking for a solid luxury car.
Cost Of Ownership
Luxury cars are generally more expensive to own than mainstream cars, and Cadillacs are no exception.
Not only do they depreciate faster than, say, a Honda or Toyota but they are also less reliable and more expensive to fix.
The average annual scheduled maintenance and unscheduled repair cost for a Cadillac is $783 per year, according to RepairPal’s data, which is higher than the average $652 for all models evaluated but noticeably lower than the cost for a BMW ($968) and Mercedes-Benz ($908).
The average Cadillac visits a repair shop approximately 0.4 times a year for unscheduled repairs, which is about average for the industry but once again better than the average BMW (0.95) or Mercedes-Benz (0.73).
Approximately 17 percent of repairs are considered severe, compared to 12 percent across all models.
On a more positive note, although Cadillacs aren’t exactly cheap vehicles to buy and maintain, they aren’t the most expensive vehicles to insure when all insurance-related variables are considered.
So, are Cadillacs expensive to own? Compared to the average car, Cadillacs can be expensive to own and maintain. However, they are cheaper than many competing luxury cars.
About Cadillac Cars
Cadillac is the premier brand of General Motors, one that competes in the luxury car segment with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Lexus.
The company was established in 1902 from the remains of the Henry Ford Company, a short-lived automobile manufacturer founded by the same Henry Ford that founded the Ford Motor Company.
Cadillac was at the forefront of engineering, technology, and design from the early to mid-1900s, introducing many cutting edge innovations such as the first vehicles with enclosed cabins, climate controls, and an electronic self-starter, all of which helped it win the first-ever “Car of the Year” award.
It was also during this period that the brand came to be known as the “Standard of the World,” not just with regards to luxury cars but with everything aspirational, as well.
Cadillac reached its peak in the 1960s and 70s, when vehicles like the Eldorado Brougham represented the pinnacle of luxury and excess. But its fortunes began to reverse in the 1980s.
A confluence of events, including organizational complacency, the 1979 Oil Crisis, and the arrival of lighter, sportier, and more fuel-efficient vehicles from Europe and Japan, rendered the company’s vehicles too big, inefficient, and impractical.
Cadillac’s response was to make its cars smaller and more frugal. However, in doing so, they became indistinguishable not only from each other but also from the offerings of General Motors’s other brands. The release of some truly abysmal products such as the Cimarron only made matters worse.
By the 1990s, the brand had lost any appeal it had with young buyers, who associated it with old people, but regained some of it back in 1999 with the introduction of the now-iconic Escalade.
Cadillac used the success of the Escalade to overhaul its model lineup, introducing a slew of other highly competitive vehicles and even some segment-beating ones such as the second-generation CTS-V sports sedan.
Not only has the brand been churning out high-quality cars ever since, but it’s also at the forefront of the self-driving and electric car revolution. Cadillac boasts one of the best self-driving systems in the business (Super Cruise) and, to take a page out of Tesla’s book, is poised to become an all-electric brand by 2035.
The unveiling of the Cadillac Lyriq in 2021 marked a new beginning for the iconic American brand. You can learn more, including where Cadillacs are made, by clicking here.
Cadillac Car FAQs
What, you’ve got more questions about Cadillac? We’ve got you covered!
What Kind Of Cars Does Cadillac Make?
Cadillac currently offers three types of vehicles: sedans, crossovers, and SUVs. On the sedan front, you have the CT4 and CT5, the successors to the venerable ATS and CTS, respectively.
Its SUV lineup consists of the compact XT4, midsize XT5, and three-row XT7 crossovers, as well as the iconic Escalade, a traditional body-on-frame SUV. When the Lyriq electric crossover arrives in 2022, it will be the brand’s first all-electric vehicle.
Cadillac also previously offered a convertible (XLR), several two-door coupes (ELR and CTS/ATS coupes), and a station wagon (CTS Sport Wagon) but never a hatchback.
Are Cadillacs Good Used Cars?
Cadillacs are stylish vehicles that offer solid safety, performance, tech, and convenience features. They are also very cheap on the used car market, meaning a used Cadillac will generally offer better value than a comparable used Lexus, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz.
Are Cadillacs Expensive To Repair?
Cadillacs are more expensive to maintain and repair than the average car; however, they are not more expensive than a lot of their direct competitors.
For instance, while more expensive to own than Lexus, Volvos, and several other makes of luxury vehicles, they are generally cheaper to repair than BMWs, Mercedes-Benzs, Audis, and Jaguars.
Do Cadillacs Hold Their Value?
Cadillac has long struggled with resale value for two reasons. First, as a luxury brand, its vehicles depreciate faster than non-luxury vehicles like Toyotas and Chevrolets. Second, it doesn’t enjoy the same level of brand equity as Lexus and the German luxury brands.
So not only do Cadillacs not hold their value as well as the average car, but they also depreciate at a quicker rate than most Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and even Audi vehicles. An exception is the Escalade, which holds its value very well.
Is Cadillac A Dying Brand?
No. While Cadillac is no longer the dominant luxury car brand it was before the 1980s and sells far fewer vehicles than its key competitors, the brand offers world-class vehicles and has a strong and growing presence in China, the world’s largest car market.
Cadillac is also at the forefront of the self-driving and electric car revolution.
From reaching the pinnacle of the luxury car world in the 1970s to becoming an also-ran in the 1990s, Cadillac has had many successes and failures in its storied history. But it seems to be moving in the right direction.
After decades of organizational complacency and mediocrity, GM’s premium brand is making world-class cars once again, cars that are among the most attractive, luxurious, technologically sophisticated, and fun to drive on the market.
Reliability and resale value are not Cadillac’s strong suit, but the brand is just about as reliable as most of its direct competitors.
So, are Cadillacs good cars? Yes. Cadillacs have improved so much in the last two decades that they now match and sometimes even surpass the best from Germany and Japan.