Saturday, April 18, 2009

Oh yeah...

So I was watching the NBA playoffs today, and interspersed with the movie previews, endless repeats, and other DVR-FF-fodder, I saw some commercials for Cadillac. I looked at a CTS five years ago, and I kinda like the way they look, so it occurred to me to wonder why it was that I didn't like Cadillacs. I mean, they look ok to me (subjectively), they have all the usual luxury features, a good warranty (now featuring taxpayer-backing), and are competitively priced. So why is it, I asked myself, that I'm not at least a little interested in owning a Cadillac? So I considered...

Now in the commercial, they point out that all Cadillac vehicles come equipped with OnStar. I'm not sure that's something you really want to have, much less emphasize. Let's review: you get one year of service (then you have to pay for it monthly, or it becomes non-functional*). Second, it was initially pitched as a navigation system replacement, but that's pretty ridiculous: people want a nav with map data, not a help-center person reading directions to you. Third, you can call them to have them unlock your car for you, or take other remote actions; I'm sure this appeals to forgetful people (maybe), but personally I'd rather have a car with functions to help me, not let the car company remote control the car. All-in-all, not really a compelling feature, and in some cases (eg: me), not really a positive feature.

* I say non-functional, but that's not entirely true. As has been suspected since inception, and officially revealed since a couple of years after the introduction, the company (and by extension, the government without a warrant) can activate the system remotely and listen to conversations in the car without your knowledge. I know that's just what I want in my car, and I'm sure you do too, right? I mean, I never have personal conversations I wouldn't want the government, my car company, and who knows who else listening to, right?

Ok, so let's say you're not overly concerned with the built-in listening and remote control device which comes standard (and you can't get the car without); is there anything else to dissuade you from being a proud Caddy owner? Well, there's also the dealership experience. Most dealerships share multiple models (eg: Pontiac/Cadillac/GMC), so you'll be dealing with the standard GM dealership people, which are like... well, [used] car salespeople. I mean, when I had a Pontiac for five years, they were nice enough people most of the time, but you'd never confuse the experience for that of a "real" luxury car dealership (eg: Lexus, BMW, MB, etc.). I mean, all dealerships are trying to nickle and dime you, but at the Lexus dealership you don't care as much, cause everyone's extra polite, the amenities are great, and they go out of their way to do everything they can to make you feel like a luxury car owner.

Then, there's quality. Now GM has gotten a lot better over the last ten years: their cars used to be really horrible, now they are only sub-standard. Where ten years ago a car might have multiple problems driving home off the lot (eg: my Pontiac), now you might go a year or two before noticing anything major. Sure, you'll be annoyed from the first month by fit and finish issues, bad design, and minor annoyances which pop up, but it should run for at least a year or two before any major problems. Of course, it is engineered to break around year five, so don't think you're buying anything for the really long-haul. Even if it's still running by then, it'll have major issues, stuff will be wearing out, and resale with be in the toilet; I know, I've been there a couple times. Unlike, again, say, a real luxury car, which keeps right on going like it wasn't designed to break. Score another against the Cadillac experience.

So, I have reflected, and thought about if my knee-jerk thought of "nope, not buying that brand" was justified. I think I can sum up my conclusions with "oh, yeah...". Part of me wishes it were not the case, since I'm apparently going to be footing the bill for the abject failure of GM as a car company, but at the end of the day, they make bad cars, and I'm not going to buy one again until/unless significant changes are made (which don't appear to be forthcoming). Until then, while I acknowledge that Cadillac has mad some good commercials recently, and may have some good deals (on paper), I will not be owning one.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you on the OnStar feature. I would not want it in any vehicle of mine. I mean, who wants a backseat driver? And if I have an emergency, I'll whip out my cell phone.