Monday, May 18, 2009

American Dream

I have been consistently impressed by Cadillac's design for a good many years now. Their big land-yachts, designed no doubt for the conservative, rich, and elderly are expectedly safe and don't really do much for me. Their smaller offerings, on the other hand, have some of the best styling out there, as far as I'm concerned, and totally distinctive. Head of design is Ed Welburn keeping design quality high, but the transformation from their mediocre looks in the mid-1990s appears to have been the work of Wayne Cherry, who Welburn replaced in 2003.

The most disturbing of their models, of course, is the Escalade. Not only is it a complete behemoth, but making matters worse is that it's also got such caché and remains such a popular status symbol. I suppose they should be commended at least a little bit for offering it as a hybrid:
The hybrid gets, at the most, 21mpg on the highway, which is completely ridiculous. The fact that even in a hybrid model, this monstrosity still gets no higher mileage than that proves without question that you should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking of driving one, outside of a few very peculiar situations.

The CTS-V, though, is truly gorgeous:
I always tend to like the original lines without all the spoilers cluttering it up, but still nice. It has 556hp, which is completely insane, and it does 0-60 in an astonishing 3.9 seconds, making it the fastest in its class. It gets 24mpg on the highway, which isn't too bad for a car with so much power, but it's fairly pathetic in the city at 15mpg.

My favorite of them is the XLR:

Click images for larger views.
I think it's one of the most beautiful cars on the road, but for more than just its silhouette. I mean, if I were to be purist about it, the XLR can't hold a candle to Pininfarina:
--Photo courtesy Drive.
Of course, it's not 1969 anymore, either. The XLR isn't voluptuous, it's sharp, like a knife slicing down the road. Its hard lines converge into almost crystalline formations, and rise up into the most regal peaks. The taillight looks like a finely cut ruby. It's the formal language of luxury, at which Cadillac has often been one of the best. All together, the fact that it so much looks like a Cadillac is what I love most about it. With no crest, you still know immediately that this is no Ferrari, or Jaguar, or Lexus. It has a very distinct personality, something so many manufacturers sadly lack in their cookie-cutter offerings, one easily interchangeable with the next.

©2009, Ryan Witte

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