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    Review: 2015 Cadillac CTS VSport


    • Cadillac To Other Automakers: You've Been Put On Notice

    Cadillac has changed a lot during the past decade and a half. Once considered the brand that old folks would buy for their comfort and plushness, Cadillac has grown into a real competitor for the Germans. To see how the brand became a threat, all you need to do look at the CTS. The first and second-generation CTS models showed real promise as Cadillac got the handling and design characteristics right. But there was always something lacking that kept it a few rungs down, whether it be the interior, drivetrain, or something else. Enter the third-generation CTS and Cadillac appears to have taken the lessons it learned from past models, along with a lot of development work to get to this point. Is it a real threat? We spent some time in the CTS VSport model to find out.

     

    In terms of design, the current CTS is toned-down when compared to the last-generation model. There is a fair amount of sharp lines and angles throughout the body, but it doesn’t quite have that shock and awe look that the previous CTS had. Instead, the current CTS’ design is much more fluid and complete. Every panel and line seems to flow and makes the model seem like it was sculpted from a block of steel, not bits and pieces. The only downside to CTS’ design is the rear end as it looks like it was done at the last minute and doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the vehicle.

     

    Cadillac has also gotten the details right with the CTS. Little things such as LED lighting, headlights that extend into the front fenders, rear spoiler, and chrome exhaust ports. A set of nineteen-inch wheels adds some aggression for the VSport.

     


    2015 Cadillac CTS VSport 9


    Step inside the CTS’ interior and it's clear to see that Cadillac finally understands how to craft a luxury interior. The last-generation model featured a modern-looking interior, but it was let down by questionable material choices. Cadillac finally has both in the CTS. The interior is meant to be an intimate experience with the dashboard flowing into the door panels and high window sills. Swaths of leather are paired with real aluminum and wood trim. This might be one of the best interiors in the midsize luxury sedan class.

     

    The CTS VSport gets a set of leather seats with extra bolstering to keep you in place when you decide to play. Whenever you decide to stop playing around, you’ll find the seats provide excellent support and comfort for long distances. The back seat may seem small when compared to competitors, but it’s a different story when you sit back there. Even for taller passengers, the rear seat provides more than enough head and legroom.

     

    Infotainment duties are handled by CUE (Cadillac User Experience) and it sadly hasn’t gotten any better. The capacitive touch buttons still don’t always recognize a finger press and you’ll need to hit them a few times for a response. The system is slow to respond to simple tasks such as changing a station or bringing up the navigation. I know criticizing CUE is now at the ‘kicking the dead horse level’, but this is a key part of the vehicle. If it doesn’t work smoothly, you’re going to lose people who are interested in the car.

     


    2015 Cadillac CTS VSport 7


     

    For power, the CTS VSport employs a twin-turbo 3.6L V6 with 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine is quite a revelation when you first take it out. It feels more like a V8 in how eager the engine is to get up to speed. Cadillac says 90 percent of the torque is available between 2,500 to 5,500 rpm, giving the engine strong power in most driving conditions. It shows as the CTS VSport was eager to get up to speed at a rapid rate. Also, the engine had a lot of power in reserve for times when it was called on. The eight-speed automatic performed fast gear changes.

     

    Fuel economy for the CTS VSport is rated at 16 City/24 Highway/18 Combined. I saw an average of 20.1 MPG in mostly city driving.

     

    Aside from the twin-turbo engine, the VSport boasts some other goodies. There is a sports-tuned suspension with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control system, electronic limited-slip differential, and a set of performance tires. This combination makes the CTS VSport one of, if not the best handling sedan in the class. Put the vehicle into Sport and it hunkers down onto the road. Body motions are nonexistent when cornering and the steering provides excellent feel and weight. When you’re not horsing around and just doing the daily grind, the CTS is a pleasant and comfortable place. Put the CTS VSport into Comfort and suspension will soften to glide over most bumps. Road and wind noise are kept to levels that are considered to be silent.

     

    Cadillac has a real world-beater on their hands with the CTS. In VSport form, the CTS gives all of the midsize luxury sedans a real run for their money in terms of handling and power. The CTS also boasts one of the nicest interiors and unique exteriors in the class. CUE is still a problem for the CTS and Cadillac need to address this system ASAP.

     

    But there are still some issues for Cadillac as a whole. Perceptions of the brand still linger and the dealership experience still doesn’t quite match what you might find other luxury automakers.

     

    So while the CTS is now at a point where it can be considered best-in-class, the rest of Cadillac needs to catch up.

     

    Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the CTS VSport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

     

     

    Year: 2015
    Make: Cadillac
    Model: CTS
    Trim: VSport
    Engine: 3.6L Twin-Turbo V6
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 5,750
    Torque @ RPM: 430 @ 3,500 - 4,500
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/18
    Curb Weight: 3,952 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
    Base Price: $59,340
    As Tested Price: $60,435 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

     

    Options:
    Performance Brake Linings - $100.00

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    Awesome right up, I agree with everything you have posted about the CTS. They have a world class car, now the dealerships need to step up to make the rest of the experience world class leading.

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    The one thing GM has done totally ass backwards on the CTS is trim level pricing. A midlevel N/A V6 model costs as much as a V-Sport. That's idiotic. I can see the top trim doing that, because then the equivalent V-Sport is $10k higher.

     

    Cadillac needs to get their pricing strategy under control. A base CTS V6 shouldn't cost $54,000. Especially now that CT6 pricing has been revealed at just a hair more with standard AWD.

     

    Just for reference:

     

    ATS base pricing:

    2.0T - $36,240 (Standard)

    3.6L - $42,335 (Luxury)

     

    CTS base pricing:

    2.0T - $46,555 (Standard)

    3.6L - $54,280 (Luxury)

    3.6T - $60,950 (V-Sport Base)

     

    CT6 base pricing:

    2.0T RWD - $54,490 (Standard)

    3.6L AWD - $56,490 (Standard)

    3.0T AWD - $65,390 (Luxury)

     

    Now why in the world is the CTS 2.0T Standard and V6 Luxury $10,000 to 12,000 more than the exact same ATS trims? Cut that in half and things make a lot more sense. Why does the CT6 2.0T RWD base model even exist? What person spending that kind of money can't finance that additional $2000 for a V6 + AWD? What business case is there for a full size luxury car stripper model?

    Edited by cp-the-nerd
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    Question William. Was this CTS using the updated CUE system that was supposed to be much more responsive and snappy?

     

    That's tough to say. It didn't feel more responsive to me during the week I had it.

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    The one thing GM has done totally ass backwards on the CTS is trim level pricing. A midlevel N/A V6 model costs as much as a V-Sport. That's idiotic. I can see the top trim doing that, because then the equivalent V-Sport is $10k higher.

     

    Cadillac needs to get their pricing strategy under control. A base CTS V6 shouldn't cost $54,000. Especially now that CT6 pricing has been revealed at just a hair more with standard AWD.

     

    Just for reference:

     

    ATS base pricing:

    2.0T - $36,240 (Standard)

    3.6L - $42,335 (Luxury)

     

    CTS base pricing:

    2.0T - $46,555 (Standard)

    3.6L - $54,280 (Luxury)

    3.6T - $60,950 (V-Sport Base)

     

    CT6 base pricing:

    2.0T RWD - $54,490 (Standard)

    3.6L AWD - $56,490 (Standard)

    3.0T AWD - $65,390 (Luxury)

     

    Now why in the world is the CTS 2.0T Standard and V6 Luxury $10,000 to 12,000 more than the exact same ATS trims? Cut that in half and things make a lot more sense. Why does the CT6 2.0T RWD base model even exist? What person spending that kind of money can't finance that additional $2000 for a V6 + AWD? What business case is there for a full size luxury car stripper model?

     

    That what something I was going to address in the review, but I thought it would be better as an Afterthoughts piece since I go in a bit deeper. I agree, Cadillac needs to rethink the pricing structure to give the CTS some breathing space.

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    Question William. Was this CTS using the updated CUE system that was supposed to be much more responsive and snappy?

     

    That's tough to say. It didn't feel more responsive to me during the week I had it.

     

    Maybe it's for the 2016 models. It's bummer if they don't have that worked out yet otherwise. Of course, the more sensible solution is physical buttons. All that touchscreen non sense would drive me bonkers.

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    The C.U.E. updates are only for 2016+ models.   The update includes large hardware upgrades so it is not backwards compatible with earlier years.

    GM should look at if the hardware can plug in and work with older auto's I am sure many people would love to buy a new NAV system for their older auto's. If I could figure out how to put in the current NAV that is in the SRX into my Trailblazer I would as it is a very nice system. 

     

    Then again, that is what the 3rd party manufactures are for.

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    The CTS pricing is bizarre, and combine that with the overlap of CT6 plus overlap with XTS.  XTS and CT6 have a lot of price overlap too.  So Cadillac has 3 sedans all overlapping in some regard, in a crossover heavy market.  

     

    Product planning is not a quick fix, they can't pull 2 more crossovers out of thin air for 2017 model year.  However they can sort out options, trim packages and pricing on their sedans.  I think if they want to be a performance brand they could make the 3.6 V6 base on the CTS and CT6, at least then a $47 CTS has a 335 hp V6 base so there is some performance value there.  Make the turbo V6s mid-level, and you can change the content on trim levels to separate the cars more.

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    The CTS pricing is bizarre, and combine that with the overlap of CT6 plus overlap with XTS.  XTS and CT6 have a lot of price overlap too.  So Cadillac has 3 sedans all overlapping in some regard, in a crossover heavy market.  

     

    Product planning is not a quick fix, they can't pull 2 more crossovers out of thin air for 2017 model year.  However they can sort out options, trim packages and pricing on their sedans.  I think if they want to be a performance brand they could make the 3.6 V6 base on the CTS and CT6, at least then a $47 CTS has a 335 hp V6 base so there is some performance value there.  Make the turbo V6s mid-level, and you can change the content on trim levels to separate the cars more.

    The XTS is on the way out, hence the existence of the CT6 that replaces it. Now, the only pricing gripe I have is with the CT6 2.0L being only $2K cheaper than the 3.6L. Personally I would just dump the 2.0L because I can't fathom anyone choosing a 4 banger when the V6 is only $2K more. 

    Edited by surreal1272
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    But the XTS is still here like 3 more model years.  So there is still an overlap problem for a while, and the XTS has a base V6, the other 2 do not.  It is just weird how they planned their sedans.  

     

    But at any rate, a challenge for Cadillac (and other luxury makers) is to get people to buy sedans.  Cadillac makes a good handling, fun to drive sedan, yet no one buys it.  And GM, Ford Toyota, etc are selling $40-50,000 crossovers and SUVs.  The average new car price is like $34k.  So people are out there spending money on vehicles, Cadillac has to convince more people to look at and ATS, or CTS.  I don't think it is as simple as try to steal sales from the German sedan buyers, I think they have to get people to think why pay $45k on some Ford or Chevy crossover when they can get a Cadillac instead.  Some how they need to make sedans cool again, because the crossover is killing the sedan.

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    The C.U.E. updates are only for 2016+ models.   The update includes large hardware upgrades so it is not backwards compatible with earlier years.

    GM should look at if the hardware can plug in and work with older auto's I am sure many people would love to buy a new NAV system for their older auto's. If I could figure out how to put in the current NAV that is in the SRX into my Trailblazer I would as it is a very nice system. 

     

    Then again, that is what the 3rd party manufactures are for.

     

     

     

    http://www.radio-upgrade.com

     

    http://www.sonicelectronix.com/cat_i466_factory-radio-improvement.html

     

    http://www.oemautopartsco.com/collections/ram-navigation

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    The CTS pricing is bizarre, and combine that with the overlap of CT6 plus overlap with XTS.  XTS and CT6 have a lot of price overlap too.  So Cadillac has 3 sedans all overlapping in some regard, in a crossover heavy market.  

     

    Product planning is not a quick fix, they can't pull 2 more crossovers out of thin air for 2017 model year.  However they can sort out options, trim packages and pricing on their sedans.  I think if they want to be a performance brand they could make the 3.6 V6 base on the CTS and CT6, at least then a $47 CTS has a 335 hp V6 base so there is some performance value there.  Make the turbo V6s mid-level, and you can change the content on trim levels to separate the cars more.

    Interesting as you have totally also described MB and BMW with all their crazy cross over of models and packages. So based on this, Cadillac has nailed the German Driving Machine of Luxury.

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    The C.U.E. updates are only for 2016+ models.   The update includes large hardware upgrades so it is not backwards compatible with earlier years.

    GM should look at if the hardware can plug in and work with older auto's I am sure many people would love to buy a new NAV system for their older auto's. If I could figure out how to put in the current NAV that is in the SRX into my Trailblazer I would as it is a very nice system. 

     

    Then again, that is what the 3rd party manufactures are for.

     

     

     

    http://www.radio-upgrade.com

     

    http://www.sonicelectronix.com/cat_i466_factory-radio-improvement.html

     

    http://www.oemautopartsco.com/collections/ram-navigation

     

    Thanks for the pointers, sadly they do not offer any 2008 Trailblazer nav upgrades. Will have to see what Car Toys has or keep looking around.

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    The CTS pricing is bizarre, and combine that with the overlap of CT6 plus overlap with XTS.  XTS and CT6 have a lot of price overlap too.  So Cadillac has 3 sedans all overlapping in some regard, in a crossover heavy market.  

     

    Product planning is not a quick fix, they can't pull 2 more crossovers out of thin air for 2017 model year.  However they can sort out options, trim packages and pricing on their sedans.  I think if they want to be a performance brand they could make the 3.6 V6 base on the CTS and CT6, at least then a $47 CTS has a 335 hp V6 base so there is some performance value there.  Make the turbo V6s mid-level, and you can change the content on trim levels to separate the cars more.

    Interesting as you have totally also described MB and BMW with all their crazy cross over of models and packages. So based on this, Cadillac has nailed the German Driving Machine of Luxury.

     

    BMW and Mercedes don't put 3 sedans in the same segment.  There is overlap with the 6-series gran coupe and 7-series, but the closest Mercedes comes is E-class and CLS, but one is a sedan, one is coupe-look, and the CLS was V8 only until a couple years ago.  BMW has too many 4-door coupe and SUV coupes that aren't really any different than the main product, but that is like having an ATS sedan, coupe, wagon, convertible.  It is multiple body styles of one product which makes sense. 

     

    The German way is take one platform and build several models on it.  Cadillac has Alpha, Epsilon, and Omega sedans all in the $50-60k segment and 1 crossover on a different chassis.    They are sedan heavy in a crossover market, and they don't have convertibles, or sports cars or the low volume halo models that most luxury brands have.  Hard to build an imagine without the hottest body style or an attention grabber product.  If not for the Escalade Cadillac would be dead right now, and luckily for them gas prices are the lowest since 2007 right now, so they can still sell those.  

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    All that refinement and power, yet CUE's still worse than a $35 Wal*Mart tablet. 

     

    YOU NAILED IT GM!

     

    Well it's no worse than some recently launched Ford/Lincoln models not being upgrade-able to Sync 3.

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    This model CTS is a lickable car. Lick the headlights.. I reccommend it highly, as uhh well let's just say it's an informed opinion.

     

    I mean, the cars in this segment, for the most part are pretty even on specs and stuffs.

     

    I mean in MT's Head2Head with the GS F Sport, they gave the GS credit for feeling just as nimble and they liked the interior a bit more, even though it was massively down on power...but similar in price. Chalk it up to the CTS being a base V Sport versus a loaded GS F.

     

    Anyways, I drool over this car, and even better I have a mental model of a poster of it in the back of my head and my desktop wallpaper every so often changes to a very pretty pic of this car.

     

    When I decide to finally splurge against my own self-imposed poverty thug life, this is a car that I would love to own.

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    All that refinement and power, yet CUE's still worse than a $35 Wal*Mart tablet.

    YOU NAILED IT GM!

    Well it's no worse than some recently launched Ford/Lincoln models not being upgrade-able to Sync 3.

    I don't doubt it. But Cadillac's a few tiers above either brand.

    CUE was supposed to be a breath of fresh air, better than all the other horrid systems, yet it's become an all-encompassing punchline for horrid systems everywhere.

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    Yeah, CUE still needs to improvement, but Cadillac has everything else pretty much on point.

     

    Now just get the pricing in line and make good on promise of more VSports and iterative improvements to interior trims choices, and they'll be more reasons than ever to get a Cadillac.

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    I thought the new system for Android and apple phones would replace CUE next year. So is this the 2017 models sold in 2016 or what?

     

    Apply Car Play and Android Auto do not replace the infotainment system, they are add-ons for it. All Cadillacs with NewCUE have both.

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      Powertrain:
      Power for the Buick Cascada comes from a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. The figures are impressive for this engine. But drop it into the Cascada and it is quite disappointing. Performance is very lethargic as the engine has to overcome the nearly two tons of Cascada. It feels like an eternity getting up to speed and you’ll find yourself putting the pedal to the floor to get the vehicle moving at a sufficient rate. EPA figures for the Cascada stand at 20 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed at 21 mpg. 
      The Camaro’s engine lineup includes a 3.6L V6, turbocharged 2.0L four, and our SS tester’s 6.2L V8. The V8 pumps out 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. We had the optional eight-speed automatic, but you can get a six-speed manual. The V8 makes the Camaro Convertible stupidly fun. I found myself wanting to roll down the window at a stop light to tell the vehicle next to me “let me play you the song of my people” before stomping on the accelerator and having the V8 roar into life as the light turns green. The engine will pin you in your seat if you floor it and there is a never-ending stream of power throughout the rev range. A nice touch is the optional dual-mode exhaust system that only amplifies the noises of the V8. The eight-speed automatic is ofine around town and on the highway but stumbles somewhat in enthusiastic driving where it takes a moment to downshift when slowing down. Fuel economy for the Camaro SS Convertible stands at 17 City/28 Highway/20 Combined. I got about 19 mpg during my week-long test.
      Ride & Handling:
      Describing the ride and handling characteristics of the Cascada can be summed up in one word; smooth. Buick’s engineers tuned the Cascada’s suspension to deliver an almost magic carpet ride. Even with a set of twenty-inch wheels as standard equipment, the Cascada is able to deal with rough roads with no issues. Around corners, the Cascada feels planted and body roll is kept in check. But don’t plan on doing anything enthusiastic with it. The steering is a little bit too light for it. Drive it like a relaxed cruiser and you’ll enjoy it. Wind buffeting is minimal with either the windows rolled up or down.
      The Camaro Convertible is shocking as to how well it handles. Part of this comes down to optional Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system which limits body roll. Chevrolet engineers also worked on improving the structural rigidity of the Camaro. The combination makes the convertible just as good as the coupe in corners. Direction change is fast and there is plenty of grip coming from the meaty tires. Where the Camaro Convertible falters is the ride quality. The SS comes with a set of twenty-inch wheels. While they do look sharp, it makes for a somewhat unbearable ride. Bumps of any size are clearly transmitted to those sitting inside. MRC does its best to provide a comfortable ride, but it might be worth considering going down to a smaller wheel to improve the ride. Wind buffeting is kept in check with the windows up or down.
      Price:
      The 2016 Buick Cascada starts at $33,065 for the base model. Our up-level Premium starts at $36,065 and comes to an as-tested price of $37,385 thanks to the vehicle being finished in an optional blue color. You really don’t get much in terms of additional features when compared to the base Cascada aside from some additional safety features - front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert - and automatic wipers. Also for that amount of cash, you could with the Audi A3 cabriolet which offers a slightly more premium interior. But you would lose out on the larger back seat of the Cascada. You would be better off with the base Cascada.
      If you have your heart set on a Camaro Convertible, be ready to shell out the cash. The 2016 Camaro 2SS Convertible carries a base sticker of $48,300 - $6,005 more expensive than the coupe. Add on the list of options fitted to our tester such as the eight-speed automatic, magnetic ride control, and dual-mode exhaust system and you’ll end up with an as-tested price of $54,075. I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up from the floor due to the price shock. The Camaro is nice car all-around, but is it really worth dropping $54,000?! We’re not so sure. 
      Verdict:
      Both of vehicles have issues that don’t make them as appealing. The Cascada’s engine either needs to be kicked to the curb or head off to the gym to get a bit more power. It would nice if Buick could also figure how to put in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascada, although that might prove to be an engineering nightmare and something that would be better suited for the next-generation model. The Camaro Convertible’s price tag will make a number of people and their bank accounts cry. Also for being a convertible, the Camaro still feels as claustrophobic as the coupe.
      But when you drop the tops in both models, you forget all about the issues. Instead, you begin to take in the sky and rush of the wind. This makes you remember why you bought a convertible, to enjoy the feeling of openness. It is only when you put the top back up that makes you wonder if you can live with the issues. In the case of the Cascada, the answer is no. The Camaro is a maybe.
       
       
      Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the Cascada and Camaro; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Buick
      Model: Cascada
      Trim: Premium
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L SIDI DOHC with VVT
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1,800 - 4,500, 221 @ 2,200 - 4,000 (with overboost)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,979 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gliwice, Poland
      Base Price: $36,065
      As Tested Price: $37,385 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Deep Sky Metallic - $395.00
      Year: 2016
      Make: Chevrolet
      Model: Camaro Convertible
      Trim: SS
      Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8
      Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 455 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 455 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/28/20
      Curb Weight: 3,966 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
      Base Price: $48,300
      As Tested Price: $54,075 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Magnetic Ride Control - $1,695.00
      Eight-Speed Automatic - $1,495.00
      Dual-Mode Exhaust - $895.00
      Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation - $495.00
      20" 5-Split Spoke Aluminum Wheels - $200.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Summertime means something different for everyone. For some, it’s time to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. For others, it is the time to take that trip you have been thinking about for awhile. If you’re an automotive writer like myself, summertime means convertible season. The feeling of having the roof down and enjoying the expanded view of the sky is something quite special. This summer saw two of GM’s latest convertibles roll into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit garage, the new Buick Cascada and recently redesigned Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible. How did these two droptops fare in the summer heat?
      Exterior:
      There is no denying the Opel/Vauxhall roots of the Buick Cascada as it is just basically the Cascada sold in Europe with Buick basing. But that isn’t a bad thing since the Cascada is handsome for the most part. The front features a new grille design and headlights with LED accents. The side profile reveals short overhangs for the front and rear. These overhangs make the side look somewhat oddly proportioned. A set 20-inch wheels come standard. Around back, a long chrome bar runs along the trunk lid into the taillights. 
      On the opposite end is the Chevrolet Camaro. If you’re looking for something quiet and doesn’t bring attention, then maybe you should pass on it. Redesigned last year, Chevrolet retained the Camaro’s basic profile with its sharp lines and rounded corners. But major work was done on the front and rear ends. The front features a narrow top grille and slim headlights. A massive grille sits underneath between a set of deep cuts into the front bumper. The back has been cleaned up with a new trunk lid design, rectangular headlights, and quad-exhaust tips. 
      One item both the Cascada and Camaro share is a fabric top. Putting the top down or up takes under 20 seconds for both vehicles. With the tops down, both vehicles look quite good. But put the tops up and the Cascada is the better looking of the two. I can’t put my finger as to why, but I think it deals with how the Cascada has a little bit more glass than the Camaro. 
      Interior:
      Unfortunately, both the Cascada and Camaro fall on their face when it comes to the interior for different reasons.
      In the case of the Cascada, it features the dash from the outgoing Verano and Encore. This reveals that the Cascada is older despite what Buick may have you think. For example, the center stack is laden with buttons and it will take you a few moments to find the specific one you’re looking for. Not helping is the Cascada using GM’s last-generation infotainment system. While the system is easy to use, the interface is looking very dated. It would have been nice if Buick could have slipped in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascade, but that would have likely introduced more problems than solutions.
      On the upside, the Cascada’s interior is well-built and features decent quality materials. A fair amount of dash and door panels feature some soft touch material. The front seats are comfortable for short and long distance trips. Power adjustments for the driver’s seat make it easy to find a position that works. One touch Buick deserves applause for is the seat belt presenter. The front seat belts are nestled away when the Cascada is turned off to make it easier to get in and out of the back seat. But when you start it up, the presenter extends for both the driver and passenger to buckle in. The back seat provides enough space for kids or small adults. Taller folks like myself will find minimal legroom. With the top up, anyone sitting back here will feel very confined. With the top down, this feeling goes away. 
      Step into the 2016 Camaro Convertible’s interior and you’ll find the same retro ideas from the previous model such as the shape of the dash and circular vents. But Chevrolet improved the overall usability of the Camaro’s interior. For example, the retro-inspired engine information gauges that were placed ahead of the shifter in the previous generation are gone. In its place are a set of air vents that also control the temperature of the climate control system. 
      Our tester featured the optional Chevrolet MyLink system with navigation. We know we’re beating a dead horse with our complaints with MyLink such as a slow response when going from various screens and recognizing devices plugged into the USB ports. But you would think that GM would maybe issue an update or something by now to fix some of these issues? Like other Chevrolet models we have driven this year, the Camaro’s MyLink system comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We tried CarPlay and found it to be easier to use than most automaker’s infotainment systems. But, we had issues with apps crashing and the system not always recognizing our phone.
      The front bucket seats are quite comfortable and will hold you in if you decide to tackle that special road aggressively. A set of power adjustments makes it easy for anyone to find a comfortable position. The back seat is best reserved for small kids or extra storage as legroom is nonexistent. You would think that the Camaro Convertible wouldn’t feel as claustrophobic as the coupe since you can put the top down, but it isn’t. Sitting in the Camaro convertible with the top down, I felt like I was being contained in a small box. Blame the high belt line for this.
      Powertrain:
      Power for the Buick Cascada comes from a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. The figures are impressive for this engine. But drop it into the Cascada and it is quite disappointing. Performance is very lethargic as the engine has to overcome the nearly two tons of Cascada. It feels like an eternity getting up to speed and you’ll find yourself putting the pedal to the floor to get the vehicle moving at a sufficient rate. EPA figures for the Cascada stand at 20 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed at 21 mpg. 
      The Camaro’s engine lineup includes a 3.6L V6, turbocharged 2.0L four, and our SS tester’s 6.2L V8. The V8 pumps out 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. We had the optional eight-speed automatic, but you can get a six-speed manual. The V8 makes the Camaro Convertible stupidly fun. I found myself wanting to roll down the window at a stop light to tell the vehicle next to me “let me play you the song of my people” before stomping on the accelerator and having the V8 roar into life as the light turns green. The engine will pin you in your seat if you floor it and there is a never-ending stream of power throughout the rev range. A nice touch is the optional dual-mode exhaust system that only amplifies the noises of the V8. The eight-speed automatic is ofine around town and on the highway but stumbles somewhat in enthusiastic driving where it takes a moment to downshift when slowing down. Fuel economy for the Camaro SS Convertible stands at 17 City/28 Highway/20 Combined. I got about 19 mpg during my week-long test.
      Ride & Handling:
      Describing the ride and handling characteristics of the Cascada can be summed up in one word; smooth. Buick’s engineers tuned the Cascada’s suspension to deliver an almost magic carpet ride. Even with a set of twenty-inch wheels as standard equipment, the Cascada is able to deal with rough roads with no issues. Around corners, the Cascada feels planted and body roll is kept in check. But don’t plan on doing anything enthusiastic with it. The steering is a little bit too light for it. Drive it like a relaxed cruiser and you’ll enjoy it. Wind buffeting is minimal with either the windows rolled up or down.
      The Camaro Convertible is shocking as to how well it handles. Part of this comes down to optional Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system which limits body roll. Chevrolet engineers also worked on improving the structural rigidity of the Camaro. The combination makes the convertible just as good as the coupe in corners. Direction change is fast and there is plenty of grip coming from the meaty tires. Where the Camaro Convertible falters is the ride quality. The SS comes with a set of twenty-inch wheels. While they do look sharp, it makes for a somewhat unbearable ride. Bumps of any size are clearly transmitted to those sitting inside. MRC does its best to provide a comfortable ride, but it might be worth considering going down to a smaller wheel to improve the ride. Wind buffeting is kept in check with the windows up or down.
      Price:
      The 2016 Buick Cascada starts at $33,065 for the base model. Our up-level Premium starts at $36,065 and comes to an as-tested price of $37,385 thanks to the vehicle being finished in an optional blue color. You really don’t get much in terms of additional features when compared to the base Cascada aside from some additional safety features - front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert - and automatic wipers. Also for that amount of cash, you could with the Audi A3 cabriolet which offers a slightly more premium interior. But you would lose out on the larger back seat of the Cascada. You would be better off with the base Cascada.
      If you have your heart set on a Camaro Convertible, be ready to shell out the cash. The 2016 Camaro 2SS Convertible carries a base sticker of $48,300 - $6,005 more expensive than the coupe. Add on the list of options fitted to our tester such as the eight-speed automatic, magnetic ride control, and dual-mode exhaust system and you’ll end up with an as-tested price of $54,075. I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up from the floor due to the price shock. The Camaro is nice car all-around, but is it really worth dropping $54,000?! We’re not so sure. 
      Verdict:
      Both of vehicles have issues that don’t make them as appealing. The Cascada’s engine either needs to be kicked to the curb or head off to the gym to get a bit more power. It would nice if Buick could also figure how to put in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascada, although that might prove to be an engineering nightmare and something that would be better suited for the next-generation model. The Camaro Convertible’s price tag will make a number of people and their bank accounts cry. Also for being a convertible, the Camaro still feels as claustrophobic as the coupe.
      But when you drop the tops in both models, you forget all about the issues. Instead, you begin to take in the sky and rush of the wind. This makes you remember why you bought a convertible, to enjoy the feeling of openness. It is only when you put the top back up that makes you wonder if you can live with the issues. In the case of the Cascada, the answer is no. The Camaro is a maybe.
       
       
      Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the Cascada and Camaro; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Buick
      Model: Cascada
      Trim: Premium
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L SIDI DOHC with VVT
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1,800 - 4,500, 221 @ 2,200 - 4,000 (with overboost)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,979 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gliwice, Poland
      Base Price: $36,065
      As Tested Price: $37,385 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Deep Sky Metallic - $395.00
      Year: 2016
      Make: Chevrolet
      Model: Camaro Convertible
      Trim: SS
      Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8
      Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 455 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 455 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/28/20
      Curb Weight: 3,966 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
      Base Price: $48,300
      As Tested Price: $54,075 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Magnetic Ride Control - $1,695.00
      Eight-Speed Automatic - $1,495.00
      Dual-Mode Exhaust - $895.00
      Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation - $495.00
      20" 5-Split Spoke Aluminum Wheels - $200.00
    • By William Maley
      Three years might not seem like a long time. But in the automotive industry, it is an eternity. In that short amount time, a vehicle may be surpassed by competitors and sales may take a dive. Take for example the Nissan Altima. When the redesigned model was launched back in 2013, it was considered to be above-average and some key advantages over rivals. But time has passed and the Altima has been surpassed in a number of key areas by refreshed/redesigned competitors. Nissan knew they needed to do something to get the Altima back in contention. Last year, they introduced a refreshed Altima that would hopefully give them a fighting chance in the class. Let's see if it does.
      If you were expecting some big changes to the Altima’s exterior in this mid-cycle refresh, then you’ll be disappointed. The front end features a new V-shaped grille and revised headlights to bring the model in line with the current Nissan design language. Updated taillights and new wheel choices finish off the changes. The interior is mostly left alone in this refresh aside from some new choices of trim pieces. That isn’t a bad thing as the Altima’s interior is a nice place to be in with ample space for passengers, a fair amount of soft-touch materials used throughout, and a simple dash layout. 
      One item we do wish Nissan would have addressed in this refresh is the NissanConnect infotainment system. All Altimas come with a five-inch touchscreen as standard, while our SL tester featured the optional seven-inch screen. This system has a number of issues ranging from an interface that makes it look older than it really is to the system crashing our iPod on a regular basis. More worrying was the system crashing and rebooting twice during our week-long test. It would be nice for Nissan to take the system out of the Maxima and Murano and put it into the rest of their lineup as it doesn’t have the issues listed here.
      Under the hood of the Altima are the same engines that have powered it since 2013. Our Altima SL tester came with the standard 2.5L four-cylinder with 183 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a 3.5L V6 with 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. No matter which engine you pick, a Xtronic CVT routes the power to the front wheels. The 2.5 does quite well around town as the engine gets up to speed at a decent rate. Getting onto the highway is another story as you’ll need to almost floor the gas pedal to get up to speed at a somewhat decent rate. This also brings forth an abundance of engine noise, something we complained about in our 2014 Nissan Altima SL review. At least the Xtronic CVT is responsive when you step on the accelerator and the illusion of the stepped gears can make most buyers believe they’re driving an automatic.
      The EPA rates the Altima’s fuel economy at 27 City/39 Highway/31 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 31.7 MPG.
      The Altima’s ride and handling characteristics are in the middle. The suspension does a decent job of soaking up most bumps, but some larger ones will make their way inside. The recently redesigned Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Passat do a better job in this regard. In the bends, the Altima feels composed and shows little body roll. But the steering is way too light and doesn’t offer enough feel to feel sporty. If you want that, a Mazda6 or Ford Fusion should be on the list.
      How do you sum up the 2016 Nissan Altima? It is a competent midsize sedan. But competent isn’t a strong selling point to a midsize sedan as you can apply to any model in the class. What you need is something that makes your model stand out whether in terms of design or features. The Altima doesn’t have anything like that.
      Picking the Altima may be the safe choice, but it be might a choice you regret.
      Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Altima, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Nissan
      Model: Altima
      Trim: 2.5 SL
      Engine: 2.5L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Xtronic CVT
      Horsepower @ RPM: 182 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 180 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/39/31
      Curb Weight: 3,254 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, TN
      Base Price: $28,570
      As Tested Price: $32,115 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Technology Package - $1,700
      Moonroof Package - $800.00
      Carpeted Floormats and Trunk Mat - $210.00

      View full article
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