Is BMW the new Cadillac? - 2011 BMW 528i Long-Term Road Test

2011 BMW 5 Series Long Term Road Test

2011 BMW 528i: Is BMW the new Cadillac?

June 30, 2011


The other day I had a meeting with a guy who was a Cadillac guy. A serious Cadillac guy. When I asked him the process he uses for buying a new car he said, "Well, when I see a new Cadillac I like, I have to buy it." And that was it. That was how he shops for a car. His latest purchase, though, he regrets, "It just rides so poorly. It's uncomfortable and bumpy and just sits in the garage. I only drive the DTS. I'll probably sell it."

The car in question is a 2010 Cadillac CTS. And, honestly, from a Caddy-buyer POV, that car is probably terrible. It's not floaty, it changes direction, there's feel--- all curse words to old-school Caddy owners.

So we're talking and I say, "Hey, have you driven the new BMW 5 Series?" He says that because it's not a Cadillac, and because the last BMW he drove -- in the 80s --he hated, he has not. I tell him the new car is softer, floatier and less responsive than the CTS even and this might be just the car he's looking for. He said he'd give it a shot, but has since stopped returning my calls. Still, I think he'd dig the 528i.

The point, however, is valid: Cadillac is making real cars these days (so is Buick to think of it) and the upcoming ATS and XTS look to follow in the vein of the CTS by also being real, driveable cars. That leaves guys like our friend up there without a natural home. At the same time, BMW's are getting easier and easier on the driver and have a plush factor that there seems to be a market for.

Is BWM right to follow the rich old guys (and their money) into retirement or is Cadillac on the right path, attracting young buyers who still want style and speed? Or both? Is this just a natural shift in market segments? Keeping vs attracting buyers.

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