I bought a new 97 Catera in late 1997, thinking I was getting a good deal with discounts/rebates. Catera was not without its virtues. It handled very well, had a fun sport suspension setting and was pretty comfortable. I overlooked the bland styling. None of these things mattered when the car began falling apart within weeks. First, the gas tank was removed to fix a broken sensor. Soon after, a gasket blew. Then the fuel pump died. The most persistent problem was with the door locks, which malfunctioned often and prevented the doors from closing. Lindsay Cadillac service (VA) was terrible, with many return visits for door locks. All of this happened within about 16 months of purchase.
Agile handling and a firmed-up sport suspension setting.
Fun to drive when it ran, the "Check Engine" light wasn't lit, and I didn't wake up to find it parked in a puddle of fluid, and whenever the doors didn't bounce open when I tried to close them.
Driving to the dealership while holding onto the door to keep it closed was... less fun.
The leather interior and supportive seats were nice for an entry-level luxury car.
Comfortable driving position.
Decent, but not great acceleration.
Reliability, Reliability and perhaps Reliability.
Exterior styling was laid-back and boring, looking more like a round economy family car than a sporty luxury car.
The styling hid the one real virtue of the car, which was its aggressive handling.
This is an amazing car. Yes it has a few problems we are going to have to work on. But my dads psycho ex girlfriend parked it in the grass and took the chip out of the key. That's the reason for most of the problems. It is a 15 year old car, so yes it's going to have other problems to. But before it was taken off the road because of the crazy psycho it was running fine. The ride is smooth just like a Cadillac should ride, the Bose stereo system is beyond amazing and the speed and look of the car fits my personallity to a key. This car is one of the most amazing cars I have ever seen.
Bought in '02 with 36K miles for $7K ($32K new in '97. 136K miles/9+ years later, can't complain. Spent $800 on leaking oil cooler, timing belt/tensioner warranty replacement, $300 on timing belt replacement at 106K miles, $70 twice to replace heater control valve and $100 on oxygen sensor. Got climate control module for $25 to replace defect. Serviced spark plugs, trans fluid and brake pads. The timing belt is due to be changed in the next 10K or so. The only annoying thing to me is the electrical gremlins like the TC/ABS lights and the radio shutting off if the volume is too loud. If you do the work yourself, this can be a fun car to own because it has never left me on the side of the road
Comfortable seats, good gas mileage (422 highway miles before low fuel light comes on), beautiful instrument panel
features and layout (especially at night), a/c performance , huge truck, good road handling and solid at triple digit speeds.
Fix the electrical gremlins, heater control valve (leaks every 50K-60K miles), climate control defective on certain VIN #s, lacking about 50 hp/50 ft lbs of torque, lower overall vehicle weight, longer seat travel for taller driver's and 17 inch wheels.
While everybody else hates this car, I love it! I bought last year for $2000. I immediately had to buy a new radiator for it for $200 that I installed. I was quoted up to $750 for one, so call around when buying parts. I abuse this car! The sport button is on half the time, I take corners at above twice the recommended speed. This car is glued to the road. It sails at 90 mph with no problem. If you can work on cars yourself and want cheap luxury then this is the car for you. For what I paid for it if a major repair comes up then its off to the junk yard, but until then, get out of my way! You can buy a Haynes repair manual for an Opel Omega from the UK. Same car. I did.
Love the sport button.
Almost makes me forget how great stick shifts are.
The 10 speaker Bose stereo is incredible.
The memory driver seat/mirror with 3 presettable positions is good too.
Just hold the button down and the seat and all mirrors go back to the way you like them.
Good trunk for the overall size of the car.
Traction control off button on the dash.
Like the auto turn on headlights and the rear view mirror that automatically dims once for night time and dims further when bright lights are behind you.
Good loud horn. Rear wheel drive is good.
Love the front/rear weight dist.
Deeper dashboard for aftermarket stereo.
New CD deck sticks out about an inch.
Also had to spend $129 for a Bose adapter module for the amp/speakers.
Don't like the traction control method.
My last car's worked by applying the brake to the slipping wheel, where this retards the engine power.
Permanent cup holders.
Also, the passenger door could not be unlocked if you tried to open it while it was locked.
Sticky mechanism in the latch assembly.
Had to take the door apart and relubricate.
Now its fine. Low brakepad light comes on sporratically, esp. when weather's cold.
Too much plastic under the hood.
The old radiator water inlet tore like a styrofoam cup it was so worn.
This car is a great ride. That's it. I can not find anyone to fix whatever is wrong. Dealers laugh at the cost to fix it. It runs for a week and then quits. Over and over again. I feel like driving it through a dealer window, but bought it privately. I will stick to Toyota from past experience. I thought since the motor was made in Germany that it would be a good car. I was wrong! This car needs to have permanent retirement in a junk yard. I would feel guilty selling it to anyone as gullible as I was. I should have known better (what was I thinking not buying a Toyota?).
It's a great and comfortable ride, that's it.
A reliable engine, transmission, and electrical system is needed on this car, like most other American cars. It's also a bit squirrely on the road, especially loose gravel and ice.