2008 Cadillac CTS Long Term Road Test


2008 Cadillac CTS: Subscriptions, Subscriptions

July 02, 2008

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Another night in our 2008 Cadillac CTS went without a hitch. It's a very nice car in nearly every way. My wife has never considered herself a Cadillac person, except perhaps in the rockabilly Kustom Kulture ironic sense. But she surprises herself for liking this one. "If only it didn't have so much cheesy chrome..." she mused, pointing to the plethora of shiny rings and bezels inside.

On another note, yesterday I had to approve a purchase request submitted for the renewal of the XM subscriptions in our CTS (yes, there are two) and it got me to thinking about subscription services in general.

On top of the car payment and the cost of filling the tank with gas, the CTS has no less than 4 subscriptions to renew if you want to keep all of the electronic toys up and running.

XM radio: $12.95 per month

XM traffic for the NAV system you already bought: $3.95 per month (or $9.95 per month if you reject XM radio.)

On-Star crash notification, emergency services, diagnostics: $18.95 per month.

On-Star turn-by-turn voice NAV and concierge services: $9.95 on top of the $18.95 base service (not available separately)

On-star calling minutes: 100 minutes = $39.95; 500 minutes = $174.99. A Verizon cell phone/On-star in-car shared minutes scheme is cheaper: 700 shared minutes costs $69.99 per month, according to the On-Star website.

Excluding the phone minutes, re-upping for everything in this car totals $45.80 per month, plus tax. Annual discounts bring it down to $501.80 per year, plus tax, and the XM prices drop even more if you have more than one car or receiver on your account.

The turn-by turn part of On-star seems redundant in this NAV-equipped CTS, and the only economical way to make use of in-car calling requires one to have a Verizon cell phone. But if you had that, why would you need separate in-car calling?

As for the traffic, I'm not sure the XM data is up-to-the-minute enough to be useful:

On last night's commute home, I ran into more than one situation like this: XM traffic showed my route all green, including my current position.

But the view out the front window was quite different. I have several freeway options when I drive home, and I'd want enough accuracy to make solid, on-the-fly decisions.

In some ways, I'd rather the price of such stuff be buried in the option cost and the service be permanently active. The list of things in my life that cost "only" $14.95 per month is staggering.

350 traffic stopped label.jpgI just added a thrid cell phone for my daughter: only $9.95 per month

We want to upgrade to HD service from regular digital satellite: only $19.95 more

Netflix, premium cable channels, the monthly service for the digital picture frame for Grandma, an XBOX live account--it never ends.

But another part of me likes the fact that I can discontinue payment for a feature that isn't working out. I just cancelled an XBOX Live account today, for example. Subscriptions also keep the pressure on the service providers to constantly perform, compete with other services and innovate.

How many of you are re-upping for this stuff once the trial period ends? How many are not? Would you rather see it priced into the vehicle option cost, or does the monthly strategy with opt-out possibilities seem better?

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 7,824 miles

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