What's New for 1999
Colors are big each year with Cadillac, and 1999 is no different. Cashmere, Parisian Blue and Sterling Silver replace Frost Beige, Baltic Blue Silver Mist and Shale on Eldorado's exterior color chart. Oatmeal leather replaces Cappuccino Cream as an interior color, while Pewter cloth has been deleted, leaving only Shale and Blue cloth available. In the hardware department, an electrochromic inside rearview mirror with compass and an audible theft-deterrent system are now standard equipment. The Eldorado Touring Coupe (ETC) also gets the Bose four-speaker AM/FM cassette/single-slot CD and Weather Band audio system standard, with the option of adding massaging lumbar seats that provide a gentle back rub as you drive.
One of the models that lured Cadillac back from the brink of becoming hopelessly behind the times was the current edition of the Eldorado. Introduced in 1992 to critical acclaim, and then substantially improved with the introduction of the Northstar V8 in 1993, the Eldorado (and its sister car, the Seville) redefined Cadillac for the world.
While Eldorado lays claim to being the best-selling prestige luxury coupe in the United States, that's not saying a whole lot. The market for high-priced, traditional luxury coupes has pretty much dried up over the past few years, as evidenced by the death of the Lincoln Mark VIII and the doomed Buick Riviera. Consequently, pundits have been crowing about the demise of the Eldo before the end of the decade. Not so, according to the latest rumors, which place the Eldorado on a rear-drive chassis with a smaller body in the near future. Meanwhile, traditional luxo-coupe buyers can contemplate the 1999 models, which gain a few feature improvements and new colors.
The Eldorado's interior, seemingly inspired by Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, is rich with leather and wood. ETC models have memory systems that recall rearview mirror positions, climate control settings, or even what CD and song the driver was listening to last. Optional on both Eldorados is the OnStar Services package, which includes a voice-activated cellular phone. With OnStar, a driver can alert emergency personnel to an exact location or simply get travel directions. The system can even track your Eldo if it's stolen, or locate the nearest ATM. Last year new radios ware added, and programmable features enhanced. This year the ETC lands the top-of-the-line Bose audio system, with its myriad of features, as standard equipment.
Mechanically, Eldos are powered by two different versions (275 and 300 horsepower) of the 4.6-liter Northstar V8 engine, which sends power to the ground via the front wheels. MagnaSteer variable-effort steering gear is standard. Optional on base models and standard on the Touring Coupe is StabiliTrak, which includes stability enhancement and road texture detection. Stability enhancement is designed to correct skids automatically, allowing the Eldorado to better respond to driver inputs. Road texture detection reads the road surface, leading to better antilock brake performance on rough pavement.
With traditional big American luxury coupes dropping like dinosaurs and only a few import brands toying with this segment, it is no wonder the Eldo is getting a bigger piece of a much smaller pie. Eventually, some auto analysts think, the luxury SUV craze will completely kill off cars of this ilk, but we don't think so. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised to see an SUV backlash in the coming years, and coupes may even lead a truck-weary market charge back to cars.
While today's Eldorado is on the bulky side and as gizmo-laden as they come, it still has a distinctive look and a wonderful engine, especially in ETC guise. Sure, there are a lot of transportation choices as you approach the 40-grand neighborhood, but credit this big Caddy coupe as being a survivor in an increasingly rare breed.