Used 1997 Cadillac Eldorado Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

Structural, suspension and brake system enhancements are made across the board. Base models get MagnaSteer variable effort steering, while the Eldorado Touring Coupe (ETC) receives a new Integrated Chassis Control System (ICCS) that includes stability enhancement and road texture detection. All Eldos have slightly revised stereo and climate controls, and the OnStar services package is a slick new option that can notify emergency personnel where your disabled car is located or can allow you to book dinner reservations from the driver seat.

Vehicle overview

One of the models that lured Cadillac back from the brink of becoming a laughingstock 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.

However, the Eldorado hasn't been selling well. Seems the market for high-priced, traditional luxury coupes has dried up a bit during the past few years, and rumors are circulating about the death of this luxury coupe before the end of the decade. That would be too bad, because what's here is good. The Northstar V8 has been called the best production engine on the planet, and for 1997 Cadillac has improved the Eldorado. The changes aren't obvious, because exteriors haven't changed a bit, with the exception of new wheels for the ETC.

Inside, the Eldorado's interior, seemingly inspired by Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, is rich with leather and wood. Seats have been revised this year for better comfort. Audio and climate controls have been slightly altered in favor of improved ease of operation. The driver information center includes additional messages for 1997, and the number of programmable features has increased. 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 in trouble can alert emergency personnel to his exact location or get instruction if she is lost. The system can even track your Eldo if it's stolen or locate the nearest ATM. It all works beautifully, but buyers evidently balk at spending nearly forty grand for an Eldorado.

Mechanically, 1997 Eldos receive a stiffer body structure, brake enhancements that are intended to provide smoother, surer stops and better pedal feel. Also new are front suspension changes designed to isolate rough pavement, provide better handling, and smooth out the cushy ride. Base models get MagnaSteer variable effort steering gear.

The Eldorado Touring Coupe benefits from additional improvements. This year, the Integrated Chassis Control System (ICCS) includes stability enhancement and road texture detection. Stability enhancement is designed to correct skids automatically, allowing the Eldorado to respond to driver inputs quicker. Road texture detection reads the road surface, leading to better antilock brake performance on rough pavement. Also exclusive to the ETC is an extensive personalization programmable package, which contains more programmable features than found in the base Eldorado.

Lincoln's Mark VIII has been freshly restyled this year, and performance figures are nearly indistinguishable from the Eldorado, though its retro-futuristic styling themes inside and out do not appeal to us as much as the Eldo's sharper edges and richly appointed interior. Still, the Lincoln is a sheer blast to drive, with a sweet twin-cam V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, and an outstanding optional JBL sound system. The Mark VIII behaves like a luxury Mustang GT, while the Eldorado behaves like a luxury Monte Carlo Z34. Despite the Cadillac's more unique styling, we'd take the hot-to-trot Lincoln.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.