Cadillac wasn’t a GM brand initially – in fact, it was formed by the remnants of the Henry Ford Company in 1902. This is the second automobile company that Henry Ford quit, this time over a fight with his bankers, till he finally formed the Ford Motor Company in 1903.
Meanwhile, Cadillac was named after the founder of Detroit, French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and the Caddy crest is an artful representation of Cadillac’s coat of arms. In its 117 years of existence, Caddy has come up with more good than bad when it comes to cars. But sometimes even the greats err, and these are 10 Cadillacs that disappointed the world.
10 1982-1988 Cadillac Cimarron: The Worst Blot
Had this been a ranked article, the Cimarron would have flowed in at number one. The worst of the cars ever to come out of the Caddy stable, this was utter automobile horror. A rebadged and redecorated version of the Chevrolet Cavalier – everything that was mediocre about the Cavalier became it's very worst in the Cimarron.
A front-wheel-drive with a lackluster four-cylinder engine paired with a four-speed manual – this was the car Caddy floored to take on the premium but small cars from the German stables. With the Cimarron costing a lot more than the Cavalier, sales were down and Caddy hung its head in utter shame.
9 1997-2001 Cadillac Catera: A Follow-Up Lemon
Stung by the utter failure of the Cimarron, Cadillac decided to be extra careful with its next new “small” sedan. So how to go about it? Instead of competing with the Germans, they partnered with them. With a French transmission and a British 3.0-liter V6, the other parts were all made by the German Opal brand.
The unveiling revealed the Cadillac Catera, with an underpowered engine paired with a hibernating automatic transmission. Too many cooks spoil the broth, and so too many big brains together ruined what could have been Caddy’s successful small car foray. The Catera was simply another lemon.
8 1987-1993 Cadillac Allanté: Overstyled And Overpriced
So, when a seven-year run manages to make only 21,000 cars – what would you call that? Colorful language apart, we call it the Cadillac Allanté – a ludicrous and expensive design on four wheels simply because it was designed and built by Pininfarina in Italy. It took 747s to fly them to Detroit to fill in the rest of the cars.
Yet another hopeless try on Caddy’s part to compete with Mercedes-Benz. The 4.1 to 4.6-liter V8s failed to impress and because of the astronomical flying costs – this car was also superbly expensive, for no rhyme and reason. In 1987, the base price came up to be a whopping $54,000 plus.
7 2009-2013 Cadillac Escalade EXT: The Truck No One Wanted
If you take a perfectly well selling Escalade and decide to make a pickup truck out of it, because well, YOLO; you get the Cadillac Escalade EXT. Some bright brains at GM had the bright idea that most people use their trucks as trucks only for short spurts, otherwise, trucks are used as SUVs.
Thus the birth of the Cadillac Escalade EXT – which no Escalade owner wanted to be caught dead in, and no other truck lover wanted to touch with a barge pole. Too pricey for a truck and loaded with a slow-to-respond powertrain and drivetrain – this truck was neither here nor there. So finally, it was simply Thanos’d off the list, with a snap of Caddy's bigshot fingers.
6 1981-1984 Cadillac Fleetwood V-8-6-4: The Bucking Bronco
Probably the worst engine ever, or wait, maybe the second worst, simply not enough thought was put into what should have been a great variable displacement. The 2008 Honda Accord V6 is a perfect example of the same, shutting off two cylinders and working as a V4 if there is a lesser need for power.
Sadly the Cadillac Fleetwood sounded great in theory but was a bronco gone wild in practice. To say the V-8-6-4 was a failure would be an understatement and the only way people were able to retain these cars is by deactivating the displacement system and using Fleetwood as a V8.
5 2013-2016 Cadillac ELR: Tesla Like In Price
While none of us can mention Tesla minus a snigger nowadays, there was a time when Cadillac decided to enter the electric vehicle fray. With the advent of the Chevrolet Volt came the Caddy’s EV entry – Cadillac ELR. Now let’s talk about the misses. It completely missed the price bracket by putting a $75,000 base price on the ELR – giving most of its interested buyers a near-fatal electric shock.
So no takers came forward. It missed its target audience – most of Caddy’s loyalists are older and pretty much distrustful of what tech brings, so an EV was a no go for them. With just 3000 sold, well, suffice to say the Cadillac ELR missed its sales targets as well.
4 2000-2005 Cadillac DeVille: The Devil With It
The eighth generation of the Cadillac DeVille had a huge minus point – and most of it was the engine. The 4.6-liter Northstar V8 is not one of the better engines GM has made and is known to be regular oil drinker and well, um, sprayer.
Some of the DeVille works fine, but some of these engines are not even properly put together and shake so much like they want to break free. Perhaps they should have named this car Angel instead if they wanted it to behave better. The DeVille in this Cadillac refused to settle down and with a front-wheel-drive, it was fast but no fun to drive.
3 2004-2009 Cadillac XLR - Worst Sports Car
Okay, Caddy, repeat after me – we will never try to make a Corvette ever again. Because the five years of the Cadillac XLR were so traumatic for Corvette owners and dreamers, some even got PTSD. Yes, we are kidding. But honestly, it was big and thus, it was slow – relatively to the Corvette.
At $111,000 for the top trim, most expected this to be a fast car, which it wasn’t. It was complete luxury though – with heated and cooled seats, a keyless entry, a seven-inch screen, and all the bells and whistles. But for someone who wanted a Corvette from a Cadillac, it was utterly disappointing.
2 1980-1985 Cadillac Seville: Rhymes With The DeVille
The Seville was doing okay enough in its first generation, despite the rather strange design it had. While GM thought to target it at the youth, it ended up being a favored drive of little old ladies who wanted a Caddy, but in a smaller size.
Sales began okay, but when they began to put in the same disastrous V-8-6-4 that they put in the Fleetwood, the Seville began to buck and fail just as bad. Simply said, older women no longer liked its junky ride, and the Seville's standing and sales soon dwindled to nothingness. Caddy should have realized, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
1 2004-2016 Cadillac SRX: Not Particularly Reliable
For most, this was a fairly successful car – a mid-size luxury crossover SUV, the SRX remained in existence from 2004 to 2016. The second-generation 2010-2016 Cadillac SRX was a best seller. That said; there was one safety issue with the car.
In 2010, 550 of Cadillac SRXs had to be recalled because the turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 power mill failed if the owner used regular fuel over premium gas and then drove like a maniac. While driving like a maniac is never a good idea, it proved especially ridiculous with the Cadillac SRX since the engine got damaged. From 2011, this particular engine was ousted in favor of a more well-behaved one.