1999 Cadillac Catera (247)

The Cadillac Catera remains basically unchanged for 1999, but since I haven’t driven this car since 1996 (1997-model year) I’ve noticed a great improvement in the way it feels.

It’s a Cadillac, built in Germany, and it’s based on the German Opel Omega MV6. Engineers in both the U.S. and Europe developed it. A powerful V6 engine drives the rear wheels and the car displays all the engineering features typical of similar cars designed for Germany’s high-speed Autobahns. I must say I loved the experience of driving on them throughout Europe. It gave me an appreciation for how well a car has to be built to stand up to the demands of prolonged high-speed highway travel. That fact, in itself, is enough to convince me to consider this car over other competition in its class. It truly elevates this Catera, in my view, to a level of greater respect.

Cadillac says Catera is doing the job they wanted it to—over 60 percent of recent Catera buyers traded in a non-GM product, and most buyers listed Lexus as their second-choice vehicle. I don’t know about that, because Lexus makes pretty nice cars. But I do agree the Catera will find itself in good company in any case. The 1999 Cadillac Catera 4-door sedan is available as a single trim. That too sounds more European than American. I like the fact that cars don’t have to change in appearance every couple of years to continue to be desirable. Quite the contrary, we’re creatures of habit and like the comfort of those old shoes, pants, golf clubs etc., and we’re not as trendy as American manufacturers try to make us. Perhaps that explains why American automakers lost market share to foreign carmakers who put more brainpower into changing function over form.

Anyway, when I drove the very first 1997 model in 1996, it was in the state of Colorado and it was snowing. Although it handled well in the weather, I wasn’t overly impressed with the car. I was used to Cadillac being big. The attempt at producing a small version of the Cadillac (Cimeron) didn’t go over well and so I thought why should this be any different. But they’ve convinced me. This is now approaching the Cad standards I’ve come to know and love. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, but generally big goes with the luxury car territory. This really is the Cadillac of small cars. I liked the auto up and down windows that are so great for fast food stops. You can be doing several things at once, like rolling up the windows and still managing to take a bite of that hamburger as you drive off reaching for the seat belt. Well, I figure if women can put on their makeup while driving to work, I can eat an egg McMuffin on my commute.

You’ll be impressed with the performance of the Catera. It is fast, fast, fast and it corners like more expensive cars like the Mercedes E-55 I’m driving now with a price tag sure to choke a horse.

Cad did a wonderful job on the evolution of this Catera. I wonder how much the European market had to do with the quality and enhancements found on the 1999 version.

The Competition:

Acura TL $27,950, Audi A4 $23,790 – $30,040, BMW 3-Series $23,300 – $41,500, Infiniti I30 $28,900 – $31,200, Lexus ES 300 $30,905, Mazda Millenia $26,745 – $31,245, Mercedes-Benz C-Class $31,200 – $53,000, Mitsubishi Diamante $27,199, Volvo S70 $27,385 – $33,520.

Good News:

It’s American “and” it’s built in Germany. It’s the Cadillac of small cars. Great smooth ride and terrific handling.

Bad News:

Lacks styling of upscale luxury small cars.

Standard Equipment:

3.0-liter 200-horsepower V6, coupled to a 4-speed automatic transmission, dual-zone climate control, dust and pollen filter, express power windows and door locks, power front seats, cruise control, remote keyless entry, AM/FM stereo cassette, leather trim, memory function for driver’s 8-way power seat, power/ heated outside mirrors, dual airbags, anti-lock brake system (ABS), traction control, daytime running lights, indicator light that alerts the driver of possible icy road conditions.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 24 Highway MPG.


MSRP $34,180

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
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