Posts Tagged ‘Cadillac’

Test Drive: 2001 Cadillac Catera

On January 6, 2012, I test drove a 2001 Cadillac Catera at Empire Auto Sales in Hemet, California. The car has a beige exterior with a beige leather interior. It has 104,000 miles, with an asking price of $5,999. The Catera has a L81 3.0 liter V6 Engine that produces 200 horsepower @ 6000 rpm, and 192 lb-ft of torque @ 3600 rpm. The car has rear wheel drive, and a 4L30-E transmission, which is one of General Motors’ 4 speed automatic units. The Cateras were not engineered or assembled in the United States. They were originally from Germany. The Cateras are based off of the Opel and Vauxhall Omegas for the European market. There were also Omega wagons for both the Opel and Vauxhall brands. In Europe, many Omegas were used in law enforcement more so than as luxury cars. Between the Omegas and Cateras, there are not many significant differences. The Cateras first debuted in the United States as 1997 models. In 2000, the cars underwent a facelift. In 2001, the Cateras were discontinued, and were replaced by their popular successor, the CTS (Catera Touring Sedan). The Opel/Vauxhall Omega production ceased after the 2003 model year. While the Omegas were well known in Europe, Cateras were not very popular in North America. Now, let’s get back to the test drive.
I first went to San Jacinto which is next to Hemet because on the dealer’s website the car was listed at Empire Auto Sales’ San Jacinto lot. When I got there, I didn’t see the Catera. I asked a salesman if they still had the car on the lot, and he told me it was at the Hemet lot. He called the other dealer to tell them I was coming, and then gave me directions on how to get there. The two dealers were only four miles apart from each other. When I got to the Hemet lot, I met with a salesman named Dave. He pointed to the car outside, and I took a look at it while he was getting the keys. The body style of the car looked sporty, but its roundish shape doesn’t fit for a Cadillac. From a distance, somebody may think it’s a Chevy Malibu, Ford Taurus, or a Chrysler. The Catera did not have many noticeable blemishes. No dents that I can recall; just some scratches on the rear bumper, and the Cadillac crest in the grille was missing. After Dave got the keys, I tried using the keyless entry to unlock it. It was broken so I unlocked it manually. The Catera’s interior looked outdated for a 2001. It looked as if it was from another Cadillac or Buick from the late 80’s to mid 90’s. The driver’s seat was plushy when I sat in it.
When I started the car, I made sure that the electrical parts worked such as the seat, mirrors, and windows. The front passenger’s window switch for the passenger didn’t work (only the switch for the driver worked), nor did the passenger mirror when trying to move it to the right. The rear view inside the car was slightly loose when moving it, but still intact. The shifter knob was unusual because it has a button on top of it and another one on the bottom. The top one I found out was for the sport mode. Dave wanted to go with me on the test drive, so I didn’t get to have the chance to drive it where I wanted to go. When backing out of the space, I thought the rear visibility wasn’t the best when looking over my right shoulder because of the head rest. The car’s V6 engine was not the fastest one I have driven. I’m guessing it would take 8 ½ seconds to go from 0-60 miles per hour; At least when the transmission worked properly. When I came to my first stoplight, it apparently didn’t go to first gear. I wasn’t sure if it had to do with the sport mode. When I tried to take off, the engine revved, but it barely moved forward. After keeping my foot on the gas for about five seconds, it caught up to speed. I wanted to drive the Catera on more open roads with less traffic so that I could get a better feel for the power. I did make a few sharp turns and a U-turn, but I didn’t think it was enough to get to know the car. After turning around on a cul-de-sac, I drove back to the dealership. Dave wanted to know what my cell phone number was. Instead of giving it to him, I give him my mom’s fax number, and of course I didn’t tell him that it wasn’t really my number. The test drive was disappointing because there was traffic, and I was mostly driving straight.
When I got home, I checked the suggested retail value from Kelley Blue Book. It was $4,900, so the dealer was asking about $1,000 more than what it was actually worth. I also read some consumer reviews about the Cateras and I was very surprised by the number of negative reviews I came across. There were a few people that had so many problems with their cars that they couldn’t even trade them in. Many of the problems were oil leaks, blown head gaskets, transmission slips, deteriorating timing belts, electrical malfunctions, and the craziest one I’ve read were the seat warmers burning through the seat cushions! Many have also said that the Cateras were the absolute worst Cadillac ever made! What’s funny is that underneath, it’s not really a Cadillac; it’s an Opel. One of the most common issues I saw in these articles was the tires. A lot of owners stated either that the tire tread on their vehicles did not last long, or that they would lose a lot of air. No wonder why I don’t see a lot of Cateras on the road. These cars are probably junk! Overall, the Cadillac Cateras are sporty looking cars, but they do not have Cadillac looks to them, and they most likely were built with shoddy craftsmanship. After reading other articles, I would never buy nor suggest buying a Catera. If you are planning to purchase a Catera, do it at your own risk.
Photos taken by Empire Auto Sales.


Cadillac STS Commercial