1997 Cadillac Catera (2022)

My first glimpse of the 1997 Cadillac Catera was on England's M11 highway in July, 1996. I was northbound in the middle of three lanes driving my rented Fiat Punta at 155 km/h, when this beautiful machine passed me on the right, travelling so quickly I could barely make out the Cadillac badge on the trunk.

Returning to Toronto, I learned the Catera would not be available in Canada until early 1997.

I also discovered the engine (a 3.0 L, 24valve, DOHC V6 producing 200 hp) is built in Ellesmere Port, England; the technicians were likely testing when they blew past me the previous year.

I had been impressed, so in June of last year I took a three-year lease on one from Marvin Starr, a Scarborough, Ont. dealer.

This smallest Cadillac is based on the 1993/94 Opel Omega chassis. Assembled in Russelsheim, Germany, it competes in North America against the Mercedes Benz C and E-Classes, the Lexus ES 300, the BMW 3 and 5 Series, and the Volvo S70.

As a luxury vehicle (approximately $50,000 to purchase with taxes/charges included – leases negotiable), Catera has all the features expected of a Cadillac.

The heated leather seating comes as a standard feature, as do the dual-zone climate controls.

Options include a garage-door opener built into the rearview mirror, a cell phone, sunroof, Bose stereo system and a 12-disc CD changer mounted in the trunk.

I chose the five-spoke, 16x7inch, chrome-finished aluminum wheels as an option. Combined with Goodyear Eagle 225/55R16 high-speed tires, I think they add to the car's appearance.

(Video) 1997 Cadillac catera

In fact, most people comment about the wheels first.

The Catera is rear-wheel drive. At 1710 kg, it's quite heavy. With two normal-sized people, it's well over two tonnes – and likely why Cadillac went with four-wheel disc brakes and ABS, which gives the car superb stopping power.

Handling is excellent, with speed-sensitive power-steering controlling this uni-body construction car.

Bosch traction control can be defeated by a switch on the dash. Never having driven a rear-wheel drive car in snow before, I was not looking forward to last winter, but was pleasantly surprised that the Caddy handled everything in its stride, including our mini ice storm last Nov. 14.

However, in heavy rain "The Cadillac That Zigs," as the ads triumph, is a real handful.

The traction control compensates for slippage, but I instinctively correct the steering for what I feel the car is doing, and consequently we fight each other.

Switching the traction control off solves the problem.

For drivers who prefer to keep steering straight ahead, the TC will be fine.

One item I immediately had removed was the twincup coffee holder between the front seats. This Rube Goldberg invention was useless to me, and anyway, I needed space for some tapes. I got precious little of that, as the tiny compartment holds just four.

All was fine with my Catera for the first two months, but in the ninth week I found I had no brake lights. I check all lights every Saturday, but for those who don't do that, it could have been disastrous. (A switch had broken, and the dealer gave me a rental car for two days until they could replace it.)

(Video) 1997 Cadillac Catera in great shape at Elite Cedar Rapids Dealership

Aside from that – and an overspray of undercoating below the trunk, which Rony Sutanto of Permashine on O'Connor Dr. in East York removed – there remained only niggling problems with the electrics on the car.

When signalling a lane change and not moving the turn signal all the way to the detent position, there was an annoying electrical crackle that the dealership said they had fixed. (It's still there, and that, too, was a switch failure, I'm told.)

And for the first five minutes on startup, there is an intermittent crackling sound emanating from the dash, which the dealer says may be a design flaw. The sales manager at Marvin Starr drives a Catera, and he is experiencing the same thing. Switches appear to be the car's Achilles heel.

The engine is adequate, in my opinion, although I have heard some dissenting voices.

It delivers 192 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm shown on the fully instrumented dash (no idiot lights here) – with 0-96 km/h arriving in 8.5 seconds.

The compression ratio is 10.0:1, and if quicker shifting of the four-speed automatic transmission is desired, there's a Sport Mode button on the shifter for that. It works fine, but you can almost see the gas needle heading for empty, so I seldom use it.

The car gets a true 8.7 L/100 km highway using mandatory premium fuel, but I shudder to think of the mileage in the city, especially when it's cold.

Top speed is 200 km/h, according to the manual, but unless it has a governor I think it's capable of much more than that, because at 160 km/h it doesn't even breathe hard.

On downtown Toronto streets, which resemble riverbeds these days, every pothole, bump and ridge is felt by the fully independent suspension. The true realm of the Catera is the highway, where it's as smooth as silk at 130 clicks showing 3000 rpm on the tachometer. This car is a land cruiser.

Safety features include driver and passenger airbags, and I'm told the 1998 models include New Generation air bags that deploy with reduced force. The fouryear, 80,000 km warranty includes roadside assistance, oil changes, brake pads and all maintenance with no deductibles.

(Video) 1997 Cadillac Catera

The headlights are excellent in night driving. The Catera has driving lights – termed fog lights in the manual – but they only function when the low beams are on, and the latter switch on when a device at the interior base of the windshield senses low light.

The automatically dimming photosensitive interior rearview mirror is a boon, especially to combat those clowns who insist on following with their high beams.

Exterior features are what you would expect from a General Motors luxury car the radio antenna is incorporated in the rear window, the windshield washer nozzles are heated as are the side-view mirrors, and all windows are tinted/solar controlled.

An optional equipment package adds a theft-deterrent system, and power eight-way driver's seat adjustment with three memory buttons.

All who have ridden in the rear of my Catera say there is plenty of legroom back there. An automatic load-levelling feature balances the shocks if you have rear-seat passengers or suitcases in the trunk.

A neat feature that I've really come to appreciate is the cargo net; it's handy for preventing my briefcase and spare bottle of windshield fluid from banging around.

But a word about the load-levelling feature: I started the car on uneven ground at Shannonville Motorsport Park (near Belleville) last fall with a heavy suitcase and a cooler in the trunk, and when I got on the paved road the car was so unstable I thought I had a tire going down.

Stopping, turning off the engine and restarting so the rear shocks reset solved the problem.

And one final small complaint why have a gas cap that requires five clicks to pressurize the engine management system and keep the "check engine" light off, when one turn could be easily designed?

If you go to full-service gas stations, as I imagine the majority of Cadillac drivers do, telling the attendant "five clicks" gets to be a pain.

(Video) Topspeed VMax Cadillac Catera German autobahn

Naturally I've read everything I could find about the Catera since I've leased one, but reports have been scarce.

Back on Feb. 9, Autoweek labelled its long-term tester a "lame duck." The magazine's drivers had no start problems and were dissatisfied with the radio and some loose interior panels. As well, the ABS light kept coming on for no apparent reason.

The July, 1998 issue of Car and Driver reports on 40,000 miles in a '97 Catera.

Verdict:

Styling is "clean and tasteful." Regular maintenance costs totalled a "moderate" US$438 (four unscheduled stops added US$197 to be bill). But: "Although we were impressed at first with its road manners, our long-term experience with the Catera was neither inspiring nor reassuring."

While I have had minor electrical glitches (aside from the brake light failure, which I consider major), my car has been mechanically perfect, with no problems whatsoever. Lucky?

I enjoy my Catera. The European styling and the power, combined with excellent handling in all conditions, definitely meet my requirements for a vehicle I'll use for two more years.

If I had the time, a cross-Canada trip would be a pleasure.

The owner's manual boasts of the Catera virtues: "Cadillac has been designing and building luxury cars for 95 years. With the Catera, you have selected the first Cadillac ever to be engineered and manufactured in Germany. It is a unique expression of Cadillac luxury with a sensibility to European ride and handling. . ."

General Motors, find a cure for the switch problems and the electrical annoyances, and I'll agree completely.

(Video) 1997 CADILLAC CATERA IN

Jerry Hudson is a Toronto-basaed freelance writer specializing in motorsports.
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FAQs

Was the Cadillac Catera a good car? ›

The result is a smoother, softer ride on America's often harsh pavement, and better wet-weather grip, but at the expense of dry-weather handling. Still, the Catera is a fine effort from Cadillac, priced competitively and offering all the luxury and most of the performance a buyer could want from this segment.

Why did the Cadillac Catera fail? ›

The problem was the timing belt tensioner pulley – a monstrously designed piece that had a terrible habit of failing, And when it failed, it failed in a drastic (and all too often, lethal) way.

Is the Cadillac Catera RWD? ›

The Cadillac Catera is a four-door, five passenger, rear-wheel drive luxury sedan marketed from 1996 until 2001 by Cadillac over a single generation in the United States.

What does Catera mean in Cadillac? ›

In the Cadillac lineup, “CTS” stands for Catera Touring Sedan. The name is a nod to the Cadillac Catera, a luxury sedan that was sold from 1996 to 2001.

What does Catera mean? ›

Meaning of the name Catera:

American: earth, pure.

Read about the all new 1997 Cadillac Catera, and how we test it.Motor Trend Magazine

That's no minor undertaking by anybody's account.. Significant reinforcement of an already solid unibody improved both bending resistance and torsional rigidity; redesigned front and rear subframes attenuate tire and road noise input to the passenger compartment.. Save for a subtle tweak of the character lines on its hood, the car retains all the Omega's basic sheetmetal.. Changes to the front and rear fascias impart a different flavor from its Opel counterpart, and additional detail modifications further distinguish the Catera from the original Omega-based Cadillac LSE concept car, first seen in early 1994.. The grille on the prototype seen here is merely painted.. Rear fascia styling also changed, with a single full-width taillight lens replacing the LSE's two-lamp design.. Due to the Opel's autobahn breeding, Cadillac's engineers deemed it unnecessary to make changes in the Omega suspension to prepare it for Catera duty.. Goodyear Eagle RS-A 225/55HR16 radials on unique five-spoke cast-aluminum wheels (chrome-plated, optional) do a solid job of combining grip with ride comfort.. Don't open the hood expecting to find a Northstar V-8.. Motivating force for the Catera is a mildly revised version of the Omega's existing 3.0-liter DOHC V-6, which makes 200 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 192 pound-feet of torque at 3600 rpm in this latest application.. We found the suspension more adept at soaking up larger bumps than at dealing with minor road imperfections, however spring and shock rates may undergo minor revisions before the cars hit U.S. showrooms.. Cadillac admits the biggest challenge will be finding a way to effectively market the Catera, which will be built in Germany and classified as an EPA import.. Show AllPRICEEstimated base price$33,000-$35,000

(first posted 8/9/2011)     Lots of people rightfully think of Cadillac as the All American car.  Founded in the U.S.A., long called the standard of the world, no other country could be the home to…

(first posted 8/9/2011) Lots of people rightfully think of Cadillac as the All American car.. So when GM announced a new kind of Caddy to the world in mid 1996, car watchers everywhere wondered if a car whose DNA came from another continent could ever be the real thing.. For only the third time in its long history, Cadillac imported a car from Europe and the results were disastrous.. The Cadillac Catera was little noted or long remembered, but its failure forced GM to do what had been unthinkable just a few years earlier – start over with a clean sheet of paper and finally save its luxury division.. The history of the “Cimarron by Cadillac” is well known and has already earned deadly sin status in this space as a cynical attempt to trade on the good (but then fading) name of a car known as a quality product.. Between the demise of the Allante (which was never really competitive in its class) and the introduction of Catera in 1997, Cadillac had only the Seville to cover the vast sport/luxury space that was becoming the high stakes prize in the North American car market.. GM summoned the Opel Omega from the Germany (where it had been marketed as an executive car), stuck the usual oversize Caddy badges on the outside and then turned on the marketing machine.. A goofy, contrived ad campaign featured a slightly sinister looking duck that assured buyers they were renegades that played by their own rules and Cadillac had just the car they needed to buck the establishment.. Worse for GM, the earlier push for leases meant that the cars mechanical woes came back to haunt the company when the leased lemons came back to the dealer.. Oddly enough, for a car that arguably had been as bad for Cadillac’s image as the Cimarron, the Catera story has a happy ending.. This was a world class car that Cadillac could finally be proud of.

There is a common perception that European manufacturers, particularly those in Germany, have a special understanding of the needs and desires of car buyers who are looking for exceptional comfort and high performance in a single package. Naturally, the companies involved have done nothing to discourage this belief; Mercedes-Benz and BMW have been particularly active […]

At one time, such assertions were probably valid.. With the Catera, Cadillac is hoping to wean customers away from import competitors.. Control positioning is very good, and the airbag-equipped steering wheel (the front passenger gets a dash-mounted airbag) has a leather-wrapped rim and carries auxiliary controls for ventilation and audio systems on its hub.. It takes some miles to realize that the Catera is alone among current U.S. market GM sedans in having rear-wheel drive.. Far more important to this class is long-distance comfort; Catera scores high marks in this department.. But if you're in the market for a modestly-priced luxury/sport sedan, we think the Catera offers exceptional value.

In 1996, Cadillac introduced a new four-door, five passenger, rear-wheel drive luxury sedan to its range. The name of the new model was the Cadillac

The name of the new model was the Cadillac Catera.. Over the course of its 118 years, Cadillac has produced some of the finest cars in the world.. If Cadillac wanted to survive in the new world of sporty European imports and affordable Japanese luxury, it needed to find a new sense of purpose, fast.. Considering the pace at which its loyal customers were dying off, it also needed to bring in a younger generation of buyers – a group that at that point, had about as much interest in Cadillac’s ‘grandad cars’ as it had in yesterday’s news.. Plagued by recalls, performance issues, and bad marketing campaigns, the Catera failed to do anything but force Cadilac to ditch everything it had been doing until that point, and enter the new millennium with a blank slate.. If Cadillac had achieved such good sales with a car that simply ‘looked’ European in design (i.e. the Seville), how much better could an actual European import be?. First introduced in the US as the Cadillac LSE concept car, the Catera was an entry level vehicle designed to compete with the sedans coming from the likes of Acura, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz.. The standard features were impressive as WIKI notes, customers could expect a cloth interior, front bucket seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, AM/FM stereo radio with cassette player and eight-speaker sound system, airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, keyless entry, security system, alloy wheels, compact spare tire, and full instrumentation), while the optional extras of leather interior, heated seats, cassette player and CD player combination, Bose premium sound system, power sunroof, HomeLink, OnStar, and chrome wheels where varied enough to keep things interesting.. But even with all those fancy features, something was amiss… something that became painfully obvious as soon as people started noticing just how similar the Catera looked to the Chevy Malibu, a pedestrian little motor priced at nearly $20000 less than the Catera.. But this was at the dawn of the internet age – once the news starting spreading online about just how bad the car was, it was all over.. With its sharp styling, easy handling, superb performance, and crisp interior, the CTS was everything the Catara wasn’t – and just the thing to save Cadillac’s luxury division and kick off the new millennium in style.

The Cadillac Catera. "The Caddy that zigs." Ahem.

The Cadillac Catera.. As every car enthusiast knows by now, Catera is Cadillac's. What every car enthusiast wants to know is: Is Catera any. end, the shift strategy of the electronic four-speed automatic. rear seat is enormous, and its trunk bigger than some Japanese. page through the "mode" push button to find the defrost setting,. rear defrost button.. flasher and traction control buttons.. generally good, apart from the rear seat head restraints, which. The transmission shifts well, but again, Opel hasn't been able. button in the shift knob.. And finally: Is Catera a Cadillac?

Videos

1. 1997 Cadillac Catera Commercial (with cartoon bird)
(VHS 4K)
2. 1997 Cadillac Catera Owners Manual
(Lana P)
3. 1997 cadillac rke transmitter programming
(rioletcab)
4. 1997 Cadillac Catera Engine
(anthony vargas)
5. 2001 CADILLAC CATERA NO START ISSUE...1 CLICK...FIXED...
(Peter L)
6. Here’s how the Cadillac Catera failed with a little help from a cartoon bird named Ziggy
(My Old Car)

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