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Auto blogMon, 30 Sep 2013 14:58:00 EST
Not long after bombing around the Milford Road Course in the new CTS Vsport, Cadillac invited me to try out its other new-for-2014 Vsport model: the XTS. And despite using the same twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 from the CTS, the Vsport package takes on a whole new meaning here in Cadillac's softer flagship.
In the CTS, this trim perfectly bridges the gap between the standard models and the hardcore CTS-V, and is focused on being the best-driving version of the range without a standalone V badge. The XTS, however, has no proper V model, so the Vsport becomes the new range-topper for that line by default. But unlike the CTS Vsport, which uses rear-wheel-drive architecture and is focused on driving dynamics above all, the XTS is geared toward a much different customer.
The entire XTS experience is far more concerned with plush comfort than handling prowess, and while this Vsport model certainly ups the ante with more power and some mild suspension and steering tweaks, it's not exactly what we'd call a particularly engaging experience. But that doesn't mean it isn't good.
JD Power has released its annual Sales Satisfaction Index Study, and once again Mini and Lexus have taken top honors. Overall, buyers are more satisfied with the auto-buying sales experience than they were last year, with those surveyed reporting an average score of 664 points on a 1,000-point scale. That's up from 648 in 2011. Dealer satisfaction also increased by five points over last year as well.
All told, Lexus brought home an index score of 737, which was high enough to put it atop the luxury brands for the second year in a row. JD Power says Infiniti came in second in that category with a score of 728 and Cadillac rounded out the podium with it's rating of 725. Speaking of Infiniti, that brand saw the single largest jump in sales satisfaction of any brand on the survey, popping up 52 index points over 2011.
Among mass-market brands, Mini ranked highest with a score of 712, followed closely by Buick with 706 and GMC farther down the line with 683. You can check out the full press release below for more information.
The 530 Cadillac dealers - out of 940 total dealers - that signed on to sell the brand's ELR for $75,000 or lease it for $699 per month have managed to move 247 of them in the last five months. That's a little less than two cars for each dealer more than two dealers for each car if you need help with the math. With inventories of the luxury plug-in hybrid building up - Automotive News reports a 725-day supply - General Motors has created the Demonstrator Allowance Program to billow the sails on that slow moving ship, giving dealers $5,000 to promote ELR test drives.
A dealer with one ELR in its test fleet that racks up 750 test driven miles between May 1 and June 2 earns the fifty Benjamins, a dealer with two ELRs in the test fleet will get one hundred Benjamins. That will be added to summer incentives for dealers that pay $2,000 for units sold in July and $1,000 for units sold in August, while on the customer side, Cadillac has put "customer discount certificates" worth $3,000 on the hood for buyers and lessees.
Cadillac suggests this is about raising awareness of the ELR, but the question is how much dealers will be able to do for a car that observers - and buyers, apparently - still consider highly overpriced.