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2001 Cadillac Catera Sport Road Test

By John Heilig  
Photos by Charles Ofria

Category: $30,000 to $40,000 Rear Drive Sport Sedan
Who should buy this car: A person looking for a comfortable driver's car with crisp handling and room for 5 adults. 
Comparable models in this class: BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class, Lexus GS-300,  Lincoln LS-6

Cadillac introduced the Catera, based on the Opel Omega, in 1996 to appeal tothe sport-oriented customer who was interested in good handling and performance.The strategy appears to have worked, since Catera has achieved conquest rates ofapproximately 40 percent since its introduction. It is the top conquest car forthe Cadillac division, meaning that 40 percent of its buyers are not coming fromthe ranks of Cadillac owners. 

In2000, Cadillac introduced the Sport version of the Catera, with larger tires, asport-tuned suspension and other specific options. The package adds $2,510 overthe base price of $31,405 for the Catera, but in this price range that's not alot of money. 

Among the enhancements in 2001 to the Catera Sport package are eight-waypower adjustable driver and passenger seats replacing the ten-way manuallyadjustable seats. With three memory positions, these seats were comfortable andeasy to fit to a range that made them seem right for the driver andpassenger. 

The total package includes 17-inch aluminum wheels, high-intensity dischargeheadlights, matte-silver chrome grille and brushed-silver interior trim, ZJ1suspension, heated seats, rear deck spoiler, theft deterrent system anduniversal garage door opener. Those heated seats were worth the price ofadmission alone during some bitter cold winter mornings in our area. 

Another enhancement that makes sense for a performance-oriented vehicle isthe addition of vented rear disc brakes, which will contribute to better brakingperformance. They will last longer and hold up better under stressful brakingconditions. 

Catera is a four-door sedan with a decent back seat. We often used the Caterafor people moving and had no serious complaints from the rear-seat passengers.Well, they did complain that they didn't have heated seats. 

I had an opportunity to drive the Catera at its introduction several yearsago and was impressed with the quality of the vehicle. I was also impressed withhow GM was able to convert the Opel Omega (which I also had a chance to drive)into a truly American car with just a few changes. 

Thenew Catera remains true to its heritage. It is still a good sport sedan. It isan American car, but you can sense the European heritage in it. For example, theseats are American (eight-way power and heated), but they're also European intheir ability to deliver comfort. 

The Catera's suspension is fairly straightforward. Even still, it offers acompliant ride with enough stiffness to give excellent handling. Up front, McPhersonstruts and coil springs combine with hydraulic control arm bushings. In therear, the independent unit is a multi-link trailing arm design with automaticload leveling. 

When Cadillac provided other entry-level luxury cars for comparison with theCatera, the Catera held up well in the comparison.  My only complaint withthe Catera this time was with the traction control system. We had some snow onthe roads, and while the Catera handled the slippery stuff as well as possible,the traction control, to my mind, didn't. 

I have one spot on my daily commute where I make a left turn at a stop signto go up a slight hill. This hill was snow-covered, and when the tractioncontrol system kicked in it reduced power to the drive wheels until the wheelshad enough traction. Well, we just stood there, moving at about 1 mph untileverything got sorted. 

My Cadillac contact noted that I could have turned the traction control offand skidded my way uphill, which might have been better. He also noted that Ididn't have it on the "snow" setting, but I was too busy wondering ifthe car would ever go again. 

Granted, this was a unique situation that most drivers probably wouldn'tencounter that often. And most owners would probably figure out the nuances ofthe traction control system because they'd have more time to familiarizethemselves with their car. I had one day. 

Through the years I have liked the Catera. I have heard some people call it"ugly," but I'm afraid I have to disagree. I like the Euro styling ofthe car and think it makes a nice addition to the Cadillac line. The Sport 
package's rear spoiler, though, seems like it's stretching the "sport"point a bit. 

2000 The Auto Page Syndicate 

Do you have any feedback on the Catera?  Any opinions or experiences ofyour own?  We would love to hear from you. 
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Engine Type 3.0L DOHC V6
Horsepower 200 @ 6000 RPM
Torque 192 @ 3400 RPM
Fuel Recommended Premium 91 Octane Unleaded.
Transmission 4-speed electronic shift control, automatic, Hydramatic THM 4L30E
Tires - Standard P235 / 45HR17
Overall Length 192.2"
Wheelbase 107.5
Width 70.3"
Turning Diameter 33.5 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight 3815
Fuel Tank 16.0 Gals.
Miles Per Gallon EPA city 17 , hwy 24. 
Acceleration 0 to 60 8.5 Seconds
As-Tested Sticker Price $36,423 

2001 Cadillac Catera Sport Rear Wheel Drive Sport Sedan

Standard Equipment

  • Air bags Side-Impact, Front
  • Brakes, Power Four-Wheel Disc with Anti-Lock
  • Dual Zone Climate Control, Electronic
  • Leather Seating Areas
  • OnStar System (with one year premium service)
  • Seat Adjusters, Power Driver
  • Sound System AM Stereo/FM Stereo, Cassette Tape and Theftlock
  • Steering Wheel with Fingertip Controls
  • Traction Control Full Speed Range/Brake and Engine
  • Wheels, Cast Aluminum
  • Window with Express Up & Down Feature All Windows


Major Available Options

  • Heated Front Seats
  • Memory Package
  • Rear Spoiler
  • Bose AM Stereo/FM Stereo, Cassette Tape, Single Slot CD, Weather Band, Digital Signal Processing, Radio Data System, Theftlock
  • 12-Disc CD Changer
  • Wheels, Chrome
  • Wood Trim Package (steering wheel and shift knob)
  • Catera Sport Package Includes:  Exterior colors: Ebony, Ivory and Platinum 
    Interior: Stone Leather, Heated front seat, power eight-way adjustable with three-position memory 
    Solar Reflect, Specific brushed aluminum interior trim, Specific matte silver grille, Specific rear spoiler, Specific Sport ZJ1 suspension, Specific five-spoke machined wheels, 17" wheels and tires 235/45R17-H rated, Xenon High-Intersity Discharge (HID) headlamps

For more information on the Catera, visit

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