SEE ALSO: Cadillac Buyer's Guide
The Cadillac Eldorado has been an American luxury icon since its introduction in 1953. Originally applied to a limited- production convertible, the name was next used for the extravagant, hand-built Eldorado Brougham of the late 1950s. The Eldorado became a front-wheel drive coupe in 1967, and, by 1970, was an immense automobile with a massive 500 cubic inch engine. In reaction to the energy and fuel crises of the 1970s, the Eldorado became considerably smaller. The current platform was introduced for the 1992 model year, and received the "Northstar System" of dual overhead cam V8 engine and integrated electronic control of engine, transmission, and suspension systems in 1993. Both the Eldorado and the Northstar System have been continuously refined since then, with excellent results.
Today, the Eldorado is the personal luxury coupe of the Cadillac line. Two versions are available, the regular Eldorado and the Eldorado Touring Coupe. The Eldorado Touring Coupe is the sport-performance model, with a firmer, more European suspension calibration and feel, and the 300-horsepower variant of the 4.6-liter Northstar V8 engine. The basic Eldorado utilizes the torquier 275- horsepower version of the Northstar V8, and features a softer, traditionally American ride.
For 1996, there have been refinements to the interior and the electronic control systems. A long option list ensures that buyers can outfit their Eldorado to their tastes.
A week spent with an Eldorado showed it to be quick, quiet, and supremely comfortable. Uniquely American, it holds it own against the best luxury coupes in the world. APPEARANCE: From its chromed "egg-crate" grille to the vertical taillights, the 1996 edition of the Eldorado is undeniably a Cadillac. The long-hood, short rear deck, and solid sail panels in the passenger cabin embody many classic Eldorado styling cues. There are even vestigial tail fins. It is a handsome wedge-shaped car that looks much smaller than its actual size and stands out from the currently popular rounded styling forms.
COMFORT: Inside, the Eldorado is not a one-configuration car. A comprehensive option list ensures personalization. My test car had options including the new 8-way power adjustable leather-covered front seats, floor console with analog instrument cluster, and Bose AM/FM/cassette/CD sound system. The orthopedically-designed seats are soft yet supportive, and have two memory positions. The console and analog instruments give the car a sportier feel while retaining traditional Cadillac character. The sound system is top- notch. The leather upholstery and panelling, and a tasteful amount of wood trim, give the Eldorado the appearance and sensation of luxury. Rear passenger accommodations are good, and include climate control vents, storage pockets, an ashtray and lighter. The trunk is large for a sports coupe, and the lid closes itself in the finest Cadillac manner.
SAFETY: The Eldorado has all of the safety features expected today, including safety-cage chassis construction with side-impact protection beams and front and rear crumple zones, dual airbags, antilock disc brakes, and the Pass-Key II anti theft system.
ROADABILITY: Ah, the joys of modern electronics. The Eldorado has enough acronymed silicon-chip wizardry to qualify for its own Internet address. The fully-independent Road-Sensing Suspension (RSS) is part of the Integrated Chassis Control System (ICCS), as are the ASR5 traction control, antilock braking (ABS) and speed- sensitive steering (SSS). Don't fear, it is all (as they say in high-tech jargon) transparent to the user. What it all means in plain English is that the Eldorado has the classic soft, cushy Cadillac boulevard ride at low speeds and firms up at highway speeds for stability. It really works, and makes the Eldorado a pleasure to drive on any road.
PERFORMANCE: The Eldorado has the 275-horsepower variant of the dual overhead cam, 32-valve aluminum Northstar V8 under its hood. This engine has a little less horsepower and a little more torque than the version used in the Eldorado Touring Coupe. It actually feels better around town, and is in no way deficient in power. A week of city and highway driving with a reasonably light foot returned an impressive 21 mpg average, a certain improvement over the fuel consumption of the old 500 cubic inch V8. The control computer for the 4-speed automatic transmission talks with its counterpart for the engine to ensure smooth, positive shifts.
CONCLUSIONS: Personal luxury American style is better than ever. The Cadillac Eldorado is a smooth, sophisticated luxury machine with a distinctively American flavor.
SPECIFICATIONS 1996 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe Base Price $ 39,595 Price As Tested $ 43,258 Engine Type dual overhead cam, 32-valve V8 Engine Size 4.6 liter / 280 cu. in. Horsepower 275 @ 5,600 rpm Torque (lb-ft) 300 @ 4,000 rpm Transmission 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic Wheelbase / Length 108.0 in. / 200.2 in. Curb Weight 3768 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 13.7 Fuel Capacity 20.0 gal. Fuel Requirement unleaded premium Tires P225/60 R16 Michelin XW4 Brakes, front/rear vented disc / disc, 4-wheel antilock Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut / independent short/long arm Drivetrain front engine, front-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 17/26/21 0 to 60 mph 7.8 sec 1/4 mile (E.T.) 15.8 sec Coefficient of Drag (cd) 0.33