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Cadillac Eldorado ETC (2002)

SEE ALSO: Cadillac Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 45,000
     Price As Tested                                    $ 47,145
     Engine Type              DOHC 32-valve 4.6 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 279 cid/4565 cc
     Horsepower                                   300 @ 6000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               295 @ 4400 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  108.0"/75.5"/200.6"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3894 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  19.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                             P235/60R16 H-rated
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Five-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            18/27/23
     0-60 MPH                                        7.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          16.0 seconds @ 93.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           115 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(Bob Hagin says Cadillac has had an Eldorado in its lineup since 1953. Matt Hagin says the new Eldorado is lots quicker, lots more nimble and lots easier to park than those old "tuna boat" Cads his Dad drove.)

BOB - Cadillac had been trying hard to change its image and its customer base for several years now but the going is tough. The average Cad buyer is over 65 now and just holding steady. The '02 Cadillac Eldorado ETC is very slick looking, but in a rather subdued manner, a lot like the expensive European luxury cars it has to compete with. It jettisoned its land yacht look a decade or more ago, but the younger buyers still think of a Caddy as something their well-to-do aunt or uncle would drive.

MATT - By "younger" I assume that you mean luxury car buyers that are in their '50s, Dad, and you're right. Unfortunately, those shoppers are doing themselves a disservice by not at least checking out the new Cadillacs because the company is offering up some pretty good merchandise. Our Eldorado ETC is the hottest of the bunch. It's a coupe, which brings its weight down a couple of hundred pounds from the sedans in the lineup, and it has a 300-horse V8 engine. It's a very slick twin-cam unit that's all-aluminum and carries four valves per cylinder. At 279 cubic inches, it isn't gargantuan like those old Cads of the '60s and '70s or even some of the European image cars of today, but it puts out more than one horse per cubic inch and its torque rating is 296 pound/feet. Being the Touring Coupe sports version of the Eldorado, it has a slightly lower axle ratio and 25 more horses than the standard model. It's not going to be a match for the current crop of V8 and V10 sportsters but on the other hand, it doesn't have to hide in the bushes as they go by and its passengers are going to be comfortable on a long freeway cruise. And the fuel mileage isn't bad either. It tops out at 27 mpg on the highway and it does it on 87-octane fuel.

BOB - The Eldorado is a little nose-heavy since it uses front-wheel drive but if its carriage-trade driver wants to kick it in the pants a bit on winding country roads, it responds pretty well as long as the driver is aware that it's a touring coupe and not a Winston Cup racer. Its suspension front and rear is the same as the standard Eldorado, but the spring and shock ratings are a little tighter and both of the sway bars are a couple of millimeters bigger too. The transmission is a four-speed automatic and I think that "youthful" shoppers would be more favorably impressed if it had a "manual-stick-shift" that would allow the driver to run through the gears when the sporting mood struck. If the driver overdoes it, there's a traction control system and other suspension parameter modifiers built into the on-board computers to help rectify driver errors.

MATT - Our Eldorado carried all the usual modern electronic accouterments too. The "personal office" concept of the Eldorado allows the driver to make phone calls that are hands-free, and use a visual system that delivers e-mail, stock quotes, weather conditions and sports scores. I hope the driver who uses all this stuff pulls over while he or she is picking up all this information. It would be pretty hard to concentrate on erratic stock market fluctuations while cruising around the city.

BOB - I usually don't have much of an eye for styling, Matt, but the angular body on this Eldorado has sharp edges that vaguely remind me of the first of the "international-sized" Cads of the early '80s. Although it had lots of mechanical faults back then, I always thought that it was a pretty sharp design. This new Eldorado also avoids those extra strips of chrome geegaws that made the old Cadillacs popular at the old-folks home but made younger drivers roll their eyes.

MATT - Dad, for a guy who is well past the age of the "average" Cadillac buyer, I'm somewhat surprised by that comment.

BOB - Matt, you're only young once but with luck, you can be youthful all your life.