1990 Cadillac Allante

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By 

Orlando Sentinel

The 1990 Cadillac Allante is near the top of the list of the world's best cars.

No one will deny that Cadillac goofed by introducing the Allante in 1987 with an engine that did not provide adequate performance.

No one will deny that the convertible top mechanism on the original Allante was hard to operate and provided less than a perfect fit.

And no one will deny that $53,000 and change is a lot of money for a car.

But the Allante has been refined, tweaked and honed into a better vehicle each year it has been on the market. Whatever flaws it once had now are gone.

The Allante deserves to be not only GM's flagship, but the flagship for the entire American car industry.

The question now is not one of performance, build quality and styling - the Allante now delivers more than enough in these areas. The question now is whether potential buyers think the Allante is worth the $53,545.

I say yes.

In two days, I drove an Allante 880 miles from New York City to Niagara Falls and back. The return trip was a 12-hour non-stop drive-athon. A trip like that tells you a lot about a car.

The Allante can take a heck of a beating while at the same time pampering driver and passenger, a true sign of luxury and performance.

On the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, I got caught in a 2-mile-long traffic jam leading to the bridge to New York. With my sister in the passenger seat, we idled in that mess in 85 degree heat for nearly an hour and half, never moving more than 25 yards at a time and never going faster than 3 mph.

That ordeal did nothing to the Allante. The engine ran smoothly and quietly the whole time and never came close to overheating.

The Allante has a number of items that I would rank best in the industry, foreign and domestic.

The Recaro seats, covered with black leather, are without peer. Firm, supportive and featuring a multitude of adjustments, the seats did not cause one bit of soreness or fatigue during the trip.

The cruise control system is the smoothest and easiest to operate I have encountered. Winding through the mountains of upstate New York did nothing to undermine the cruise control. It maintained a constant speed regardless of the gradient of the road.

There are parts of the Allante, such as the outside door handles, that catch your attention because they are so well designed.

This is just one example of the car's high quality.

The fit and finish of the Allante - from the neatly contoured material around the windshield frame to the door trim, rubber weather stripping, carpet and lining in the trunk- were the best I've ever seen on a car. The Allante's trim components looked to be made of durable, heavy-duty material.

The Allante's electronic instrument system is among the best I've ever seen. This type of instrument systems can be extremely tiring on the eyes during long trips. But the Allante's, lit in soft yellow and gray, is extremely easy to read, conveys information to the driver clearly, and after 12 hours of looking at it, my eyes did not feel like they were on the verge of imploding.

The Allante features a fuel-injected aluminum 4.5-liter V-8 that pumps out 200 horsepower. I found the performance to be perfectly matched to the character of the car. This torquey engine is coupled to a computer controlled four-speed automatic. The drivetrain has ample passing power and more than enough strength to blast the 3,466-pound two-seater away from traffic lights with authority.

Cadillac says the Allante will go from 0-60 in less than 8.3 seconds and reach a top speed of more than 130 mph. You might think a car capable of such performance might have a very large appetite for unleaded premium. It can, depending on how you drive. On the highway, with the air conditioning on, the Allante got nearly 24 miles per gallon. If you drive with a heavy foot, that figure could plunge to about 15 miles per gallon. Re ardless of the Allante's fuel economy, the car is exhilarating to drive.

The Allante handles like a sports car, but rides like a luxury car. The speed-sensitive steering and computer-controlled suspension system provided the Allante with exquisite road manners. The only area which could stand an improvement is the steering radius; the Allante does not make very tight turns.

Wherever I drove the Allante, people stopped what they were doing to look at the black test car. Some walked up to it and a few asked questions about it. Everyone complimented it.

The word has gotten out about the Allante. After getting off to a slow start, sales are starting to build. Cadillac sold 3,276 Allantes in 1989 and easily will surpass that total this year.

For 1990, the Allante can be bought for as little as $50,900, if it is ordered without the optional aluminum hardtop.

Equipped with a driver's side air bag, anti-lock brakes, plus everything else you'd expect in a $50,000 car, the 1990 Allante shows that Cadillac still has what it takes to be a world leader in luxury cars.


    Expert Reviews 1 of 2

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