The Catera is Cadillacs entry-level model and is built by Opel, General Motors German subsidiary. It is Cadillacs only model with rear-wheel drive and the only one that does not have a V-8 engine.
Like all Cadillacs, the Catera comes standard with GMs OnStar satellite-based communication system that includes emergency services and help with finding destinations. Two premium services will be added later in the model year: personal calling, which allows hands-free, voice-activated calls from the car without an additional cellular phone contract, and virtual advisor, another voice-activated system that provides Internet-based information such as news headlines, sports scores, stock quotes and weather conditions.
A redesigned Catera is due for the 2003 model year, and GMs current plans are to build it in the United States.
At 192 inches, the Catera is about 16 inches longer than a BMW 3 Series sedan and 9 inches shorter than a Cadillac Seville. The base model has 16-inch wheels and tires, and the Catera Sport rides on 17-inch wheels and tires.
The Cateras dashboard places most controls where theyre easy to see and operate, except for a confusing array of switches for lights and the climate system.
The four outboard seating positions have ample room for adults, but pity the person who has to sit in the middle rear position and straddle the large driveshaft tunnel. Trunk volume is listed at 14.5 cubic feet, and the rear seatbacks fold for additional cargo room. The spare tire mounts on the left side of the trunk, reducing available space.
Under the Hood
Versions of the Cateras 3.0-liter V-6 engine are found in the Saab 9-5 and Saturn LS and LW. The 200-horsepower engine requires premium gas and hitches to a four-speed automatic transmission. Antilock brakes, traction control and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard.
Bland styling and the stodgy image of the Cadillac brand probably turn off some prospective buyers, but the Cateras European heritage shows through in its athletic handling and spirited performance. The larger tires and firmer suspension on the Sport model give it ride and handling that is far different than a typical Cadillac.