Which Luxury Cars Don't Recommend or Require Premium Gas?

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Want a luxury car without having to pay for premium gas? We can't blame you. As of March 21, a gallon of premium averaged $3.87 nationwide, according to AAA. That's 35 cents more than a gallon of the cheap stuff. Drive 15,000 miles a year at 25 mpg, and the premium, er, premium adds up to $210.

Premium Gas: Do I Have to Use It?

Luxury brands often charge extra — sometimes absurd amounts — for premium extravagances, and gas is no exception. Most luxury-car owners are accustomed to paying extra for premium fuel, which higher-compression engines often prefer. Still, most engines today can adapt ignition timing to account for less-than-premium gasoline at a slight cost to performance. That's why makers of many luxury cars that take premium gas merely recommend it for full power. Unless yours requires it — something that relatively few stipulate, even in the luxury crowd — you won't damage the engine by filling up with 87-octane.

But what if you want a luxury car that makes all its advertised power without any premium preference? We talked to company representatives, combed through specs and downloaded more owners manuals than we can count. And yes, we found a handful of luxury cars that actually recommend the cheap stuff.

Here they are:

By Kelsey Mays | March 31, 2014 | Comments (3)

Recall Alert: 2014 Cadillac ELR

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Vehicles Affected: About 656 model-year 2014 Cadillac ELR luxury coupes not equipped with adaptive cruise control and manufactured between Sept. 26, 2013, and Feb. 14, 2014.

The Problem: The electronic stability control system software may inhibit certain diagnostics, preventing the system from alerting the driver that the system is partially or fully disabled. If the driver is not alerted to an ESC malfunction, he or she may continue driving with a disabled system, which may result in loss of directional control, increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: GM will notify owners starting April 17, and dealers will recalibrate the electronic brake control module for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Cadillac at 800-458-8006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or visit www.safercar.gov for more info.

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By Matt Schmitz | March 28, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2013-2014 Cadillac XTS

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 63,900 model-year 2013-2014 versions of the Cadillac XTS luxury sedan

The Problem: GM is reporting that a problem with the brake booster pump could allow corrosive elements to enter the housing and cause a possible short. This could lead to the overheating or melting of some components and a possible engine compartment fire. 

"GM is aware of two engine compartment fires in unsold vehicles at dealerships and two cases of melted components," the automaker said in a statement.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and replace the affected parts for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Cadillac at 800-333-4223 for more information.

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By Jennifer Geiger | March 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

GM Announces Three New Safety Recalls

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The Detroit News reports GM will recall 1.7 million cars for new safety issues. The lion's share comes from 1.3 million three-row crossovers, including some but not all Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and now-defunct Saturn Outlook SUVs from 2008 to 2013. Side airbags, front-center airbags (later models) and seat belt pretensioners may not deploy in those vehicles if drivers have ignored the illuminated service airbag warning light over time. GM will also recall 354,000 2009-14 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans for instrument panels that don't meet safety standards to protect unbelted passengers, as well as 66,200 2013-14 Cadillac XTS sedans for brake-booster corrosion that could cause a fire.

More on GM

Of those cars, 1.48 million of the affected SUVs and vans are in the U.S.; it's unclear what portion of the XTS recalls are from here. GM CEO Mary Barra said the recall comes amid "an intense review of our internal processes" on safety. GM faces allegations that it knew about faulty ignition switches across six former nameplates that led to a dozen fatalities because of failed airbag deployments and the recall of 1.62 million cars worldwide. GM says no crashes or injuries are linked to today's recalls.

Our friends at the Detroit News have the full story. Click here to read more. We'll post more specifics as we get them.

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By Kelsey Mays | March 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Cadillac SRX Review

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We're not saying the 2014 Cadillac SRX's design is old, but college freshmen have gone on to earn bachelor's degrees since the luxury crossover's last overhaul. When it'll graduate to a new design is unclear, but Cars.com reviewer Aaron D. Bragman says it's managed to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and interior fashions. Where it's fallen behind its classmates is fuel economy and cargo space. Does the SRX still make the grade, or will it need a major update to return to the head of the class? Read Bragman's review and decide.

2014 Cadillac SRX Review

Cars.com photo by Aaron Bragman

By Matt Schmitz | March 12, 2014 | Comments (5)

2011 Models Less Reliable Than 2010 Vehicles, J.D. Power Study Finds

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Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac led J.D. Power and Associates' 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study, which tracks problems per vehicle from original owners of 3-year-old cars — in this case, 2011 models. But overall problems rose 6 percent versus last year's study of 2010 models, the first time since J.D. Power's 1998 VDS that reliability in late-model cars has declined.

Does Reliability Affect Luxury-Car Sales?

Among non-luxury brands, Honda (sixth overall), Toyota (eighth) and Subaru (12th) ranked highest in the 31-brand study. Hyundai, Jeep, Land Rover, Dodge and Mini rounded out the bottom five.

Vehicle dependability, which J.D. Power expresses in problems per 100 ("PP100") vehicles, rose to 133 PP100 in the 2014 study. A year ago, it was 126 PP100 — the lowest in the 25-year study's history. Drivetrain problems led to most of the increase, the company said, as four-cylinder engines and large diesel motors accounted for more problems than conventional five- and six-cylinder engines.

By Kelsey Mays | February 12, 2014 | Comments (6)

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe Video

The 2015 Cadillac ATS coupe has the same overall look, the same available powertrains and presumably the same great handling of its sedan sibling, but with half the doors. Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays got up close to the two-door version of the sport sedan today at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, and he indicated that little change, in this case, is a good thing.

More 2014 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

While the coupe naturally loses some backseat-passenger space, Mays says legroom remains sufficient. Meanwhile, new positioning of the seat belts improves front passengers' ease of use, though it obstructs entry for those climbing in back. We'll bring you our driving impressions as the summer on-sale date approaches; in the meantime, watch the video above.

By Matt Schmitz | February 6, 2014 | Comments (2)

Cadillac Throws in Free EV Charger with 2014 ELR

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Cadillac announced Monday it will offer a free 240-volt charger — otherwise called Level 2 charging — on the new 2014 ELR, a pricey two-door coupe based on the Chevrolet Volt from parent automaker GM. The company says that depending on outside temperature, the ELR can get a full Level 2 charge in just 4.5 hours. That should enable 35 miles of all-electric range before a gasoline engine generator kicks in for another 300 or so miles.

2014 Cadillac ELR: First Drive

The ELR starts at $75,995 including the destination charge but before any tax credits. That's more than double the Volt's price of entry ($34,995, same conditions), on which the Level 2 charger is optional. (A household-outlet charger, called Level 1, comes standard.) How much does GM's charging freebie close the gap? It's hard to say. GM's supplier, Bosch, offers wired 240-volt (Level 2) charging stations from $490 to $1,195 plus installation — which can add hundreds or even thousands more, depending on complexity — but the federal Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit refunds a chunk of that in tax credits. The AFITC for electric vehicle stations expired on Dec. 31, 2013, but additional incentives exist in certain states.

By Kelsey Mays | January 28, 2014 | Comments (1)

2015 Cadillac Escalade Price Increases $7,950

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The base price of the Escalade is, well, escalating in the new model year. Cadillac announced that the latest version of the luxury SUV will start at $72,690, including a $995 destination charge. That's nearly $8,000 more than the base price of the outgoing 2014 version and a whopping $9,145 more than one of its competitors, the 2014 Infiniti QX80, which has a starting price of $63,545 including a destination charge, but still nearly $11,000 less than the 2014 Lexus LX 570, which starts at $83,540 with destination. The 2015 Escalade is set to arrive at dealerships in the spring.

2015 Cadillac Escalade: First Look

The reason behind the dramatic spike in price is that Cadillac dropped the previously available base model, which started at $64,740, including destination. Donny Nordlicht, a Cadillac spokesman, said that model was sold only in "extremely limited" quantities and discontinued in the first month of the model year's production (Cars.com shows just 31 base-model 2014 Escalades available in its online inventory out of over 4,000 available). The 2015 starting price applies to the lowest trim level, now called the Standard, which comes with a host of equipment not available on the 2014 base model.

By Matt Schmitz | January 22, 2014 | Comments (13)

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe: Up Close

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Cadillac has rapidly been finding its groove as an American alternative to German luxury brands, pumping out new products that can go toe-to-toe with some of the best BMW sport sedans. The brand would like to flesh out its lineup in the way BMW has as well, and the arrival of the new ATS coupe is the latest step in that effort.

More 2014 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

From the outside, the ATS coupe is a little disappointing; it looks just like the sedan, with similar proportions, roofline and body angles. Cadillac says the coupe is a bit wider than the sedan, but the wheelbase is the same. The last-generation CTS had different coupe and sedan models. The coupe was a dramatically styled exotic affair; that hasn't happened with the smaller ATS. On the other hand, if you're a fan of the ATS sedan, you'll find plenty to like about the coupe. The new wreath-less Cadillac crest is prominently featured in the racier grille, and the 18-inch wheels fill the wheel wells quite nicely, but the shape is familiar.

By Aaron Bragman | January 16, 2014 | Comments (2)

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