Deville, Seville, Eldorado, Fleetwood, Calais, Brougham. What do all these names have in common? They’re all part of Cadillac’s past vehicle-naming strategy, which has since been replaced by an alphabetic trifecta such as CTS, SRX, and STS.
In having the pleasure of speaking off the record with a few Cadillac managers who are no longer with The General, we’ve gleamed an insight that explains the reason Cadillac embarked on the name change for its lineup.
Simply put, Caddy wanted to attract a younger buyer with new vehicle names, and all market studies at the time showed that alpha-numeric nameplates such as BMW 530i, Mercedes-Benz E320, Audi A6, and even the up-and-coming (at the time) Lexus ES300 resonated more effectively with a younger luxury car audience compared to Cadillac’s “old money” nomenclature.
The first step to switching the names came in the 1990s with the use of three-character alphanumerics within the Seville line (STS and SLS). Then in 2002, executives from Cadillac and General Motors approved the switch from a word-based lineup to one of three consecutive letters. The CTS led the charge in January 2002, followed by the rest of the model line.
Interestingly, there is still one vehicle in the Caddy lineup that carries a full alphabetic name — the Escalade. Our sources told us that the Escalade name, in particular, was a topic of much debate and dissent within GM’s ranks, with many providing research to keep the nameplate while others offering arguments against doing so. In the end, it was decided that the Escalade name would remain… but only until sufficient research was conducted in finding a suitable three-letter replacement. So far, the Escalade name has endured, but our sources expect it to eventually change, citing Mercedes’ decision to finally rebrand the historic and legendary Geländewagen (read: G-Wagon) to G-Class in order to keep name congruence with the rest of the Mercedes lineup.
Going forward, we don’t see Cadillac’s current alphabet soup of a naming setup changing anytime soon. But for those of you reading this, would you rather see the classic full-name nomenclature make a comeback, or have Caddy continue with the modern letter-only monikers?