Test Driven: 2000 Cadillac Eldorado ETC

“And best of all…it’s a Cadillac!” Those words certainly meant something back in the days of 8-tracks, pimpmobiles, and Gerald Ford. But, now is the time of iPods, hybrids, and Barack Obama.  So, I wanted to know if this 10 year old Cadillac Eldorado was in any way still a great cruiser. I grabbed the golden keys and started her up.  Cadillac has not produced the Eldorado since 2002, and only recently started producing two-door coupes again with the CTS Coupe.

The Eldorado started out as Cadillac’s flagship, but by its last year, had fallen out of favor due to its design, as 2-door luxury coupes became out of style. The final model was introduced in 1992 and brought the Eldo into the modern era with airbags, ABS, modern suspension, and a brand new V8. The Northstar engine became a household name for Cadillac, although it’s been gone since 2011. In the ETC, the 4.6L Northstar engine puts out 300bhp, a lot for a FWD coupe, and the most power in the Eldorado since 1972.  The Eldorado has been FWD since 1967, which makes a lot of enthusiasts ignore it–the Eldorado is a car built for comfort, not for handling.  Inside, the Eldo has plenty of options for a 2000 model, including a CD changer, Bose speakers, power everything, and a sunroof.  The seats are covered in soft leather, with a large center console and a floor shifter–a departure from most Cadillacs of this era.  So, there is a bit of sport-mindedness in this model, with its touring suspension and higher-output V8.  But, once again, the seats are soft and not well bolstered, and the steering wheel is of a large diameter and a thin rim.

Cadillac did indeed have trouble selling this car when it was new.  Their reason was that the market was moving away from personal coupes, but I believe it was also due to the fact that the FWD luxury market was quickly drying up and as a 2-door model, Cadillac had no place for it anymore.  Just sitting inside this 2000 model made me realize just how far Cadillac has come since the turn of the 21st century.  The CTS-V Coupe, which is Cadillac’s current flagship two-door, is much more modern and apes European cars with an American twist.  This car doesn’t do that–instead, it is a modern interpretation of the classic big American two-door personal car, with wide seats, a simple dashboard, and “upscale” materials (although the ETC had real wood trim and real leather, it’s definitely a cut below what BMW was using in 2000).

The instrument panel is very easy to read, and the radio face and climate controls are basically identical to some other GM products, which makes them a walk in the park as well.  The seats are still quite comfortable even after 10 years of use, and the view out, rear, and to the sides is excellent. However, the thick rear roof pillars impede rear 3/4 visibility. The low, flat hood, combined with the wide windshield, provide that classic American panorama view of the highway.

On the road, the big Caddy could be worse, but it’s no sports car. In a straight line, all is sort of well. The big V8 sounds surprisingly classy for an American engine. It pulls very well for its age but the automatic transmission that GM uses is rarely awake–it usually needs to kick down at least a gear or two before anything important happens.  That said, the Eldorado certainly isn’t underpowered.  There’s some minor torque steer, but the weight of the car has a dampening effect on the front wheels.  There’s very little vibration on the move from the drivetrain even after 100K miles.  However, these engines are known for issues, and mine had a loud squeak from the belts–not a great sign.  The ride is typical classic Cadillac–very soft, somewhat therapeutic, but does not stay stable.  Probably due to its age, the Eldorado did sway and dip a bit over large road imperfections, and lacks body control from side-to-side.  It does have Stabilitrak, but I never had a chance to make it kick in.  The brake pedal is a bit soft, and the nose hits the ground on hard braking, but the car doesn’t have issues stopping.  However, handling is where this Caddy really falls off the wagon.  In just 10 years, Cadillac has found the Nurburgring, and improved the handling of some of their more modern models.  The Eldorado leans around in corners, and the steering is far too light–for a car that has a “Touring Coupe” trim level, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence when “touring”.

So, in short, would I consider a car like this as an enthusiast?  Probably not–it had other issues (electrical problems, as well as a bad belt, which spells very bad news in a Northstar Cadillac), and the way this car drives is not at all comparable to other sporty coupes at the same price.  It’s not a surprise that the Eldorado can’t keep up with the times, and its driving dynamics are just a joke for what it could be.  If it were RWD, or if it were a lighter car, I’d like it more, but this is no sports coupe.  No doubt about it–Cadillac’s come a long way since 2000.

-Albert S. Davis

6 thoughts on “Test Driven: 2000 Cadillac Eldorado ETC”

  1. I don’t understand why writers take a luxury car on a test and then bitch about why they can’t throw it into a corner like a BMW! Test it as a luxury car you moron! I don’t see you testing a convertible as a pickup truck either.


    1. So true. All to often you hear it doesn’t handle, it doesn’t hug the road. It’s NOT suppose to. What it is suppose to do is cruise down the highway in comfort leaving the road where it should be which is outside. And in my opinion it does it very well. I’ve had about 7-8 eldorados and hope i can find something to replace them when the time comes


  2. Having owned this auto I can’t express too much that this review is way off mark. This car has punch as well as comfort… a auto that achieves 160 mph without even a shimmy is no sissy car. Can blow the doors off any BMW in the long haul and yes it is a boat for cornering, but wet weather handling is exceptional with the front wheel drive.


  3. Plenty of power at 300 H.P. Some Issues with Oil leaking and belt tensioner. Fixed these issues not cheap to repair. But once rolling I have kept up with Lexus, B.M.W., Mercedes for a 17 year old car speaks for its self !


  4. I’d like to defend that machine too: Living in Switzerland we have lots of curves everywhere here, but I don’t care about cornering. I know all the little Hondas do it better, but they’re Hondas, not Cadillacs. I own a 2000 Eldorado for everyday’s use, an exotic car you never see here. The whole brand is almost missing, except for an Escalade here and then. I love that 2000 Eldorado, it’s kind of cool, exotic here, and pretty powerful for an almost 20 years old car – anyway, as some of the guys here already wrote, for me too it’s an american highway-glider that maybe looks a bit sporty, but it’s not a fighter jet, and I’m happy it is not. It’s a PLC, something I thought you found only in the US. Some people say it’s an old lady’s car. I’m a guy, 39 years old, and I like it too. It is refined in my opinion. Cadillac lost a bit of its soul when they tried to copy the Germans and use strange technical nameplates – though every company has to adapt to its customers I guess. The Northstar has over 200’000kms and runs like a charm. It’s a car that should maybe more be compared to large french comfortable Citroëns than sporty german BMWs, if they really want to compare with european machines. But they shouldn’t in my opinion, I l ike the Eldo exactly because it feels different. Just because it has a V8 and 300HP doesn’t mean it’s a sportscar. I’m really going to miss it if they don’t build cars like that anymore.
    So I don’t think the tester is a moron, it’s not the Cadillac-way to talk about people anyway 🙂 But I don’t fully agree with his review, the Eldo is a good car – a kind of it’s own somehow. Love it or hate it, I love it.


Your Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s