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Classy ride, clueless marketing strategy

The car is substantially better than its marketing. It seems as if the people who made it knew exactly who they were making it for — proud folks who worked hard all of their lives, who know themselves and what they’ve been through and who don’t need an external symbol of “prestige.” They just enjoy a good time and appreciate a nice car in which to share that time.

It is too bad that the people who sell the thing apparently have no idea who their customers are.

Thus is the saga of the Cadillac CT6 sedan introduced in 2016 and unchanged for the 2017 model year. It isn’t selling as well as it should be selling, partly because sedans generally aren’t selling well in a U.S. auto market dominated by trucks and sport utility vehicles; and mostly, I think, because Cadillac’s marketers don’t know who they are selling to. Witness the silly CT6 TV commercial in which the car drives forward, but everyone and everything else in the scene moves backward.

The commercial makes no sense. The CT6 does. It is a beautiful machine inside and out, perhaps one of the best-looking cars General Motors, maker of all things Cadillac, has ever made.

The obvious care and thought with which the CT6 is put together is why Americans, including my late parents, historically have desired Cadillacs. They didn’t want to show off. In fact, for most of their adult lives, they bought Chevrolet models that were good cars and that allowed them to drive in humility. They bought Cadillac in celebration of their success and the lives they lived.

Current Cadillac marketers seem not to understand or care about that history. They are in hot pursuit of the One Percenters — the people who buy cars to be chauffeured, as opposed to automobiles they drive themselves; the folks who never really cared much about the people who actually desire, appreciate and buy Cadillacs.

Too bad. The CT6, partly based on the shorter (by 8½ inches) Cadillac CTS platform, is perhaps the best Cadillac that General Motors has ever made. And that’s saying a lot because GM historically has had the chutzpah, personnel and resources to make great cars.

The CT6 is a great car. Here’s why:

There are three excellent gasoline engines — a 2.0-liter turbocharged (forced air) model, a 3.6-liter V-6, and a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 at base prices ranging from $54,490 to $65,390. It is available in rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive.

I used the economical 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine (265 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque, about 30 miles per gallon on the highway) with a rear-wheel drivetrain for this column. It was one of the smoothest cars I’ve driven.

There are four trim levels — base, Luxury, Premium Luxury and top-ranked Platinum. The higher you go, the more you get, the more you pay. If you are one of the One Percenters, you can get a fully loaded 3.0-liter V-6 and spend nearly $100,000.

If you are like the rest of us, you can get a well-equipped, economical turbo four-cylinder model and be perfectly happy. Personally, I’d take this one over any similarly priced European model.

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