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Why Tesla Defines American Luxury, Not Cadillac or Lincoln

Americans are at our best when we look forward instead of at what others are doing. Cadillac and Lincoln used to epitomize this idea. When your slogan is Standard of the World, as Cadillac s was for decades, you have to live up to that promise. When the first tailfins sprouted from the back of a 1948 Cadillac, it symbolized the newfound jet age and the eternal optimism of postWorld War II America. Meanwhile, Lincoln epitomized the American way of doing things, with big engines, even bigger sheetmetal, and imaginative mid-century modern designs. Even European automakers bought in on the concept of American exceptionalism with their imitative designs.   But the moment Cadillac and Lincoln started looking over their shoulders at what the European luxury makers were doing, both lost the plot. While Cadillac has spent the past three decades copying BMW s homework, and Lincoln spent the same time building cost-cut, rebadged Fords and Mercurys, the soul of American luxury escaped Detroit. Today, it has settled in sunny California. Like Cadillac and Lincoln in their primes, Tesla oozes the confident, futuristic cool that foreign luxury automakers are once again tripping over themselves to capture. The Porsche Taycan, Mercedes EQC, and Audi E-Tron, not to mention Volvo s Polestar and BMWs i Divisions, dont happen without the impact Tesla has had on the industry. Technology is the new luxury, and for much of the past decade, Tesla undoubtedly has locked down that angle. Can Cadillac and Lincoln regain their former glory? Read the story here . Teslas, like the Cadillacs and Lincolns did in their heyday, capture 21st century design trends and tastes exceptionally well. The Franz von Holzhausenpenned exteriors of the Model S, Model 3, and yes, even the slightly ungainly Model X and Model Y crossovers are clean, crisp, and minimalistic. Its the same story inside, with each of Teslas cabins featuring the automotive equivalent of an open floor plan. Its trim lines and high-quality upholstery are broken up only by a modern, center-mounted tabletthe only ornamentation. Beyond styling, Teslas unquestionably look toward the future. Whereas a newish company with no history to speak of can sometimes play against the tastes of luxury buyers who crave heritage, in Teslas case not having a back story helps in being seen as an innovator. The type of luxury buyer that carmakers chase today are as interested in authenticity as they are in the badge on the hood. Of course, having a magnetic, quirky personality in the CEOs chair helps, too. Elon Musk had every incentive and opportunity to stick to the tried-and-true formula that traditional luxury brands had established. Yet he didnt. Aside from being the interiors focal point, that big tablet in the center of every Teslas dashboard completely changes the way a driver interacts with and perceives the car. It makes Teslas immensely customizable, intuitive, and future-proof, with each car capable of receiving over-the-air software updates that include new features. The way each Tesla drives is futuristic in its own right, too. Just by virtue of their electric drivetrainswith their instant torque and low center of gravityTeslas are powerful, quick, and sporty, yet still efficient, quiet, and comfortable. Americans have been dreaming of self-driving cars since the 1960s, and while true Level 5 autonomous cars are still some ways off, with Teslas Auto Pilot Level 2 semi-autonomous tech, were making huge strides toward that inevitability. Sure, Tesla is struggling with assembly quality issues (and luxury buyers hate spending time in the service drive), but thats part of its maturation process from a start-up company into a real-time automaker. More important, the soul of the American luxury car has been up for grabs since the 1970s malaise era, when American car companies ceded imagination to the Germans and subsequently the Japanese. Although Cadillac has shown occasional flashes of personality, and Lincoln has seemingly found a thready pulse with its new trio of sharp SUVs, for now Tesla defines American luxury, full stop. The post Why Tesla Defines American Luxury, Not Cadillac or Lincoln appeared first on Motortrend .


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