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Explaining Cadillac’s New “Y” Trim Level Strategy

Explaining Cadillac’s New “Y” Trim Level Strategy

For the last decade, Cadillac’s vehicle lineup tendered a rather disjointed and unclear trim level hierarchy, with a nebulous amalgamation of names and monikers that included Luxury, Premium, Premium Luxury, Premium Performance, Platinum, and other trims. The structure made it rather difficult to understand what level a vehicle occupied in the pecking order, and whether a customer was looking at a base, mid-range or fully-loaded model. That’s all about to change.

The luxury automaker is completely revamping the trim level structure, along with the associated features of its vehicles, as part of a new approach it calls the “Y” trim level strategy. The all-new 2019 XT4 and refreshed 2019 CT6 are the first  models to adopt the new global trim structure. Here’s a closer look at the new formation.

The Strategy

The new “Y” trim level strategy consists of five possible trim levels.

It all starts with the new base trim level called Luxury, from which point the “Y” splits off into two branches: one emphasizes luxury and the other underscores sport and performance. Specific content, features and styling cues tailor each trim branch of the “Y” trim strategy to different customer tastes and preferences.

Luxury Branch

  • Consists of:
    • Premium Luxury trim as mid-level tier
    • Platinum trim as top-level tier
  • Differentiated by:
    • Bright (chrome) exterior accents
    • Ornate multi-spoke wheel designs
    • Tame exhaust design (appearance and sound tuning)
    • Specific chassis tuning with focus on soft ride and handling
    • Luxurious interior color combinations and decor

Sport Branch

  • Consists of:
    • Sport trim as mid-level tier
    • V-sport trim ad top-level tier
  • Differentiated by:
    • Blacked-out or body-color exterior accents
    • More aggressive body work (extensions, splitters, spoilers, valances)
    • Athletic wheel designs
    • Assertive exhaust design (appearance and sound tuning)
    • Specific chassis tuning with focus on more sporty ride and handling
    • Sporty interior color combinations and decor

Besides the differentiation of exterior accents  appearance and driving experience, each trim level along the hierarchy features progressively more features and equipment, either as standard or as available. For instance, the 2019 XT4 offers the Comfort and Convenience Package on the Premium Luxury and Sport trim levels, but not on the base Luxury trim. Contents of the package differer slightly between the Premium Lux and Sport trims, as follows:

XT4 Premium Luxury:

  • 8-way power passenger seat adjuster
  • Driver seat massage control
  • Front passenger seat massage control
  • Driver seat 4-way power lumbar control
  • Front passenger seat 4-way power lumbar control
  • Driver and front passenger ventilated seats
  • Hands-Free Liftgate

XT4 Sport:

  • Leather seating surfaces
  • 8-way power passenger seat adjuster
  • Driver seat massage control
  • Front passenger seat massage control
  • Driver and front passenger ventilated seats
  • Hands-Free Liftgate

2019 Cadillac XT4 trim levels feature different exterior accents

Model Availability

Not all Cadillac models will be offered in all five potential trim levels in the “Y” hierarchy. For instance, the 2019 XT4 will be offered only in the “bottom” three trims – the base Luxury and the up-level Premium Luxury and Sport. The small crossover will not be available in V-Sport or Platinum trims… at least not that we’re aware of.

Additionally, some trim levels might be available only with a specific propulsion system (engine – transmission – drive wheels combination). Take, for instance, the new Cadillac 4.2L Twin-Turbo V8 engine: the high-output version of the motor (550 hp / 627 lb-ft of torque) will be available exclusively in the 2019 CT6 V-Sport, while the standard output version (500 hp / 553 lb-ft of torque) will be included in the CT6 Platinum. Meanwhile, the 3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 in the CT6 is available more broadly, either on Luxury,  Sport, and Platinum trims.

Launch Cadence

As mentioned previously, the 2019 XT4 and CT6 will launch Cadillac’s new “Y” trim level hierarchy. The rest of the lineup will adopt the new structure as each model gets overhauled (re-designed and re-engineered), with all-new models featuring the new trims from the get-go. For instance, the most recent spy photos of the upcoming CT4 appear to show a trim level structure identical to that of the XT4, but with what seems to be even more apparent differentiation between trim levels in favor of the CT4.

The only future Cadillac that will receive the “Y” trim level hierarchy without being overhauled is the Cadillac XT5. The midsize crossover will receive a mid-cycle update, otherwise known as a refresh or mid-cycle enhancement, for the 2020 model year, at which point it will adopt Caddy’s new trim ladder.

Written by
Alex is the founder of Cadillac Society. He has a deep passion for automotive business strategy and enjoys driving his ATS sedan on twisty mountain roads.

8 Comments

  1. Alex, I believe you are mistaken when you state that the “Comfort and Convience Package” is available exclusively in Premium Luxury Trim level. If you look at page 12 of the 2019 XT4(dated March 23, 2018)order guide that you posted on your website you will see that RPO code WPC is available in Sport1SF & Sport1SG. I also know it’s available because I ordered it on the XT4 I placed a preorder for last week. Granted it requires (Y19) Cold Weather Package, but it is available.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the heads up Dave. Corrected.

      Reply
  2. I have seen that Cadillac has more uses for the 3.0tt that’s used on the CT6 but what are the plans for the LF3 and
    LF4 3.6tt just wondering if anything has been said yet?

    Reply
  3. The Luxury and Premium Luxury names together don’t help clarify this. PL should be L and L be Standard or the equivalent. Otherwise, it goes from Luxury TO Sport instead of Luxury OR Sport, the obvious Y.

    Reply
    • Or they could change Sport to Premium Sport, so it’s clear you pay a premium to get to that level, and it’s equivalent to Premium Luxury but different.

      I’m sure they’ve focus-grouped this into the ground, but salesmen are going to have to explain over and over that Luxury and Sport are at considerably different price and equipment levels. Perhaps that’s the point, but why complicate the Y?

      Since the 40’s, GM typically brings out a better engine the second year of a new model, but they managed to get the Platinum XT5 out the first year–and they should have here if they ever will, especially if there won’t be a better engine or V-Sport for several years.

      Reply
  4. When will the 3.0TT be available in the CT6 Premium Luxury??

    Reply
  5. Hi, Alex—-I misdirected my comments last night. The Y-trim is a nice step forward. But as I said in my comments (in your Escala write-up), safety, such as forward emergency braking is so important should be standard in all 2020 Cadillac’s,not just an add-on-option. The ads on over-the-air TV ads for far less expensive foreign cars imply that such safety features are standard. An increased GM profit margin certainly cannot be as safety in all forthcoming new Cadillac models.

    Reply

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