When a European considers something as the best in its class, you will often hear the words the “Mercedes of this and that.” For example, a good smartphone would be called “The Mercedes of smartphones,” or a good TV as “The Mercedes of TVs.”
In the US, it’s more common to say things like “The Cadillac of smartphones.” It’s undeniable that these two brands represent somewhat of a national pride in both places but, Cadillac simply can’t match the sheer scale in which Mercedes operates.
To further reiterate the difference between the market share of these two impressive brands, Mercedes sold more than 2.3 million cars in 2019. On the other hand, Cadillac only managed to sell around 156,000 cars.
Let’s breakdown the different vehicle categories to compare Mercedes and Cadillac side by side.
The trends in the automotive industry continually keep changing. As of late, people are starting to prefer SUVs to sedans, and both Mercedes and Cadillac offer exceptionally-crafted SUVs. But the approach and execution are what sets them apart.
The best and most popular SUVs Mercedes currently offers are the GLE (standard or Coupe version), the GLS, and the G-Class/G-Wagon. As far as automotive SUV icons are considered, the G-Class is in a league of its own. The boxy shape, plush interior, and powerful engines earned the G-Class a mark of a true icon.
The GLE and GLS are a more conservative approach towards building mid-to-full size SUVs. They are well equipped as standard and offer many different safety and technology features. The GLB and the GLC are a pair of smaller SUVs, mostly sold in Europe. They offer most of the stuff the larger SUVs do, at a more attainable price.
As far as Cadillac is concerned, there are 5 different SUVs to choose from. The XT5 and XT6 models are also fairly well equipped as standard and they offer a lot of different optional equipment.
However, the Cadillac XT5 and the XT6 simply can’t match the levels of refinement, design, and build quality of the Mercedes GLE, and especially the GLS.
In 2020, Cadillac released the new Escalade. The Escalade is a full-size flagship SUV by Cadillac, also offering cult-like status among its followers. The Escalade also offers a boxy shape, while still being modernized and easily capable of satisfying even the most demanding of buyers, as far as technology is considered.
The winner: Mercedes
The Cadillac Escalade can be compared to the Mercedes G-Class, but it falls short in the quality department. While the Escalade is slightly roomier, the G-Class still wins out when it comes to class and quality.
In the SUV department, a clear advantage was given to Mercedes. While Cadillac also offers amazing SUVs, especially the newly released Escalade, Mercedes is a definite step above.
Mercedes has the win on the SUV front, and when it comes to the sedan department, it’s even more of a clear victory for Mercedes.
In the Mercedes corner, are the C-class, the E-class, and the S-class. These 3 models have been the pride and joy of the Mercedes brand for decades. All three of these models offer a strong brand image, great engines, modern designs, and gorgeous interiors. Mercedes constantly keeps updating their cars so they never feel last-gen or dated.
In the Cadillac corner, are the CT4 and the CT5. They are the two best Cadillac models because they are the only two sedans Cadillac currently offers. Both CT4 and CT5 offer modern designs, potent engines, and well-crafted interiors. However, they are simple no match for the German trio in pretty much any department.
Hatchbacks are a lot more popular in Europe compared to the US. The reason behind this is that hatchbacks are well suited for tiny city streets, which are fairly common in most European cities. And because of this, and the fact that Cadillac sells a few vehicles in Europe anyway, Mercedes is unmatched in the hatchback department.
Both Mercedes and Cadillac are just getting started in the EV segment, so it’s too early to tell which brand offers better EVs. The only fully electric standalone model by Mercedes is the EQC, which is basically a glorified version of the GLC, so the standalone part is fairly questionable.
Cadillac currently offers zero EVs, but soon the striking LYRIQ SUV might hit production. The LYRIQ looks incredibly futuristic and it will supposedly do more than 300 miles on a single charge.
Does Mercedes offer better reliability and safety than Cadillac?
Mercedes is slightly more reliable than Cadillac, but there’s not a big different. Mercedes placed 20th in USA Today’s most reliable car brand chart, and Cadillac followed at 21st place. Both Mercedes and Cadillac manage to place fairly low compared to other luxury car brand names.
As far as safety is concerned, safety crash regulations are incredibly strict, and both Mercedes and Cadillac are considered safe cars. But as far as crash testing goes, Mercedes usually comes out on top compared to most car brands, not just Cadillac.
Why is Mercedes so superior to Cadillac?
Mercedes operates on a scale far greater than Cadillac. The sheer numbers surrounding Mercedes as a global brand are far greater than Cadillacs. Cadillac is primarily sold in the US and Canada. Seeing a Cadillac in Europe is somewhat of a unicorn.
On the other hand, Mercedes operates globally, and Mercedes cars are fairly common in almost every part of the globe. Mercedes can spend more money developing cars than Cadillac because Mercedes is somewhat of a mammoth of the car industry, while Cadillac occupies only a small percentage of the car market.
And in this segment, exclusivity is not such an important factor. The exclusivity of Cadillac is more a consequence of poor sales than it is actual “exclusivity” commonly associated with the most premium brands on the market.
Can the US car industry match the German car industry?
Well, the US car industry surely manages to beat the German car industry in the US. And that’s partially because European cars suffer strict import taxation. Furthermore, Germans don’t offer any pick-ups, while the Ford F150 currently manages to take the number one spot in new car sales in the US.
Mercedes did offer the X-class for a while, trying to take the piece of the market the F150 occupies. But it failed miserably to do so because Mercedes has no history in making pickups.