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5 Cars Put GM in Driver's Seat

Stocks in this article: GM F TM

Cadillac CTS
Just as GM was heading into its bailout, it was getting ready to unleash a Cadillac that would not only quash the lingering stigma of grandpa's Cadillac, but make Cadillac accessible to just about anyone willing to pay the $35,000 base price.

Cadillac cast a wide net with the CTS -- offering it in a sedan, coupe, station wagon and performance vehicle -- and was rewarded with the biggest catch of its fleet. Last month the CTS passed Cadillac's SRX sport utility vehicle as the brand's top-selling model, with sales increasing 29% from the same time last year and the model's 18,519 year-to-date sales representing a 62% increase from the same period last year. That growth is the biggest reason Cadillac's total volume has increased 31% since early 2011, but it's what's inside the CTS that's driving demand.

Even the base model has Bose 5.1 sound, stability control and OnStar navigation, but the $38,000 upgrade includes leather seating, wood trim, LCD backup cameras, 10-way power seats, a six-disc CD changer and Bluetooth connection in the console, a heated steering wheel and universal remote.

"Since the IPO and even a little before that, GM was placing greater emphasis on trying to get the right fit and finish and work with some nicer materials," TrueCar's Schaffels says. "The CTS, which I think is a gorgeous car, is one of the first ones where you can say General Motors has really done this right."

The $62,000-plus V performance models have made this line a little more intriguing, however. Forget the 10-speaker Bose sound system with hard drive, the microfiber performance seats, the metal pedals, the keyless access and standard OnStar. The 556-horsepower V8 engine may be the longest middle finger American luxury automakers can extend to their European counterparts. The features make it luxurious, but that kind of acceleration makes it just plain hot.

"As a woman, I think it's a very sexy car," Schaffels says. "It doesn't matter if you get into this car with baby spit-up on your shirt: You get into this car and you just feel pretty."

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