Earlier this week Cadillac announced plans to refresh the CTS for the 2015 model year. With only one year of sales under the current generation’s belt, the CTS’ update seems a bit premature, but Cadillac says the drivers behind quick change revolve around branding rather than sales performance. GM’s premium brand is actually in the process of implementing a new wreathless crest across its entire model lineup, and rather than just swapping out the old emblem with the new, they are taking the opportunity to make some updates to existing products as well. So, for the 2015 model year the CTS gets a revised front end with the wreathless crest, a new chrome grille with active aero enhancements on standard models and a black-chrome grille on the up-level Vsport trim. Accompanying the new grille is a pair of redesigned headlights, which altogether give the sedan a sleeker look. 

Other noteworthy 2015 CTS updates include:

  • Available Cadillac DockSpot wireless phone charging
  • Text Message Alerts integrated with Cadillac CUE
  • OnStar with 4G LTE and standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot (3GB/three-month trial)
  • Perpendicular parking feature added to available automatic parking assist
  • Lane keep assist and lane change alert safety features added to available Driver Awareness package
  • Exterior colors: Crystal White Tricoat and Dark Adriatic Blue Metallic
  • Revised interior color and trim combinations

The 2014 CTS won some pretty impressive awards such as Motor Trend’s 2014 Car of the Year and Car and Driver’s 10Best 2014, but despite the accolades, year-to-date sales are no better than they were last year. According to data, year-to-date sales have barely surpassed 18k units – a figure nearly identical to the same period in 2013 and 40% less than in 2012 when Cadillac managed to move just over 30k units.

While sales of the new CTS have been disappointing, what’s even more troubling is the lofty level of incentive spending on the model. Through the first half of the year, Cadillac spent an average of $8,324 in incentives on every CTS sold, which is $1,884 and $3,630 more than the same periods in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

Cadillac cites the wreathless crest as one of the primary factors behind the refresh, but from the sales and incentive data alone it looks like they are making the changes to energize an underperforming product.

We’ve seen rapid refreshes from a few brands in the past; two recent examples of this are the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu and 2013 Honda Civic. Chevrolet had high hopes when it introduced the redesigned 2013 Malibu, but sales never took off. As a result, Chevrolet scrambled and refreshed the Malibu for the 2014 model year in order to address the car’s shortcoming. As for the Civic, after taking a lot of media and consumer criticism, Honda rolled out a refreshed version of its popular model just one model year after the original launched.  Honda was much more transparent with their correction, and the end result was good. Annual sales of the Civic picked up by 8% in 2013 compared to 2012. As such, there is hope that Cadillac will be able to follow a similar pattern and grow sales of the refreshed CTS.

The fact that GM is willing to rework models after just a brief stint on the market (as a result of not meeting sales goals or otherwise) is a good thing. It shows that the manufacturer isn’t content with simply riding out a product cycle as-is and stimulating sales with unreasonable incentives.