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Why Isn't the Presidential Limo a Truck or SUV?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2017

So we recently had a presidential inauguration, and there was a lot of hubbub at this particular inauguration from the automotive community, because the president was supposed to have a new limo. But he didn't have a new limo, he had the same ol' regular limo. Nonetheless, this whole limo thing got me thinking: Why do we keep up the farce that the presidential limo is a Cadillac sedan? Why isn't it just a truck or an SUV?

Here's my thinking. For one thing, the presidential limo has already been a truck for ages. Many reports speculate, although the government refuses to confirm, that the president's "Cadillac" limo, dubbed "The Beast," actually rides on the chassis of a GMC TopKick or Chevrolet Kodiak -- the kind of enormous vehicle they make motorhomes with. They aren't fooling anyone: This thing isn't a sedan.

More importantly, the SUV has become widely accepted in our world. Everyone has an SUV. Hollywood celebrities. Parents. Teenagers. Farmers. Rural fire departments. Even idiots like me. We all drive SUVs, and we all seem to be OK with SUVs, so it's not like there are any political issues with the president driving around in a sport-utility vehicle. At the end of the day, nobody's fooling themselves to believe this thing gets like 65 miles per gallon.

So people don't mind SUVs -- in fact, they like SUVs -- and the presidential limo is already based on a giant truck chassis. So why not just make it an SUV or a truck?

Presumably, the entire reason is tradition: the presidential limo has been a Cadillac sedan for decades, and General Motors doesn't want to change that now. Although many presidents have used Lincoln limousines throughout the years, it appears every president since Gerald Ford has instead used a Cadillac -- one that seems to change every few years. And Cadillac probably likes the notoriety.

But in today's world, car sales are quickly being eclipsed by SUV sales. The next-generation presidential limo will probably resemble the Cadillac XTS, which is among the brand's slowest sellers. Why not style it like an Escalade, which everyone knows? Or the new XT5 crossover, which Cadillac is eagerly trying to promote?

Remember, the presidential limo used to be a convertible. Then it became a normal, closed-roof limo. Then a modified Cadillac. And now this crazy truck-based weird Cadillac-looking thing. Maybe it's time for a change to an SUV.

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Why Isn't the Presidential Limo a Truck or SUV? - Autotrader