As little as BMW buyers want to cross-shop a Cadillac, they'll have one reason less to complain about the American luxury marque as of the introduction of the 2011 models, as Gm is providing free maintenance for the first four years/50,000 miles on all 2011 vehicles.

The move vaults Cadillac onto level ground with BMW's Ultimate Service plan, and actually tops Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus, which don't ofer free maintenance at all in the U.S. anymore--though each has in the past. Lincoln made a similar announcement today, guaranteeing maintenance for three years or 45,000 miles on new-purchase 2010 or 2011 models--if you buy before September 7.

Cadillac's decision to add the free maintenance program, which includes oil changes, tire rotation, replacement engine and cabin air filters, and multi-point inspections, is part of the brand's larger push to improve not just their initial quality, but the ongoing ownership and customer service experience. Despite lacking free maintenance, Lexus in particular is noted for an excellent dealership and customer service experience, while the Germans have typically rated well on these measures, too.

Being competitive at the first tier of the luxury segment requires more than a one-shot sale of a good product. Cadillac has already rated second in the segment in the 2009 J.D. Power sales and customer satisfaction indexes, but it's seeking to "set the standard for the industry in customer service," according to Kurt McNeil, vice president of Cadillac sales and service.

The 2011 CTS Coupe will be the first of the cars on sale to get the free maintenance treatment. You can read all about the car in our first drive review.

In addition to the four-year/50,000-mile scheduled maintenance, Cadillac offers five-year/100,000-mile powertrain and four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranties.

[Cadillac]