SEE ALSO: Cadillac Buyer's Guide
Although the 1997 edition of the Cadillac Seville Touring Sedan (STS) looks almost identical to that of 1992, don't be deceived. Cadillac's flagship has been constantly evolving, and this year's model is no exception. Under its timeless skin are major structural improvements. Inside, comfort, safety, and convenience have been enhanced. Most importantly, the 1997 STS is a showpiece that brings aerospace technology to the roadway.
The 1997 STS builds on Cadillac's heritage of innovative use of chassis control electronics to become one of the most technologically advanced automobiles ever made. Increasingly sophisticated real-time control of shock absorber damping and integration of damping, traction control, braking, and steering systems led to the Integrated Chassis Control System (ICCS) in 1995. The ICCS subsystems have evolved to sense and react to road texture and conditions more quickly. The Stabilitrak stability-enhancement system is the major Cadillac engineering development for 1997.
Stabilitrak adds a yaw rate sensor and lateral accelerometer to the ICCS system. The main ICCS computer compares inputs from these aerospace devices with inputs from the Magnasteer magnetically- assisted steering system to detect impending loss of control, and activates the appropriate front brake to bring the car back in line. Stabilitrak works with the driver, and increases confidence without leading to overconfidence.
My time with the new STS was varied. In addition to the normal week at home, I had opportunities to drive examples at the 1997 product introduction in the Appalachian foothills of Virginia and to test the abilities of Stabilitrak in a controlled setting at Phoenix International Raceway. The STS is quiet, comfortable, and composed on the street. On the track it is quick and agile. At the limits of traction, Stabilitrak really works.
APPEARANCE: Like a well-designed suit, the STS was styled well when it was introduced and so still looks good today. It looks smaller and lighter than it really is. Crisp, angular edges and curved surfaces provide visual balance. At the front is the traditional Cadillac egg-crate grille, body colored on the STS. It is flanked by rectangular headlamps. Body-colored bumper fascias continue on the lower sides as protective molding. The long, broad hood is gently sculpted, and character lines break up the otherwise large expanse of the sides. The passenger cabin has a steeply-raked windshield and backlight, thin pillars, and large side windows. Window trim is black, and chrome is conspicuously absent except for optionally chromed spoked alloy wheels.
COMFORT: The STS is far more European in interior appointments than earlier Cadillacs. No plush, overstuffed, quilted leather sofas and velour brocade here. Just a tasteful application of leather, wood trim, and quality fabric. Dark leather above wood trim above lighter leather on the doors and instrument panel is elegant and graceful. All amenities expected in a flagship luxury car are standard equipment on the STS. The power-operated front seats have been redesigned for improved comfort and crash protection, and a greater number of seat position, mirror position, climate control and audio system settings may now be programmed. Changes to the climate control panel and driver information center make both easier to use. Instrumentation and control design and placement are proper and functional. The contoured rear seat is spacious for two, and will hold three if necessary. The commodious, low liftover trunk has a long-standing Cadillac feature: there is no need to slam the lid closed. Gently close it, and servomechanisms will finish the job.
SAFETY: In addition to Stabilitrak, the 1997 Cadillac STS has all of the expected safety features, including 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction control, safety cage construction, dual air bags, and daytime running lights. ROADABILITY: Like the best European luxury/sports sedans, the Cadillac STS feels small, light, and nimble on the road. Redesigned suspension components and the Integrated Chassis Control System (ICCS) give a ride that is comfortable around town and composed at speed. New this year, the Stabilitrak traction- enhancement system keeps the STS friendly and safer at its limits, and increases those limits as well. It is a Cadillac that can run with the best Europe has to offer.
PERFORMANCE: The Northstar System is the secret to the abilities of the STS and other front-wheel drive Cadillacs. More than just the 4.6-liter, 300-horsepower dual overhead cam, alloy V8, the Northstar System encompasses a fast, smooth, efficient 4-speed automatic transmission, balanced suspension and steering components, and the electronic systems that allow all subsystems to interact in harmony. The STS is quick, fast, and fuel-efficient.
CONCLUSIONS: The 1997 Cadillac STS combines advanced electronic technology with a state-of-the-art engine and chassis that make it a worthy competitor to any luxury car made.
SPECIFICATIONS 1997 Cadillac Seville Touring Sedan Base Price $ 44,995 Price As Tested $ 47,800 Engine Type aluminum alloy, dual overhead cam, 32-valve V8 Engine Size 4.6 liters / 279 cu. in. Horsepower 300 @ 6000 rpm Torque (lb-ft) 295 @ 4400 rpm Transmission 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic Wheelbase / Length 111.0 in. / 204.1 in. Curb Weight 3900 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 13 Fuel Capacity 20.0 gal. Fuel Requirement unleaded premium Tires P225/60 R16 Goodyear Eagle RS-A Brakes, front/rear vented disc / disc, antilock standard Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut / independent short / long arm Drivetrain front engine, front-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 17/26/21 0 to 60 mph 7.1 sec 1/4 mile (E.T.) 14.8 sec Coefficient of Drag (cd) 0.33