SEE ALSO: Cadillac Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 44,700 Price As Tested $ 49,740 Engine Type DOHC 32-valve 4.6 Liter V8 w/SMFI* Engine Size 279 cid/4565 cc Horsepower 300 @ 6000 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 295 @ 4400 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 115.4"/74.5"/207.2" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 4079 pounds Fuel Capacity 18.5 gallons Tires (F/R) P235/55R17 Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 17/28/22 0-60 MPH 8.0 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 16.0 seconds @ 91.5 mph Top speed 130 mph * Sequential multi-point fuel injection
(Matt Hagin road tested the new Cadillac DeVille and found that its "Grandpa's car" image is a bum rap. His father, Bob, says that the "Grandpa" image for mature men like himself is a bum rap too.)
MATT - We did a test on the new Cadillac Escalade not long ago, but being an SUV, it's a far cry from this hot new DeVille DTS sedan. The DTS is as big as any of the other large luxury sedans from around the world, and I don't think it has to back out of a stoplight drag race with any of them. Its famous Northstar engine has the same horsepower as its predecessor of last year, but it's been redesigned to be "cleaner" and in the process, it's now capable of operating on 87 octane gasoline. It's still an all-aluminum 4.7 liter twin-cam engine with all the trick technical stuff that G.M. has in its parts bin and it's hooked to a super-smooth four-speed automatic. I'd prefer that it was a rear-wheel drive car but driving it, I couldn't detect any torque steer - a phenomenon that pulls the steering to one side under heavy acceleration. This sometimes presents a problem with a front-drive car that has lots of horsepower but the DeVille seems to have it under control.
BOB - At 300 horses, it's got plenty of power, but it also has one of the most sophisticated traction control systems in the industry so torque steer is virtually eliminated. If the driving wheels start to spin and lose their grip, the system applies the front brakes just enough to get things back under control. This DTS also has a system that increases the "drag" on the steering system so that if the front wheels lose their "bite" in a turn, the driver won't over-correct and exacerbate the problem. And unless the problem is grossly out of hand, the driver isn't even aware that it's happening. Cadillac has gone to great lengths to make the DTS version of the DeVille a driver's car. It won't appeal to closet racers who snicker at the Cadillac name, but it will be a real eye-opener to Baby Boomers who buy a hot luxury sedan more for its performance characteristics and comfort that the snob appeal of its country of origin.
MATT - In traditional Cadillac fashion, this DeVille is a really large car. Although it's been "downsized" from the DeVille of last year, it's still big. It weighs in at just over 4000 pounds and is a little more than 17 feet in length. In its base form, it comes with a steering column-mounted gear selector and a center arm rest in the front seat so it can handle six full-sized adults in comfort - even it the trip goes cross-country. The front bucket seats on our test car not only have lumbar adjustments but a built-in massage unit as well.
BOB - No wonder its average buyer at present is around 60. Buying one is worth it to us "mature" motorists just to get that kind of back treatment every time we drive. And like most Caddys, the suspension is very smooth. The shock absorbers are electronically-controlled to instantly adapt to any particular road condition and the suspension contains a self-leveling system to keep things on an even keel. It's not surprising that the Caddy is the best-selling luxury car brand in the U.S., given the average age of its buyers.
MATT - The most technically advanced aspect of out Cadillac DTS is its Night Vision system. It's a $2000 option that's a civilian adaptation of the device used by the military. It consists of an infrared camera in the grille that scans ahead at night or in foul weather and picks up the heat given off by other cars, people, animals and buildings in a much wider arc than the headlights. It projects an image on the base of the windshield ahead of the driver and looks something like an in-motion black-and-white photo negative. It's a bit eerie and it takes some getting used to.
BOB - The whole car takes some getting used to, Matt. It took us car buffs 30 years to get used to the idea that the Cadillac was a posh but boring line of cars and now it's making stylish hot-rods.
MATT - You'll have to get used to it fast, Dad. I've seen some of the things that Cadillac has on tap for the future and for some of them, you may have to replace your old crash helmet.