New Car Review


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1996 CADILLAC SEVILLE STS

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SEE ALSO: Cadillac Buyer's Guide

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 47,495
     Price As Tested                                    $ 51,193
     Engine Type                             4.6 Liter V8 w/PFI*
     Engine Size                                  279cid/4565 cc
     Horsepower                                   300 @ 6000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               295 @ 4400 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  111.0"/74.2"/204.1"
     Transmission                           Four speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3910 Pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  20.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                    P225/60ZR16
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Six-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 XX percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/26/25          
     0-60 MPH                                        7.1 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                     15.8 seconds @ 92.2 mph
     Max towing capacity                                     N/A

     * Port fuel injection

(The new Cadillac Seville hasn't had many exterior changes to speak of for 1996, but Bob Hagin remembers when Cadillac meant plush, not fancy performance tricks. His son Matt reminds him that with the new STS, luxury and performance go together, and wishes performance car buffs would give this brawny domestic luxo-sedan its proper due.)

BOB - A tachometer! Matt, I remember a time when Cadillac wouldn't have thought of putting a tachometer into the dashboard of any of its new cars. But there it is, on the 1996 Seville STS we drove, a tachometer, sitting right alongside the speedo. After driving it around, though, I see why it qualifies as a performance car. All the performance comes from what Cadillac calls the Northstar System - a V8 with twin cams and four valves per cylinder, and a special drivetrain. So with 300 horses, the STS won't take a back seat to many at the stoplight drags.

MATT - Dad, Cadillac didn't have street racing in mind for the STS, that's why it comes with things like keyless entry and plush leather seats. Just because it will hit 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, and the factory had to put an electronic limiter on the engine to top it out at 150 MPH, doesn't mean it isn't a luxury car. Even so, to to go that fast, you'd have to order the STS with optional Goodyear Z-rated high-speed tires. This year the suspension has been upgraded too, with a system that constantly feeds road-condition information to the computer. This then trims the shock absorbers, so that if more roll stiffness is need to reduce the amount of lean in a turn, all four shocks work independently. Also new for '96 is the steering system. It's magnetic and speed- sensitive, which means the steering effort is increased as the STS goes faster. And like the "Caddys" I remember, the ride is smooth as silk.

BOB - It may get firmer at speed, Matt, but the driver doesn't need arms like a stevedore to parallel park. And after I parked the STS, I had to pull the key out of the ignition before I could lock the driver's door. I'll admit, I've locked myself out of these test cars more than once and it's embarrassing to call the factory people, who then send someone out with a spare key. But I had fun playing with Seville's keyless entry system. It has seat position "memory" buttons built-in so the driver's seat will automatically adjust at the push of a button.

MATT - Cadillac calls all of the powertrain and chassis parts of the STS the Northstar System, which means everything from the engine, transmission and transaxle, to the anti-skid brakes and traction control all work together as a system. All the high-tech machinery in the STS makes it accelerate like a rocket and drive with ease.

BOB - All those fancy interior gadgets that Cadillac put into the STS would spoil me if I drove this car very long. I really enjoyed the built-in cellular phone that's voice-actuated. It has a 100-number memory, with 20 retrievable by name. And the windshield wipers are turned on automatically by a gizmo located in the dashboard that shoots an infrared beam on the glass. The beam detects water on the windshield and controls the wipers to work faster if the rain increases or slower when it diminishes. I also saw it came with a built-in electronic compass, but I can't think of any situations where I needed to know what direction I was going in.

MATT - Don't kid me Dad, you've been lost before, I remember. The option I enjoyed most was the Bose sound system with a 12-disc changer in the trunk. We could load it up with our favorite tunes, put the baby and the car seat in the back, and cruise to the mountains in style. On the way up there, the Seville's suspension was so smooth, the baby had a hard time sleeping because she's used to the rocking and pitching of the minivan to put her to sleep. And when driving around town, I didn't feel like I was driving a car for a guy your age.

BOB - Cadillac is ditching its "old person's car" image - the average age of a new Seville owner is 52. And I'm glad to see young Baby Boomers are finally realizing there's some hot home-grown machinery that'll run with the luxury imports. It's about time they grew up.

MATT - Dad, only you would call someone 52 years old "young."

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