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New Car Review: 2005 Cadillac STS


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PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

THE AUTO PAGE
By
JOHN HEILIG

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Cadillac

SPECIFICATIONS
MODEL: 2005 Cadillac STS
ENGINE:  4.6-liter V8, 3.6-liter V6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 320 hp @ 6,400 rpm/315 lb-ft @ 4,400
rpm (V8) 255 hp @ 6,500 rpm/252 lb-ft @ 3,200 rpm (V6)
TRANSMISSION:  5-speed automatic
WHEELBASE:  116.4 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT:  196.3 x 72.6 x 57.6 in.
TIRES:  P235/50 R17, 255/45 R17
STICKER PRICE:  $40,995 (base V6) - $52,000 (avg.
equipped V8) 

Cadillac has introduced eight vehicles in the last four years. Among the most exciting have been the CTS sedan and the XLR sports car. The company has moved overall sales from 172,000 in 2001 to 230,000 in 2004.

"More important than volume is restoration of image," said mark LaNeve, Cadillac General Manager at the introduction of the latest model, the STS sedan. The STS replaces the Seville in Cadillac's lineup. A good mnemonic is to think of STS as "Seville Touring Sedan."

This may well be the best Cadillac sedan ever. Cadillac really nailed it with the STS. This is a solid, powerful, luxurious sedan that offers everything the imports offer, but at a much more manageable price.

We drove the all-wheel-drive V8-powered STS as well as the rear-wheel-drive V6. While I would have preferred to go from V6 to V8, the luck of the draw had us in a V8 first.

This is a Northstar 4.6-liter V8, rated at 320 horsepower. While the Northstar engine was developed originally for front-wheel-drive cars, it has converted quite well to rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel-drive applications.

Give the accelerator a nudge and the engine is quiet, but with a note of authority. There's plenty of power. There's also a lot of silence. In fact, one of the first things you notice on the road is the absolute lack of engine, wind and tire noise under normal operation. Sure, there's a healthy exhaust note on hard acceleration, and that's good, but for the most part the interior is quiet and conversations can be held in normal tones. Acceleration is good with great pickup. It isn't disgustingly hard, but it's good.

The STS handles well as well. We had a comfortable ride on all road surfaces, but it wasn't the "standard" Cadillac land yacht ride. This was a firm ride but not too firm to make it uncomfortable. The brakes were excellent and stopped the STS on the proverbial dime.

That interior is very well done. There's tasteful wood trim around the dash, and leather seating all around. The seats are comfortable and offer good side support. They are heated and cooled, a nice touch.

We didn't notice until we turned the radio on, but there are speakers located in the headrest area of the seats for better reproduction of sound. This is an excellent audio system.

There are assist handles at all four doors for we senior citizens.

There's no ignition key, and that took some getting used to. When you approach the car, with the key in your pocket, the car recognizes the presence of the key and unlocks. It locks when you walk away. Sit down, put on your seat belt and push the "Start" button. The key can stay in your pocket or sit in the cupholder. You have to check the tachometer to be certain that the engine is running.

The instrument panel is easy to read, and there's a navigation system that's intuitively understandable. Audio and HVAC controls are almost flush with the dash, and the upper surface is non-reflective. At first we thought it was an out-of-place cheap imitation alligator finish, but on deeper inspection we discovered it was the non-reflective surface that made it look the way it did.

The V6-powered car seemed similar in power. It also seemed slightly sportier and noisier on acceleration. It, too, was smooth and quiet under normal driving circumstances.

© 2004 The Auto Page Syndicate