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2006 Cadillac DTS Luxury II Review

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Bit Byte Where the Lexus LS was once the benchmark for quiet and comfort on the highway, I believe it has been replaced by the Cadillac DTS.


SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Cadillac


MODEL: Cadillac DTS Luxury II
ENGINE: 4.6-liter DOHC Northstar V8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 275 hp @ 5200 rpm/292 lb.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed automatic
WHEELBASE: 115.6 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 207.6 x 74.8 x 57.6 in.
TIRES: 225/55SR17
CARGO VOLUME: 18.8 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway/20.3 mpg test
PRICE: $47,080 (includes $795 destination charge)

Cadillac's redesigned DeVille, now known as the DTS, is not as youthful-looking as some of its smaller siblings. The DTS is still a large car. It's built on a 115.6-inch wheelbase, about the same as the Lexus LS. And it's 207.6 inches long, 10 inches longer than the LS. The combination of a long wheelbase and two tons of curb weight results in exceptional ride quality.

Where the Lexus LS was once the benchmark for quiet and comfort on the highway, I believe it has been replaced by the DTS.

The DTS is very quiet and very powerful. Even when you tromp down on the accelerator and ask the 275-horsepower 4.6-liter Northstar V8 to work, there's almost no noise from the engine compartment. With the power, you can get up to illegal speeds quite quickly. I was amazed at how soon we were in double digits during our extended test. If we wanted to pass another car and there was any doubt as to passing room, all we had to do was ask the DTS to go and it went. It was almost as responsive as digging sharp spurs into the sides of a quarter horse. But a quarter horse doesn't have the amenities of the DTS. The DTs smells better, too.

We had the Luxury II option package with five seats; two buckets up front and a bench in the back. Here's some controversy. When Cadillac introduced the DTS a few months back, they said that the previous generation sold more than 90 percent of its examples as six-seat versions, with a bench seat up front. Yet, in this iteration, they were going to build 50 percent or more of the five-seat kind. My argument was that Cadillac was abandoning its traditional customer base in order to attract a younger base, with no numbers to back up the change. We'll see how sales go and if Caddy goes back to a more conventional style. I, personally, like the front bench seat with a fold-down armrest. The permanent armrest is nice, but I'd rather have the option of extra seating. As one would expect from a Cadillac, the DTS offers understated luxury. Sure, the seats are leather, and they're heated and cooled for maximum comfort. The seats are very comfortable, front and rear, and they offer excellent leg, hip, shoulder and headroom.

There is a tasteful amount of simulated wood trim on the dash. I liked the instrument panel, with white-on-black dials and red pointers. As is the custom in luxury cars these days, there's an analog clock located dead center in the middle of the dash. It is dark, and could use lighted hands at night. We had trouble reading it.

The sound system is excellent, with AM/FM/XM/6CD changer. However, the readout for the XM is sparse. In a luxury car, I would like to see a more complete listing of what's on the radio. One of the advantages of satellite radio is a listing of what's playing, but with a small, narrow readout, all you get is cryptic messages. Sure, you can figure it out, but c'mon, for $47,000 there can be a better readout.

Handling is excellent. The long wheelbase helps smooth out rough roads, while the four-wheel independent suspension with Stabilitrak stability control makes cornering a breeze. There was a time when large Cadillacs would lumber around corners and actually scare the driver and passengers. Them days is gone forever.

We drove the DTS is some pretty cold weather. There was also a lot of slush on the roads, so we ran out of windshield washer fluid. The container holds a gallon of fluid (just in case you have to replace it). One feature I liked was that the water could be heated to clear a frost-covered windshield. Heated windshield washer fluid is a great option. We have also used it in other GM vehicles and love it.

Our tester also had a heated steering wheel. Even with the heated seats and a great HVAC system, it's nice to have a steering wheel that warms your hands. We also had dual zone heating, so my wife and I didn't have to argue about how hot or cold the car was.

We also had remote start. At first, it was a toy that I used often to confuse people walking past the car. But several mornings I used it to warm the car before I got into it, and that was a feature I'll look for in other vehicles. All you do is push a couple of buttons on the key fob (lock and start) and the engine turns over.

We had to carry a lot of stuff during our test, and the 18.8-cubic foot trunk was ideal. I might have liked it to be deeper, but I'll accept more volume over depth.

Our tester had a base price of $43,695. Options on the car included a sun and sound package that included a sunroof and in-dash 6-CD changer.17-inch chrome wheels were an additional $795.

Except for the argument with Cadillac/GM regarding the seating options, I loved the DTS. Weather conditions during our test allowed me to have the car for an extra week, and I never complained.

2005 The Auto Page Syndicate