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Cadillac DeVille DTS (2000)

SEE ALSO: Cadillac Buyer's Guide

by John Heilig

Cadillac Full Line Video footage (14:35)
MODEL:  Cadillac DeVille DTS
ENGINE:  4.6-liter DOHC V-8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 300 hp @ 6,000 rpm/295 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
TRANSMISSION:  Four-speed automatic
WHEELBASE: 115.4 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 207.2 x 74.5 x 56.7 in.

I'm a car nut, as should be expected. I'm also a techno-geek, so anything new in the automotive technology department fascinates me. So naturally I was attracted to the new Cadillac DeVille DTS with Night Vision.

Night Vision is a new application of thermal-imaging, or infrared, technology. Developed during the Gulf War, this technology creates pictures based on the heat energy emitted by objects in the viewed scene. Since everything emits heat to some degree, there's a possibility of too much "noise" to pick out specific images, but humans, animals and moving vehicles are more visible due to their high thermal contrast with the background.

The classic case of Night Vision is to pick out deer before your headlights see them. I did have an opportunity to "image" a deer during my test of the DTS. Unfortunately, the car in front of me saw the deer first and slowed down. I had to "aim" the car toward the deer as it ambled off the side of the road to see what the image would look like.

In general, the Night Vision image records as far as 150 yards ahead of the vehicle, while the headlights only show you 100 yards or so, giving you an advantage. I was able to pick out children playing on the side of the road, joggers out for their daily run, and a few dogs. In one instance, I was able to pick out a smokestack and the smoke before they were visible at all, and even up close these were hard to see. Overpasses on Interstates became clear. We were also able to ascertain the type of vehicle in front of us when all our eyes revealed were taillights.

The Night Vision image is projected in a heads-up display at the base of the windshield. I had driven a Pontiac with a heads-up speedometer display the week before, so I was accustomed to the idea of something being projected on the windshield. When you first experience Night vision, it's a lot like watching television while you're driving. After a while, though, you view the image out of the bottom "corner" of your eyes and it's less distracting. You learn to combine the Night Vision image with the "headlight" image in your mind to create a better view of what's ahead.

Night Vision is a $1,995 option on the DTS. Like ABS in its infancy, though, we expect the price to drop quickly as it gains acceptance.

Well, that's a lot of time spent on an option in what was a nice car. As I get older the idea of a full-sized car like the DeVille becomes more acceptable. Therefore, I am more apt to like a larger car than I might have been 20 years ago.

The redesigned DeVille has a new grille with definite Cadillac design features. The headlights are stacked vertically, predicting a design that Cadillacs of the future will copy. You get the feel that the DeVille is more compact than its predecessor, and it is. The new car is two inches narrower and three inches shorter, but it's built on a wheelbase that is 1.5 inches longer, creating more interior space. And while the DTS has a center console, the DeVille and DHS versions of the car have a center fixed flex seat to offer six-passenger seating.

In the DTS, the bucket seats were comfortable without being too soft. This model has perforated leather seats with the leather drawn tight, while the other two versions have softer, looser leather.

When you turn the key, the instrument panel performs a "light show" that is not unlike the one seen in the Lexus LS400. The white numbers and red pointers light up and zoom to maximum and back, making the start-up procedure interesting.

Under the hood is a 300 horsepower Northstar V-8 engine coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission. It was such a pleasure having all that power to use when I needed it. Occasionally I'd be on an Interstate and needed the oomph to either get up to speed or pass some other car. All the power isn't necessary, but it's nice to have when it's needed.

With a bottom line of more than $50,000, the DeVille DTS isn't a car for everyone. But it's the kind of car that will make Cadillac a major player in the luxury car field again after a couple of lean years. New styling, new technology and the advantage of Northstar power make the DeVille DTS a very desirable automobile.