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Cadillac DeVille DTS (2000)

SEE ALSO: Cadillac Buyer's Guide

by Carey Russ

Cadillac Full Line Video footage (14:35)

Cadillac's DeVille has been the best-selling luxury car in the country for the past 14 years, and DeVille buyers are very loyal. But the luxury market is changing. Younger luxury car customers are more likely to consider imports, and Cadillac has to appeal to them as well as the traditional DeVille customer. The five- passenger Concours was Cadillac's first step towards those potential customers. The 2000 DeVille Touring Sedan, the DTS, is a further step in that direction.

The 2000 DeVille is unmistakably a Cadillac in style and substance. While leaner and more athletic than its predecessor, it has a comparable amount of interior space. Technological innovation has been Cadillac's style in recent years, and there's plenty of useful technology to be found in the new DeVille, especially the DTS. The DeVille's body and interior were developed on a computer-aided design system, without the traditional clay models. Enhanced versions of Cadillac's continuously-variable road-sensing suspension (CVRSS) and "StabiliTrak" stability control systems are standard on the DTS, and options include a better-than-average navigation system and the "Night Vision" system, which features the first civilian use of infrared thermal-imaging technology to allow the driver to better see pedestrians and animals along the road at night. Night Vision is aided to the rear by the ultrasonic-based "Rear Parking Assist" system.

Three versions of the 2000 DeVille are offered, the six- passenger DeVille and DeVille HighLuxury Sedan (DHS), and the five-passenger DTS. A DTS with Night Vision has been my transportation for the past week. It has been an interesting week, with more night driving than usual. The DTS is solid, quiet, roomy, comfortable, and quick. And Night Vision really does work.

APPEARANCE: The new DeVille could only be a Cadillac. Simpler in design than the old DeVille, it is elegantly muscular in appearance. It's larger and more formal than the Seville. Brand identity is announced by the shield-shaped eggcrate grille and subtly-sculpted "power dome" hood in front and the shape of the taillights in back. But there are new characteristics at both ends. A prominent chromed bar over the body-colored grille promises to be a new Cadillac styling motif, and the taillights use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for improved visibility. Huge, bright, "jewel reflector" headlamps are found on all DeVilles; the DTS also has foglamps in its bumper fascia. Panel gaps are commendably small, and fit and finish is very good. The DTS has presence on the road.

COMFORT: Cadillacs have traditionally been about occupant comfort, and that tradition is not going to change. The DeVille's spacious interior can be had in two forms - with front and rear bench seats in the DeVille and DHS, or with front buckets in the DTS. Although the buckets have slightly firmer padding than the bench, they are still soft and comfy, with perforated leather upholstery, back and cushion heaters, and massaging lumbar support. The DTS also has a useful center console and console- mounted gearshift, in place of the other models' column shift and flip-down console/center seat. The new instrument panel features easily-readable fluorescent backlit gauges. Wood trim is liberally used, but very tastefully, around the instruments, on the doors, and on the console. The DTS is a large car, and has a large back seat with first class accommodations. It can even be had with the same heating elements as the front seats. The automatic climate control system has three zones - left and right front, and rear. Storage spaces abound, and a large trunk and the car's great comfort make the DTS an excellent vehicle for an extended road trip.

SAFETY: The 2000 Cadillac DeVille has a rigid safety-cage chassis with front and rear crumple zones, standard front and front side and available rear side airbags, three-point safety harnesses for all occupants, and good acceleration, handling, and braking abilities among its many safety features.

ROADABILITY: Despite its size and two-ton mass, the DTS is remarkably nimble thanks to its new, more rigid chassis architecture, well-tuned fully-independent suspension, and the second-generation CVRSS and StabiliTrak systems, which now communicate with each other for better handling, comfort, and control. The active electronic controls mean that the DTS combines a comfortable ride with very good control and handling abilities in the manner of the best luxury imports. It's a large car, but it seems to get smaller as the road gets tighter. As expected, the DTS a great highway cruiser, too.

PERFORMANCE: Cadillac's Northstar engine has some important improvements for 2000. While its basic specification hasn't changed - it's still a 4.6-liter, 32-valve, aluminum alloy V8 with a healthy 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque - numerous internal design and construction changes allow it to now run on regular instead of premium gasoline. It's now certified in California emissions states as a low-emissions vehicle (LEV). The 4T80-E electronically- controlled automatic transmission works smoothly and unobtrusively. The new DTS is a bit quicker than the previous Concours, with performance close to that of the slightly smaller Seville STS.

CONCLUSIONS: The 2000 DeVille DTS is a Cadillac that can appeal to a wide range of people.

Base Price               $ 44,700
Price As Tested          $ 54,610
Engine Type              dual overhead cam, 32-valve V8
Engine Size              4.6 liters / 279 cu. in.
Horsepower               300 @ 6000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)           295 @ 4400 rpm
Transmission             4-speed electronically-controlled 
Wheelbase / Length       115.4 in. / 207.2 in.
Curb Weight              4047 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower    13.5
Fuel Capacity            18.5 gal.
Fuel Requirement         regular unleaded, 87 octane
Tires                    P235/55 HR17 Goodyear Eagle LS
Brakes, front/rear       vented disc / solid disc,
                           antilock standard
Suspension, front/rear   independent MacPherson struts / 
                           independent semi-trailing arm
Drivetrain               front engine, front-wheel drive

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
city / highway / observed       17 / 28 / 
0 to 60 mph                     6.8  sec
1/4 mile (E.T.)                 15.1 sec
Trailer capacity                2000 lbs, 3000 with optional

Comfort/convenience package - includes:
  memory package, trunk mat & decklid tiedown, power tilt & 
telescope steering wheel                       $   695
Safety/security package - includes garage door opener, ultrasonic 
rear parking assist                            $   400
On-board CDROM-based navigation system         $ 1,995
Enhanced night vision                          $ 1,995
Sunroof                                        $ 1,550
Auto-contouring adjuster seat                  $   995
Chrome wheels                                  $   795
Six-disc CD changer                            $   595
Wood trim package                              $   595
Seat restraint system - includes side airbags  $   295 


SIDEBAR - Night Vision
By Carey Russ

The third eye sees all, grasshopper...just what "third eye" are we talking about? Why the one in the middle of the 2000 DeVille's grille, of course.

Where non-Night Vision DeVilles have the Cadillac wreath and crest logo (suitable updated for the 21st Century, by the way), Night Vision-equipped examples have a round piece of glass that almost looks like a projector-beam light. It's not the locomotive- style central headlight of a Tucker, it's something even better.

It's the infrared sensor camera for the Night Vision system. You've likely seen results from a similar system in video footage from the Persian Gulf War. There, it showed Iraqi military targets in the seconds before they were obliterated. In the DeVille, it shows pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, parked cars, rocks, stone walls behind vegetation, and other road hazards than can be difficult to see at night. The purpose is to keep those objects from being obliterated by two tons of Cadillac. Swords to plowshares.

The system was developed by the Raytheon Systems Company, and is the first such system to see automotive use. It's not perfect, but it is very useful, and it really works. The camera has an angle of view of 11 degrees horizontally and 4 degrees vertically. The life-size image is projected in front of the driver by a head-up display similar to what GM has been using for speed and other information on various Pontiac, Cadillac, and Buick models for years. The system powers up when the Twilight Sentinel photocell determines that it's dark enough out (twilight will do), and can be turned on or off, and the image adjusted for height and intensity.

The Night Vision image is projected directly in front of the driver, just above the dashboard. It looks like an old black-and- white TV image, but in negative. Because it senses heat, warm things like people and animals stand out brightly. It is not at all distracting, and does not get dazzled by the glare of oncoming headlights. In fact, I found it helpful to look at the Night Vision display while driving on a narrow two-lane road with some bozo with full brights coming the other way. I could see the oncoming car, and anything on the side of the road instead of being temporarily blinded by photon torpedoes.

Vision at dusk can be tricky. Night Vision helps there, too. While driving near my home just after sunset, I could see two people dressed in dark clothing and a dog crossing the road about 150 yards in front of me. But they were barely visible, little more than shadows. They lit up brightly in the Night Vision screen.

The Night Vision display is not perfect. It is a fairly grainy black-and-white, and displays heat intensity, not true color. It looks like a grainy black-and-white photographic negative. If you've ever developed your own black-and-white film, it'll pose no problem. If not, it may take a few minutes to get used to. Details are not very precise, but that's not the point of the system. In a straight line, or when gradually changing direction, the image is very easy to decipher with your peripheral vision. When changing direction quickly, as in a fast, tight corner, it's only a blur.

It is possible to drive, slowly and on a deserted road, with the headlights off and by looking only at the Night Vision display. That is hardly recommended (or legal), but led me to a science- fiction conjecture. Imagine a few generations of this technology from now. With a faster-reacting system, and possibly false-color imaging, bright, glaring headlights could be obsolete, with only running lights necessary. Imagine a display that covers the windshield of the car, and perhaps the other windows as well, at night. You could see out as well as in daylight....

That's science fiction right now, but within the limits of available technology. More realistically, a multiple-camera system with more emphasis on the view to the sides of the road, displayed above the whole bottom edge of the windshield, could be very useful. See that deer before it jumps out at you. See the cyclist in black with no lights....