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1996 Cadillac SLS

by John Heilig

SEE ALSO: Cadillac Buyer's Guide


ENGINE: 4.6-liter DOHC V-8 
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 275@5600 rpm/300 ft.-lb.@4000 rpm 
TRANSMISSION: Four-speed automatic 
FUEL ECONOMY: 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, 23.6 mpg test 
WHEELBASE: 111.0 in. 
OVERALL LENGTH: 204.1 in. 
OVERALL WIDTH: 74.2 in. 
CURB WEIGHT: 3832 lbs ( lbs/hp) 
FUEL CAPACITY: 20.0 gal. 
TIRES: P225/60SR16
INSTRUMENTS: Speedometer, tachometer, fuel level, water temperature, outside temperature 
    gauge, fuel management computer, digital clock. 
EQUIPMENT: Power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, power seats, heated seats, 
    cruise control, air conditioner, AM-FM stereo radio with cassette, anti-lock braking, dual air 

There are two versions of the Cadillac Seville. The top of the line is the STS, or Seville Touring Sedan. It has the hottest Northstar engine and a transmission to go along with it. The STS is a vehicle that can compete with the best that any other manufacturer has to offer in full-size luxury sedans.

Just slightly under the STS is the SLS, for Seville Luxury Sedan. This is a vehicle that we've had an opportunity to drive before, but not with extended seat time. This is the first time we've had a good chance to put miles on the luxury sedan. - Now, the SLS is no slouch in its own right.- Its Northstar engine is rated at 275 hp, just a smidge under the STS' 300. It has the same suspension components, the same heavy-duty 80-STRENGTH electronic four-speed transmission, and all the luxury features. In sum total, it is only a little less powerful than Big Brother. And that slight difference in horsepower is only for the power fanatics.

Our major run with the SLS was on a trip to Richmond, Virginia, during which we had an opportunity to drive on winding roads as well as Interstates, where the ambient traffic speed was in the neighborhood of 80-85 mph. The Northstar in the SLS was just loafing along at these speeds. Here is a car that, at highway speeds, is as quiet as any other on the road. Lexus gained a lot of mileage from the fact that the LS400 is a silent runner. Well, it has nothing on the SLS, which is also a silent runner. Both cars make a little bit of noise when you ask the engine to work, but there's no wind noise and essentially no road noise. Here is a vehicle that you can tour and travel with and have no disturbances from what's going on under you or around you.

On the other side of the coin the SLS is a very luxurious sedan with all the goodies you could want. The instruments are nice sized, white-on-black analog gauges that give you the information with a minimum of fuss. Sound system and HVAC controls were attached to the steering wheel with ugly U-shaped switches. For the 1997 vehicles with Cadillac's OnStar system, these handles will be used to key some OnStar features. Right now they're not particularly good-looking switches. They are, however, lit at night and easy to find.

Cruise control and turn signals are standard General Motors issue. In addition, we had a fuel management computer that told us we averaged 23.6 mpg with the SLS, which I thought was an excellent figure, especially at some of the speeds we were traveling.

The SLS design has been around for about five years, since the last Seville redesign. It has nice lines, and is slightly more rounded than the sharp-edged Eldorado, which many consider to be merely a two-door version of the Seville. It's not.

You can spend a lot more money to get an L-Class Mercedes, a Lexus LS400, or an Infiniti Q45, and in no instance are you going to get a better vehicle than the Cadillac SLS. In addition, it has great rear seat legroom. My 6-4 son-in-law sat back there and was very comfortable. Behind that rear seat is an excellent trunk that was so cavernous it made it appear as if we didn't bring any luggage with us. That's the kind of trunk I like (and my wife needs).

If you want the performance side of the Seville, go for the STS. If you're more interested in luxury, go for the SLS. You'll get 90 percent of the performance of the STS, but you won't be disappointed.