Cadillac DTS

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by K-lane – Please allow me to be brutally honest. I was not exactly looking forward to testing this car. Do not get me wrong, I’m an automotive journalist; this is what I do and enjoy, I test cars. That being said I was not really in the mood to test yet another “boat”. I’m so not Cadillac’s demographic; a single female with retirement still many, many moons away. Well, that feeling disappeared within moments of getting behind the wheel of Cadillac’s new DTS. By the time I hit the highway I was having an all out blast in a car that, only a decade or so ago was as sleepy as its DeVille nameplate.

It only took 57 years, incidentally, with 2006 being the year that Cadillac reworked and renamed its flagship Deville sedan; now quite simply titled DTS after the three-letter acronym used for the old DeVille’s sportiest version. The newly named Caddy boasts a great new look and solid feel. Now more integrated within the new Cadillac family, the DTS sports vertical head and tail lamps and a wide new grille featuring the wreathed crest emblem in the middle. Its clean lines give it a touch of European flair, although the overall look is still definitely American. Its most American attribute might just be its overall mass; the big caddy definitely falling into my “land yacht” category. At 526 cm (207 inches) in length, it is ten centimeters (four inches) longer than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class and twenty-three centimeters (nine inches) longer than a BMW 7 series. That being said, the DTS is well proportioned. With the DTS, mind you, it carries itself elegantly, not bulky. Just like how I like my men; it’s big, handsome, stylish, yet nimble.

The DTS comes in four different packages; 1SB, 1SC, 1SD and Performance (Luxury I, II, III, and Performance-Stateside). Standard in all models are such features as remote start, Xenon high intensity headlamps, Tri-zone climate control, an M/FM/MP3/satellite-ready 8-speaker audio system with seek-scan functionality, plus an in-dash mounted single CD player, OnStar, full range traction control, heated exterior power mirrors with indicators, leather seating, six airbags, dual stage and depth sensitive up front, plus side curtains for all outboard occupants.

The ISC package ($55,720 MSRP) throws XM radio, heated and cooled seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, driver side auto dimming outside mirror, StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, Ultrasonic front and rear parking assist, and heated windshield washer fluid into the mix.

The ISD package ($61,360 MRSP) upgrades the car with the following options: power tilt & telescopic steering column, Intellibeam headlamps, a Bose 8-speaker audio system, massaging power lumbar, rear seat height adjustable head restraints, 4-way power rear lumbar seat adjusters, real walnut burl wood trim, RainSense moisture sensitive automatic wipers, a powered rear window sunshade, power folding outside mirrors, and heated leather steering wheel with wood accents.

I tested the Performance package ($63,835 MSRP) which added such goodies as 18-inch chromed aluminum wheels and a sports suspension (Magnetic Ride Control) – more on this in a minute.

The DTS has an all new interior, with supple leather and genuine burled walnut featured in the model I tested. It’s the little touches that make the DTS so stylish and luxurious, such as the analogue clock, easy to read gauges, quality materials and tight seams. The feel is rich, but not over done. The controls are extremely easy to use, and interior spacious for those tall in height and wide in girth.

Just like the saying, “Youth is wasted on the young”; the old shouldn’t

be the only drivers enjoying the DTS. While it will get retirees comfortably to the golf course, this car is so much more. I picked up two of my girlfriends, a twenty-something year old named Taiwo and thirty-something Paula Ann. Both loved the car, each for different reasons. Taiwo was all about the styling and comfort. She loved the big leather, heated and cooled seats with power massaging lumbar, not to mention the KICKING sound system. My tester came equipped with the Bose premium sound package, which features eight speakers, an in-dash 6-disc CD changer, an auxiliary jack (for those of us who need an MP3 player with us at all times) add to that XM radio and we were in heaven. The sound was crisp and the bass solid. This was one of the best factory installed systems I have ever heard. With Tai it was all about cruising and finding yourself on roads were you could drive real slow.

Paula Ann was a totally different story, she was all about all aspects of performance. First, she loved how quiet and composed the ride was. Like other luxury vehicles, the DTS’ cabin is deadly still, with wind and engine noise kept to a minimum. Ms. Paula is always on the go and likes a car that can keep up. For her it is like that old saying; “It isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of fight in the dog.” So we took the car out to highway and opened it up. Like the accelerator pedal, she was floored at how responsive and ultimately how fast it was, plus how well it handled. So much so she is now thinking of buying one.

Like its predecessor, the Deville, the DTS is a front-wheel drive car, with a 4.6L Northstar V8 engine under the hood. This being said, the sophisticated V8 comes in two configurations: the two base luxury models come equipped with a 275-hp version that allows for low rpm (i.e. smooth) power. This allows you to accelerate quickly yet quietly. The Luxury III and Performance model I tested sports a high-output 291-hp Northstar and has a sportier exhaust note exiting the twin pipes. While sporty, mind you, the sound is still subtle and rich. You expect such noises to be emanating from a Corvette, not this Caddy sedan. Very well done.

But what’s this four-speed automatic transmission? I realize some of you are probably balking at the thought of a 4-speed in a car in this price range, when 5-, 6-, 7 and even 8-speed transmissions are becoming more of the norm. Truth be told, the Caddy’s 4-speed was more than adequate. I venture to guess that you’d barely notice the difference, at least if you’re are conservative driver with a lighter right foot than moi (which is most DTS drivers).

On the highway, the DTS is so smooth and quiet that I rarely felt the speed I was are traveling. With this car, the adaptive cruise control isn’t just a nice little option but a necessity. I’m usually very good at gauging the speed that I am hurling down the highway at, but even I was fooled the first day I picked my test DTS up. Heading down Highway 401 from Oshawa back to Toronto, I was cruising merrily along when I happened to glance down at the speedometer… YIKES! While I tend to drive a touch faster than most, I would not have been able pay the court cost and speeding ticket that I might have received that day on my lowly journalist salary.

Most in the DTS’ demographic could afford to pay such a ticket, however, and many of these are looking for such a large, smooth riding, luxury car. It is also good for those who hate “floaty” rides, despise nosedive during aggressive braking, are disgusted by sluggish steering, and are repulsed by lethargic acceleration. The DTS may be big, but it isn’t unresponsive. I love the way it handles. My fellow Toronto writers, Justin and Jon were quick to point out that its good manners are partly due to its Magnetic Ride Control suspension. Equipped with magneto-rheological fluid in its shock absorbers, the MRC suspension adjusts to road and driving conditions up to 1,000 times per second, thus creating less body roll and better handling than most expect from a car this size.

Even parking was not an issue. I took the DTS to a crowded street festival one Friday night – Taste of Little Italy. With the World Cup on, College Street was the place to be. Someone had suggested that I drive a smaller car because parking would be tight; no need. The moment you place the car in reverse the passenger exterior mirror automatically adjusts to give you a better view of the curb below. As well, its ultrasonic parking assist system can be easily seen in your rearview mirror. In one fell swoop my big car was parked in an extremely tight space.

During my week-long test, my experience with the DTS was

extremely pleasurable. The only downside was fuel consumption, in the city expect 13.8 L/100 km (20 miles per gallon), while on the highway it averages 8.7 L/100 km (32 miles per gallon). For its reasonable price range, this car definitely delivers, but will consumers get over the old-folks stigma attached to this car? I doubt it. But who knows? Maybe a young rapper will buy one and by doing so elevate it on the cool meter, it worked for Escalade. What I do know, however, is that it was with great reluctance that I gave the keys back to GM at the end of my test week. If I could only rap.

Specifications (DTS Performance):

  • Base Price Range (DTS Performance MSRP): $63,835 – $76,005
  • Price as Tested (MSRP): $70,060
  • Body Type: 4-door sedan
  • Layout: front engine, FWD
  • Engine: 291 hp, 286 lb-ft of torque, 4.6L, 32-valve DOHC V8
  • Transmission: 4-spd auto
  • Brakes (front/rear): disc/disc, ABS, BA
  • Dimensions (L/W/H/WB): 5,274 / 1,901 / 1,464 / 2,936 mm (207.6 / 74.8 / 57.6 / 115.6 in)
  • Curb Weight: 1,818 kg (4,009 lbs)
  • Tires: 245/50R18
  • Cargo Volume (seats up): 532 L (18.8 cu-ft)
  • Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 13.8 / 8.7 L/100 km
  • Warranty (mo/km): 48/80,000 comprehensive
  • Competitors: Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Chrysler 300, Infiniti Q45, Lincoln Town Car, Lexus LS 460, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Volvo S80
  • Website: http://www.gmcanada.com