By on March 12, 2007

cadillac-dts-04-800.jpgAs I closed the rear door of the top spec Cadillac DTS, I watched the side light above my head literally sputter and die. And there you have it: proof positive that the bean counters have been hard at work on The General's luxury brand. You want the lights to slowly fade up and down? Why? Anyway, we don’t have that part. What else do you need? Actually, despite the death by a thousand cost cuts, the DTS has almost enough upmarket mojo to make it. Only luxury carmaking isn't horseshoes or hand grenades. Almost doesn’t count.

Let me be clear: Cadillac isn’t Audi, BMW, Lexus or Mercedes. Before I illustrate this point in depressing detail, here’s what I want out of a Caddy: Texaguido style, a magic carpet ride, enough room to schlep the wife and three full-grown kids, and a trunk that’ll fit two dead Mafiosi. That’s it. That’s all a Cadillac has to do to earn my respect. Anything else is nice, but surplus to requirements. The DTS fails at the first hurdle.

cadillac-dts-03-800.jpgWhat IS this thing? While the brand’s nose is distinctive enough, the protruding five-mile-per-hour bumper (remember them?) indicates some kind of badly synthesized graftwerk. The four door's rear has all the sinister charm of Joseph Stalin's limo. The sedan’s profile offers the only side-on sheetmetal I’ve ever seen that’s more generic than a Toyota Cressida. The Performance Pack’s 18’s are lost in the wheel wells and the shiny alloys are hideous.

The DTS is based on GM’s vintage front-wheel-drive G-platform, also underpinning the phenomenally unsuccessful Buick Lucerne. Enter the cabin and the downside is immediately obvious. Although the front chairs are large enough for inveterate pasta-addicts, the limited back row width restricts capacity to two well fed paesans. On the positive side, the aniline Tehama leather is wonderfully soft and supportive– but not as fragrant as the standard cow hide. In fact, it’s odorless.

x08ca_dt003.jpgThis same anodyne character and lack of attention to detail applies to the rest of the DTS’ interior. Buttons snick with all the precision of a Botswana Army drill team. The beige hard touch plastics, pedestrian-looking gauges and cheap ass door ajar bong all speak the language of rental car Hell. There are plenty of fat rich guy toys on offer: remote start, Intellibeam headlamp system (auto high beam / low beam switching), rain sensing wipers, etc. But the seat massager that gently annoys your lower spine embodies the DTS’ underlying cut rate ethos.

Fortunately, the beast drives well. Even/especially after 15 years, Caddy’s Northstar V8 is a jewel. The 4.6-liter engine’s pitted against 4000lbs. (plus Florida retirees, goombas, gang bangers, golf clubs, AK47’s, etc.). Even so, the Performance Pack’s 292hp is enough juice for mindlessly swift progress. (Though the DTS is slower than the lighter Lucerne.) Throttle response is exemplary, the brakes work and the Northstar emits a lovely little growl when provoked.

x07ca_dt002.jpgDespite its nose heavy front wheel-drive chassis, the DTS corners quickly– without 70’s cop show tire squeal or scenic understeer excursions. All praise to GM’s Magnetic Ride Control, which virtually eliminates body lean. Unfortunately, the DTS’ numb (but accurate) steering is a killjoy, and the flat, puffy seats ensure that rapid left hand corners leave cheek marks against the laminated glass.

In a straight line, bump suppression is brand compliant– though not without a slight jarring effect over bad surfaces (and noticeably less Novocained in the lower spec models). At 80mph, the DTS cruises serenely– except for some wind noise around the front window and a strange pulsing feeling through the tiller. With only a four-speed Hydramatic gearbox swapping cogs, highway overtaking means lots of noise and little alacrity.

And so to the trunk, whose lid swings as freely as members of The Black Key Club. Yes, it’s big (the trunk). But it’s ugly. Perhaps the only thing nastier than the DTS’ mouse pelt headliner is the rancid rabbit fur covering the rear cavern. And then there’s the trunk mat. Good idea: rancid rabbit fur on one side, rubber on the other (for “wet work”). But the colors don’t match. 

gmchicagodts03.jpgAnd therein lies the tale. Never mind the DTS’ po-faced design. Never mind the lack of interior refinement. It’s obvious Cadillac can’t be bothered to sweat the small stuff. If you clock the DTS’ price against a same sized, similarly equipped German or Japanese rival, the $41k and up Caddy will be the lowest-priced alternative, by a large margin, without incentives. So what? The DTS is not as good a car. Even within its own remit, it falls short. 

Unless GM stops stiffing Cadillac’s designers and engineers, unless they start with a clean sheet of paper, once again, the brand has peaked. 

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105 Comments on “Cadillac DTS Review...”


  • avatar
    graham p

    “lots of noise and little alacrity”
    Whew, i thought he was talking about me on Monday morning.
    Seriously, trim issues can be fixed, but the four speed transmission is a real flaw.

  • avatar

    After the lead in, pleasantly surprised you liked the performance and handling. Though I also found it better than expected. The biggest disappointment for me is rear seat room and comfort, which should be much better in the largest Cadillac.

    My price comparison and reliability site’s page for the DTS:

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/DTS.php

  • avatar
    shaker

    Actually, Cadillac should concentrate on their demographic – adding “SAS” (Sidewalk Avoidance System), “DYCA” (Double-Yellow Crossover Avoidance”, and ATSO1K” (Automatic Turn-Signal Off after 1000 Feet). That aside, the most important thing is that the USS Caddy has markedly inproved handling which may actually improve vehicle control, and possibly reduce the likleyhood of granny sailing off the road (or over the centerline). The downside is an unknown to me (and maybe GM) should the “magna-ride” system fail, what default condition exists? Hopefully, the car is still safe while sporting whatever idiot light that’s likely to be illuminated for some time…

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    When caddy came out with the present deville (now reskinned as the dts) in 2000 I was disappointed with the big on the outside small on the inside body. Your knees (I,m 6’4″) bang the console, you can’t stretch out behind a tall driver and the whole thing comes off as well small inside. I noticed Lesabers and other full sized gm cars had poor packaging. I don’t get it, without the need for rear wheel driveshaft and tranny intrusions they come up with less interior space than the old fleetwood rwd. I hope the all new generation of gm’s fwd stuff is more efficient in it’s design. The caddy dts should be smaller on the outside particularly the airport sized hood, and larger inside ala other competitors. Hopefully this dated design can be upgraded.

  • avatar
    ash78

    The big question is this: Does Caddy REALLY want to position itself as the budget alternative to “real” luxury cars? I thought Buick already had that arena covered.

    A few extra touches (esp 5 or 6-speed gearbox) and jack the price up by $8k or so and reap the additional margin. I just get the feeling this is a case where the car might actually be discounted (no pun intended) by prospects because it’s TOO cheap on paper.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I like the caddy and its ride. It is not a car for people that wear jeans and boots. Go buy a silverado for that and a caddy is not a car for a family with kids. Go get your favorite minivan for that. I own an STS and have run down Mercedes’s and BMW’s overrated cars. My car is well built and runs great! Mind you that I do like their’s too and have owned a few but don’t believe the hype people; those cars have trim issues too!

  • avatar
    Labrat

    My take is that this Caddy’s incremental improvement makes it good enough for the Guido/bling-bling/aging golfer crowd. What seems to matter here is the wreath and crest, the massive size, and chrome wheels; the rest be damned. RF, I too am a fan of the Northstar, but after 15 years, shouldn’t the output be increasing? Especially since there are a lot of naturally aspirated 3.5ish liter V-6s that put out similar power, including GM’s own upcoming direct-injected 3.6 liter V-6.

    As for the four speed auto, I must say that I recently leased a new GMC Acadia with GM’s new six speed auto, and that tranny is not ready for prime time. The four speed auto actually works better. So given what they had to work with, I think the four speed is the way to go, at least for now.

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    GM has a perfectly decent interior-light fade in the Saab 9-5…

    Warren Buffett drives a DTS. In fact, he liked it so much he called Wagoner to tell him he was buying one (this was in Forbes or something last week in the “what do billionaires drive” article).

  • avatar
    skor

    11 years ago my elderly neighbor bought a Seville STS. Last year he bought a new STS with the intention of trading the old Seville version. I noticed that the old STS was still in the driveway after the new car arrived, so I inquired as to why he hadn’t traded it — the car had a whopping 57K miles on the clock. It turns out the dealer offered him $1,500 on the trade. My neighbor was so angry, he decided to sell the car by placing an ad in the local paper. Before he could place the add, I offered him $1,700 dollars and the deal was done.

    The car was dirty, inside and out, there was no body or interior damage, but the car did have a half-dozen mechanical/electronic issues which were addressed.

    After everything was repaired/cleaned, I was shocked at just how cheap and half-assed this car is. The car does accelerate and handle reasonably well, but it is obvious that there was very little attention paid to detail. My neighbor spent $41K on this car 11 years ago — certainly not a cheap ride.

    After reading this review of the DTS, it seems that not much has changed at Cadillac. Caddy will continue to do well for a few more years until there current customer demographic all end up in the nursing home or in jail for crack dealing. I can’t imagine Cadillac being able to convert any Lexus, Mercedes or BMW customers.

    My Cadillac Review summary: Nice ride for $1,700, but only an idiot would pay $40,000 for a car like this.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    My mechanic says the Northstar engine is unreliable and very expensive to repair, necessitating an extra-cost extended warranty. He recommends avoidance.

    How hard or costly could it be for GM to improve switchgear quality and tactility? It seems like a clear case of penny-wise and pound-foolish.

    GM has had over five decades to design the successor for the four-speed hydramatic transmission but just got around to it last year, and it’s far from perfect.

    It makes one wonder what GM’s multi-million dollar executives do all day.

  • avatar
    durailer

    I guess GM’s Aisin-sourced 5-speed can’t handle that kind of power?

    Maybe they thought their buyer demographic wouldn’t notice…and they’re probably right. Way to score another point on the shortsighted chart.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Hey gents,

    I am by no means a GM defender, but I think alot of critiques tend to avoid addressing the reason this car exists, i.e. it’s intended market.

    Lets assume the average buyer is over 60 years of age, retired or about to be retired, and comes from a middle-class background. They don’t want to spend 60-70k on a ride such as this, so that knocks out BMW, Audi, Lexus, Mercedes.

    They want power, but not aggressive power, nor necessarily instantaneous. Just smooth. Unobtrusive. They want low cruising RPMs and decent gas mileage.

    They want a quiet ride, and soft. Seats that are easy to get into to, and easy to get out of, and can comfortably hold you for hours and hours. Body lean SHOULD be minimized, because said seats don’t exactly provide lateral support.

    And so we have the (correct me if I’m wrong) Delphi sourced magnetic ride control. Used in a ferrari, the corvette, and the Caddy. A fine piece of technological innovation, and available in this modest-priced full-size. Reduced lean AND a comfy ride? Pretty nice for this price point.

    As for the buttons. RF, let me ask something: Are they large buttons with raised gnurls on them? Do you want a 70-75 year old senior to press a button that makes no noise and is so damped they can’t even tell if they hit it?

    Bear in mind, I’m not defending the product. I’m trying to make a point: sometimes things are designed differently for a reason. Not because they are cheap, but because those who buy the product want it that way.

    Anyway….while I think the STS is the current pinnacle of Caddy design, and I haven’t been into a DTS, I think this review may have been off mark.

    If a car costing anywhere from 25-40% less than it’s “competition” is nagged by things such as non-fading lights (maybe this makes the demographic feel like they are fading from this world…)….well, it sounds like they hit the mark for the price segment.

    I read this review and thought that it sounded decent.

    Joe O.

  • avatar
    frontline

    I would have sold my soul for a black on black Seville in 79… vinyl top delete – with factory Cadillac wire wheels!
    Now in 2007 , driving my father- in -law`s three year old Deville is one of the most dredful experiences one could have behind the steering wheel of anything.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    GM should have kept the large rwd chassis, aka as the Fleetwood, instead of making their large car based on the front wheel drive design. The fact that the Esalade based on a truck platform is one of their best selling models should have clued them to the fact that buyers of Cadillac like to drive a large vehicle. Let MB, BMW and Lexus build the small vehicles, folks with money want to live large and most all of the success of Cadillac was based on large vehicles. The Seville of the 70′s was an aberration due to the fuel crisis, the DeVille was always their best selling vehicle.

    Cadillacs and Lincolns make good rental cars for those either used to driving a luxury car or for those wanting to make a good impression. They are reasonably priced and fairly reliable, just what a rental company and their customers demand. Can you imagine Hertz or Avis with a fleet of MB or BMWs or Lexus cars. Their rental rates would be very high to due the high maintenance costs, isurance costs and no doubt frequent repair bills for electonics that don’t ever seem to last as long as needed. And who cares if the transmission has 4, 5 or 6 gears. As I recall you mainly need closley spaced gearing for engines that produce their torque in a somewhat narrow band, like 4 and 6 cylinder engines with high rpm horespower bands. Not exactly the type of engine used to power a luxury car. You guys just might be too sports car minded when it comes to evaluating a sedan designed to offer comfort and relatively ease in driving. That’s my $.02.

  • avatar
    htn

    No only is Cadillac not Audi, BMW, Lexus or Mercedes. It also isn’t Honda, Acura, Avalon or Volvo for fit and finish. Sadly unless the shrinking 2.5 can afford to take the Hyundai route and combine a revamped product with a “real” 7/100,000 bumper to bumper warranty I am afraid their days are numbered.

  • avatar
    durailer

    to Joe O,

    You make a convincing argument, but if the features on the DTS are designed to appeal to 60-year-olds looking to pay 25-40% less than the competition, why does GM need Buick?

    If Caddy is going to survive, it’s got to provide a standard of luxury that appeals to multiple generations. Caddy’s current resale depreation and insipid ride quality has repelled younger buyers, and I don’t think they’ll be heading back once they turn sixty.

  • avatar
    skor

    durailer If Caddy is going to survive, it’s got to provide a standard of luxury that appeals to multiple generations. Caddy’s current resale depreation and insipid ride quality has repelled younger buyers, and I don’t think they’ll be heading back once they turn sixty. ———————————————- 60 is probably young for new Cadillac buyers, my neighbor is 79. You are also correct that these cars have no resale value. As I stated in my previous post, I bought an 11 year old car with 57K miles for $1,700. I see clapped out Honda Civics sell for $3K. It is true that comparable Euro or Japanese cars sell for $10K-$15K more, but you can get the difference back at resale time, a 10 year old Caddy is near worthless — even if in good condition.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    “…and the flat, puffy seats ensure that rapid left hand corners leave cheek marks against the laminated glass.”

    Call me juvenile, but I’m still snickering.

    The point of this car is what again? Because no one in my generation (late boomer) is buying them unless as a company car (with a domestic restraint….).

  • avatar
    Jay Shoemaker

    RF, methinks you are being too kind to the General. I rented one of these and hated every moment of it. Every aspect of ride/handling was disconnected. I would sooner drive a Lexus and you know how I feel about those. I couldn’t even get comfortable in those odorless seats.

    My boss has an STSV, which isn’t much better and the six speed tranny is in pieces in the shop with no replacement parts on the horizon.

  • avatar

    >>Warren Buffett drives a DTS. In fact, he liked it so much he called Wagoner to tell him he was buying one (this was in Forbes or something last week in the “what do billionaires drive” article).

    Maybe he can bail GM out

  • avatar

    >>Lets assume the average buyer is over 60 years of age, retired or about to be retired, and comes from a middle-class background. They don’t want to spend 60-70k on a ride such as this, so that knocks out BMW, Audi, Lexus, Mercedes.

    My girlfriend’s 75 year old fairly wealthy stepfather is very happy with his new Acura TL. My 84 year old uncle, also not hurting, is very happy with his couple of years old Camry. Both had the same brand previously.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Texaguido style? Love it. You’re getting a set of Boss Hogg bullhorns for that.

    This car doesn’t cut it as a FWD euro-wannabe. Even worse, loyalists have to rally around the DTS since they quit making the Brougham over 10 years ago. If you remember how much better those were, of course.

    Bring back the bro-ham, or support your local Town Car.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I have a 2000 DeVille sitting the emplotee parking lot right now that I wish a Metoer would fall on our the Earth would just swallow it up.
    To say I hate the car is being very kind. And the fact that they haven’t fixed or changed anything except the body panels in 7 years speaks wonders about GM’s focus on making better products, wont happen in my lifetime(I’m only 32).

    The car doesn’t even have 100K miles on it and almost everything has failed on it thus far, some things more than once. That Northstar engine is complete junk, repaired half a dozen times and it still runs like crap. Idles poorly, shuts off at lights or whenever it damn pleases, even on the highway. The only time I like it is when you can here it but that is only near redline. It doesn’t feel like 300 hp when you put it in 4000 lbs and with that worthless transmission, and I am averaging 13 mpg, nice! Not only is it only a 4 speed but it misses shifts, robs power, and sometimes wont go into gear(par for a GM tranny). 3 of the 4 power windows quit working almost all at once within the last 2 weeks. The climate control is glitchy turning o and off and doing things when it wants, dash display is about the same. The A/C compressor quit about the same time the windows ALL broke, so I get to die of heat stroke in the Georgia heat. I haven’t even gotten to the things that are just anooying about the car, just the stuff that doesn’t work.
    The handling is a joke guess I should have waited for the fancy suspension. The handling is somewhere between a yellow schol bus and a massive cruise liner. The Subaru I bought for my wife to replace the Caddy has a 10x more comfortable ride, no bouncing for an hour after the pot hole.

    Skor is right only an idiot would pat $41,000 for this junk, guess I’m half and idiot since I bought it used back in 2003 for 1/3 that price. They depreciate so fast it would make your head spin.

    Wont find me buying another GM, ever!

  • avatar
    Dominic

    I guess all “crash up derby”/”banger races” will be run only in reverse gear in the future.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Maybe Warren Buffet should pick up a Consumer Reports and look at the black circles the DTS leaves in its wake. I belive it earned a stellar 1/2 black circle for reliability. Any wonder why these things are worth less than an Accord 3 yrs into ownership?

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Durailer -

    If you notice a large post of mind under the last death watch editorial, I mentioned how I think GM needs to shrink brands.

    That being said, Buick offers similar characteristics to Cadillac at an even lower price point. Perhaps it exists as Honda exists to Acura or Toyota to Lexus? I’m not sure. I like Buick; they make a solid car catered to a specific market at a reasonable price. But I’m not sure if they are helpful or harmful.

    As for build quality: I can’t speak to the Mercs and Lexi…but the current BMW 5-series is bombasted by cheap interior materials, uneven chrome door trim, and it’s and ergonomics nightmare (the 3-series isn’t much better). Go onto a BMW forum and check out the current build quality of the 5-series if you want to make a comparison.

    Further, I recently (6 months ago) drove an ~2004 Lexus LS430/460….a friend’s psychiatrist father’s ride.

    This ride was so removed from reality it was dangerous. No noise, no vibrations. I’m sure I did 0-60 in ~6.5 seconds but I couldn’t tell, because even the acceleration felt numb. I entered into a 4-wheel drift going into a modest right-hand turn at 20 MPH because I couldn’t discern the breaking point of the tires.

    Sure, the interior ergonomics and comfort were flawless. But for anyone who drives in aggression once in awhile, that car was pure danger.

    Joe O.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Gardiner Westbound: It seems like a clear case of penny-wise and pound-foolish.

    “Seems”?

    Sooo RedBarchetta, other than that, how do you like your DeVille? In the same spirit as Sooo Mrs. Lincoln, other than that, how was the show.

    Looks like GM will go to a RWD platform with the new DTS…Perhaps with their new Ultra V8 that is under development.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    GM has been paying lip service to its Cadillac loyalists by slowly/gradually/minimally updating the G platform since its introduction over 20 years ago. It’s cheap and probably profitable. In the meantime, the rest of Cadillac’s product line has zagged while the DTS has zigged, to use an old analogy. But, DTS is still the top seller, much to Lutz’s chagrin as it’s now so out of place.

    How do you mess with success, when the SRX and STS are sales duds, and ‘Slade looking increasingly vulnerable to the oil supply woes a few of us have been talking up in the Deathwatch threads?

  • avatar

    starlightmica:

    You build the world’s best luxury car, bar none.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I’m sure it is an accurate road test. But this DTS sounds like what Cadillacs have always been (at least since WWII) : a large, comfortable, “prestige” car at a reasonable price. There has always been a sizeable portion of the US driving public who could care less about driving dynamics or fit-and-finish. They realize a car is an appliance, a declining, depreciating asset. The DTS (or Towncar) is cheaper to buy, maintain and insure than a full size Lexus, BMW or Mercedes. The owners feel right at home pulling up in one at a first class restaurant or golf club. If it is a company car for a mid to high level employe, it won’t give the shareholders pause. For years, that was enough for several hundred thousand people a year. Some of this market has turned to luxury domestic SUVs as well as the high end imports. The real shame is that no one in charge at GM realizes that it is possible to engineer/produce/outsource world-class parts for very little more than what would be provided by the lowest bidder. And I kinda think it’s probably always been that way.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I rented one for a week of sightseeing in Santa Fe. Once I got used to it, it was a great car. At 80 mph, the four of us had a normal voice conversation with the cd playing piano… this is what this car is for, leisure. As such, it was a wonderfull companion for a short vacation. At home, I bomb around in a little VW, scaring all the pony cars…but i was entranced by this gentle monster. It gives new meaning to smooooooth and quiet. Today I needed to go about an hour each way on I95 in philadelphia. I wish I had one of these to do it in!. Also, in Sants Fe I managed 23 mpg. amazing!

    Bravo Cadillac. And I cant beleive that I wrote that!

  • avatar

    jerseydevil: Alternatively, any other luxury car made.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Last I remember, I thought Cadillac had big plans for the DTS/premium car by the end of the decade. Whatever, they need it. Wether or not they realize it at GM, there is a huge generational transition going on. Baby boomers are moving closer and closer to that retirement age, and this kind of crap wont cut it. Not when you have Audi, Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura to name a few bringing out the cars they have. Even worse, what about Gen X? Gen Y? GM has to constantly evolve if they want to stay in the now, so to speak. They should have built the Sixteen.

  • avatar
    bill

    & Yet the lucerne and DTS sell 160K per year. No business case could be made on anyones’ planet to dump them, yet. Just update them on zeta with the same formula, at least a v-8 would then make sense. They should build the 16 and sell it for $50-60k with the zeta platform.

  • avatar
    Unbalanced

    My seventy something father and I thought it would be fun to swap cars for the weekend a few months back. He was going to a golf tournament and I had an event in Napa. So he took my 2006 GS300, and I drove his 2006 DTS.
    Bottom line: my crowd and I liked his car a lot more than his crowd and he liked mine. And while I’m not ready to make a permanent trade, it’s also the case that he likes his car way more than I like mine.
    We all thought the Caddy was kind of cool looking, and enjoyed the retro wide feel. They thought the Lexus wasn’t comfortable enough, either to get in and out of, or to settle back into (those sporty seats car reviewers are so fond of aren’t necessarily appealing to the geriatric set).
    It sounds like Cadillac intends to drop the DTS after this iteration, but I don’t think it’s fair to knock it for failing to meet boomer and younger criteria. The DTS crowd lacks today’s fetishistic focus on fit and finish, and couldn’t care less about the feel of interior buttons or the carpeting in the trunk. If the next CTS is any guide, DTS’s successor will address these issues, and the retirees of 2010 will be satisfied.
    But the retirees of 2006 love their DTS, and I think Cadillac deserves credit for giving its customers exactly what they want, and at a price they’re comfortable with.

  • avatar
    svensk

    This car only has to be better than the rival towncar and it succeeds at that.

  • avatar

    Look, I understand: I am not the ultimate arbiter of what constitues a "great car" for any given person. Believe it or not, I'm happy for people who are happy with their DTS. And I know there are a lot of them. (As I said in today's GM DW editorial, the model accounts for over 25% of Caddy's biz.) God bless them. I share Caddy's hope that they all live to 100! Feel free to challenge my opinions and their relevance. But the truth is, I know a good car when I drive one. And this ain't it.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    RF:

    Average US life expectancy, 2006 = 77.9 years. Not to mention that there are a good number of folks above that age that don’t drive.

    Built the world’s best luxury car? That’s a tall order even for the established high-end marques, never mind the intenders. File that one under notgonnahappen.com.

  • avatar

    Unbalanced: We all thought the Caddy was kind of cool looking, and enjoyed the retro wide feel. They thought the Lexus wasn’t comfortable enough, either to get in and out of, or to settle back into (those sporty seats car reviewers are so fond of aren’t necessarily appealing to the geriatric set).

    A Subaru Forrester will give you that easy entry & exit for a much lower price than the Caddy. Of course, noone who identfies with the Cadillac brand would be seen in the automotive equivalent of a plaid, flannel shirt, no matter how functional.

  • avatar
    Reza

    My $25000 CDN car comes with rain sensing wipers…I hardly consider that luxury anymore

    I do like the gangsta look of the previous gen Deville (black with deep tinted windows and lowered).

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  • avatar
    rudiger

    There's something remarkable (and telling) about the earlier poster's story of the old fellow with an old STS being highly incensed at the dealer only offering him $1500 in trade for his eleven year old ride which cost $41k when new, and that is he still bought a new one for another $41k!. Does the old dude really think he's going to get more than $1500 for his latest $41k STS eleven years from now? 

  • avatar
    CarShark

    The strange thing is, your review and stars kind of said otherwise. It’s almost like you’re taking on the philosophy behind the car’s existence, rather than the car itself. You gave it a 3 and two 4′s, and somehow you came out saying it was a 2??? Very Clarkson-esque. “It goes well. It rides well. It handles well. But, NONE of this matters…”

  • avatar
    skor

    rudiger:

    There’s something remarkable (and telling) about the earlier poster’s story of the old fellow with an old STS being highly incensed at the dealer only offering him $1500 in trade for his eleven year old ride which cost $41k when new, and that is he still bought a new one for another $41k!. Does the old dude really think he’s going to get more than $1500 for his latest $41k STS eleven years from now?
    ————————————-

    He paid over $50K for the new STS. This man is 79, I’m guessing his next ride will be a hearse.

  • avatar
    Lamborghini48907

    Good review, accurate assessment too of the quality of the DTS, aka it’s lack thereof.

  • avatar
    Ptrott

    I have been in the automobile business for a number of years selling “disposable” import and domestics along with high-line. I have NEVER had ANYONE comment to me about the sound quality of the “click” switch gear makes. I currently sell Mercedes Benz, and believe me, they have there problems and its NOT Chrysler. Here to the “bean counters” have entered the fray and it shows. I love the look and feel of the new Cadillac lineup. The build quality is excellent and the materials used are very nice. I have been to many auto shows recently and was happy to see MANY young drives/consumers looking and admiring the Caddies, and NONE of them appeared to be of questionable character. I would proudly drive a newer model Cadillac and so would many consumers out there. Its a real shame that the heads of Ford, Chrysler and GM dont make a full fledged effort to stand together as the “Big Three” again and challenge Americans to look at the product and compare. Cadillac is just one example of many very fine products built by our domestic manufacturers. We should be encouraging, and providing constructive criticism but NOT helping them to the grave by OVER EXAGERATING what SOME see as minor imperfections. Particularly those that NOBODY ELSE would notice.

  • avatar
    Nick

    I agree with the sentiment that this is a perfectly suitable car for the demographic for which it is intended. Regrettably, they are getting fewer in number evert year. They are either dying of old age, or getting lured away by competitors that are either somewhat cheaper or somewhat more expensive. IF Cadillac was depending on this segment for growth, then they’d wrong. However, I think growth will be fuelled by the CTS, so pursuing a skimming strategy in this segment is probably suitable for this segment. With the impending demise of the inferior Town Car, the DTS’ prospects are looking pretty good. The car could probably use some improvement, especially wrt reliability, but I can’t see how investing a pile of cash into this would pay off for GM.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    In China, Caddy sells an STS with an improved interior and a 5 inch addition to the wheelbase, improving rear seat room. I gotta believe that they could offer that here for DTS money and have a truly competitive car.

    I know that Imperial concept car Chrysler showed was God awful butt ugly, but if this is the competition, they’d be foolish not to build an upmarket 300 of some sort.

    I always wondered why Toyota continued to keep the Avalon on a stretched Camry platform. I’d love to see them decontent the LS460 down to the $35K level and sell it as the Avalon. That would be the death knell of the Lucerne, Town Car and DTS.

    Anyhow, nice review!

  • avatar
    Max Tresmond

    Do NOT knock the Town Car. I have a 2003 Town Car and a 2003 Cadillac Deville.

    The Town Car is the superior vehicle to the Cadillac in almost every respect (in terms of ride, comfort, reliability, safety, and room). I have owned Lexuses, Mercedes, Toyotas, and Hondas, but they don’t compare to my Town Car. Sorry. It is the only car built in modern times that I would consider buying again. Cadillac had an opportunity to remake the Deville into the Fleetwood (my all time favorite car) but they failed.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    I find the DTS, especially in “Performance Package” guise, a deeply frustrating car. Like RF, I dug the Northstar’s torque and exhaust note, and even got into the soft-but-surefooted ride and handling. Hurtling around corners with grand, sweeping motions at the frictionless helm was almost…dare I say it… fun.

    So why won’t Cadillac give these obviously talented engineers something other than the fat, dated G-body platform to build a flagship upon? Why won’t they stretch the budget enough for a (decent) six-speed auto, soft-touch IP plastics, and switchgear *not* shared with a $25K Buick LaCrosse? It’s like arming Navy SEALS with slingshots.

  • avatar
    Seth

    How much is an Infinit M35X? I will take that over DTS.

    DTS is all american in design language and that appeals to some. Not me though.

    I cant get past those long front and rear overhangs.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    Remote start isn’t exactly a fat rich guy toy either, GM has it spread pretty democratically around their lineup (hell, the Malibu was the first car GM offered it with). And I’m certain that the middle of that steering wheel is GM parts bin too (it looks like the same piece from an Impala).

  • avatar
    PerfectZero

    P.J.: that’s one reason why many graduating mechanical engineers are avoiding employment at US auto companies like the plague.

    I can understand how Cadillacs appeal to today’s older generation. But how much longer will this be the case? I’m not sure people in their 50′s and 60′s harbor the same warm feelings for GM that people in their 70′s and 80′s currently do.

    Its true though that the resale argument might not really apply. If I were 80, I wouldnt be too concerned with the resale value anyway.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “With only a four-speed Hydramatic gearbox swapping cogs, highway overtaking means lots of noise and little alacrity.”

    And there you have it folks. My 03 Accord which cost half as much as the Caddy has a 5 speed.

    When Cadillac was the standard of the world, they actually featured engineering innovations. Now they are dragging the anchor.

    Sayonara Cadillac-San.

  • avatar
    Max Tresmond

    I think the problems evident with the DTS are symptomatic of almost every car across the board nowadays (with a few exceptions). Pistonheads are going to have to come to terms with the fact that new cars, well, suck. From the Camry and the Accord right on up to the Cadillac Escalade and Lexus LX SUVs. Everything is plastic and flimsy.

    The question is, how do we get the automakers to change?

  • avatar
    Steven_Lang

    I think a lot of folks here are missing the proverbial ‘boat’ on this one.

    1) Cadillacs have always been among the top picks for long distance travelers (salesmen, regional managers, etc.). As a highway rider they offer an extremely smooth highway ride with fuel economy that has almost always been the best in class over the last ten years.

    This is one of the many reasons why they are purchased for fleets and are far better in that regard than Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes.

    2) The Cadillac brand has always ranked at or near the top in durability studies. The quality of the powertrain and the demographics that are attracted to the DTS (corporate fleets and older folks) is a big reason why.

    3) A lot of the competition in this segment have FAR worse quality and cost issues. Mercedes has been the lemon law king for the entire decade and will likely remain in that perch.

    BMW’s maintenance issues over the last several years have come from the 7th circle of hell. A Cadillac may spend a day or two in the shop before it is given a ‘green light’ at the auction. BMW’s often spend weeks at a time.

    Infiniti cost cut their way into the segment and paid the price with their owner retention rate (look at the J.D. Power surveys that were highlighted a few weeks back.) To their credit, they are getting better… but right now the king of the road is…

    Lexus. However, the LS430 retails for about $15k to $20k more than the DTS and is in an entirely different market for the most part. In fact, the only real competition to the DTS is the Lincoln Town Car, the Chrysler 300C, and the Toyota Avalon.

    The Town Car is an excellent vehicle for the livery trade and is a better deal for those who REALLY want the old fashioned American luxury car. The Avalon will appeal to the younger generation (40′s and 50′s) and for those who simply don’t want an American alternative. Ironically enough, the quality of the current generation Avalon has been absolutely terrible and the exterior styling is not akin towards traditonal American luxury. But I do give Toyota kudos for a great interior.

    The Cadillac appeals to those that I’ve already mentioned. The older crowd (60′s to 80′s), the corporate fleets, and the long distance traveler. In my work, folks tend to drive Cadillacs, Police Interceptors, full-sized American sedans, and full sized pickups. You can bark all you want about the little issues. But a smooth ride at 85 mph, plenty of power, good fuel economy, an excellent sound system, sold handling, and a well thoguht out trip computer are the most important issues for a lot of road warriors out there. The Cadillac is seen as the leader in many of these respects.

    However, I think a loaded 300C may be the best buy here. It rides just as smooth as the Cadillac with better styling and lower long-term ownership costs. A 300C has a world class powertrain, a very comfortable interior environment (when loaded), and can be optioned out to the point where you can get virtually everything you would want in a luxury car… and then some.

    One other vehicle that would be a worthy mention if it had an ‘L’ version would be the ES330. There could be a pretty sound arguement made that the ES generations tend to be better sculpted than the Avalons. Then again, I’ve always been a big fan of long, narrow cars (the late 90′s Jaguar XJ8L and Audi A8L) so perhaps it’s all just a matter of taste.

    Speaking of which…I think both of those cars from that era offered far better styling than anything made today with powertrains that are still competitive with the current marketplace offerings. That’s just my own opinion on it. But then again, I look at enough examples to know what will stand the test of time.

    The only one I’ve mentioned which will still be considered a distinctive and handsome design ten years hence will be the 300C.

  • avatar
    Seth

    You had me until the 300C comment!

  • avatar
    Adrian Imonti

    CarShark: “The strange thing is, your review and stars kind of said otherwise. It’s almost like you’re taking on the philosophy behind the car’s existence, rather than the car itself. You gave it a 3 and two 4’s, and somehow you came out saying it was a 2???”

    Mr. Farago’s assessment is both poignant and appropriate. Like a fine work of art, a successful luxury or sports car is not just an assemblage of parts. A winning entrant must also possess that certain intangible quality, understood by buyers of the breed, which is the result of how well the pieces fit together.

    The final tally is not just a arithmetic function of design, performance, ride, handling, etc., but how well these things and other aspects of the vehicle work in tandem with one another and are combined into an overall package.

    Designs that fail, such as this one, ultimately yield something less than the sum of their individual parts. GM cars have generally succeeded in providing decent straight-line performance (albeit in a fashion that is all too often crude and inefficient), but the flaws frequently overwhelm the benefits, with the positive qualities not strong enough to justify a purchase. For the domestic automakers to succeed, they need to get every aspect (or at least almost every aspect) of the package right, and then make those bits fit together in such a way so that 2+2 can equal 5.

    These days in Detroit, 2+2 all too often adds up to 3 or less, they seem to have forgotten the passion and romance that could ignite in the car buyers of yesteryear. Caught in the wave of that collective wave of amnesia, it should be no surprise that their market share is falling, while their rebates are not.

  • avatar
    docdoowop

    I’ll be 60 next year. With the exception of an ’89 Taurus SHO (hey, I’m a car guy), every new car I’ve purchased since the mid-70s has been Asian-sourced. Caddy has flat *lost* the first boomer group now arriving in its key demo. And when the bloom fades on the Luxo-Truck niche….watch out.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    Adrian said,”These days in Detroit, 2+2 all too often adds up to 3 or less, they seem to have forgotten the passion and romance that could ignite in the car buyers of yesteryear.”

    That really is the whole point I believe. We yearn for that excitement and passion that was built into the cars of yesteryear. The Jaguar with its beautiful exhaust tone and exciting and sleek design, the Mercedes with its alloy and technically crafted engine that will run steady at speed with a simple elegant interior that is totally functional and the Cadillac that had the chrome bumpers, sweeping long lines, distinctive taillights, with a presence that announced to all around that this was the ultimate success. Yes what we really want is the magic that was in the good old days when cars were mechanical and sculptural pieces of automotive art. Today sadly they are capable, electronic and somewhat boring and we look very hard to find something that can ignite our passion we once knew.

    This is why the next generation doesn’t get that excited about cars. As my children commented, Dad does it have a cd player? Can I plug in my i-pod? If those items are available, then who needs it.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    The last sentence should read, “If those items are not available, then who need it.”

  • avatar
    shaker

    Gottleib: The “passion” in all new cars has been subverted by crumple zones, ABS, ESC, SRS (airbags), etc. All of these acronyms add weight, cost and complexity, and necessitate “robbing from Peter…” Thus, the soulless powertrains, plasticky interiors, 80th percentile ergonomics, and glitzy nav systems and stereos to “distract” the driver from the appliance that he/she is driving. Every time there is a potential “bright spot” in the car realm (foriegn or domestic), once it’s “Americanized”, the soul dissipates like so much smoke. Every time I look at the tremendous variety of vehicles that are offered in the European markets, it makes me sad. I think that the Satrun (Opel) Astra will prove the prove the point — the American version will be a mid-level Euro offering — denuded of soul.

  • avatar
    Showbizkid

    The newest GM car I own is a 1967 Pontiac LeMans. There is a reason for that. God knows, I’ve tried to be a patriot. But Cadillac shows, in a microcosm, how nearly every time the General has a good idea, it’s subverted and cheapened by 3 half-assed ideas. This has been occurring ever since the Allante, which mated a beautiful, Italian-sculpted body with a Chevette interior.

    Cadillac resale values have been earth-bound meteors for at least 3 decades. When the octogenarians who plunk down the reserves from their retirement accounts find themselves taking a dirt nap, the Caddy that cost so much 4 short years back gets wholesaled to the 2nd-tier dealer (or, in the time-honored tradition, given to the 19-year-old grandson as a first car to be beaten and abused because, well, that’s just what old Caddys are for). In California, the only people you’ll find driving ’99 DeVilles are college students who pack the nasty velour back seat with a couple of kegs each weekend.

    Yes, I’ve tried to be a patriot. Like David Duchovny, I wanted to believe that Detroit could return to its former glory, hoping that any little bit of right-thinking heralded the beginning of a return to former heights. I’ve been hoping for nearly 20 years now. But when our last Saturn L wagon finally rattled itself to death, I took my wife for rides in GMC Envoys, Ford Freestyles, and Dodge Magnums. What did we buy? A Honda Pilot. And I didn’t even feel any guilt about it.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    DTS is the only Cadillac I would buy. However, the Town Car is far superior vehicle when it comes to quality and longevity. It may not have as many gee-gaws and gee-wiss features, but it is the car to own if you buy your luxury cars for room and comfort.

    The depreciate like a stone as well, which is why my next car will be a 1-3 year old Town Car for the family truckster – same or better fuel economy than a loaded minivan.

    If I can find the Signature L version – an added bonus.

  • avatar
    Ralph K

    Neither a correct use of the word “anodyne” nor an accurate review of the car. I have a DTS and it is a very fine car and a very good value. Lots of room in back, big trunk, a real highway cruiser, plus it handles very well. I think the styling is both contemporary and elegant, neither of which terms could be applied to a BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus. I also like the front wheel drive, because this car can handle winter without missing a beat.

    I do think GM is neglecting the basic concept of the deVille/DTS, which is the core of their product’s line and image. The current car was introduced in 2000 and it is obvious they expect to continue building it for at least the next several years. Of course, it’s only direct competition is the Lucerne, so perhaps GM thinks they can float for a while longer. I think that’s a mistake, but it will mean a used DTS will be one of the best values available for several years to come.

  • avatar

    I think a Toyota Avalon is a nicer car frankly. Just as floaty, big enough, and much better build quality. Plus more luxury even if it lacks the nameplate.

    When I see someone in a Cadillac, I just think “sucker”.

  • avatar
    Max Tresmond

    You can bark all you want about the little issues. But a smooth ride at 85 mph, plenty of power, good fuel economy, an excellent sound system, sold handling, and a well thoguht out trip computer are the most important issues for a lot of road warriors out there. The Cadillac is seen as the leader in many of these respects. This sums up the state of automotive reviews from everywhere. Journalists, from the USA Today to Car and Driver magazine, miss the forest for the trees by panning cars for little insignificant details (like buttons and gauge colors) and ignoring what really counts in a good car – ride, handling relative to the driving it is designed for, space, safety, and comfort. Not everyone wants to tool around in a little Japanese garbagemobile with a console shifter, tight interior dimensions, a lousy ride, and forgettable jellybean shaped styling just because the name brand is in the journalists' tastes. I look forward to the day when the major publications will come to terms with the fact that a car is not a religious object of folklore hidden behind the guise of a name, but a machine; a machine to be tested to general but specific characteristics like ride, safety, handling, and comfort and recommended based on its ability to meet those criteria. These are car reviews, not New York State Appellate decisions, so lets not give it to a good car on one hand, then take it away on the other. :)

  • avatar

    Hey folks ! Go to ‘the Google’ and check out the DTS-L !

    Also, rummage through Cadillac’s website until you stumble on their “Professional Cars” – hearses and limos. Check out the impressive heavy-duty specs: amid the expected cop-car brakes, oil coolers, etc, are EIGHT-lug wheels.

    I say we need to fit 20-30 DTSs with all this kit and have an IROC-style race series !

  • avatar

    Historically, it has always been about the engines for Cadillac. Back in the 1930s, they were the ones who offered magnificent V8s, V12s and even V16s (that rivaled the then car-maker Marmon). In 1949, they were one of the first to offer an overhead valve V8.

    The low point for Cadillac was 1982, when someone at The General thought putting the Cadillac wreath on the Chevrolet Cavalier and calling it a “Cimarron” would somehow rival the 3-series BMW. All it did was cheapen the marque.

    The way back came into being with the Northstar – which as editor Farago has noted, is still a great engine, 14 years after its introduction (and with continuing improvements).

    The Cadillac division likely has the talent in its design studios to make a true classic again. While the era of 16 cylinder engines is behind us, maybe the era of great Cadillacs isn’t.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I’m a little surprised by all the negative comments on Cadillac resale values. While that might be true for the front drivers, I recently sold a very nice ’94 Brougham (rwd) with 90k miles to a neighbor for $7500.

  • avatar
    86er

    Terry Parkhurst:
    March 13th, 2007 at 2:37 pm
    Historically, it has always been about the engines for Cadillac. Back in the 1930s, they were the ones who offered magnificent V8s, V12s and even V16s (that rivaled the then car-maker Marmon). In 1949, they were one of the first to offer an overhead valve V8.

    The low point for Cadillac was 1982, when someone at The General thought putting the Cadillac wreath on the Chevrolet Cavalier and calling it a “Cimarron” would somehow rival the 3-series BMW. All it did was cheapen the marque.

    The way back came into being with the Northstar – which as editor Farago has noted, is still a great engine, 14 years after its introduction (and with continuing improvements).

    The Cadillac division likely has the talent in its design studios to make a true classic again. While the era of 16 cylinder engines is behind us, maybe the era of great Cadillacs isn’t.

    —–

    To this I would add that Cadillac can also claim some of their historic relevance by being first to market with new outstanding features. From the self-starter on, historically the Cadillac owner got it first.

    This still happens today, but only within the GM universe (i.e. the HF 3.6 V6).

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    I think a Toyota Avalon is a nicer car frankly. Just as floaty, big enough, and much better build quality. Plus more luxury even if it lacks the nameplate.

    When I see someone in a Cadillac, I just think “sucker”.

    Cadillac drivers don’t even bother to look at Toyota drivers, in fact they drive Cadillacs so others will look at them.

  • avatar
    Max Tresmond

    “I think a Toyota Avalon is a nicer car frankly. Just as floaty, big enough, and much better build quality. Plus more luxury even if it lacks the nameplate.

    Sorry, I don’t think that the Toyota Avalon is “big enough”. My cars routinely carry six passengers in them, and when they don’t, I enjoy the openness that a bench seat creates. I liked the old generation Toyota Avalon for it’s build quality and bench seat option. When I went to buy a car in January, I looked at the present generation Avalon for those two features. It had neither. But it came with a beautifully inflated price tag for being a “Toyota”.

    When I see someone in a Cadillac, I just think “sucker”.”

    Oh really. As opposed to the gu pays THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A CAMRY because, it, hailing from Japan, is clearly superior to American automobiles. Data? Who needs researched data?

    Cadillac drivers don’t even bother to look at Toyota drivers, in fact they drive Cadillacs so others will look at them.

    They try to. Toyota drivers are too good to look at anyone else. They don’t see Caddy drivers looking.

    (I am not totally biased. I happen to think the Escalade sucks.)

  • avatar
    CarShark

    To all those who talk about the “soul” or “passion” of some cars or somesuch crap:

    How much of that “indefinable-ness” is just your own personal bias? Seriously. The fact that car reviewers and fanboys can attach so many floral adjectives and characteristics of people to what is essentially a heaping mass of metal, plastic, rubber, wood, a bit of carpet and various toxic fluids with a straight face never ceases to amaze me. Cadillac’s problem is not a lack of soul.

    Also, I realize that many of you are “enthusiasts” , but some of you seem to forget that you are in the minority. Begrudging the loss of manual transmissions, ABS-less brakes and the like in favor of “soul-less” modern technology when most buyers seem to be going in the other direction strikes me almost as masochism.

  • avatar
    PerfectZero

    “Not everyone wants to tool around in a little Japanese garbagemobile with a console shifter, tight interior dimensions, a lousy ride, and forgettable jellybean shaped styling just because the name brand is in the journalists’ tastes.”

    Thats exactly the kind of ridiculous generalization that screwed GM in the first place.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I looked at an Avalon tonight at the auto show – it was over $37,000. They had a DTS for $44,000 at the show as well.

    Both were nice cars, but let’s face it, the Avalon is very unattractive. If it is unattractice enough to spend another $7,000 is up to you.

  • avatar
    Max Tresmond

    Thats exactly the kind of ridiculous generalization that screwed GM in the first place.

    Wrong. Japanese cars have fallen far from the reliable, value priced machines they were ten years ago. Somewhere along the line they lost both value and reliability.

    GM alongside the other automakers was screwed because of a failing American economy after the 2001 recession whereby potential buyers were priced out of the market.

    With the Asian economy on the downswing, you will see the American car makers take center stage once again.

  • avatar

    Max Tresmond:

    Japanese cars have not lost their value or reliability. GM’s cars have increased theirs. But not by enough.

    Did you read the comments about Caddy’s resale value? YIKES!

    But don’t take my word for it. Check out any data dump you like, from Consumer Reports to JD Power to TrueDelta to kbb.com.

    You will find that the facts simply do not support your central contentions.

  • avatar
    nino

    I’m intrigued by all the “road warrior” comments and how they prefer the DTS ride/handling combination. I’ve driven many Cadillacs and the ONLY Cadillac that even has a ride/handling combination worth a damn is the CTS.

    When driving long distances at 80, 85MPH, you want a car that tracks and goes around turns with very little effort and without the need to throw out the anchor. You also want a car that keeps you in your seat as it easily changes direction. No other Cadillac meets those criteria.

  • avatar
    nino

    At present, there is a 2007 Cadillac STS with the 3.6 V6 and 4 wheel drive in the family fleet. This car replaced a 2004 CTS with the same 3.6 and sport package. With the exception of the interior, the STS is no where near the car the CTS was as far as being a road warrior.

  • avatar
    nino

    Did you read the comments about Caddy’s resale value? YIKES!

    ———————————————

    As a result of this, any Cadillac that comes in the family is leased through one of our businesses so that we can at least write it off.

    If only my dad could be convinced to get something else.

  • avatar
    PerfectZero

    “GM alongside the other automakers was screwed because of a failing American economy after the 2001 recession whereby potential buyers were priced out of the market.”

    If GM was brought down by an 8 month recession in 2001, explain to me how Toyota has thrived in the same environment, on top of a decade long Japanese economic slowdown.

    GM is struggling simply because they try to dictate, not anticipate, what American consumers want. Maybe their cars appeal to you and that’s fine, but they obviously don’t to a growing number of consumers. Blaming the overall economy (which has since recovered), is a thin excuse for arrogance and miscalculation.

    How does a Japanese car have inferior “value” compared to an American counterpart in terms of resale? Or any other measure you care to use?

  • avatar
    dstarrboston

    Cadillac Deville (aka DTS) fills a sizable market niche, one with enough sales volume to make it worth GM’s while building the car. That is the niche for large, American, 6 passenger, big trunk, V8 powered, four door sedan. My ’99 Deville is a good solid example of the type. The 4.6L Northstar will accelerate the car well beyond the speed limit in no time at all. Stamp on it, and color it gone. Highway ride comfort is outstanding. Brakes are strong, the car stays level and doesn’t whine as you power thru a tight turn. You can charge thru the narrow gap between the semi in the right lane and the Jersey barrier center strip with better road feel than any Town Car I ever drove. Back seat accepts full grown humans. It’s dependable. Mine is up to 92K miles and nothing has broken. All the tricky gadgets still work. Styling is decent. Gas mileage is better than the 4 banger minivan I traded in. It’s a good car, for what it is. It isn’t an SUV, it isn’t a Euro styled sport sedan, it isn’t a pony car, it isn’t a get-to-work econobox.
    As a product, it’s biggest drawback is poor resale value. I’m driving mine ’cause it was a real low mileage creampuff at a very good price, used. Whereas a new Caddy buyer takes more depreciation than a new Mercedes or Toyota buyer.
    I’m not sure just what the General can do to improve Caddy resale value. As the car comes from the factory it’s pretty good.
    The Northstar engine produces barrels of torque over a wide range of RPM, so there is no need for a complex 6,7,or 8 speed slushbox. The strong and unbreakable 4 speed Hydramatic is a good match for the engine. Interior trim is durable and refined looking. All my electrical switches still work, and I ain’t all that fussy about the type of plastic they make ‘em out of. Plastic is plastic.
    They can upholster the trunk in anything they want, I don’t really care that much about the decor of the interior of the trunk.
    I do wish the Deville had stiffer springs. On a secondary road, hitting a pothole or a water bar at speed will bottom out the suspension with an ugly “bang” that takes a lot of the fun out of the drive. I find myself babying the car on back roads to avoid that teeth jarring noise. Too bade the Caddy engineers can’t come up with a better trade off between back road handling and smooth interstate riding.
    The current Caddy marketing sucks. They are hyping the mini caddy CTS stuff, a 4 passenger Euro styled sporty car. For GM’s sake I hope someone is buying the V6 4 passenger CTS’s. I never see a Deville ad. They dropped the old widely recognized model names for an obscure jumble of code letters.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I like the toyota avalon too, but it does not have the presence or the cache of the caddy among those who would notice such things…. if i were the sort who valued the opinions of others, id buy the caddy just because it would get more wows…

    If depreciation sucks on a car, buy it used. This would be an excelelnt choice used, because it was probably cared for and not beat up.

    if i were in the market for such a vehicle, i’d consider this one, gently used by an octogenerain to go to church on sunday. Low milage, papmpered, perfect. Another car that would interest me is a used Mercedes E300 diesel, but they are more expensive.

  • avatar
    Vetteman

    I just recently found this site and after 30 plus years working for a GM dealer I find the death watch series right on the mark. The major frustation in my life was year after year watching this once great american company slowly dieing the death of a thousand self inflicted cuts.

  • avatar
    allen5h

    Joe O: I am by no means a GM defender…

    I am not a GM defender either.

    Lets assume the average buyer is over 60 years of age, retired or about to be retired, and comes from a middle-class background.

    I believe Oldsmobile followed all of their customers to their graves.

    If a car costing anywhere from 25-40% less than it’s “competition” is nagged by things such as non-fading lights (maybe this makes the demographic feel like they are fading from this world…)…

    My 2001 Honda Accord has fading interior lights. And it was priced at about 1/3 of its “NON-COMPETION”.

    Just say’n.

    *************************************************************

    Max Tresmond: Not everyone wants to tool around in a little Japanese garbagemobile with a console shifter, tight interior dimensions, a lousy ride, and forgettable jellybean shaped styling just because the name brand is in the journalists’ tastes.

    I tool around in a Honda because that console shifter is ooooh soooo sweeeet. Once you shift in a Honda, you can never go back to a GM gearlock gearbox.

    *************************************************************

    docdoowop: Caddy has flat *lost* the first boomer group now arriving in its key demo. And when the bloom fades on the Luxo-Truck niche….watch out.

    Higher gasoline prices is nixing the Luxo-Truck niche. Only sales left are the people who are willing to spend upwards of $40k for a truck that nobody drives but simply parks for “show”, like the guy who owns the local bowling alley. He has his super sized Hummer parked all the time in the fire lane, never really goes anywhere with it. (11 miles a gallon on the HWY must be a bitch.)

    *************************************************************

    Terry Parkhurst: Historically, it has always been about the engines for Cadillac. Back in the 1930s, they were the ones who offered magnificent V8s, V12s and even V16s (that rivaled the then car-maker Marmon). In 1949, they were one of the first to offer an overhead valve V8.

    The low point for Cadillac was 1982, when someone at The General thought putting the Cadillac wreath on the Chevrolet Cavalier and calling it a “Cimarron” would somehow rival the 3-series BMW. All it did was cheapen the marque.

    That may very well have been the low point of cadillac. After all, that Chevy Cavalier wasn’t such a great economy car to begin with. But what is most telling about your post of Cadillac’s glory days is this: What inovations has Cadillac brought to the marketplace since? An electro-mechanical self-closing trunk? (Doesn’t count, that is about as superfluously idiotic as the 20 speeds in the avocado green kitchen blenders of the ’70′s.)

  • avatar
    vento97

    With the Asian economy on the downswing, you will see the American car makers take center stage once again.

    Not with the current Big 2.5 upper management (a.k.a. “The Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight”) still in the driver’s seat.

    With their bean-cutting, profit oriented philosophy, they will be hard pressed keeping the Korean automakers at bay, much less Japan..

  • avatar
    Andy D

    My last GM was a 57 Chevy PU. I stopped admiring Caddies when they lost their fins. What I have noticed about the current ones is that the emblems are larger, but lack detail. Is that symbolic?

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    A sad footnote to this story is a further observation of the DTS’s resale value or lack thereof.

    I recall how strong the resale value of Cadillacs was. As recently as the late ’60s and early ’70s, my Dad and many of his golf buddies would trade in their Cadillacs every year or so. The trade-in value, in terms of real dollars, was usually well within $1,000 of the original purchase price. So the actual ownership cost – aside from gas and oil changes – was somewhere between $50 and $100 per month. Compared to a Chevy, it was sometimes LESS expensive to drive a Caddy, of you traded your car every year.

    Oh, how things have changed. Did you know that you can buy a two-year-old DTS – fresh off of corporate lease – for less than $15k, with less than 24k miles AND a completely NEW paint job?

    Seems that GM builds thousands of “Mary Kay pink pearl” Cadillacs each year for their largest buyer of the DTS. In the terms of the corporate lease agreement, these cars are not allowed to be resold unless they are repainted. So the used market ends up with thousands of low mileage, two-year-old DTSs with as many as FIVE coats of paint: The “Mary Kay pink pearl” is a special triple-coat pearl, as well as two additional coats, one of a color coat (usually white) and a final clearcoat. Interestingly (and not kindly, on my part) the tan or gray leather seats usually do not have a “butt pocket” formed in the driver’s seat, perhaps a testament to special padding on the part of the seat, or perhaps the padding of the driver.

    Laugh if you must, but I’m seriously considering the purchase of one of these for my mother for her 75th birthday next year. While not my choice for a “gently used” automobile, where else can I get a freshly repainted luxury land barge for less than the price of a new base-level Accord?

  • avatar
    irishorse

    The one redeeming factor of Cadillac is that the driver’s seat will go up high enough and forward enough to accommodate a 4’6″ 90# geriatric driver.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Replying to Joe O:
    They don’t want to spend 60-70k on a ride such as this, so that knocks out BMW, Audi, Lexus, Mercedes.

    BMW and MB only offer RWD cars and thus is not direct competitors to the DTS.

    Consider the Lexus ES350, starting from $30k+, is superior in every aspect. Reliable and rich features. Small on the outside and as big inside. 3.5 V6 that’s actually powerful and makes the ES a very quick car.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    wsn:

    I know it’s fashionable to praise Lexus, but the ES350 is not as superior to the DTS as you might think. First of all, check out any Lexus forum and look at all the transmission issues ES350 owners have been having. I would be willing to bet the DTS is much more reliable than the ES at this point in the lifecycle of both models.

    My mother owns a 2001 Camry LE (basically a cheaper Lexus ES) and I drove a rented Deville a few years ago and the Deville rode and handled much better. I highly doubt the ES is as big as the Deville on the inside either, unless it has grown considerably since the 2001 version.

    I’m not biased at all either, my first car I owned by myself (I’m a recent college graduate) was a 99 GS400 that I just sold last weekend, so this is coming from a (former) Lexus owner.

  • avatar
    wsn

    thetopdog:

    I don’t pretend to be an expert on reliability. So I always rely on CR’s judgement. ES350 is among the top scorers according to CR.

    The wheelbase of ES has grown considerably since 2001, while the overall length is about the same. And BTW, the new ES is larger insider than the GS, even through the latter is much more expansive.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    BuzzDog: “I recall how strong the resale value of Cadillacs was.”

    Yet another legacy of the ‘great’ former CEO Roger Smith who ran GM for ten years from 1980 to 1990 (he was also the star of Michael Moore’s first documentary, Roger and Me).

    It was during Smith’s reign that GM cars really began sharing not only platforms, but drivetrains and bodies as well, with only grills, tailights, and interior seating material to differentiate between them, the worst example being the infamous Cadillac Cimarron which came and went during this timeframe.

    Although he’s been gone for 17 years, Smith did immeasurable damage to the reputation of GM (particularly Cadillac), damage that may be irrepairable. It’s certainly one of the root causes of the demise of Oldsmobile.

  • avatar
    NickR

    BuzzDog, if you’d care to share the info on where to go to find one of those ex-Mary Kay cars, feel free to share it. (I figure the worst that can happen is that I spend a couple of weekends trying to get the smell of cheap fragrance out of the upholstery.)

  • avatar
    fishiftstick

    Ugly trunk? What–the two dead mafiosi inside mind?

  • avatar
    Jim H

    How can a 1 star in design move a 3 star in performace, 4 star in handling, and 4 star in ride? Is design now 90% of our judgement? Seems the bias against american cars affects overall judgement that can’t be justified on paper. Interesting.

  • avatar
    Jim H

    Bah…I meant to say a 1star design move the 3, 4, and 4 star ratings down to an overall 2 star.

  • avatar
    tps16

    I drive a 2005 STS, which i think got a rather harsh review here. I wonder what suspension setup the car had, since the review didn’t mention it. The base setup actually seems much better.

    Anyhow, I just had one of these DTSs as a loaner car and it is rubbish! If anything, it seemed to ride worse than the Deville it replaced, but the worst thing is the interior. Everything about it just feels cheap, and the dash is the same as what you get in a Lucerne and, even more shocking, a CHEVY IMPALA! That really pissed me off! What the hell is Cadillac thinking?
    If Cadillac cannot come up with a credible rear-drive flagship, I am switching to Mercedes. Everytime I tell someone I drive a Cadillac all they think of are those stupid Devilles. Why would any supposedly luxury car with a V-8 have front-wheel drive. Talk about torque steer!

  • avatar
    Obiwan72

    I am so glad that Cadillac doesn’t try to be “European” with the DTS. In Europe, luxo sedans and even midsize station wagons need to be responsive and fast as super sports cars! Well, they don’t need to…but it’s the last selling argument of the German car industry who (incredibly, but true) still succesfully is able to sell their overprized, pseudo-sports-luxo-station cars by hypnotizing customers all around the world through their propaganda. What a joke! I therefore enjoy the smooth ride of a Cadillac limousine and don’t care about whether I can compete with a BMW pseudo sports car or not. After 1000km driving I know 1 thing for sure… I’ll arrive much more relaxed than the poor BMW/Merc/Audi guys. Should I need to pass somebody, my Caddy still delivers enough power at any time (even for 95% of all BMWs). For those who compare with BMW/Audi – consider a Corvette (for the real sports feeling instead of overprized pseudo)!

    Oh – and by the way – if you think there’s really a huge difference in quality between US and Europe, then I recommend you to read some of the European blogs. Or talk to some taxi drivers in Europe about the 2003-2006 Merc E-Class. Oh – ever seen a BMW as a taxi? (hm.. heck why is that only?!)

    What are this funny talks about hardplastic or softplastic – it’s plastic. That’s what it is.
    You don’t want plastic ? Buy Bentley, Aston Martin, Ferrari. If you can’t afford, stay quiet and thank god you have affordable luxo sedans in the US. What the Caddy costs in US, a well equipped VW Gold has it’s starting price in Europe!! You should be proud of having a strong performing motor industry who provides you so much value at so low prices.

  • avatar
    USluxuryman

    I can't understand how you blast American cars for their supposed lack of handling ability as the main or only criteria for judging a car's worthiness. Supposedly, Lexus,BMW,Mercedes,Audi,etc, take curves so much faster without leaning, and their interiors are of so much finer materials and the alignment of seams are so much more exact, that no American (domestic) cars can compete! This is the biggest bunch of garbage I have ever heard, and you should be ashamed of yourselves for being so gullible and easily misled. I work in an Assembly plant, and have seen the changes internally (as it relates to quality vs. production numbers) as well as with the general public. For example, for years, Big three cars were considered to be too soft-riding,lean too much when going around a curve, and isolating you too much from road-feedback and bumps in the road. Town Cars,Cadillacs,Buicks, and the like were referred to as luxo-barges and land-yachts! However, when a Lexus is described as being Ultra-quiet it is worshipped as being well built. I know that today's modern foreign luxury cars are somewhat smaller than our big cars of yesterday, but we have many cars of comparable size and quality today. Cars have intended markets and anticipated customers that they want or hope to attract. If I am considering a DTS (smooth,quiet,luxurious), I don't expect to be going around curves at 60-70 mph to test my vehicle's handling limits! I might buy a 'Vette or Mustang for that! Look at all the SUV's sold in this country; how well do you think they can be "tossed-around" before flipping over? I drive like the majority of Americans on flat streets,regular freeways, with a few freeway entrance-ramps or exit ramps! Do you really think that my main concern when leaving work or home is to push my car to its limits on curves and whoopee-straight-aways while burning my gas up,squealing my tires,and risking points on my record for going over 70-75 mph? I don't think foreign cars can compete with American cars for smoothness,quietness, and size for the PRICE! I spend 90% of my driving time on streets or freeways and very little on S-curves. The speed limits on these curves are 30-35 mph! We all drive a little faster than the posted speed limits if traffic allows, but jack-rabbits starts and taking curves at high speeds is wasteful,immature, and risky for your driving record,safety,and gas-mileage! My DTS (2006) gives me more size, a comfortable smooth ride,tons of luxury features standard,great assembly quality and interior materials. and costs $20,000 to $30,000 less than a Lexus LS 460. Do you really think that I care about the 'Benz,BMW, or Lexus being able to be driven around a curve or slalom a few seconds faster or leaning a little less, or having a seam or gam a millimeter closer as as being worth that much more to give me more "prestige"? Those cars should have more resale value if the cost that much more! They go to the repair shops just like American cars! Review the foreign car forums and look at some of the recent recall records of foreign cars. Look at the recent JD Power Quality rankings. Buick,Cadillac,Saturn,Mercury,(even Jaguar-you know how poor their quality rankings were before Ford bought them!) and others were ahead of BMW and Mercedes, and right there with Lexus, but Americans are blinded and are followers when it comes to popular conceptions and the biased, contradictory Auto magazines! the 3-series BMW costs more than my DTS. It has almost no room in the back seat area, but costs $15,000 or so more than my DTS with similar equipment. The 5-series BMW,E-Class Mercedes, or GS-series Lexus models cost $10,000–$20,000 more and are no bigger inside than a Chrysler 300,DTS,Town Car,Lucerne or similar product. If you buy a Lexus/BMW/Audi/Mercedes of the same or similar size (over 200 inches long) ,and equipment as the DTS,Town Car, or Chrysler 300, it will cost you $60,000 – $90,000. How can the DTS be considered big and ponderous at 207 in. long, when a LS 460L is about 202 in. long and the regular LS460 198 in. or so in length. The S-class 'Benz is a little over 200 in. long but its room inside is praised and worshipped and it is $100,000. BMW's 7-series costs $100,000, and is only six or seven in. shorter than the DTS, and the true comparison for the DTS should be simarlarly-priced 3-series or 5-series(they both give you much less room and cost much more!) These cars (except the LS 460) ride much more firmly and transmit much more bumps and road surface feed-back than the DTS/Lucerne/Town Car/Chrysler300. Should we give up bump-absorption for handling? That is the major question! Ride versus handling has always been a trade-off. Knowledgeable people and the Industry knows this! GM can make a smooth-riding DTS or a great-handling Corvette or ultra-handling Z06 Corvette! The better it handles, in general, the firmer the ride is going to be! Lower-profile tires are also going to ride firmer, transmit more road irregularities, and allow potentially wheel/tire damage. You don't really think that a AMG 'Benz, or M5 BMW is going to cushion you from bumps and comfort you like a regular model do you? Stiffer shock and springs are needed to handle "better". In this case, better means not leaning as much, according to the car magazines! Cars like the DTS, and anyone else that Delphi sold Stabili-Trak and Magnetic -Ride Control to, ride smoothly until you need to change direction quickly or go around a curve; then almost instantly the shocks stiffen to minimize lean! I also wish you would stop criticizing GM's 4-speed transmission. It is DURABLE,smooth,seamless and was the pick of Bentley cars until the most recent 6-speed model was introduced! One Bentley model uses the GM 4-speed trans.(it deals with 500-plus H.P.!) and the other model uses the GM 6-speed model and Motor Trend indicates that they are equally well-accepted! This lates Motor Trend also test a quartet of $100,000 plus luxury cars: a Maserati Quattroporte',Lexus LS460h,S-Class 550 'Benz, and a the biggest Jaguar. The Maserati came in first place, and the vaunted Lexus-hybrid top-of -the-line model came in last, and was said to be a disappointment in performance,luxury,AND FUEL ECONOMY! Motor Trend said,the wood-grain is "A CONFUSING MAROON IN COLOR",the buttons on the edges of the center-stack are similar in size and shape and are confusing in their layout. With $5,000 worth of handling-equipment options the car LEANED IN TURNS as much as the other three cars, and only got 15% better gas milage than the other three cars (while having two electric motors and bragging about fuel economy) and came in DEAD LAST!. The Lexus was said to have almost no feedback from the road or through the steering wheel. Wake up people! There are competetive American products out there if you are honest and do your research! You can pay $40,000-$50,000 for a Lexus ES350 or a regular BMW 3-series if the gap between dash panels is more important than your room and $15,000, but the ES350 is a re-badged Camry and the BMW is a compact with a nice engine(no better performance than a 300-hp Chevy Impala SS or Pontiac GXP engine) no room in the back seat, and $15,000 over-priced! Plastic is plastic, and you touch the wood-grain every once-in-a-while! My gauges and switchgear are luxurious and work fine. The only complaint I have with the DTS is the white letter and numerals on the center-stack are difficult to see in direct-sunlight at certain times of the day and should have been better thought-out. Not too bad, while saving $30,000 over a LS 460/S-Class Benz/7-Series BMW, because that it what it would take to get the king of room,luxury, and comfort, and feature that I have in my DTS. Wake up people!

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    USluxuryman you are “right on” as we used to say and you said it very well in your post. I agree with you completely. Having said that I think that the folks buying the more expensive imports are making a fashion statement as well as a statement about their personal ability to have and spend their wealth. Rational analysis was not a major factor in their decision of the car they drive and remember that most of the critics on this forum are very adamant about their personal preferences and often express themselves without a total regard for being rational. Having said all of that thanks for your post.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The DTS is a decent car and very well aimed at it’s target audience. Not everybody is looking for a bland generic Lexus where all there models are looking increasingly alike or a hard riding confusing overpriced BMW. The 2007 DTS I test drove was a base model with bucket seats. It’s handling is a tad soft but the ride is very smooth and quiet. The interior quality was very good overall and I found the seat comfort better than average on a 5 hour trip. The Northstar is a good engine and sounds great when revved but it should be outputting more than 1995 power levels in 2008. Also Caddy should have fitted the 6 speed automatic to this engine which would improve performance and mileage. As it was my car average 26 MPG going 75 MPH on the highway with a few stops which isn’t bad considering the interior room and trunk space this car offers. I also find the exterior far more flashy than many of todays stark plain generic looking cars. The manufacturers have stripped off litterally ever piece of trim and chrome on todays cars making them look like base model stripos. The DTS thankfully avoids that with a nice chrome accented bodyside molding, the distinctive Caddy taillights, the prominent sharp creased Caddy grille and lots of chrome sprinkled on the exterior. The STS is too plain in comparison and IMO doesn’t look like a 50-60K car. I need some flash in my luxury cars.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    “Do you really think that I care about the ‘Benz, BMW, or Lexus being able to be driven around a curve or slalom a few seconds faster or leaning a little less?… We all drive a little faster than the posted speed limits if traffic allows, but jack-rabbits starts and taking curves at high speeds is wasteful,immature, and risky for your driving record,safety,and gas-mileage!”

    I had to duck when I read this — USluxuryman almost hit me during the “jackrabbit starts” part when he started swinging his cane.

  • avatar
    SeamusMcGowan

    I like my 2007 DTS and have no complaints what so ever.  Actually I do not like FWD but that is not a Caddy problem it is an oddball drive system that was imported to America. I like my 2003 GMC 2500HD too which has all the drive line parts in the right place as does my 2002 Harley Softail. If I am feeling feisty 95 CI, 100 HP, 100 FT LBS of torque in 650 pounds can leave me satisfied. If I want to go play in the snow at Lake Tahoe the GMC is wonderful. But if I feel like relaxing and enjoying a drive the Caddy is the obvious choice even if it can’t do everything like some lame brained car tester thinks it should. Perhaps he will let me borrow his creation for evaluation some time. I can assure you I will find things wrong with it. Oh, I forgot, he doesn’t make cars, he just complains about them.   


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