By on May 28, 2009

Every race must have a winner—even if it’s a Seniors Olympics, where competitors battle with oxygen tanks in tow. In this case, it’s Yank tanks: our American large luxury car shootout. Those of you with a knack for the process of elimination will already know that the Cadillac DTS is our winner. On the face of it, the Caddy doesn’t have the power or charisma of the Chrysler 300C, nor the traditional rear wheel-drive layout of Lincoln’s boxframed Town Car. But the DTS brings a much-needed karmic balance to our comparo. It’s the only car that approaches luxury. In other words, it offers at least a week’s worth of livability for an actual owner.

The DTS’s exterior is an automotive every-car from the side. From all other points of view, the Caddy’s angular creases, gaping grill and vestigial fins proudly proclaim “standard of the tasseled loafer wearing set.” I can respect that. The flagship’s styling might not be to everyone’s tastes, but at least it’s identifiable. There’s a lot of carbon dated dissonance here, thanks to combination of 1970s proportions and all-LED tail lamps, bi-xenon headlamps and shiny 18″ alloys.

This two-ton beast’s interior is this troika’s best. I realize that isn’t saying much. But it is saying something. The DTS’ leather is supple. The overall design is semi-modern and reasonably tasteful. The plastics are far behind Euro luxury standards, but they’re so far ahead of the 300C’s interior they’ve already crossed the international dateline. Yes, the cabin is a midwestern prairie of blandness. And the steering wheel is swizzle-stick thin (pulled from a 1990s Buick), but at least it’s heated.

In the back, passengers are suitably coddled on their way to Sunday lunch. The DTS’ rear seats are by far the best in this group. They offer bun warmers, cheek-friendly leather and what 300C and Town Car passengers won’t recognize (but will enjoy): padding. The Cadillac DTS’ rear A/C controls are basic, but they’re bound to make occupants feel a bit more special. At speed, the DTS is also the better place to sit. The 300C is just a bit too harsh and noisy for executive transport duty, and the Town Car manages to be a bit more penitential than presidential.

Aside from offering more occupant friendly proportions, the aging Northstar V8’s transverse placement precludes the sort of hoonery that’s easy to accomplish in the Chrysler 300 (donuts are possible, but only in reverse). With 295hp and 288 lb·ft going to the front wheels only, you’d be right to be concerned about torque steer. Fortunately, somehow, the usual front wheel-drive demons have been all but banished, leaving you only to fret about the lack of power compared to the 300C and fume over the dimwitted four-speed slushbox.

Even the five-seat version of the DTS (with the centre console) doesn’t include a manumatic function. Never mind . . . all four gear options are about as thrilling as a Kate Hudson chick flick. Put another, more positive way, the DTS seems to perform just about equally regardless of what gear it’s in. This brings us to the six-seater DTS, which anyone with memories of the 70s should avoid. Seriously, column shifters are like so last century, dude.

It may come as a surprise to readers (as it was to me) that the DTS actually ties with the 300C in the gadget shoot-out. The DTS doesn’t bring satellite TV to the party, but it does have some nice touches that a Euro shopper might expect: magnetic ride control, blind zone alerts, lane departure warning, and voice recognition.

Did I mention driving? Does it matter? If it does, when piloting the DTS, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, the Lusitania had a similar turning ratio. U-turns should be avoided like U-boats. In fact, plan any changes in direction miles ahead of time. Despite the bad road manners, it just about ties the Town Car in actual driving prowess. The zero to sixty sprint happens uneventfully, and corners are taken with relative ease. The best thing that can be said about the DTS’s performance—the only thing that needs saying– is that it’s composed and sedate.

The fact that the DTS is less common as a limo or airport shuttle is a huge benefit. We are talking about a car that costs approximately $50 to $60K—providing you can stop the Cadillac salesman from thanking God long enough to book the sale. Even so, the Cadillac is the winner of this shootout because its what an American luxury car is all about: size, presence, comfort and a V8. Sure Audi, BMW and Mercedes have nothing to worry about. I’d rather have a base LS460 than a loaded DTS. But if American luxury is what you want, the DTS is the way to go. While supplies last.

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83 Comments on “Review: Yank Tank Comparo: Cadillac DTS vs. Lincoln Town Car vs. Chrysler 300C. First place: Cadillac DTS...”


  • avatar
    apt34

    I would actually agree that the DTS is the best choice given the three and the objective of getting a “yank tank.”

    You know, despite my love of performance automobiles, I really have a soft spot for the DTS and the Town Car. I suppose its one of those things you don’t admit; but it is SO COMFORTABLE. The Town Car really feels like you’re driving around on your grandparents’ worn-in couch. Oh man you could fall asleep very easily (while driving, though… hmm).

    DTS is also extremely smooth.

    IMO I never even considered the 300C to be in that category, although I suppose it could. Far too much bling, no substance, terrible plastics, cheesy indiglo gauges that look like they were drawn up in Word – doesn’t cut it … at least for me.

  • avatar
    Scottdb

    Of course, it’s the Lusitania’s turning *radius* that bests the DTS, and I have to agree. I’ve rented a few, and the first few minutes are spent banging HARD against the steering stops, because there is only about 1½ turns lock-to-lock. Seriously, what is up with that? I suppose it’s some design compromise with whatever they did to eliminate torque steer.

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    For about 15k less you can get a Buick Lucerne- American, big, comfy, FWD, same V8 engine, also better reliability history.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    So you’re telling me that I can spend $60k on a so-so vehicle that’s uncompetitive with a loaded Camry?

    This level of money buys you a 5-series bimmer. Maybe even a 7-series. It gets you a Lexus LS460. An E-Class Benz (or a lightly used S-Class). An Audi A8 maybe.

    No way, no how would I ever consider this vehicle. It’s behind the times. It’s plasti-chrome. You see this car and think 70′s wire wheel hubcaps and landau roof.

    You didn’t even mention the epic depreciation that the new owner will face when he buys a DTS.

    At $20k, I would still give it only a passing glance. At $60k, you gotta be kidding me.

    • 0 avatar
      zinctwentyone

      HighRPM. I have been a Porsche dealer since 1992 and I can say that since 1999 any and all German cars have gone to crap. Unreliable in every sense of the word. I started selling Porsche cars because I loved German technology and engineering. It was the year Mercedes and BMW went down as well and will never recover. I will venture to say that a Caddy or Lincoln will outrun engine/drivetrain wise any German car today. Not to mention the fixes are much less costly and less complicated. Do you think Mercedes don’t depreciate like pure pigs? Do you think BMW mass produces a good product? 911 cars share plastic with Boxsters.

  • avatar
    menno

    As I said yesterday. I’d take a HYUNDAI Genesis V6 over any of these.

    Any

    Day

    Of

    The

    Week

    And I’d pay the local pre-discounted price for the privilege.

    If I were in the market for a luxo-barge.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    it just about ties the Town Car in actual driving prowess

    Let’s see here. The Town Car’s basic layout goes back to the 80s and it has received virtually no attention in the last 10 years. The DTS is supposed to be GM’s best recent effort at a big car, was thoroughly reworked in the last couple of years and ALMOST ties the Townie as a driver? Gad!

    Lets go out 10 years. The DTS will be immobile due to its leaking Northstar and its toasted transmission and shorted electronics, while the Townie will be cruising along on the way to 250k miles, and still selling for the upper 4 figures.

  • avatar
    ajla

    But if American luxury is what you want, the DTS is the way to go. While supplies last.

    If you don’t need the domestic badge, Hyundai will sell you a big RWD luxury car that has a 368hp V8 and a ZF six-speed auto. Fully loaded for $42000.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Why is a V8 so important? Modern V6s make as much HP and torque as these ancient dinosaurs, and are much more efficient.

    The Toyota Avalon is far superior than any of these vehicles. The newest ones with the black leather interior and dark plastiwood and leather stitched door panels and cooled seats and a six speed and 270 HP and and rear reclining seats and more legroom than a first-class airplane seat all for 20k less than this bugger!

    I’m just saying, even though this DTS gets 4 stars and 1st in a comparo, it’s like miles behind the foreign competition!

    I live in a neighborhood with lots and lots of old people. They’ve all seen the light and switched their old Devilles and got Avalons!

  • avatar
    carguy

    This comparo really reads like the special Olympics of automotive transportation. The $60K price tag is insane – for that kind of money an Escalade provides more luxury, utility and resale value than any of these. Not to mention the E class, 5 series or the Genesis for $20K less.

  • avatar
    IGB

    I agree the DTS is the nicer but having spoken to a few livery drivers, the Town Car is the better car. According to the real buyers of these cars (hard working immigrants) the Town Cars are durable beyond compare. 300000-400000 hard stop and go pot holed miles are routine.

    The DTS doesn’t hold up. Transmissions apparently. The Town Car puts the Tank in Yank.

    They haven’t made a Hyundai yet that can hold up that sort of use.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    @carguy, I completely agree. This is like the “I’m not the worst luxury car in the world” contest or something.

    Again, I think about that $60k sticker price on the DTS and laugh.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    If you must have a DTS, you’d be crazy not to find a nice Certified Preowned version. You can get those bad boys all day for mid $20,000s and CPO means 6 year/100k warranty.

  • avatar

    I actually drove a new Genesis V8 a week ago today. The dealer was offering $5 to anyone who would come in and test drive any Hyundai, so what the Hell right?

    Well, none of the Genesis V8 sedans they had on the lot were $44k. Try $48k, more with TTL of course. Oh, also add $300 for tinted windows and desert protection.

    I took one out with nav and all the bells and whistles. The interior is nothing to get excited about. In fact it’s a bit worse in person than it looked in all the photos. It’s shiny, slippery and extremely bland in pretty much every way.

    The performance for it’s much touted V8 is… underwhelming. Kane it and it moves, kind of, it’s not explosive like a 300C or Pontiac G8, it hardly makes any noise at all and it doesn’t get up to speed like a 550i or V8 German car. It’s quiet other than the thump thump thump of the expansion joints and a little wind roar. Handling seems ok. In short, it’s a vastly unexciting car to drive.

    I also think it’s one of the most overrated cars I’ve ever driven. I expected it to be German quality, which it isn’t in any way, shape or form. It’s not quite as nice as a Lexus either. Yet it’s very expensive. And compared to the Three Yank Tanks in this comparo it lacks personality.

    I’d also like to note that none of the cars in this comparo sell for MSRP. In fact all of them are substantially discounted from sticker price. Down into loaded Genesis territory, and BELOW. For what these cars actually go for, especially the 300C and DTS, they are pretty good deals for good cars.

    I think the biggest problem with the Genesis aside from the fact that it’s not really in the same league as all the cars Hyundai compares it against is the fact that it is a Hyundai. When people spend coin for luxury cars they want a good brand, not a bargain brand. People buy Hyundais for cheap cars, period. The Genesis at MSRP is not a cheap car by any stretch of the imagination. I think that explains why nobody is buying them. I’ve seen maybe five here in the Valley of the Sun. One had a GRAMPS vanity plate. Yet you can’t throw a rock without hitting a DTS or 300C here.

    My parents had a 99 Deville Concours (the run up to the DTS) and the DTS isn’t much different. But the Concours was a very nice car to ride in and it lasted over 160k miles with no issues whatsoever. No transmission problems, no electric problems. The DTS is pretty much the same car underneath and GM has been refreshing and steadily improving it ever since the late 90s. I’ve driven a few as my folks were looking at buying one and it was a vastly better car than what most people give it credit for. Certainly better than the Avalon (another Asian luxury vehicle nobody buys) and the Camry (which is ugly and awful inside and out).

    Oh, and that Hyundai dealer (Larry Miller Hyundai actually). They won’t leave me alone. I told them I’m not really interested and they keep calling me multiple times a day a week later. I don’t think I will be buying a Hyundai soon, if ever.

  • avatar
    commando1

    So basically, the:
    3. Town car is taxi cab bland
    2. 300 has a gawd-aful interior and the loaded 300c R/T looks like the entry level stripper
    1. The DTS is exceptional in nothing.

    I’m keeping my ’76 New Yorker thank you. At least it turns heads.

  • avatar
    jmo

    “So you’re telling me that I can spend $60k on a so-so vehicle ”

    Something tells me no one has paid sticker for a DTS in… well… ever.

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    I’d be shocked if anyone is actually paying $60k for one of these. You can probably get one nicely equipped for $45-$50k– still way too much though.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Does American Luxury mean a heated steering wheel?

    Do you need one in Florida?

    Why does does GM continue with the DTS and STS?

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    This comparision really brings me back to the question of why did LIncoln drop the LS. It wasn’t quite “tank” size like the TC and DTS, but it was RWD, V8, luxury, and decent enough to drive.

  • avatar

    Column shifter is also soooo last gen 7-series and current gen S-class… but who’s counting?

  • avatar

    Neither of these 3 vehicles are worth their new offering price, but they are excellent purchases thereafter.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    The DTS starts at $46k according to autos.yahoo.com. That does put it a little lower than a base E-class or 5-series. With discounts and rebates, who knows what the out-the-door price would be.

    The regular DTS engine is listed at 275 HP and 295 lb*ft. That’s exactly the same as a 1993 Mercedes 400E, which can be had for a few thousand dollars. With the weight difference, though, the DTS is probably more in line with the 300E 3.2 from that era.

  • avatar
    Jim Cherry

    Pretty sad that the DTS is the best America can do in terms of full-sized luxury. Isn’t this class of vehicles supposed to be our car industry’s strongest suit? Pathetic. And there is a place to place blame–read about it here: http://www.examiner.com/x-6882-Classic-Autos-Examiner~y2009m4d17-GM-near-bankruptcywhat-happened

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    I’m keeping my ‘76 New Yorker thank you.

    Now for a REAL yank tank comparo: Go find a 76 Town Car and a 76 Fleetwood to go up against commando1′s New Yorker.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    The Town Car and 300C at least have unique engineering.

    Much better large front wheel drive cars can be had for much less (although I’m sure a new, 2009, well optioned DTS can be had for significantly less than $40k).

  • avatar
    86er

    Column shift was great then and it’s great now… if I wanted to be pinched into a superfluous centre console I might as well buy a compact.

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    I’d like to see an Avalon vs. Lucerne vs. MKS comparison. FWD, not quite tank size semi? luxury.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    jpcavanaugh :

    Amen, but now you make we want to ask the question, “Would one of our more experienced readers actually tabulate how many barges would show up to that slugfest if we could include flagship cars from all the American Marques of 1976?” Call it the Bicentennial Blowout!

    BTW this comparo has made me go hunting ebaymotors for old V8 RWD iron from every American car maker, even the ones that no longer exist.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    I have a 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car in Dark Turquoise Metallic. Gets more looks than a car costing $100,000 or more. More impressive than a new Bentley it was parked next to the last time I took it out.

    My 1999 Cadillac Deville? Sold it to a fellow on Craigslist for $700.00. Bad Northstar. He paid too much.

  • avatar
    skor

    Cars like these should be compared at cost per pound. Using this metric, the TC provides the most metal for the buck. TC for the win.

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    You see this car and think 70’s wire wheel hubcaps and landau roof.

    I actually think wire wheels and a landau roof make this car look better. Add a set of whitewalls, and you are good to go.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I don’t know about this DTS win, IMO is really does represent everything GM has been doing wrong for the last few decades. Overweight, FWD, awkward proportions, inefficient…It’s one of those cars. Sure it may be a typical yank-tank, but not typical for the time period when that was a good thing, typical for the GM suck-era. AND it costs twice as much as the tested competition.

    Why celebrate the root cause of the deathwatch series?

  • avatar
    AdamYYZ

    I once considered a used Buick Park Avenue Ultra for insurance purposes. At the time, my Honda Civic was $500 a month to insure with a clean driving record. Something is out of whack when you are paying more for insurance than the loan payment.

    http://www.trader.ca/powerpage/details.aspx?vlotid=72083&adid=7504436

    You could buy this and save yourself over 50 grand instead of the DTS. And you could be seen in this car and not look like secret service or mafia. Probably the only two people that bought the DTS.

  • avatar
    paulie

    Alex,
    I don’t know what criteria you used for picking these cars, but its all so narrow and seems misleading.
    I mean, rear wheel vs front wheel, etc.
    And why isn’t the MKS or the Buick in here?
    Can you explain to the class the reasoning in the initial choices?

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    My father had a thing for extremely well used 4 door caddy’s in the late 90′s and early 2000′s. He went through 3-4 of them in the course of about 10 years, fixing them, keeping them well maintained.

    He damn near cried when I picked up a used e38 BMW for what he was paying for his Caddy’s. Then when I sold it for a profit 3 years later, it was his next model of choice.

    The sooner Caddy looses it’s Floridian reputation altogether, the better.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    86er: You don’t know how often I’ve cursed those ridiculous plastic logs that are there just to take up space. I really hate consoles.

    One of the advantages of FWD was the flat floor it provided. And what do they do? Run a stupid knee banging unit between the seats that takes up more space than the benefit it gives.[If any].

    I like the looks of all three. The 300 could have been on CTS level at least, if not TC and DTS.

    The DTS is much improved over it’s mid to late 90s de-construction of Cadillac “look”.

    Sometimes I think Cadillac’s Allante provided the worst styling cues of any car in Cadillac’s history.What a gawd awful unimpressive and boring 2 seater. Even the Chryslerati TC was more interesting.

    Is this not the same DTS that got 1 star not too long ago ? Or would it still get the same outside of this context ?

  • avatar
    NoSubstitute

    It’s hard to conceive of a more irrelevant set of comments. “Empathy” is the emotion of the week, so just for a moment try to imagine yourself among the target group of buyers.

    Hyundai makes a better car for the money? Listen honey, Sinatra didn’t drive Korean. Sammy didn’t either. Feh on Hyundai.

    Resale value? That’s the children’s problem in probate, and believe me they’re already making out like bandits between the condo in Boca and what they’re sure to recover on the Madoff lawsuit. Feh on resale.

    Escalade? What am I, Michael Jordan? You try climbing up into one of those things. Turning circle? Who’s in such a hurry to go back where I’ve already been? Anyway, I can always just go around the block. I’ve already got my signal on.

    We’re talking about a Cadillac, bubalah. CA-DI-LLAC. And don’t you forget it. Now who’s got time for one more round of mahjong?

  • avatar
    brush

    If this is the best that Cadillac can produce, no wonder that Australia’s GM boys “delayed” the introduction of the Cadillac brand down under, seeing it would have to compete against the Holden Caprice/Statesman twins. Which is surprising because I thought that was what GM did best, (or company policy dictates that) compete against itself internally!

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    “If you must have a DTS, you’d be crazy not to find a nice Certified Preowned version. You can get those bad boys all day for mid $20,000s and CPO means 6 year/100k warranty.”
    So true. A 2006 DTS with mileage no higher than the mid 30′s can be had for $24,000 range with chrome wheels and luxury II pkg. And also true that the DTS is the best in it’s class. Hyundai? Gimme a break!

  • avatar
    jose carlos

    A year ago on a trip to the USA I rented a DTS. Although my daly drive is one the german references mentioned in the various comments, I must say that I did like the car: that big v8, the ride, the smoothness and appropriatley agile. I do not know if they last but some of those german big shots are not that bullet proof. If possible I know where I would put my money. The problem is that all cars are always reviewed as if they should be racing machines. In fact most of people do not want them but the message is reiterated countless times and it becomes the truth.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    I’m still not getting why this is better than the 300.

  • avatar
    derm81

    romanjetfighter :

    The Toyota Avalon is far superior than any of these vehicles.

    The Avalon is one of, if not THEE worst car I have driven in the past 2 years. I was shocked that Toyota would put a POS like this on the road. The Toyos are acting more and more like AP-Sloan boys everyday.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I drove a friend’s DTS a couple of years ago while we were visiting them for a few days; used it to tour the local antique shops while our host and hostess were at work. It seemed fitting, somehow.

    He was a little irritated when I told him that I thought it resembled my 03 Silverado in the way it drove. I said it was a compliment; that’s a nice riding and driving truck except that it hops a little over the bumps. The similarity’s a little odd, come to think of it, since they’re driven from opposite ends. That’s how little difference it makes that the DTS is fwd.

    It’s no wonder so many people bought Tahoes and Suburbans; they’re simply tall Cadillacs. Caddy had to build the Escalade in self-defense.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    So…far as I can tell, the DTS wins over the 300C because it has a smoother ride, less cheap plastic, and nicer leather? Okey dokey.

    You also completely leave price out of this comparison. Fully loaded, a DTS is $60,000. You can’t option a 300C beyond $45,000, even with all wheel drive.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    that’s a lot of money to be saddled with a 4 spd auto

  • avatar
    rochskier

    @ FreedMike:

    You can’t option a 300C beyond $45,000, even with all wheel drive.

    For $45k you can get a brand new 300C SRT-8 and destroy the competitors in this test. Heck, that thing will destroy anything short of another SRT-8 or Mustang GT-500.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Let’s forget that the 300 puts the DTS on the trailer in every performance category…if you look at the 300C’s dimensions, performance results and mission, you have a car that actually compares to something like a BMW 5-series.

    Now, don’t get me wrong – a 535i will kick the 300′s ass in the corners, and when it comes to workmanship, there’s no comparison. But in the real, everyday world we all live in, the 300 will accelerate, handle, and haul passengers and cargo as well as a 535, and it’s a shitload less money.

    Bottom line pricing on a 300 with every possible option, after discounts, is about $36,000. A comparably equipped 535 checks in at $65,000.

    The carping about the 300′s interior quality is legit, but think of it this way: with the $29,000 you save, you can buy a two or three-year-old BMW 335i and revel in Swabian craftsmanship.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I’d take the TC anyday. Look on cars.com and ebay. 10 year old Town Cars and 10 year old Deville/DTSs. The Lincolns have far higher mileages (one with 400,000!) on them and go for higher prices. Better yet, let’s have a comparo between a ’99 TownCar and a ’99 Deville. (And what, a ’99 Concorde?)

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    I used a new 2008 DTS extensively for 3 weeks. That experience removed any desire on my part to own one.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    rochskier :
    May 28th, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    @ FreedMike:

    You can’t option a 300C beyond $45,000, even with all wheel drive.

    For $45k you can get a brand new 300C SRT-8 and destroy the competitors in this test. Heck, that thing will destroy anything short of another SRT-8 or Mustang GT-500.

    And the prices on the used ones are silly…check this one out.

    2007 SRT-8, 9K miles, mint, still under warranty…$28K BEFORE haggling.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    you can buy a two or three-year-old BMW 335i and revel in Swabian craftsmanship.

    freedmike (quietly)

    BMWs are built in Bavaria (which is what the B stands for) if you where buying Swabian, you’d be getting a Mercedes or a Porsche.

  • avatar

    The carping about the 300’s interior quality is legit, but think of it this way: with the $29,000 you save, you can buy a two or three-year-old BMW 335i and revel in Swabian craftsmanship.

    Or better yet, put the $29K into a Swabian 23 year old. Hey Bertel, what’s the going rate on Swabian blondes looking for a sugar daddy?

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    I’ve rented all three of these cars. The Town Car is clearly the weakest and is only suited for livery service because it is durable. But its junk. The 300C has the best engine and overall platform, though not big enough and has a third-rate interior. But for the traits that people who buy these cars look for, lots of space, a surprisingly well designed interior and tomblike ride, the DTS is the clear “winner” of this group. I also agree with a previous poster that the Hyundai Genesis is not impressive at all. Lots of hype, but certainly no more impressive than any of these.

  • avatar
    Roundel

    A family friend had an 05 Deville that they held dear that’s lease was up.
    Now couldn’t have been a better time to get a new DTS.
    Sure the car is what it is, but what the whole joke is that the DTS is also…. A Lucerne.
    They found a DTS with the trimmings they wanted that stickered for $53K. All the rebates brough the car down to just under $50k, the dealer would not budge a single cent more. 10 miles away at a Buick dealer was a loaded to the gills Lucerne CXL that had MORE options than the DTS. Stickered for 39K, dealer discounted it to 29k.
    Now there was some lost in translation features like the blind spot detection, the Xenon headlights, heated rear seats. But this Buick had everything that was possible. Car had touchscreen nav, heated/cooled seats, and a Harmon Kardon system not available on the Caddy.
    Aside from the V8 its the same car… drove the same, seats felt the same, and because this is GM, they even shared some bits, like the headrest.
    They are built on the same line with the platform.
    Its a hell of a car for $30k
    It seems that GM thinks that the Caddy name is worth far more in admission, who are they kidding?

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    i really like the dts. comfy, composed, easy to drive, esay to operate the gadgets. at work, the tc is referred to as the “stinkin lincoln”. i feel bad for them, they are always the last chosen.

  • avatar
    skor

    @willbodine,

    It’s true, the Lincolns need less repair and are cheaper to repair when they need it. I know someone in the livery biz, who was given a special offer on the DTS, so he tried a few. After a short time he dumped the Caddies — they were literally falling apart.

    Fact is that you can’t really compare these three, since they are marketed to entirely different buyers.

    The Lincoln is built for the livery trade, the Caddy is a medicare sled, and the 300 is for gangsta wannabes. It’s like trying to compare apples, oranges and malt liquor.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    HEATHROI :
    May 28th, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    you can buy a two or three-year-old BMW 335i and revel in Swabian craftsmanship.

    freedmike (quietly)

    BMWs are built in Bavaria (which is what the B stands for) if you where buying Swabian, you’d be getting a Mercedes or a Porsche.

    Swabian…Bavarian…it’s all rock ‘n roll to me.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    blue adidas :
    May 28th, 2009 at 10:15 pm I also agree with a previous poster that the Hyundai Genesis is not impressive at all. Lots of hype, but certainly no more impressive than any of these.

    I think the Hyundai is impressive mechanically and decent dynamically, but it has no style. Actually, scratch that – it has MANY styles…it looks vaguely like a S-Class Benz from the front, an Infiniti G sedan in profile, and about ten different cars from the back. The chrome character line running along the bottom of the body is straight from the Lexus playbook.

    Hyundai should have given this car a distinctive, bold style to set it apart from the competition.

  • avatar
    wstansfi

    I’ve ridden in the back of livery town cars and livery DTS. I have to agree that when it comes to occupant comfort, the DTS wins hands down.

  • avatar
    WetWilly

    @TriShield

    “Well, none of the Genesis V8 sedans they had on the lot were $44k. Try $48k, more with TTL of course. Oh, also add $300 for tinted windows and desert protection.”

    That’s a reflection of your dealer not the Genesis. I’d just priced out a few Genesis (Geneses?) last week. Nowhere near your prices:

    Base V6 = $30,100
    V6 with Premium Plus (no nav, 14-speaker Lexicon) = $32,100
    V6 with Premium Plus & Tech Package (equipped like the V8 you tested) = $35,700
    V8 with Tech Package = $38,600

    That includes freight & dealer doc fees; T&T additional.

    “The performance for it’s much touted V8 is… underwhelming.”

    Which is why the V6 is considered the bargain – better mileage without that much of a performance hit.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    I’m guessing the Lincoln MKS would have smoked all these throwbacks. I suppose it’s not considered a tank?

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    @romanjetfighter

    Why is a V8 so important? Modern V6s make as much HP and torque as these ancient dinosaurs, and are much more efficient.

    V8′s make a sound and have a balance to them that is unique and desirable. That’s not an American thing, either. Inline 6 maybe, but V6? No way. It’s interesting to note the “best” motor in this three-way was the pushrod V8 no less.

    When Toyota made Lexus, they had a V8 for the LS400 and SC400. Same with Nissan. Ditto for both outfits when they wanted to make a bona-fide big truck. Hyundai knew this, they knew that to be competitive in the luxury market they needed a decent V8. So they got one.

    Honda still hasn’t figured that out, and they are now the overseas afterthought in the American lux-bomber market. Too bad, too. Small displacement V8 with Honda performance breathing and RWD would be like getting a Ferrari powertrain on the cheap, in your sedan no less.

    Come to think of it, the Acura RL does well what the Lincoln does badly and vice-versa. If you could add those cars together and divide by two, you’d have a pretty decent luxury ride.

  • avatar

    I actually like the looks of the DTS, but the short shelf life of the Northstar and relatively dumb 4-speed keep me away. It had a pretty great glass-smooth ride, as experienced when I took a spin in my grandfather’s example (2002-2003ish). The horrible interior of the 300C keeps me away and the Town Car is just so long in the tooth that it becomes relatively useless, except to livery.

    Speaking of which, I had a Town Car once. 1990 with the old 5.0L EFI Windsor. A lot of those cars had over 200k on the clock, but I lucked out and found one with only 70k for dirt cheap. I got acquainted with the American definition of “real luxury”. Yeah, with plastic-molded fake leather stitching on the doors and dash. And fake chrome that flaked off with age. And the leather seats that were more “pleather” than leather. Once the transmission started going south and the fuel economy dipped from 19 to 13mpg, I let it go for a song.

    Honda still hasn’t figured that out, and they are now the overseas afterthought in the American lux-bomber market.

    Honda figured putting their resources into V8 development during an era of $4 gas and increasingly stringent fuel efficiency requirements wasn’t the smart call. I actually fault Honda for taking everything that made the Legend what it was (sporty, athletic and good looking) and completely throwing it out of the window with the RL. Looking at these two cars is like looking at night and day. Infiniti dropped the ball by making their second-gen Q45 more of a LS400, relegating it to second-string status forever on.

  • avatar

    It’s true, the Lincolns need less repair and are cheaper to repair when they need it. I know someone in the livery biz, who was given a special offer on the DTS, so he tried a few. After a short time he dumped the Caddies — they were literally falling apart.

    Any idea how the air suspensions hold up on them? I never had a problem with mine, but I’ve seen countless TCs, Mark VIIs and VIIIs dragging their asses around town. And Continentals bobbing and crabbing around on their bellies. I wonder do the livery service people throw Crown Vic coil springs on those TCs when the air suspensions fail and call it a day?

  • avatar
    ctoan

    The Town Car and the DTS feel like flying: reasonably quiet, floaty, exactly adequate power, and boring until things get really tricky and you’re liable to hit something. If that’s what you’re after, then, well, to each his/her own, but remember that you have to pay pilots a good chunk of change to get them to fly the big planes.

    The 300, of course, doesn’t fit that description, and it’s also the only one in the comparison to be generally considered to be a “modern” car instead of a throwback. Coincidence? I think not.

    Regarding the Town Car, why is it that people always complain about the Genesis (and to some extent Lexuses) being marketed on price, but every defender of the Town Car brings up the economics of owning one?

    Also regarding Town Car economics: those high mileage figures aren’t necessarily on one engine. Livery garages are generally more likely to swap an engine than try to fix it. The durability of the body is only really an issue if you’re driving like a taxi driver. Under normal luxury car usage, rust is the limiting factor, not potholes.

  • avatar

    Regarding the Town Car, why is it that people always complain about the Genesis (and to some extent Lexuses) being marketed on price, but every defender of the Town Car brings up the economics of owning one?

    I guess people did that when the LS400 debuted. After it proved its bonafides, people stopped complaining about it.

    Once the Genesis proves itself, people won’t even dream of comparing it to the likes of the TC ever again.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    A quick search on eBay and I found that one can buy a used Buick Lucerne V8 with less than 30k miles for $17k (and these were Buy It Now prices from franchised dealers so I assume they can be had for even less) and a couple of grand more will find a CPO example. I’d love to be a fly on the wall (with bidder’s paddle) at a wholesale auction these days.

    Even though I normally buy sportier cars I grew up with a father who always had Buicks and Oldsmobiles in the driveway. He still says his favorite car was his ’85 Park Avenue on which he put something like 150k trouble free miles (no joke).

    Besides the fact that my automotive tastes veered off in a different direction long ago, I do have to admit that I like the styling of the Lucerne. I was stopped next to a dark cherry red Lucerne at a light last week and it actually caught my eye… then again, I just turned 40 so perhaps my eyesight is going and I’m starting to turn into my father.

    At these prices, the idea of a used Buick actually starts to look tempting. If one keeps your expectations in check, there’s something to be said about a quiet comfortable car. And to be fair I couldn’t give a darn about manual gear changes in an automatic… most of them just end up in D after the newness wears off anyway. I’ll take the savings over a new BMW and buy a used Porsche for fun drives and sit back and relax when I’m stuck in traffic and just trying to get around town, which represents 90% of the driving I get to do anyways.

    So screw a new Hyundai or tiny cramped BMW 3-series. For $40k give me a used American luxury car for the commute and a clean low-mileage ’89 Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera (a REAL Porsche). I’ll even have enough cash left over for my cheap insurance and some in savings to cover repairs with Hans at the local Porsche shop. If I were to buy a new 911 and drive it for 3 years I’d lose at least $40k in depreciation alone, not to mention all of the speeding tickets I’d inevitably get…

    Great, I’m gettin old, crotchety and cheap.

  • avatar
    commando1

    I’m keeping my ‘76 New Yorker thank you.

    “Now for a REAL yank tank comparo: Go find a 76 Town Car and a 76 Fleetwood to go up against commando1’s New Yorker.”

    I’m game. Who has the the other two?

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    As for all the import guys raving about the Genesis come back in 5 years and lets see how these cars look and are holding up. Most 5 year old Hyundais I see in the snow belt in Upstate, NY have corroded alloy wheels, rusted rear fender wells, warped brakes rotors(after about 10 replaced sets) much higher insurance rates because of far more difficult to obtain parts, bad trannys, ticky engines and abysmal paint quality and they depreciate far worse than any Cadillac or Lincoln. Now I can’t predict the future on how well the Genesis will hold up but expect lots of body issues like door jams galore and worn paint(because Hyundai is too cheap to install a bodyside door protection molding or lower cladding)massive depreciation, hard to obtain parts and tepid sales. It’s ultra bland looking too and has very derivative styling and a much plainer less comfortable interior than the DTS or Lincoln cars! The V8 cars I have test driven feel gutless off the line and barely any quicker than the noiser V6. The Cadillac Deville and DTS cars from 2000 on up seem to hold up pretty well according to some trusted local shops and dealers. The Northstar received a host of changes in 2000 including a switch to needing only regular 87 octane. Newer examples also have fixed some of the leaking issues that earlier examples suffered so it’s now a decent engine and I have seen numerous examples with over 200K that are still running like new and have never had any engine work other than an alternator. Higher mileage 4T80 trannys can sometimes have issues and as with any luxury car foreign or domestic electrical gremlins can surface. There is a science teacher at the school I work at with a 2002 Mercedes C320 that she can’t seem to part with. It has only 80K miles and has more electrical issues than you could shake a stick at. Right now it’s parked because she can’t deal with the problems and she now is driving her husbands Volvo!
    Meanwhile my uncle’s 2001 Deville with 96K has been pretty trouble free other than the normal brakes tires and a rear wheel bearing. Just goes to show that foreign doesn’t always equal better and that each car should be handled case by case and year by year as improvements and changes are made throughout the cycle.
    I agree 100% with the rankings of these 3 cars. The DTS is the most comfortable of the bunch and has honest to goodness space which is something many of the new foreign cars lack with there low down squinty window shapes and tiny tucked in trunks.

  • avatar
    skor

    @John Williams,

    It’s my understanding that the air suspensions on TC’s all die sooner or later — usually sooner. The livery owners replace the air bags with springs. Easy and cheap to do. Have a look.

    http://www.strutmasters.com/lincoln-town-car-suspension-s/37.htm

  • avatar
    twotone

    2006 Mercedes S500 with around 45k miles are going for about $25k. I’ll take one of these over any Yank Tank any day and put the remaining $$ in the bank for maintenance. Used S500, 750Li or A8L are world’s away from anything made in the US.

    Twotone

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    “Used S500, 750Li or A8L are world’s away from anything made in the US”
    Yes. World’s away in vast cost of repair!

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    +1 what Commando1 said, except in my case I’ll be keeping my 1966 Chryslers.

    I don’t care how many cool toys it has, fullsize car + FWD = fail. Caddy lost the plot and still hasn’t found it again.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Why does does GM continue with the DTS and STS?

    The STS is actually a very nice car that needs only a slightly-nicer interior. For some reason, GM sees fit to upstage the STS with the CTS. GM could also benefit from not sending out the White-pants-and-big-sunglasses version to auto scribes; it gets it’s ass handed to it by the Lexus GS, let alone the 5-Series. The sport-suspension equipped STS (and especially the V) are quite good drives.

    Fundamentally, it’s excellent car that GM can’t seem to market. My guess is that it’s expensive and they don’t want to waste precious margin on it.

    The DTS is a waste of space, produced to keep factories humming and sold only because the margin on it, by comparison, must be astronomical (you know, when it sells).

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Also regarding Town Car economics: those high mileage figures aren’t necessarily on one engine.

    No kidding. Even if they are on one engine, there’s the whole rest of the car to consider. The Panthers are Ford’s cheapest car**, in the “how much blood can we squeeze from the stone” sense of the word. The components that last a long time are those that were engineered to relative stability decades ago.

    The new stuff breaks. The Panther’s redeeming feature is that they’re cheap and easy for fleet/livery people to repair. Sure, they go a long way under horrible conditions and are easy to repair if you maintain a bunch of parts cars.

    Most people don’t.

    For a normal person who doesn’t wrench (and doesn’t hop curbs or perform PITs or traverse downtown New York every hour of every day) the MKZ*** is argurably a better car. I spent time in both, and the MKZ has more supportive seats in all four positions, a better powertrain, more features and a ride that isn’t nautical.

    The Town Car has a nice back seat for entertaining, ah, company and rides better over terrible pavement. And it’s cheap to fix if you’re a share-tree mechanic.

    ** I’m sure Ranger and E-Series are cheaper, but they’re not cars

    *** Yes, the Fusion clone; the Taurus-clone MKS destroys the Town Car in “normal buyer” terms, the MKZ is only marginally better.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I don’t care how many cool toys it has, fullsize car + FWD = fail. Caddy lost the plot and still hasn’t found it again.

    Not necessarily, and only if you intend the car to have sporting intentions. If you don’t, the drivetrain allows for some impressive amounts of room, and the sheer mass over the front tires (and the space for decent suspension geometry) mitigate worst of torque steer.

    The DTS’ problem is that it’s really not very good, not which wheels pull or push the car. Trimmed and featured to be competitive with a Lexus LS it might be taken more seriously, especially if GM were to take a “Fuck it, let’s build the most awesome luxo-boat we can build” tack in the design. I think there’s a market for that kind of car, even if it’s front-drive, and it’s GM’s (and Ford’s, and Chrysler’s) unwillingness to build it that’s the problem.

    The problem is that GM builds the DTS to a hamstrung, penny-pinched, badly compromised standard. Which is the same problem that the Town Car and 300C have, and is pretty much the epitome of why the D3 are where they are.

    Which is rather the point of this comparison, I think.

  • avatar
    akear

    Since GM ditched the Ultra V8 last year they are done in this segment. They will have bow to the mightly Genesis. Sad, GM was once known for producing world class v8 engines.

    GM flops again……..

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    I agree that the MSRP of the DTS can get insane, and am very critical of the big 2.3, but let me tell you, if you think any Lexus or Mercedes is any more quiet, plush or offers a better ride – if you value comfort above all else – than the Caddy above, you are either delusional or just so biased that you lack the capacity to offer an objective assessment.

    The big MB sleds may offer better handling, but has anyone here really looked at the material quality inside a 2003-2008 S500? Hollow plastic door locks, not exactly the most premium leather, and the electrical gremlins to boot?

    Has anyone here test driven one the Lexus G cars, that have annoyingly busy (bordering on harsh) rides, or the LS, which has a very plush ride and is extremely quiet, but offers numb steering with zero road feel, and costs north of 80k in full regalia?

    A Caddy DTS offers a very quiet, extremely plush ride, and the interior material quality isn’t nearly as bad as this review states.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Last Sepetember, I drove a new LS460 at a Lexus event. Stickering at 80K, it was nice in a luxobarge kind of way. But, just for a moment, let’s compare it to my ’06 STS with the luxury performance package and the Northstar. Factor out the depreciation because I bought it with 35K for $23K out the door with a CPO warranty (yeah, I know, but there’s risk in everything). Is the new Lexus more than three times the car? Not a way in the world. The leather is nicer and there are one or two more features and the Mark Levinson stereo is better than the Bose. Interior fit and finish is better, but not that nuch better.

    The driving experience is where the Lexus comes up short. The STS is much more of a driver’s car (at least as mine is equipped). It’s a real pleasure driving it on a twisting country road. The Northstar has plenty of power and in sport mode the transmission does a good job of keeping the correct gear. The ride is just right, not too firm yet the car never feels uncomposed.

    As I’ve said before, I’m grateful to everyone who discounts the value of the Cadillac and drives down resale value. The result is a screaming bargain of a car for those of us who are looking for the value proposition.

  • avatar

    Glad to see you pick the Caddy. I love my ’99 DTS, especially after driving 4 banger minivans for years. The Northstar has power enough to get the car way above the speed limit in no time at all, and a decent sounding exhaust note while doing so. Passing on two lane roads is a pleasure. And it gets 27 mpg highway on regular gas. Lot’s of “reviewers” bitch about only four speeds in the tranny, but who cares. The 4.6 liter Northstar has a broad rev range and pulls strongly from 2000 RPM right up to 5000 RPM. You only need tricky 6 or 7 speeds for cranky little corn poppers that only develop power over a very narrow rev range.
    With good shocks the ride is very good on back roads and freeways. With worn shocks the back road ride sucks. Handling is very good compared to pickup trucks, vans, minivans, SUV’s and econoboxes. It’s better than a 3.2 Jaguar sedan I once had. It’s fun to thrash around the twisty back roads up here in NH.
    Don’t knock the front wheel drive. In snow country, it’s a good thing. It pulled me up three mile hill in a snow storm before the plow came by.
    It’s roomy. You can put adults in the back seat without cries of pain. You can get all the stuff inside the car to drive a kid to college. It takes a lot of the curse out of long trips and commuting to work on Rt 128.
    It’s rugged. Mine went to 110K miles before needing a few pricey suspension bits replaced. All the gadgets still work. Northstar will use a quart of oils every couple of thousand miles, but again, who really cares. Nothing else has broken and it’s up to 120K miles.
    Buy it used and save a bundle. I got mine, a real creampuff, for only $9K. In fact the biggest reason not to buy new is the resale value sucks. So buy it used. The poor resale value points to a lack of pizazz for the Caddy name. Might be caused by GM putting the Caddy nameplate on pickup trucks, SUV’s, Euro sport sedans, X body cars, and gawd only knows what else. Used to be Caddy meant a big luxury sedan. Nowadays Caddy could mean nearly anything. I expect a Caddy econobox any day now.

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    I don’t care how many cool toys it has, fullsize car + FWD = fail. Caddy lost the plot and still hasn’t found it again.

    psarhjinian :Not necessarily, and only if you intend the car to have sporting intentions. If you don’t, the drivetrain allows for some impressive amounts of room, and the sheer mass over the front tires (and the space for decent suspension geometry) mitigate worst of torque steer.

    So who has Cadillac designed this car for? Old wealthy people that still think the Cadillac name has cachet. The second owner will be someone looking for good value, which the steep depreciation will assure. Just like Caddys of yore. How does this car help Cadillac fix its brand image?

    I’ve never driven any of these 3 cars, but in concept I like the 300C best: fullsize, V8, RWD. I know this has been debated endlessly, but if you’re talking fullsize luxury, those are the basic criteria.

    The 300 seems to have attracted a younger crowd too. That’s something which this Caddy certainly never will, except as second owners.

  • avatar
    blindfaith

    I own a 1994 Caddy Concourse, pearl white with a white leather interior, in 1994 msrp $45,000. People still look at the car and like it.

    Needless to say all the options. It has 225,000 miles on the north star engine 4.6. I put an extra court of full synthetic oil in at every oil change does not hurt the engine and engine never runs low of oil between oil changes.

    Replaced Brakes, tires, sparkplugs sparkplug wires, filters are all I put in it. The sun roof still works and does not leak. Replaced the battery Original exhaust.

    It has not rusted. I get 18/20 in the city 28/30 on the highway. Still looks real pretty

    It is Big. 4 adults can sleep in it on long trips. My friends with the German and Japanese cars don’t want to talk about their repairs. Expensive even the exhausts

    How these people get their ideas American cars donot last is beyond me.

  • avatar
    amripley

    If you really want a huge, powerful, luxo-barge, forget the Chrysler, Cadillac, Lincoln (and the Hyundai Genesis) and buy a used Volkswagen Phaeton. It’s a terribly underrated car, is based on the Bentley Continental and comes not just with a V8, but instead with a W12. A 2004 Phaeton can be had for about $25,000. Mind, that’s 5 years old. But, if you’re willing to buy used, you can get a ridiculously powerful, self-assured car with more options than any Cadillac owner could ever dream of having.


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