The Truth About Cars » STS The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:00:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » STS Vellum Venom Vignette: The Normalization of Art and Science? Wed, 19 Sep 2012 10:21:24 +0000

Kyree writes:

Mister Mehta,

I should start by saying that I thoroughly enjoy the pure and unadulterated experience of TTAC. I also enjoy poking fun at you because you are a Mark VIII diehard, while I am a huge fan of the Gen-8 Riviera, which you have described as having an exterior full of “unrefined lumps and curves.” I suppose they’re both great personal luxury coupes–the Riv’s just a better one. (Tongue out!)

Just as well, I should say that I am currently in school to be a mechanical engineer (with a concentration in the automotive field), but the parts I wish to create are the visual ones that the customer would see (body, dashboards, steering wheel hubs, et cetera. As such I derive particular enjoyment from your Vellum Venom segment, as peoples’ eyes glaze over when I describe elements like DLOs and A-pillars.

The first is the Cadillac ATS. It is, in a departure from Cadillac trends, a world-class car with world-class styling. The goofy full-length grilles and drastic proportions were eschewed for something that is demure and agreeable. I couldn’t believe the GM luxury division would be able to manage such a feat, but it seems that they have. I’ll let you be the final judge on that, though.

The other vehicle is the Infiniti JX. It is the first production car to fully feature the brand’s new “windswept” design cues, mainly on the front fascia and the controversial D-pillars. Though it does hide its stretched-Murano/’13 Pathfinder origins, I don’t know what to make of it.

Hopefully, you’ll take these into consideration, and thank you for many moments of literary and aesthetic enjoyment.

Sajeev answers:

I’ll answer/debate your comments in order of importance, lowest to highest.

  1. Son, a Gen-VIII Riv fan taking shots at the Mark VIII is like a dandelion hatin’ on a Redwood.  I’d be terrified if you were an original Lexus SC fanatic, however. (Tongue Out!)
  2. Think for yourself, but you can see what I make of the Infiniti JX right here. It should be “windswept” to the Over-Designed CUV Detention Hall: the same one where the Pontiac Aztek parks itself in shame…for different reasons, obviously.
  3. I was once in school to be a mechanical engineer too!  I wanted to work with designers and help them make parts. Then, on a fateful evening in 1996, FoMoCo had an open house for engineering students in a fancy hall at UT Austin. Not to wallow in the past, but Ford engineers in the business said that “our” dream could never happen.  I took the business card of Dan: someone at Ford who knew what they expected from Automotive/Industrial Design students. I then wandered away from campus to the luxurious confines of my 1983 Continental Valentino in the student lot. I marinated over what I just heard. And about 1.5 years later, I was a student at the Center (now College) for Creative Studies doing the damn thing for real. My point?  Don’t hold your breath for working on the stylish bits, such “cross functional” opportunities are rare for engineers. 
  4. I agree about the ATS:  it’s the high point of Cadillac’s Art and Science design.  The original CTS was horrifying and everything else was either milquetoast (STS, DTS) or only mildly interesting (XLR, current CTS, Escalade). The only problem?  Proportioning: the size of one item relative to the rest.  The ATS has fascias with a nice balance between grille/headlight/bumper/hood/etc, but the package is too Acura TSX-like.  From their current, Escalade-centric sales stats in Germany to the disconnected-from-reality BLS, we all know what makes/breaks a Cadillac…especially for the Europeans.  I even heard (off the record from a fellow auto-journo?) that GEN-I CTS’s for sale in the Czech Republic generally retail for the same price as a comparable Ford Mondeo. Which equals Cadillac Design FAIL.


What does a designer consider when making a REAL Caddy aimed at European-minded minds?

The space between the front axle and the firewall (dash-to-axle ratio) needs to be long, which the ATS nails.  But you need the right amount of front/rear overhang to sell a Cadillac. You need a hood that oversells that (standard, cough) V8 engine. You need a trunk that puts a BMW’s Bangle Butt to shame, reminding people why America is NUMBER ONE, SON. And if that extra overhang adds 1-2 seconds to the ATS’ lap times on the ring?  Go back to my “Cadillacs don’t sell well in Europe” notion above. Nobody frickin’ cares about that!!!

You need something like…wait for it…a proper European Touring Sedan from Cadillac. Why have “TS” anything, when you want to pay for what those letters stand for?



Don’t you dare call it a DTS.  Aside from the obvious superiority of its naming convention, the DeVille Touring Sedan got it right.  It looks like a Caddy, but it has the cleaner design elements of a European car.  Perfect? Far from it. It suffers from the same half-assed upgrades as most Euro-centric GM products of the time. Remember the Oldsmobile International Series?

Plus, this is wrong-wheel drive in a class of RWD excellence.  Imagine something like the DeVille Touring Sedan on an ATS platform! The proportions, NOT the dated styling.



Proportioning and overhang: talk about overselling that Standard V8 Engine! I’d work that body over in rear-wheel drive Art/Science fashion, then respectfully turn heads at the ‘ring any day. Proportioning is what makes a modern day Cadillac.

More to come, when I spot an ATS in the wild.

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Piston Slap: A Way Out of The Cadillac Mafia? Thu, 16 Jun 2011 18:53:26 +0000

Bryan writes:

I have a new baby, and a prized Miata, and want to keep both. Therefore I am considering selling my daily driver, a 2002 Cadillac STS with 82K miles. In order to reduce overall monthly costs, I need something with extremely high MPG. Therefore I am considering the Honda Fit.

I like small cars. I love the Miata. However, the STS is simply the nicest car I have ever driven. It’s like being friends with a mobster. Life with the “Soprano STS” is easy: soporific comfort, isolation, lots of leather, and nonchalant delivery of raw power if/when I need it. Did I mention this is the same model Silvio drove to whack Adriana in the NJ Pine Barrens? Every time I get nervous about the Northstar head gasket, the car pinches my cheeks and reassures me “ya worry too much!!!”

Secretly, while out of earshot from the car, I’ve made plans to get out. By driving a $11k Honda Fit, I can save $70/month when payments, maintenance, and $3.75 gas is factored in. When payments are over, I’d save $160/month.

But is it worth it? Can I have more fun/frugality in the Fit than luxury in the Caddy? One STS fact: each front seat has 10 individual air bladders that adjust every 20 seconds to the pressure points of the driver. It is the Most. Comfortable. Car. Seriously, driving the Caddy is like getting away with murder while intoxicated. Traffic melts away. Other drivers defer. Everything rushes by in silent fast motion. Did I mention it’s the last GM car to use soft leather? Or that it was the most expensive American sedan when new? As in Goodfellas, “it was a glorious time”.

So why the Honda? Thou shalt not keep a high-mileage Cadillac.  Although head gasket failures were less common in 2002, Northstars still reliably blew their top that year. I already have a mysterious coolant leak. I’m starting to burn oil, though not too much yet. And the driver’s heated seat is broken. An insidious wheel-bearing noise is coming from the front, but it’s been unchanged for a year and that’s somehow even scarier. And finally, I get 17 MPG mixed.

Is it time for the Honda Fit Protection Program?


  • Cadillac payments: $100/mo, 0% interest, 19 payments remaining
  • Honda payments: $174/mo, 3% interest, 36 payments
  • Gas at $3.75
  • Caddy maint: at $1000/year
  • Honda maint: at $500/year

Monthly cost graph to 48 months:

Cumulative cost graph to 48 months:

Sajeev Answers:

Dump the Caddy immediately. Coolant leaks aren’t gonna end well on a Northstar, even a 2002 model. IIRC, that was the year for improved head gasket sealing, but that’s not to say that earlier 2002s slipped by without the upgrade. I am not a Northstar guru, hence my recommendation to run away. But conversely, your love of Cadillac and creative flair for writing mean you simply must own an LT-1 powered Fleetwood: if you think the STS is a nice car, you should drive one. Especially a Fleetwood with Impala SS suspension bits.

Well maybe an older Cadillac isn’t a bright move, considering your responsibilities as a father and possible future financial obligations…those graphs (with assumptions I consider mostly bunk) to boot! So let’s wrap it up and bring it home.

The STS goes away, but I am concerned that you’re making monthly payments on a car that old. Sure it’s at 0% interest, but you won’t be so luck with your next ride. That’s one reason why the low-value Honda Fit isn’t winning me over. They aren’t especially thrifty, and not just from a fuel economy standpoint. But clock the mileage between it and the Civic anyway. Why do you need a sporty Fit when you have a Miata? Save yourself some green and get a less desirable, more affordable car with more family appeal: a comprable Civic, Focus, Corolla, Sentra, Elantra, etc for thousands less. The list of mainstream value-mongers far outweighs the benefits of a Fit.

Save your cash for the Miata and your future LT-1 Fleetwood. This is your only hope to keep the Cadillac Mafia from givin’ you cement shoes.

Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Cadillac XTS: The Phantom Flagship Tue, 12 Jan 2010 15:46:37 +0000 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

The Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept, which debuts today at the NAIAS, is a look at the new Cadillac flagship which goes into production in early 2012. The XTS’s brief is to replace the moribund DTS and STS sedans, a task that Cadillac desperately needs done properly if it wants to be taken seriously as a luxury competitor. So why is the XTS concept little more than a glorified Buick LaCrosse?

2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum ConceptThe XTS has the exact same 111.7 inch wheelbase as its LaCrosse cousin, bringing it in several inches shorter than the “entry” Cadillac, the CTS. This is no surprise, considering the XTS will be built on an AWD version of the same Epsilon II platform that underpins the LaCrosse, Regal and Saab 9-5. We had heard that a stretched “Super Epsilon” platform was being developed by Holden, but based the dimensions of the XTS, it seems clear that this is a plain-Jane midsized GM sedan under the skin.

To make up for the pedestrian underpinnings, Cadillac designers stretched the XTS out to 203.5 inches. The fact that much of the extra length is in the rear overhang might be Caddy’s attempt at fixing the EpsiII’s legendary trunk shortcomings. One thing is for certain: a LaCrosse with more weight and longer overhangs isn’t going to exactly embody the dynamic-forward, BMW-competing brand values Cadillac is supposed to be cultivating. And at 74.8 inches, it offers only 1.7 inches of width advantage over the LaCrosse, so it’s not exactly a stately cruiser either.

According to Cadillac’s release:

The XTS Platinum Concept design artfully conveys its focus on functionality through technology. It is the antithesis of the conventional three-box sedan, suggesting the active evolution of Cadillac’s design language.

Which means that it looks like a larger version of the Cadillac Converj, no bad thing in and of itself. But if you cover up the fascias, it’s harder than ever to shake the feeling that this is just another midsized car. But, says Cadillac, the XTS was an “inside-out” design. With an interior inspired by the natural beauty of an orchid, Caddy is banking on the XTS’s in-car comfort and “Platinum”-level luxury, including touch-screen navigation, laser-etched suede seats, other “hand cut-and-sewn” materials and organic light emitting diode displays. 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

The concept has a theoretical plug-in hybridization of Cadillac’s famous 3.6 liter engine, making 350 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. What, you were expecting a V8 in Cadillac’s flagship? Magnetic Ride Control is another technological add-on that might make the XTS somewhat distinctive from its Buck brother.

Still, the contrast between the XTS concept and the production version of the Lexus LS or even the Hyundai Equus is stark. GM is clearly spending its Cadillac development money on the ATS BMW 3 Series competitor, rather than trying to keep up with the high end of the luxury flagship market which already has strong contenders on the value (Equus), technology (LS) and snobbery (Merc S-Class) fronts. But then, the 3 Series segment isn’t exactly short on competition either. And without a flagship that screams Cadillac brand values, it’s hard to see where the brand has to go. 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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