Cadillac has big plans for the restyled DTS

August 12, 2005|by MALCOLM GUNN/Wheelbase Communications

The DeVille name is out and the DTS is in as Cadillac's luxury king, but, unlike the company's other new-age, cutting-edge vehicles, this is one big sedan that doesn't rock the engineering boat.

Over the past few years, nearly every vehicle in Cadillac's lineup has been newly invented, completely changed or significantly altered. In fact a few years ago, Cadillac never had an XLR roadster, an SRX sport-utility vehicle or an EXT pickup truck.

For 2006, however, the race to be new and different has been dialed back to a much more stately pace with the arrival of the flagship DTS.

OK, so the car isn't exactly a full-blown makeover, but the changes align Cadillac's premium model, at least in name, with the entry-luxury CTS and sporty STS sedans.


Whereas those two models broke new styling ground for Cadillac and marked the return to rear-wheel drive (all-wheel drive as an option in some cases), the DTS, rightly or wrongly, remains a front-driver with recognizable sheet metal. For that reason, this DTS-that-looks-a-lot-like-a-DeVille is an obvious anomaly in Cadillac's lineup.

That being said, fans of the DeVille will likely be pleased that the DTS merely nudges the design envelope of their favorite ride. The front- and rear-end treatment appears crisper and tauter and the egg-crate grille evokes a strong sense of Cadillac's heritage. Taken together, the DTS is more pleasing to the eyeballs, which is a good thing when your trying to increase market share among more than a dozen or so luxury-car competitors.

All is well inside the DTS where extra-cost real wood trim provides a warming contrast against a backdrop of leather-covered seats and metal-rimmed gauges and dials set into a restyled instrument panel.

There's no shortage of people pampering content such as heated and cooled front seats (either buckets or a three-person split bench), heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, tri-zone climate control (driver, passenger and back-seat area), rain-sensing wipers, sonar-based front and rear parking assist, navigation system, adaptive cruise control (that maintains a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you) and automatic high-beam headlamps.

Perhaps the most significant departure from last year's DeVille takes place well out of sight. The DTS's chassis features a new engine cradle designed to produce an even smoother and quieter drive. Added technological refinement is provided by standard traction and stability control along with GM's magnetic ride control that constantly adjusts the car's suspension according to road conditions.

Under the hood, the Northstar-brand 4.6-liter V-8 returns with 275 horsepower in base trim, while a 290-horsepower version is on the option sheet. These output figures are nearly identical to those posted by the 2005 DeVille. The only available transmission is a four-speed automatic.

Cadillac continues to place great emphasis on safety and the DTS continues that trend with front-impact, side-impact and side-curtain air bags. For the front passenger, one of two air bags will deploy depending upon the severity of the impact, seating position and whether the seat belt is in use.

Cadillac has big plans for exporting the DTS beyond the traditional North American market (which coincides with GM's international push), and, later this year, the car will begin showing up as far away as Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Although the DTS is not nearly as radical a departure from tradition as Cadillac's other models, it should be well received, certainly by traditional buyers, for its handsome appearance, spry acceleration, high-tech ingredients and enticing level of comfort.

Copyright 2005, Wheelbase Communications

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