1989 Cadillac DeVille

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$444–$6,376
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chicagotribune.com
Cadillac owners can throw away the disguises and go out in public againbehind the wheel of a 1989 DeVille 4-door sedan or Fleetwood 2-door coupe.

No need for apologies or making excuses for owning a $30,000 version ofwhat looks like a $20,000 Olds 98.

For the 1989 model year, the sedan DeVille has been restyled andlengthened and once again looks like a Cadillac. Wheelbase is now 113.8 inchesversus 110.8 for 1988. Length is now 205.3 inches versus 196.5 on thedownsized `88 version.

The look is aimed at the perception of being big and heavy, features that Cadillac owners prefer over small and lightweight.

The benefit is greater interior room, especially in the back seat whereyou now can cross your legs, as well as the trunk where all the clubs now fit. Dimensions are the same as the Fleetwood 60 Special, Caddy`s baby limoand the vehicle that served as a test the last two years to determine if bigcould be brought back at Cadillac.

In addition to stretching the body, the sheetmetal has been recarved,including hood, deck lid, fenders, quarter panels, and front and rear bumpers.What the stylists seemed to do was dig out pictures of the pre-shrunkenDeVille and bring back the old look. Long hood, long deck, high roof line.

One problem. While Lincoln-Mercury has taken a step into the future withits aerodynamic styling on the Continental, Cadillac chose to win back owners by taking a step back and resurrecting the old look.

It seems Cadillac is responding to loyalists who complained the automaker shouldn`t have messed with success, rather than wiping the slate clean andstarting fresh like L-M did with Continental. It`s the ``it worked before, whynot again?`` approach.

Cadillac owners also wanted bigger engines. The `89 sedan DeVille ispowered by Cadillac`s 4.5-liter, fuel-injected, 155-h.p. V-8 teamed with 4-speed automatic as standard. The 0-to-60 m.p.h. claim is 9.9 seconds. Inthe car we drove there was no reason to dispute the claim.

There is quickness despite the added length and weight. Hit the pedal and go. The suspension is soft enough to smooth out any ripples in the roadway butnot so sloppy that you wander sideways or float up and down.

The 4.5 doesn`t act like a 525-cubic-inch V-8, but the 4.5 does claim 17m.p.g. city/24 m.p.g. highway.

Interior room is massive. Two people up front can argue about the marketwhile two in the rear debate politics, and they won`t interfere with eachother.

And all four can stow their luggage in the trunk, another beneficiary ofthe extended length. But cargo carrying would be better served if Cadillaclowered the deck lid hinge to remove a minor barrier to stowing or removingpackages.

However, there`s one major DeVille annoyance that`s odd considering thatthe car has been made bigger for 1989. Visibility is blocked by the rear seat headrests and rear package shelf with stowage compartment. The fi eld of viewout the rear window suffers.

We also test drove the new 2-door Fleetwood coupe, which is making areturn after a two-year absence in the Cadillac fold. One noticeable stylingcue is the addition of rear-wheel fender skirts, plus a padded vinylcabriolet, or half-top roof.

The Fleetwood coupe is built on the same platform as the DeVille coupe,which for 1989 retains its 110.8-inch wheelbase but is lengthened to 202.3inches from 196.5 inches in 1988.

It, too, is powered by the 4.5-liter V-8. In both the sedan and coupe,you get the feeling of weight in the wheel, a perception demanded by Cadillac owners who equate pounds with power. However, you don`t feel the weight is aburden in cornering and handling. But Cadillac owners will have to adjust tothe added size and keep the extra length in mind when parking.

Antilock brakes that prevent wheel lockup and loss of control duringpanic braking regardless of road surface are standard on the Fleet woo d, a $925option on the DeVille. Though costly, antilock brakes need only work once topay for themselves, and are a highly recommended item.

Like the DeVille, the Fleetwood could use improved rear visibility. WithFleetwood it`s the third brake light and raised rear seatbacks that spoil the view.

New standard equipment on both DeVille and Fleetwood for 1989 includes an AM stereo/FM stereo, an automatic hi/lo position on the climate control plusan automatic overload shutoff and low-refrigerant warning light, and rear seatlap/shoulder belts.

Also, all Cadillacs except the rear-drive Brougham have an oil lifeindicator that flashes to remind owners when to change the fluid.

Both also offer a host of typical power and convenience features asstandard, from power steering and electronic level control to Michelin all-season steel-belted radials.

New options include driver`s-side air bags that will be added in November or December, ElectriClear windshields that can melt ice 1/10th of an inchthick in less than three minutes, and express driver`s windows that go downwithout pause with one touch of the button.

In terms of value for the dollar, rustproofing is needless since allsheetmetal panels below the roofline are two-sided galvanized steel to protectagainst corrosion. And DeVille/Fleetwood front fenders are made of a nyloncomposite material that won`t rust and is slightly flexible to prevent minordents.

The DeVille sedan starts at $25,435 for 1989, a $2,031 increase from1988. The Fleetwood coupe starts at $29,825. The DeVille coupe starts at$24,960, up $1,911 from 1988, while the Fleetwood sedan starts at $30,300, up $2,276 from `88.




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