1997 Cadillac DeVille

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1997 Cadillac DeVille
Available in 3 styles:  DeVille 4dr Sedan shown
Asking Price Range
$1,304–$6,340
Estimated MPG

17.4 city / 25.9 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 1 of 5

By 

The Morning Call and Mcall.com

By now you've seen the commercials for Cadillac's new Catera, a car being advertised as a different sort of Cadillac. It's small, like the Cimarron.

Well, this review isn't about that one. It's about your daddy's Caddy, the DeVille Concours.

This is a real Cadillac, tipping the scales at slightly more than 4,000 pounds, a tad more than 209 inches long and reveling in the big-barge glory that is Cadillac. All the cues are there, from the subtle deck-lid ridges that echo the glories of Cadillac's fins, the big chrome-y, egg-crate grille up front.

This car is as big and confident as they come.

Although not as large as the leviathans of the past, this one still would be considered large by most standards. Large and A-mer-i-can.

Then you climb inside. This is one American with an identity crisis. The interior is beautiful, but it's clearly Lexus-derived.

Someone call in a shrink, quick!

It doesn't mean this is not a good car. Quite the contrary, this is an excellent car. Snicker if you will, but this DeVille is quick, confident and well-built. And it's seen some changes for 1997.

Styling is refined. The hood is resculpted, the restyled grille and headlamps are better integrated into a new front end. Out back, the rear wheels are no longer covered, and the tires are pulled out further toward the edge of the body for a more modern look.

There are actually three series of DeVilles. There's the base DeVille, meant mostly as a value leader and for those who desire a bench seat. If you need your DeVille encrusted with gold (and probably would love to see shag carpet come back into style) plop out the extra dough for a DeVille d'Elegance.

But there's really only one DeVille to consider: the Concours.

Start under the hood. Your dad always liked a car with lots of guts. He'd love Cadillac's Northstar engine. The Concours gets the most powerful version of this double-overhead-cam 4.6-liter V8. With300 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque, this is one strong power plant. With a factory quoted 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds, its strength is quite sufficient. (So is its gas mileage of 15 mpg on premium unleaded only). But there's more to the engine than just brute force. It delivers the juice with a silky, strong feel that's world class.

Even Mercedes-Benz admits this is one of the most sophisticated engines in the world. In the event of coolant loss, there's a limp-home mode, in which the engine runs on four cylinders at speeds of up to 50 mph for about 50 miles without damaging the engine. This is accomplished because the engine runs alternatively on four of its eight cylinders. The other four deliver air, not fuel, to the engine, helping to keep it cool. In addition, the tune-up interval is 100,000 miles.

This engine is integrated into Cadillac's Integrated Chassis Control System. The system integrates the car's engine, anti-lock brakes, traction control, ste ering and suspension systems. Under all conditions, the car reads the road surface and yaw rate, then compares that to the driver's input of steering, acceleration or braking. It will then apply the brakes or take other measures to ensure vehicle stability.

The result of all this Star Wars-like wizardry is a car quite adept at delivering its occupants swiftly. While it's too big to carve corners with a BMW, it is a lot more fun than the Caddys of yore. This is so even though, despite all the gimmickry, the suspension delivers some mild float at times. Even with the added athleticism, it still favors ride quality.

But this is the Cadillac tradition. It doesn't bound and dip like a parade float. And despite being a front-drive car, torque steer on hard take-offs is well-controlled.

Meanwhile, the interior sees revision, with a new dash and console that mimic those of the Eldorado and Seville, which mimic the Lexus. That means front buckets and a console. The eig t-way power leather seats were comfy and rich. The high-gloss wood accents the interior in current luxo-car fashion. This is an ideal cocoon in which to watch the miles pass. But it will only hold five people. (Your dad might object -- he sometimes needs to transport six people.) The ergonomics are excellent, with controls that are easy to understand and operate.

The car comes with all the obligatory luxury conveniences that cars like this come with. One really worth noting is the OnStar system. Basically, this a voice-activated cellular phone hooked to a satellite navigation system. Hit a toggle paddle at the side of the steering wheel and tell the phone the number you wish to dial. You also can call the OnStar center, which can pinpoint your location within a few hundred feet. If you're lost, center personnel can give you directions. If you need to find a decent restaurant in a strange city, they can oblige. They can even unlock your car if you accidentally lock your keys in it. This didn't fail to impress even the most jaded journalist on the staff. Neat stuff.

At an as-tested price of $45,372, there was little to fault. This car not only brims with technology, it also keeps its sense of tradition intact, something that can't be said of the new small Cadillac, the Catera.

But reinventing any Caddy in the image of Lexus makes the Caddy a second-rate Lexus rather than a first-rate Cadillac. The technological innovation of this car is more impressive than its artistic mimicking. But it deserves a look from anyone looking in this price range -- you or your father.

1997 Cadillac DeVille Concours Base price: $41,995 As tested: $45,372 Major options: Heated front seats, chrome wheel covers, audio system upgrade, safety/security package. EPA rating: 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway Test mileage: 15 mpg


    Expert Reviews 1 of 5

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