1999 Cadillac DeVille

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1999 Cadillac DeVille
Available in 3 styles:  Deville 4dr Sedan Base shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

17 city / 26 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 2
1999 Cadillac DeVille 4.1 14
$ 306-6,950
April 18, 1999

The Cadillac DeVille Concours is the victim of "but." It's one of the fastest, best-handling luxury sedans available, but it looks big and cumbersome. It's one of the best-selling luxury cars in the United States, but most of its buyers are elderly, in their sixties or early seventies. The actuarial math doesn't work in their favor, at least not in terms of buying a few more cars before the final ride.

The DeVille Concours is also one of the best-made cars anywhere. A look at its most recent recall history indicates as much. In the past five years, the car has been called back once, to replace a faulty latch that could allow the hood to fly up in traffic.

During the same period, other manufacturers--including BMW, Bentley and Rolls-Royce--had their share of problems as well. For example, there was chronic engine overheating in some 1988-1995 BMW models, and the brake-fluid hoses in some 1994-1998 Bentley/Rolls-Royce cars could leak and compromise braking effectiveness. But try making that argument to someone who had trouble with Cadillacs in the 1970s and 1980s, and who now believes that, well, it's only natural that Cadillac would turn out a car with a bum hood latch.

It's not fair, but people who spend big bucks on luxmobiles aren't interested in that kind of equity. They go with their guts and the best advertising campaign, and Cadillac loses on both counts.

I conducted an admittedly unscientific survey. I took the new DeVille Concours to several gatherings of 30-to-50-year-olds. These were mostly professional people with annual household incomes exceeding $100,000.

The test groups generally gave the car's curvy, flowing interior high marks. "It's so unlike Cadillac" and "It looks more like a Lexus" were typical of their remarks. But, invariably, they deep-sixed the DeVille Concours, especially its longish exterior design, for being "too old" or "too big."

My wife, Mary Anne, was a leader in this condemnation. "It's my mother's car," said my spouse, a woman of, ahem, some maturity.

We then discussed television advertising campaigns. Interview subjects, based on broadcast ads, had very definite ideas about BMW--fast, sporty, high-quality, the "ultimate driving machine." They also zeroed in on Lexus--sophisticated luxury, technologically advanced, expertly crafted, a worthy challenger to Mercedes-Benz.

But they expressed difficulty remembering the Cadillac spots, though some of those polled knew something about the car's superb, 32-valve Northstar V-8 engine and its related four-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission.

I don't know what Cadillac can do to overcome those obstacles in consumer perception. Some of those interviewed suggested shrinking and rounding the car's pointy rear end, a la Ford Motor Co.'s new Lincoln Town Car. Others suggested ditching names such as "DeVille" and "Concours" and "DeVille d'Elegance," which they variously described as "dated" or "phony French."

In most of its f unctional and many of its aesthetic particulars, the 1999 Cadillac DeVille Concours is a very fine car. It's too bad that it's gotten such a bad rap among buyers who could secure its future.

1999 Cadillac DeVille Concours

Complaints: Side-view mirrors and power driver's seat. The side-view mirrors are too narrow, too tiny for a car this large. Cadillac should consider larger, rounder mirrors to replace the angular pipsqueak things now stuck on the right and left sides of the car. Cadillac also should simplify the power driver's seat. I get tired of the darned things automatically adjusting themselves--usually the wrong way for my figure--every time I enter and exit the car.

Praise: Overall excellent build quality. Solid. One of the best engines available in any car, foreign or domestic. This baby might be big, but it surely can run!

Head-turning quotient: Snaps necks slowly, which is a good thing inasmuch as most of its admirers have long since ab andoned things don e quickly.

Drivetrain: Northstar engine is superior to most V-8s on the market--powerful, smooth and remarkably efficient. It's a 4.6-liter, double-overhead-cam -V8 with four valves per cylinder, designed to produce 300 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Mated to four-speed automatic transmission.

Layout: Front engine, front-wheel drive.

Capacities: Seats five people. Carries 20 cubic feet of luggage. Holds 20 gallons of recommended premium unleaded gasoline.

Ride, acceleration, handling and braking: All aces. One of the best long-distance rides anywhere. Zero to 60 miles per hour in 7 seconds. Very good braking. Qualifier is needed because some drivers reported slight brake fade in test car. Brakes include power four-wheel discs with antilock backup. Handling augmented by Cadillac StabiliTrak and other yaw-control and traction-control devices.

Mileage: Nearly 26 miles per gallon in mostly highway driving. I expected far less. Estimated cruising range of 504 miles on usable volume of fuel.

Safety: Almost every crash-safety device available, including side air bags up front.

Price: Base price is $43,230. Dealers invoice on base model is $39,710. Price as tested is $47,027, including $3,127 in options and a $670 destination charge.

Purse-strings note: An excellent car. But there's nothing about this one to make a Lexus owner want to fall.

    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

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