Cadillac's biggest car has a new design, a new lineup and an exclusive safety feature called Night Vision for 2000.
The new lineup consists of the base DeVille, the DHS and DTS. The latter two have an identical base price of $44,700, but the DHS is the full-house luxury model and the DTS (DeVille Touring Sedan) is the sporty, high-tech model.
With the new DeVille, particularly the DTS model, Cadillac is renewing efforts to attract Baby Boomers, a group that has largely avoided domestic luxury brands in favor of European and Japanese marques.
Overall length shrinks nearly 3 inches to 207 with this year's new styling, which Cadillac describes as "more contemporary" and designed to make the car look smaller to appeal to younger buyers. In other moves aimed at Boomers, there is less chrome exterior trim, and whitewall tires will not be available from Cadillac (though dealers are expected to offer them as accessories). Wheelbase on the front-drive DeVille grows from 113.8 inches to 115.4.
Despite this year's shorter body, the DeVille still offers room front and rear for taller passengers. The rear seat has ample legroom even when the front seats are moved all the way back. The trunk lid swings up 90 degrees, and a low liftover makes it easier to load the 19-cubic-foot trunk, which has a wide, flat floor that holds a foursome's golf bags.
A split front bench seat is standard on the base DeVille and DHS, and the DTS comes only with front buckets and a floor-mounted shift lever. Massive rear roof pillars and a narrow rear window limit the driver's view for parking and lane changes.
Under the Hood
All models use Cadillac's 4.6-liter V-8 engine, which is rated at 275 horsepower in the base DeVille and DHS and 300 in the DTS. Both versions can now run on regular gas, though Cadillac still recommends premium for best performance and efficiency. EPA highway fuel economy climbs from 26 to 28 mpg, and with an 18.5-gallon gas tank, the DeVille potentially has a highway range of more than 500 miles. The city rating is unchanged at 17 mpg.
Night Vision, a $1,995 option for the DTS and DHS models, is based on infrared, heat-sensing technology developed for the military. Iit uses a camera mounted in the center of the grille to "see" three to five times further than the headlamps reach. Night Vision detects other moving vehicles, humans and animals long before the naked eye can see them and alerts the driver through a black-and-white, head-up display projected in front of the windshield.
Available only for the 2000 DeVille, the Night Vision safety option allows drivers to see three to five times beyond the reach of the headlamps.
Due to limited production of the device, Cadillac will have Night Vision to itself for two years. After that, other General Motors divisions and possibly other car companies will offer it.
An ultrasonic rear parking assist also is available. When the car is in reverse, four sensors in the rear bumper detect objects that are less than 5 feet away, illuminating warning lights and sounding a chime.
The standard front airbag on the passenger side is designed to protect both the right front and middle front passengers. Side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard, and side airbags for the rear seat are optional.
Cadillac is trying to serve two audiences with the new DeVille: its traditional older buyers and younger Baby Boomers, a strategy that gives this car a dual personality instead of sharp focus. The DTS offers capable handling and impressive acceleration, and the base model and DHS don't have the boat-like feel of Cadillacs of old. Night Vision is one of the most intriguing new safety features of the year.